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Friday, March 22, 2013

Davey Johnson on plate collision debate: “We don’t need any more rules”

We can’t even think of a word that rhymes!

The topic was Johnson’s stance on plate collisions between runners and catchers, and whether he felt baseball’s rules needed to be amended to take away the inherent injury risk associated with such violent clashes of irresistible forces and immovable objects.

Johnson’s take on the subject was pretty simple. He called runners ramming catchers blocking the plate “clean, hard-nosed baseball” and placed himself squarely in the old-school camp of baseball lifers who see no reason to change rules that really don’t need changing.

“Shoot, take it too far,” Johnson said disdainfully. “Now guys are wearing padding. Now the halfback (in football) can’t lower his head and run over the defensive back. When are you going to stop it? Sometimes, things happen. We don’t need any more rules as far as I’m concerned.”

...“It’s part of baseball,” he said. “I ran over two catchers - more than two catchers - but they messed me up more than I messed them up. I had to have my labrum repaired for a guy named Duane Josephson and then a guy named Larry Cox ducked and there went a couple ruptured discs. So, in reality, I’m not really worried about the catcher. Seems like the other end of it gets it (worse).”

...“There’s always a few guys that get a reputation, a la Mike Scioscia that comes to mind from my era, who had a reputation for blocking the plate whether they had the ball or not,” Johnson said. “But guys are getting a little bigger and it’s a little more dangerous. A guy coming 20 mph hits you and it could be your ankle. But if you’re in proper position and going hard, the chances of getting hurt are slim and none. You usually get hurt when you’re trying to do something and not in position.”

Repoz Posted: March 22, 2013 at 09:22 AM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4394205)
Read the article, and I agree with Davey Johnson(mostly). He is saying that teaching proper technique and when to block the plate would go a long way to reducing the injuries. Also that the catcher has the advantage on the play. I do think that home plate collisions is something that the league needs to look at and am open to any discussions on the matter, but for the most part, new rule probably isn't necessary, as much as imparting wisdom to the position.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4394220)
Davey's wrong. There's no reason to continue to allow this play in any way:

Frequently one of the players is already breaking the existing rules.

It's not the way the sport is played at any of the three other bases Seriously, what is the difference between Arod's slap and steamrolling a catcher? The intent is the exact same in either case, to dislodge the ball from the fielder through hard contact. Just because the former is a targeted attack at first and the latter is more of a blitzkrieg approach at home plate seems a flimsy (and groundless) place to draw the line.

It's antitethical to everything else about the game. Football is based on physical, man-on-man contact. Baseball is not.

It isn't allowed at virtually all levels leading up to the game. You wouldn't need to teach ballplayers anything. You wouldn't need to create "new rules" as Davey said. You'd simply have to streamline the rules so that they're the same governing all levels of play.

My solution.

Catcher blocks the plate: Runner Safe, catcher ejected (if deemed intentional/avoidable). Suspension/fine if egregious or repeat offender.

Runner initiates upper-body contact with catcher not blocking plate: Runner out, ejection, fine and suspension follow.

Catcher blocks the plate, runner initiates upper-body contact with catcher: Runner safe, though still ejected, fined and suspended.

   3. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4394229)
The difference is the nature of the bag. With homeplate once you touch it, it's the end of the play for you(as a runner) unlike the other bags, where if you past the bag(except first base) you are subject to being tagged out, so there is a reason to attempt to put the breaks on when you reach the bag. First base has it's own rules, it's a force out so there is no reason to attempt to tag the runner, while the runner is allowed to overrun the bag so that he can reach it at full speed.

Existing rules more or less cover the entire play anyway. Catcher isn't allowed to block the baseline unless he has the ball. If that is enforced more often then the number of collisions would be reduced. Heck I think that just adding a modification to the catchers glove that makes it easier to hold onto the ball with a swipe tag, would go a long ways towards reducing collisions at the plate. In my opinion the biggest reason for the play at the plate is that a catcher's mitt isn't designed for a swipe tag, improve the mitt, reduce the collision.

   4. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4394255)
The difference is the nature of the bag. With homeplate once you touch it, it's the end of the play for you(as a runner) unlike the other bags, where if you past the bag(except first base) you are subject to being tagged out, so there is a reason to attempt to put the breaks on when you reach the bag.


And that's an explanation why the runner wouldn't want to do run through the other bases (though it doesn't cover every case - there are times when running through the base is acceptable to the runner at second or third), not a justificaiton for allowing collisions to go on at home.

Bronson Arroyo was not trying to force Arod at first, he was attempting to make a tag (and likely wouldn't have beaten Arod to the bag in a strict foot race). The important details were essentially the same as the home plate play (tag needed to be applied, runner capable of running through the base). In one, the runner was called out and the other runner forced to return to his original base. In the other, the runner is safe and people celebrate it as good hardnosed baseball.

   5. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4394273)
I'm not in the camp that thinks Arod did anything wrong or right. But arod attempted to interfere with the tag. If he would have ran into him full force there would have been no problem with the play.

Arroyo was doing a swipe tag, not a block. I'm not really seeing the similarity between the two plays.

I would love for homeplate collisions to go away, but I just don't see the extra rules really doing a good balancing job. Catcher's gloves suck at holding onto a ball. They are very easy to knock the ball out with a hard slide on a swipe tag. The catchers block the plate because their gloves suck and it's the best way to hold onto the ball. They have the advantage in that situation due to padding(although there is something to be said for momentum) Any rule that makes it against the rules for a catcher to block the plate is an unfair advantage for the runner.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4394281)
I'm not in the camp that thinks Arod did anything wrong or right. But arod attempted to interfere with the tag. If he would have ran into him full force there would have been no problem with the play.

Arroyo was doing a swipe tag, not a block. I'm not really seeing the similarity between the two plays.


The intent in both plays is identical - to dislodge the ball from possession of the defender - as was the method for doing so - hard physical contact. The differences between the plays (chop attack vs. complete annihilation, blocking the path to first vs. blocking the path to home, swipe tag vs. let runner smash into glove tag, pitcher vs. catcher) are the elements that aren't terribly significant, IMO.

I would love for homeplate collisions to go away, but I just don't see the extra rules really doing a good balancing job.


This is the way the game is played at virtually every other level of baseball (which all of these guys grew up playing), without it being a problem. I don't know why anyone would think this would be difficult for major league players to handle.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4394290)
The intent in both plays is identical - to dislodge the ball from possession of the defender - as was the method for doing so - hard physical contact. The differences between the plays (chop attack vs. complete annihilation, blocking the path to home vs. blocking the path to first, swipe tag vs. let runner smash into glove tag, pitcher vs. catcher) are the elements that aren't terribly significant, IMO.


I just don't see it. One is a collision, not an attempt to strip the ball.

This is the way the game is played at virtually every other level of baseball (which all of these guys grew up playing), without it being a problem. I don't know why anyone would think this would be difficult for major league players to handle.


can't comment on that, I was always under the impression that there is no rules against home plate collisions in professional baseball. And I'm firmly in the camp that believes that college sports is not the same thing as professional sport.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4394302)

I just don't see it. One is a collision, not an attempt to strip the ball.


So the more violent, indiscriminate play is OK, but the targeted play is verboten? Sorry, I don't see an ounce of logic to that. Both plays have the exact same intent - take a situation where the ball has beaten the runner and, through contact, change the outcome. Pretty damn simple.


can't comment on that, I was always under the impression that there is no rules against home plate collisions in professional baseball. And I'm firmly in the camp that believes that college sports is not the same thing as professional sport.


No, I was including all of pro ball. But guys grow up from 5-22 playing under one set of rules. They have to teach themselves to try to decapitate the backstop once they reach the professional level. Removing that bit of pro ball advanced study would be remarkably easy.

But you didn't really address what I said. If it's not just possible, but easy, to outlaw home plate collisions at all of these other levels of the sport, why do you think it would be difficult to do so at the professional level?





   9. Squash Posted: March 22, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4394341)
They have the advantage in that situation due to padding(although there is something to be said for momentum)

If the runner has any kind of speed it's the decidedly the opposite - the runner's force far overwhelms the catcher's padding (which isn't really designed for full body collisions anyway, more for single discrete small-surface impacts such as foul tips - they aren't wearing shoulder pads, the mask is more for protecting the face than the head, etc.). It's the multiplier in the equation that's the killer - if you're a stationary object, you'd much rather have David Ortiz waddling toward you at 260 lb. at 5 mph than a 200 lb. guy crash into you at 20 mph. Throw in that the runner gets to lead with his shoulder and the catcher is squared up and that's why when there's an injury in a home plate collision, 90% of the time it's to the catcher despite his padding.
   10. jacjacatk Posted: March 22, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4394344)
They really don't have to be taught to truck the catcher when they get to pro ball, kids are already doing it at the lower levels where it's supposed to be illegal, thanks, I assume, to learning it from observation.

Which is not to say I'm in favor of it. It's frankly just stupid at this point not to require the runner to give himself up, and not to require the fielder to stay out of the basepath if he's not in the act of fielding the ball.
   11. zack Posted: March 22, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4394358)
What about the runner is not allowed to cross into fair territory, and the catcher can't enter foul territory without the ball? That would reduce a great majority of the violent impacts. The runner will never be in fair territory naturally, unless they are targeting the catcher.

The only wrinkle I can think of is sometimes the catcher will be forced into foul territory by a bad throw.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4394360)
But you didn't really address what I said. If it's not just possible, but easy, to outlaw home plate collisions at all of these other levels of the sport, why do you think it would be difficult to do so at the professional level?


It's a higher level of competition. You have rules at the lower levels designed to protect a person's who's job is not a professional sport. At the higher levels those rules aren't needed. You have T-ball at 5 years old, you have the parents pitching at the next stage, you have softer balls(and larger sometimes) at the next stage, etc. There are always rules at lower levels that are there to protect the participants, that isn't necessary at the higher levels.

How do you eliminate it at the lower levels, without coming up with a dumb rule that is immediately unfair to one side of the equation or the other. Technically speaking the catcher isn't blocking the plate, the catcher is attempting to put a tag on the runner, and if he has the ball, he has fair right to make that tag. If you punish the catcher you are giving a decided advantage to the runner. Now he has no incentive to slide and with the catchers glove sucking so much, has every incentive to push at the glove in hopes of knocking out the ball.

I would love to see catchers blocking the plate be outlawed, I just don't see how it can be done in a fair manner.

   13. John M. Perkins Posted: March 22, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4394363)
College and HS catchers don't block the plate.
The catcher with the most MLB games, IRod, did not block the plate And IRod held on to the ball for the swipe tags.

OTOH, while Piazza was being called a bad defensive catching because of his poorish throwing arm, Piazza was good at blocking pitches, and excellent at blocking the plate.
   14. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 22, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4394368)
SoSH is right that simply establishing two rules is easy;

1. You can't block the plate or the runner is safe

2. You must slide or you're out (both with ejections optional if deemed necessary).

As he notes this is done at every non-professional level and thus is easy to implement and consistent with how the game is taught.

Having said all of that I don't want to see it go away. It's an exciting part of the game and sometimes in the professional sports world things get a little rough. The catcher is probably the player with the most risk involved (as Squash noted) but he's also the player with the most ability to make a decision as to whether or not contact is created. To use the Posey example Posey was blocking the plate (yeah, Cousins had like 3 inches of plate to work with, that's still a blocked plate) and if he had chosen to go with a sweep tag he'd have been at no risk.

To me it's a rare enough situation that someone is injured in such a play that I don't feel it's worth legislating. At some point we have to decide what we feel is a worthwhile level of risk for people to take in the name of entertainment and I'm OK with this. I don't mean that quite as callously as it sounds but it is how I feel.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4394378)
1. You can't block the plate or the runner is safe

2. You must slide or you're out (both with ejections optional if deemed necessary).


I'm fairly certain more injuries happen a year due to slides than homeplate collisions(note: that is obviously because of chances). On top of that, is it a requirement on all runs? Men on second and third, single up the middle, does the man on third have to slide first?


What about if the ball is thrown up the line and the catcher has to move to catch the ball and it puts him in the way of the runner?
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4394390)
It's a higher level of competition. You have rules at the lower levels designed to protect a person's who's job is not a professional sport. At the higher levels those rules aren't needed.


You have not given a reason why this play should exist, other than the fact the play exists (and it's a play you admitted you would like to see outlawed). We know the sport can be played without the home plate collision, because the sport is played without the home plate collision . By grown men too, since college ball doesn't allow it.



I'm fairly certain more injuries happen a year due to slides than homeplate collisions(note: that is obviously because of chances).


That parenthetical is doing an awful lot of heavy lifting.

On top of that, is it a requirement on all runs? Men on second and third, single up the middle, does the man on third have to slide first?


As I said, initiate contact (intentionally, though it should be fairly obvious to determine inadvertent contact from intentional) with the upper body and you're ejected. You want to go in standing, that's fine.


   17. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4394401)

I'm fairly certain more injuries happen a year due to slides than homeplate collisions(note: that is obviously because of chances). On top of that, is it a requirement on all runs? Men on second and third, single up the middle, does the man on third have to slide first?


That's easy enough. You slide if there is a play. In your example the guy on third can easily jog through the base.

What about if the ball is thrown up the line and the catcher has to move to catch the ball and it puts him in the way of the runner?


That's the same situation as you'd get at any other base. The catcher obviously is entitled to get the ball but he can't use it to his advantage.

In all seriousness if you want to see how this could work go to a local little league game. This is standard rule in little league and does not cause a problem. Again, I don't want to see it outlawed but to do so would not be that difficult.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:22 PM (#4394411)
You have not given a reason why this play should exist, other than the fact the play exists (and it's a play you admitted you would like to see outlawed).


The play exists because it's within the rules of the game. Automatic penalties are for lesser sports, keep penalties away from baseball(yes I know there are a few, but I will always rail against on field automatic penalties in baseball, it's for other sports not baseball)

I have no problem with trying to reduce the frequency, I just don't see how to do it without an extra rule that is subject to interpretation, that creates an automatic penalty, and that actually makes a difference.

In all seriousness if you want to see how this could work go to a local little league game. This is standard rule in little league and does not cause a problem. Again, I don't want to see it outlawed but to do so would not be that difficult.


I don't see how that applies. In all seriousness, the game is much different at little league level than the majors. That comparing them is not realistic in the slightest. Even high school is massively inferior in quality that to compare them makes no sense.

MLB has more "bang bang" plays than those levels, the quality difference makes a huge difference in frequency of plays. The catcher blocking the plate is a direct result of the quality of play at the majors.

As I said, initiate contact (intentionally, though it should be fairly obvious to determine inadvertent contact from intentional) with the upper body and you're ejected. You want to go in standing, that's fine.


We all know how good the umps opinion of intentional is when it comes to judging a player's attempt to get out of the way on a pitch(hbp), that I don't see any reason to give them more leeway on judgement calls, they are crap at it.
   19. Ron J2 Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4394427)
#13 As Bill James pointed out in the first HA it wasn't common practice in the majors until comparatively recently.

Some extensive quoting:

“I started looking through the guides of the twenties and thirties, looking for home-plate collisions. There aren’t any . . . There are plenty of photographs of plays at home plate, and sometimes they run into each other, but not like now.

“Basepath obstruction was a major problem in the 1880s and nineties, when baseball was in danger of becoming a contact sport. In 1897 the rules on obstruction were tightened up, and the principle of free access to the bases met with general acceptance at the other three positions. There was always something of a problem with catchers blocking the plate, but there were always limits. In 1922 two games were protested because of the intractability of catchers. National League president Heydler ruled against the protests, writing that “the unpopular practice of ‘blocking off’ runners at the plate. . . has always been the cause of dispute, ill-feeling among and serious injury to players, but against which no practical rule remedy has been found.”


He also notes that there's a question about blocking the plate in a "knotty problems" segment and the answer was simply that it's illegal. (and notes that this is evidence as to how uncommon the play was. That the questions typically deal with things like like ball lodging in the pouch of a passing marsupial)

And I think the proposals in #2 would work just fine in practice.
   20. Darren Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4394429)
I had to have my labrum repaired for a guy named Duane Josephson and then a guy named Larry Cox ducked and there went a couple ruptured discs.


This must have been one heck of a play.
   21. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4394432)
Obviously there will be more "bang bang" plays but I think the LL games can be instructive on how the rule can work.

99% of plays at the plate where there is a collision are the fault of the catcher blocking the plate illegally. The 2003 ALDS play with Varitek and Byrnes is the best example. By rule Byrnes should have been safe on interference (or obstruction, I always get them confused) but as a practical matter umps allow the play to go as it currently does. I'd rather see the existing rule called than implementing a new rule.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4394434)
He also notes that there's a question about blocking the plate in a "knotty problems" segment and the answer was simply that it's illegal. (and notes that this is evidence as to how uncommon the play was. That the questions typically deal with things like like ball lodging in the pouch of a passing marsupial)


And if it's illegal, then call the rules as written. I just don't see the need to add more rules. And I find the concept of penalties in baseball to be antiethical to the game in the same way that Sosh feels about baseball collisions.

I just can't wrap my mind around penalties in baseball, the balk rule is already going to far in my mind, but I can live with a couple of penalties that are there to make the game run properly, just not sure that a penalty at homeplate is necessary.
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4394440)

The play exists because it's within the rules of the game.



So, like I said, the only reason you can give for it to exist is because it exists.

Automatic penalties are for lesser sports, keep penalties away from baseball(yes I know there are a few, but I will always rail against on field automatic penalties in baseball, it's for other sports not baseball)


We already have automatic penalties. If you're viewed as intentionally throwing at a batter, you're ejected. Use a corked bat or bring an emery board to the bump, you're ejected. Charge the mound, ejected. This is no different.

I have no problem with trying to reduce the frequency, I just don't see how to do it without an extra rule that is subject to interpretation, that creates an automatic penalty, and that actually makes a difference.


You keep harping on an extra rule. Home plate collisiosn are not allowed in college, a sport played by full-grown men at the same speed as the big-league level. They don't have any problem enforcing it. It creates no headaches. You've offered no reason why this should suddenly be harder to do at the professional level.


I just don't see how to do it without an extra rule that is subject to interpretation,


It already is subject to interpretation, though the current area is far more gray than it would be if you simply banned all upper-body initiated contact.

Arod's play is illegal. The typical catcher destruction is legal. What if Arod targets Arroyo's glove, but he does so not with a slap but the shoulder. Or, what if, in the process of leveling a catcher, a runner also makes a move with his hand in the direction of the glove, slappy style? Legal, not? You know, two plays somewhere in between what you see as the obviously illegal move Arod made and the also clearly legal catcher blow-up. Well, it's the umpire's discretion, only this time, it's a hell of a lot more subjective.

   24. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4394458)
You keep harping on an extra rule. Home plate collisiosn are not allowed in college, a sport played by full-grown men at the same speed as the big-league level. They don't have any problem enforcing it. It creates no headaches. You've offered no reason why this should suddenly be harder to do at the professional level.


Because ALL college sports suck. I don't want any professional sport taking anything from a college sport. PERIOD. I hate college sports, saying something works at the college level, is an argument against it.

And baseball is even worse, in that the quality of play is so far removed from the majors, that to compare them, you might as well be talking about softball. There is no comparison, college sport is a different sport than professional.


I don't see a need for a rule addition. As always the rules exist enough that enforcement of existing rules is more the problem. Catcher cannot be in the runners path unless they have the ball. Enforce that one rule, and it forces the catcher to stay out of the basepath until the second they get the ball. That extra second or two forces them to physically move to the runner's path after catching the ball, then to apply the tag, that alone fixes most of the problems. Buster Posey was in the baseline before he caught the ball, if he is forced to stay out of the path of the runner until possession of the ball, the play turns out a lot different for him.

   25. jacjacatk Posted: March 22, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4394485)
Men on second and third, single up the middle, does the man on third have to slide first?


At lower levels (speaking from personal knowledge at the travel/HS level) you're required to avoid a collision with the fielder when advancing to the next base (any base). At the travel level, sliding is often sufficient to prove you were trying to avoid the collision. At the HS level, it has to be a legal slide (FED rule 2-32), which among other things requires sliding with at least one buttock and leg on the ground (when sliding feet first), and prohibits rolling, cross-body, or pop-up slides, sliding past the base, sliding outside a direct line between the bases.

I don't recall if NCAA or MLB rules define a slide, and I'm too lazy to look it up at the moment, but I can't see why the FED rules for avoiding contact would be a big problem to adopt since most MLBers probably played under them at some point. If you really want to be radical though, I also can't think of a good reason you couldn't have a 3B-home running lane either as was suggested above.
   26. jacjacatk Posted: March 22, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4394495)
Because ALL college sports suck. I don't want any professional sport taking anything from a college sport. PERIOD. I hate college sports, saying something works at the college level, is an argument against it.

And baseball is even worse, in that the quality of play is so far removed from the majors, that to compare them, you might as well be talking about softball. There is no comparison, college sport is a different sport than professional.


Bah, this isn't remotely true.

I don't see a need for a rule addition. As always the rules exist enough that enforcement of existing rules is more the problem. Catcher cannot be in the runners path unless they have the ball. Enforce that one rule, and it forces the catcher to stay out of the basepath until the second they get the ball. That extra second or two forces them to physically move to the runner's path after catching the ball, then to apply the tag, that alone fixes most of the problems. Buster Posey was in the baseline before he caught the ball, if he is forced to stay out of the path of the runner until possession of the ball, the play turns out a lot different for him.


The fielder's currently allowed to go into the basepath to field the ball, and it isn't legal for the runner to make contact with him in that case (which I think goes largely unpenalized at the MLB level in home-plate situations). In the Posey case specifically, Posey never turns into the basepath until he thinks he's fielded the ball (which has actually rolled underneath him). At the moment the ball is "fielded", Cousins' basepath does lead directly through the spot that Posey is about to turn into, so I don't think Cousins goes out of his way (as in against the rules) to line up the collision despite clearly making the decision to initiate contact, but it's also evident (though perhaps only ex post facto to an outside observer) that he has a clear path to the plate that isn't going to involve a collision and will only leave Posey a shot at a swipe tag.

Given that we're trying to prevent the sort of injuries suffered by Posey (and you may not concede that's a given), I don't think enforcement of the existing rules would make a difference here, and that you would need something akin to the FED rules to avoid contact and/or make a legal slide attempt in order to save Posey.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4394499)
Because ALL college sports suck. I don't want any professional sport taking anything from a college sport. PERIOD. I hate college sports, saying something works at the college level, is an argument against it.

And baseball is even worse, in that the quality of play is so far removed from the majors, that to compare them, you might as well be talking about softball. There is no comparison, college sport is a different sport than professional.


Non-responsive. Whether college sports are an enjoyable experience to you has no bearing on the issue you raised - the enforcability of the no-collision rule. The fact that the rule can exist, without issue, in college sports argues against (if not absolutely refutes) your idea that it is somehow unworkable at the big league level.

Buster Posey was in the baseline before he caught the ball, if he is forced to stay out of the path of the runner until possession of the ball, the play turns out a lot different for him.


The Buster Posey play is the perfect example of why the existing situation sucks. Posey didn't catch the ball, and was in the process of trying to get a handle on it when Cousins blasted him. Moreover, Posey was not in fact blocking the entire plate, but was located in a position that only shielded a portion of the plate from Cousins. Had Cousins wanted to, he could have executed a nice slide to the outside of the bag and never touched Mr. Buster.

Now, whether Posey, had he hung on to the ball, would have shifted his body to block the entire plate is unknown to us. More important, it was unknown to Cousins, who didn't have a lot of time to make a decision. Couple that with the simple fact that a ballplayer with Cousins marginal skillset almost has to blast the catcher (lest he be known as a puss), and you have the perfect recipe for homeplate mayhem.

Nothing in the existing rulebook prevents this kind of utterly needless collision from ever taking place. Barring upper-body initiated contact would.

   28. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 22, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4394506)
Did no one else grow trying to take out the catcher?
Regardless, I'll sign on SoSH - plate blocking doesn't make for a better game.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4394509)
Did no one else grow trying to take out the catcher?


It's never been legal in any league I've played in, and I played through my freshman year in college. I've never seen it done anywhere but at the professional level, plus some random ####### on a You Tube video from a rec league softball game. I have read that the practice has been/is legal in some leagues, at various age levels, but none that I have played in or attended (to the best of my knowledge).
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: March 22, 2013 at 03:52 PM (#4394510)
The Buster Posey play is the perfect example of why the existing situation sucks. Posey didn't catch the ball, and was in the process of trying to get a handle on it when Cousins blasted him. Moreover, Posey was not in fact blocking the entire plate, but was located in a position that only shielded a portion of the plate from Cousins. Had Cousins wanted to, he could have executed a nice slide to the outside of the bag and never touched Mr. Buster.


The runner makes his own baseline, not the fielder. If Posey didn't have possession of the ball, he shouldn't have been where he was at. The laxing of the rules led to the problem. A new rule isn't necessary, enforcement of the old rules is all that is needed. You cannot block the basepath without possession of the ball.

If Cousins ran out of the basepath(ala Ichiro) then enforcement of that rule is all that is necessary. Either way, I don't see how a new rule would change anything other than giving the umpire more ability to screw up a simple play.

Non-responsive. Whether college sports are an enjoyable experience to you has no bearing on the issue you raised - the enforcability of the no-collision rule. The fact that the rule can exist, without issue, in college sports argues against (if not absolutely refutes) your idea that it is somehow unworkable at the big league level.


Again, it's not the same sport. softball is closer to college quality than college is to MLB. Why don't they play softball at the majors? I don't see how college compares to mlb. The game is superficially the same, beyond that, the quality is massive.

I just don't see a comparison here. One is a child's game played by children who need protecting. The other is a professional game played by adults who don't need protecting.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4394524)
Again, it's not the same sport. softball is closer to college quality than college is to MLB. Why don't they play softball at the majors? I don't see how college compares to mlb. The game is superficially the same, beyond that, the quality is massive.


The guys are playing at the same speed, and are basically the same size. That's all that matters when determining how feasible it is to enforce the rule. The quality of play is immaterial.

The runner makes his own baseline, not the fielder. If Posey didn't have possession of the ball, he shouldn't have been where he was at. The laxing of the rules led to the problem. A new rule isn't necessary, enforcement of the old rules is all that is needed. You cannot block the basepath without possession of the ball.


And Posey wasn't blocking the plate. From the time he left third to the time he opted to plow over Posey, Cousins had a straight and unimpeded line (his line, not the baseline, though it was almost the same thing here) to home plate. Now he didn't have the entire plate open to him throughout the exchange, but I don't know that the rule demands 100 percent plate availability (that seems both unwieldy and legitimately impossible to enforce). And it doesn't really matter. Posey was in no way blocking the plate when Cousins had begun his descent.
   32. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: March 22, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4394530)
College and HS catchers don't block the plate.


Is this true? I have a memory* of getting blown up a couple of times while catching in amateur ball. That was almost 20 years ago now, though.

*Or rather, a distinct gap in my memory thereof
   33. zack Posted: March 22, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4394533)
To me it's a rare enough situation that someone is injured in such a play that I don't feel it's worth legislating. At some point we have to decide what we feel is a worthwhile level of risk for people to take in the name of entertainment and I'm OK with this. I don't mean that quite as callously as it sounds but it is how I feel.


You could argue that it reduces the level of play in MLB. Not only when someone like Posey is injured, but that it causes teams to move good hitters away from catcher and generally reduces the hitting talent level of the catcher position. Of course, catchers would still have lots of other problems that might make it undesirable/have a negative effect on hitting ability, but that would eliminate a non-structural one.
   34. LooseCannon Posted: March 22, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4394659)
It should be legal for any runner to launch into a flying karate kick if a catcher is blocking the plate.
   35. haven Posted: March 22, 2013 at 09:12 PM (#4394671)
The guys are playing at the same speed, and are basically the same size.

I'm not an avid follower of college baseball, but this is not remotely true in football or basketball. I honestly can't believe it is true in baseball.
   36. jacjacatk Posted: March 22, 2013 at 09:16 PM (#4394674)
I'm not sure how big the gap is from pro-amateur in basketball or football, but the fact that guys jump directly from the amateur ranks to the highest pro rank in those sports routinely says that the game they're playing isn't all that different. The talent disparity at the college level in all three sports is obviously substantially different, but I don't think it's generally enough to make the games functionally all that different, except where different rules/equipment come into play.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2013 at 09:20 PM (#4394676)
I'm not an avid follower of college baseball, but this is not remotely true in football or basketball. I honestly can't believe it is true in baseball.


First, baseball isn't a sport where players are selected for speed as football is, so it's fairly likely that D-1 players at the age of 21-22 are pretty close, speed-wise, to big leaguers, many of whom are older than 30. Second, it's close enough for whatever difference there is not to matter in terms of whether rules that govern one sport could be applied to the other.
   38. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 22, 2013 at 09:27 PM (#4394685)
I'm not an avid follower of college baseball, but this is not remotely true in football or basketball. I honestly can't believe it is true in baseball.

Size and speed are much more important in football and basketball than they are in baseball, though, so I'd expect the differences from college to the pros to be smaller.
   39. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 22, 2013 at 09:39 PM (#4394688)
As a quick example: The average member of the College World Series champion 2012 Arizona Wildcats is listed at 6'1", 191 pounds. The average member of the World Series champion 2012 San Francisco Giants is listed at 6'2", 213 pounds. So the pros are, on average, an inch taller (actually a little less), and a good bit heavier; I'll leave you to guess whether the extra weight makes them faster.

For comparison, your average 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcat was 6'5", 210; your average 2011-12 Miami Heat was 6'8", 230. Same weight difference with an extra two inches in height.

Of course, this is a glance at four teams and is not weighted by actual playing time. So take it for what it's worth.

(Pro height/weight figures are from B-R and B-R, respectively; college figures are from Wikipedia.)
   40. jacjacatk Posted: March 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM (#4394698)
I'm just guessing, but the average 2012 Wildcat was maybe 20? That probably goes a long way to taking care of the weight disparity. I didn't do the pitchers, but I get the offensive players for the Giants at a hair over 6'1", and that's if you believe Gregor Blanco and Ryan Theriot are both 5'11". They've got Lincecum at 5'11", and all three catchers at 6' or more, too.

Of course, BBRef thinks the weight difference between these two guys is 35 pounds, too. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c3/Prince_Fielder_and_Derrek_Lee_on_August_2,_2010.jpg
   41. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM (#4394699)
College and HS catchers don't block the plate.

I was a catcher from LL up through HS (mid 70's-mid 80's), and I would always block the plate, as soon as I was sure I could corral the ball in time.
I always loved contact plays, but I suspect most catchers do, or at least did.
   42. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: March 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM (#4394794)
Of course, BBRef thinks the weight difference between these two guys is 35 pounds, too.


Well, Derrek Lee is a good six inches taller than Fielder, so I think 35 pounds sounds about right. That extra half-foot adds a good fifty pounds to Lee without making him any fatter.
   43. cardsfanboy Posted: March 23, 2013 at 01:30 AM (#4394834)
Let's start with what is the sound of a bat hitting a ball in college baseball.... it's TCHINK. What is the sound of a bat hitting a ball in softaball... it's Tchink... what is the sound in real baseball(professional baseball) it's TCHUNK..

they are fundamentally different sports. to pretend otherwise is absurd. College baseball is much closer to women's softball than it is to MLB.


I was a catcher from LL up through HS (mid 70's-mid 80's), and I would always block the plate, as soon as I was sure I could corral the ball in time.
I always loved contact plays, but I suspect most catchers do, or at least did.


Matches up with everything I've ever seen.
   44. SoSH U at work Posted: March 23, 2013 at 02:05 AM (#4394838)
they are fundamentally different sports. to pretend otherwise is absurd. College baseball is much closer to women's softball than it is to MLB.


I'd have a lot more respect if you'd simply gone with Jose's argument, "I want to keep home plate collisions in the game because I like them," then this nonsense you're trying to peddle. Whether college baseball resembles MLB enough for your liking has nothing to do with whether the rule that outlaws catcher collisions at the college level is workable at MLB, the argument that you floated but have done absolutely nothing to support.

   45. Barnaby Jones Posted: March 23, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4394900)
I am in favor of any rule change that would have given a big suspension to Erstad for that horse sh*t hit that ruined Johnny Estrada. Estrada was completely in fair territory, looking to his right, and Erstad putting all his punter strength into a shoulder charge aimed directly at Estrada's head. The dude was making no attempt to go for the plate. Estrada is still fighting post-concussive symptoms these days. If you think that is "baseball," then I don't know what to say.
   46. Lassus Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4394938)
Did that kid ever recover from Teixeira's horseshit hit either?
   47. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 23, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4395017)
Lets evaluate this rationally. If the rules were changed to prevent collisions, the general level of catcher play is much higher because Buster Posey is never hurt and the Giants also become a dynasty that's won every World Series since.

So clearly the rules should not be changed.

Plus any rules that allow for the indiscriminate blasting of Jonny Estrada can't be that bad.

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