Baseball’s New Home Plate Collision Rule

The following blog was sent to me by a guest blogger, Alex Cosgrove, who is an Associate Producer for d Q30’s Bobcat Breakdown at Quinnipiac University.

As reported in yesterday’s news, Major League Baseball has adopted a new rule hoping to eliminate collision’s at home plate that pose a threat to the safety of the players. On Monday, MLB announced that this new rule (Rule 7.13.) would be experimental and placed in the rulebooks for just the 2014 season.

Collisions at home plate have been a topic of discussion for a few years now after injuries have risen up from these violent hits. It was the main area of discussion back in 2011 after a brutal hit from Marlin’s Scott Cousin’s caused San Francisco’s catcher Buster Posey to miss the rest of the season with a broken leg. Posey was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2010 and one of the main reason’s the Giants took home the World Series in both 2010 and 2012. Conversations continued after this year’s World Series between the Red Sox and the Cardinals after Yadier Molina was in a collision with Boston’s David Ross, causing him to leave the game. However, if one is to travel way back into baseball’s history, controversy over collisions at home plate is not new. Pete Rose was at the heart of one such collision during the 1970 All-Star game. Charlie Hustle, who is known for being a very aggressive player, collided with Ray Fosse of the American League on the last play of the game, giving the National League a 5-4 victory. The collision injured Fosse’s shoulder, which would affect him the rest of his career. Many argue that Rose was wrong for leveling the catcher during an All-Star game, however others feel that Fosse should have expected the hit from the type of player Rose was. I personally feel that Rose was not at fault. If Rose had hit Fosse just a bit differently, Fosse might have walked away from that game without breaking his shoulder. It was bad luck and you cannot blame a player for trying hard on a play that could win his team a game, even if it is in an All-Star game.

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The new rule states that runners cannot run outside of a direct line to home plate with intention to create a collision with a catcher or any player covering the plate. The player will be called out even if the catcher or player receiving the throw losses the ball. The rule also serves to protect the runners as well stating that no catcher can block the plate without possession of the ball. If a catcher does, the runner will be called safe. Both calls will be determined by the umpire and may be subject to further review by the expanded instant replay that will go into effect this season as well.

The controversies with collisions in baseball are similar in a way to hockey’s controversy with fighting. However, most fans enjoy the fights and the physicality of hockey, making the push to end fighting much more difficult. In baseball, collisions do not occur often and in many of the recent cases, have often resulted in injury. As much as I’d rather see the game of baseball stay true to the way it’s been played for so many years, I’d hate to see talented athletes end their careers to unfortunate injuries, especially young stars like Buster Posey. Safety in professional sports is an issue that will never go away, especially with athletes getting bigger, stronger, and more injury prone. It will certainly be interesting to see how this new ruling plays out this season which I hope improves the safety of the sport without generating much controversy. Alex Cosgrove

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