The jury is still out on whether or not baseball fans will see A-Rod in the 2014 season, or if Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. But, one thing we now know they won’t see is collisions at home plate. The MLB rules committee voted to eliminate these violent collisions at home plate during the winter meetings. While there has been some small amount of pushback against this impending rule change most are in agreement that it’s the proper time for such a move to be made.
What’s truly interesting about this rule change is that should it be passed by the union would also allow umpires to use video replay for plays at home plate. This changing of the rules and adding more use of instant replay in one fell swoop is a radical change of pace for a sport that is usually slow to welcome change.
Some may see this as a bold move that disrespects an important aspect of the legacy of the game, but when you look at some of the devastating injuries sustained by players like Buster Posey and Carlos Santana, or how some nasty collisions had a fairly major impact on the 2013 ALCS it begins to look like a no brainer to remove this senseless, albeit exciting, element from the game. And for those who still feel a little nostalgic about watching a catcher brace for impact to protect home plate from a full grown man barreling towards him at break neck speeds, perhaps this bit of information from a St. Louis Post Dispatch article will change your mind.
At a presentation this past weekend, team trainers and medical officials were told that 22 percent of the concussions throughout the levels of the game were caused by collisions, most of which happened at home plate.
So presented with a chance to eliminate nearly one quarter of all concussions from their sport baseball did the right thing and took action. Rather than sitting idly waiting for lawsuits from former players like has happened to the NHL and NFL. Baseball has been leading the charge in terms of player safety in pro sports recently, starting with their creation of the seven-day DL for concussion victims, and now putting an end to the violent collisions at home plate. And while the 2011 Giants might feel that this rule has been changed three years too late, there are some people who aren’t so receptive to the changes.
The most vocal dissenter is none other than the all time hits leader, and recipient of a lifetime ban from the game, Pete Rose. Yeah that’s right believe it or no he was able to pry himself away from his busy schedule signing baseballs in Las Vegas to speak with the Associated Press. And instead of trying to make peace and maybe hope for a goodwill gesture from Bud Selig before he departs in 2015, he came out swinging about the new legislation.
“What are they going to do next, you can’t break up a double play? You’re not allowed to pitch inside. The hitters wear more armour than the Humvees in Afghanistan. Now you’re not allowed to be safe at home plate? What’s the game coming to? Evidently the guys making all these rules never played the game of baseball.”
Now I suppose it makes sense that the man who famously bowled over a catcher at the 1970 All-Star Game to stick to his guns and speak out in favour of collisions at the plate however his archaic views are not even shared by those who have “played the game of baseball.” Current big leaguer and it should be noted former catcher Victor Martinez has been immortalized in a GIF by the good folks at the Score, for pulling up and avoiding a home plate collision.
Surely there will be some who cling to the legacy of collisions at home plate. But just like Craig MacTavish’s tuft billowing amongst a sea of helmets the charms of yesteryear will soon be in the rearview mirror in favour of what we now know in an effort to keep players in the game. So just like it’s a shame for the Hall of Fame to not have Pete Rose in it, it would be a shame if baseball fans had to watch a sport missing some of its best players who were lost to injury from a senseless collision in the name of “excitement.”