Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Home Plate Collision Rule

Not unlike the 'Brady Rule' In football, not being able to hit the
catcher can be called the 'Buster Posey' rule. 
Major League Baseball has come out with the trial version of a rule that prohibits catchers from blocking the plate and prevents runner's from blind siding catchers who are in the base paths. This world will be adopted for the 2014 season on a trial basis and most likely will be tweaked on a case by case basis. The way the ruling is currently worded leaves for it a lot of gray area and interpretation by all parties involved. Depending on the circumstances catchers may or may not block home plate, that runners may or may not be allowed to make contact with the catcher depending on if he has the ball are not, it is up to the umpires personal discretion on how he wants to interpret the rule and if a player is safe but makes questionable contact with a catcher is now out and visa verse.

Home plate is the only base where contact is allowed to be made. A second baseman and shortstop or third baseman cannot block the bag with their leg or body. Why isn't so different at home plate?  Is it because it's a scoring play? Is it because that's the way it's always been?  If the latter is the case that is a pretty weak argument. If a third baseman can put his glove down in front of the base to tag an oncoming runner, one would think that a catcher would be able to have that same skill set to catch a ball and put his glove on the ground. If baseball in so concerned about players being injured on collisions of home plate why not just completely eliminate that option?

Not unlike hockey and the touch vs. no touch icing rule, if it is a matter of player safety then there should be little debate. To a eliminate a play that has little impact on the game itself and protects players from being injured should be a no brainier.

Other than blood lust from archaic fans, runner-catcher collisions serve no real purpose. Not unlike hockey fights there's no real reason. Why have this in the game at all?  Especially in a game that where there is no physical contact having just one particular play that allows for a player to blow up, not an unsuspecting player, but a player in a vulnerable position. Sure catchers wear all sorts of protective equipment, but wearing shin pads will not prevent you from having your leg broken like Buster Posey or Buck Martinez.

Umpires have a hard enough job calling the game properly with the rules they already have in place. Making a new rule with this much room for interpretation and ambiguity, adds personal judgment and the possibility of human error is nothing short of silliness. Based on that you know this must be one of Bud Selig's brainstorms, Putting yet another rule in place that has that much gray area will put even more unnecessary scrutiny on these umpires. The one saving grace is that this season they will have the ability to use instant replay to aid in their calls. That part is very important, too aid in the call.  We have all seen other sports, and even last year on home run calls where the replay will blatantly show something happening and the official will still either refuse to reverse a call more choose not to change a call (sometimes this could be under protest of the system other times it could be out of arrogance or stubbornness). The less guesswork we give these umpires the better.

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