LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Buster Posey, your agony won't be in vain, or forgotten.
More than two years after Posey suffered a broken leg on a violent play at home plate, Major League Baseball announced it intends to ban the practice of a runner crashing into the catcher while trying to score. New rules also will govern catchers, not allowing them to "block" the plate as they currently are allowed. The details are still being sorted, but it will look something like what college baseball does. More tagging, no bowling over.
At a press conference during baseball's winter meetings Wednesday, New York Mets president Sandy Alderson laid out, in generalities, where the competition committee stands. The specific changes will be presented to owners at a meeting Jan. 16. Their group, along with the players union, will have to approve for the changes to be enacted for 2014.
Alderson said a spate of injuries to catchers, along with the growing general concern of concussions, led to change.
"This is, I think, in response to a few issues that have arisen — one is just the general occurrence of injuries from these incidents at home plate that affect players, both runners and catchers," Alderson said. "And also the general concern about concussions that exists not only in baseball but throughout professional sports and amateur sports today. It's an emerging issue, and one that we in baseball have to address as well as other sports. So that's part of the impetus for this rule change as well."
MLB is making the right decision, not only for safety but for reason. Intentional collisions and crashes at other bases aren't allowed — so why should they be at the plate? Why should baseball suddenly turn into football when a runner goes home?
Although many major leaguers have supported changing the rules, not everyone is going to be happy. Tony Sanchez of the Pittsburgh Pirates, known for sacrificing his body against a dugout of opposing players — much less one guy at the plate — dreads what's coming:
Nothing better than getting run over and showing the umpire the ball. Please don't ban home plate collisions @MLB
— Tony Sanchez (@Tony26Montana) December 11, 2013
No more home plate collisions?! What is this? NFL quarterbacks are catchers now?
— Josh Reddick (@joshreddick16) December 11, 2013
Reddick's line of thinking is another thing Alderson said the league wants to change.
"Ultimately what we want to do is change the culture of acceptance that these plays are ordinary and routine and an accepted part of the game, that the risks and individual risks, the costs associated in terms of health and injury just no longer warrant the status quo," Alderson said.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy — though he's not exactly objective because of what happened with Posey when Scott Cousins of the Marlins ran him down in 2011 — says the time has come for change.
"I think most of us feel [crashes and collisions] aren't a big part of the game anymore," said Bochy, a catcher in his playing days. "There's been adjustments everywhere, and I think it's time in baseball that we do change the rule and protect these catchers."
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