On the heels of two violent home plate collisions in ALCS Game 5, one of which forced Alex Avila to leave with a minor knee injury, Major League Baseball appears more determined than ever to rid the game of collisions all together. At least that's the word according to ESPN's Buster Olney, who on Saturday reported that officials from teams around the league fully expect the topic of banning home plate collisions to be raised again during meetings this winter. And they also anticipate changes will be made.
Given how quickly sentiment within the sport about collisions is shifting — particularly as information about concussions has come to light, including the cost of concussion-related lawsuits faced by the National Football League — some officials talk of change as inevitable and predict that it could come swiftly.
"At this point, I don't know who would argue to keep it, or what their argument would be," said one team official who believes general managers will address the topic at their meetings next month. "There is no reasoned argument to keep it [in the game]."
One team official that Olney spoke with emphasized how unnecessary both collisions were in the Thursday night's game as the main reason changes need to be made.
"Both guys were out by a mile," the team official said. "Now the Tigers may have lost their catcher. With catchers dropping like flies all over the place with concussions, it's dumb.
"Ross did nothing wrong, because that's how everybody expects that play to go. But there is no place [in the game] to be raising an elbow into somebody's head or neck to knock the ball out. It's just dumb [for baseball]."
The good news is Avila is back in Detroit's lineup for Game 6. However, the scary side is both Avila and Ross had already suffered concussions during the 2013 season, though in both cases it was after taking foul tips to their mask. There's not a lot you can do about those, but the senseless risks that go along with collisions can and likely will be prevented in the near future.
Current Cardinals manager and former catcher Mike Matheny is now on board with such a change. Despite a concussion ending his career in 2007, Matheny was initially reluctant to support banning home plate collisions, but changed his tune in spring training. His comments in February are basically right in line with what officials were telling Olney on Saturday, so it appears this will be a large collective effort with plenty of momentum behind it.
It's a change that wouldn't please everybody, but few changes do. However, ten years down the road we'll all be used to the new style and probably wondering what took them so long to change it in the first place. It has to be done for the greater good of the game and the players, and there's no better time than now.
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