The movement to discourage or outright ban home-plate collisions has picked up some momentum over the past couple of seasons. Current St. Louis Cardinals manager and former big league catcher Mike Matheny most notably stepped forward with a new perspective during spring training. Always known as an "old school" player with a matching attitude, Matheny admitted he's seen enough high impact collisions resulting in injuries ranging from minor to season-ending over the past several seasons to realize the game doesn't need to continue on the same path.
Agree or not, Matheny did make a few good points, specifically about the physical and mental grind of 162 games being enough for players to handle. Add in the extra bumps and bruises that nag catchers all season due to repeated foul tips and the occasional wayward bat, the last thing they need is another human being with bad intentions charging at them.
With all of that said, that brings us to current Detroit Tigers designated hitter and former every day catcher Victor Martinez. As the years have gone by and the injuries have piled up, Martinez has slowly but surely lowered his games behind the plate from 142 in 2005 to 26 in his last full season (2011). And we may never see him back there again after an ACL injury cost him the entire 2012 season.
Now, with all of the above factors in mind (his own ACL injury included), it should come as no surprise that Martinez, like Matheny, would like to avoid any potential future collisions at any cost. During Detroit's 7-5 win on Wednesday night, he confirmed as much with his actions, and thanks to the incredible arm of Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur, we actually got a pretty comical piece of baserunning out of it.
It happened during the third inning with the Tigers trailing 4-2. Everybody's favorite Jhonny, Jhonny Peralta, singled to score Prince Fielder from third with Martinez being aggressively waved in right behind him.
If you didn't already know the result I probably wouldn't have to tell you anyway. It wasn't close. The only chance Martinez had to score was to barrel through Salvador Perez or get caught in a rundown with the hope of a Little League type meltdown. Obviously, he didn't do the former. Unfortunately, the latter isn't much of an option either at this stage in his career, so he picked door No. 3. He approached home plate, took a right hand turn at the dirt, and bolted right for the dugout without even being tagged.
He was immediately ruled out because any time a runner goes outside the dirt around home plate he's considered out of the baseline. So Martinez basically gave himself up in a matter we very rarely see. Often times the runner will stop and make a half-hearted attempt to avoid it, or sometimes he'll run into the tag and give his opponent a love tap. Martinez did neither. He simply put the turn signal on and hung a right, no questions asked.
I would say that qualifies as an interesting, if not unique choice on his part. Definitely the safest option available, too, for everybody involved. And above all else, the most entertaining from my perspective.