Earlier today, Major League Baseball and its players agreed to ban most home plate collisions from the game. They did however, leave open an exception if the catcher has the ball and is blocking the runner’s direct path to home plate. A new rule, 7.13, was adopted by MLB and the players’ association on a one-year experimental basis. A comment attached to the rule states “the failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation.”
Hall of Famer George Brett, said he wasn’t in favor of the new rule. “I’m not a big fan of it,” Brett told ESPN.com. “Catchers are taught to put their foot right in front of home plate, and the plays are bang-bang. I like the collision. “I don’t sit around at home at night and think about it. This is the first time I’ve thought about it since two months ago when somebody told me, ‘They can’t run into catchers anymore.’ I said, ‘That sucks. I love that play.’”
A runner who violates the rule will be called out even if the catcher drops the ball. If a catcher blocks home without possession of the ball, the runner will be safe. However, a catcher may block the plate to field a throw if the umpire determines the catcher could not have otherwise fielded the ball and that contact with the runner could not have been avoided. “We believe the new experimental rule allows for the play at the plate to retain its place as one of the most exciting plays in the game, while providing an increased level of protection to both the runner and the catcher,” new union head Tony Clark said. “We will monitor the rule closely this season before discussing with the commissioner’s office whether the rule should become permanent.”
The umpire crew chief may use the new video-review system to determine whether the rule was violated. This move obviously has a lot to do with Giants’ catcher Buster Posey, who suffered a season-ending injury in 2011, when he was barreled over by Scott Cousins on a play at the plate. The injury has helped bring a lot of attention to the safety of players in those kinds of situations, and helped to start a push for a rule banning collisions. While many baseball traditionalists have spoken out against this new rule, many have also commended MLB for it’s willingness to put player safety first. What do you think? Has Major League Baseball made the right move?