This week, Major League Baseball passed the first amendment to attempt to reduce the rate of home plate collisions. In short, the rule prevents runners from going out of their way to hit the catcher, as well as no longer allowing catchers to block home plate without the ball. There is still room for collisions to occur, but much less frequently.
First year Yankee, Brian McCann, is no stranger to home plate collisions. In 2008, McCann was hit in the head by a knee while trying to make a tag, and received a concussion for his efforts. While he sounds appreciative of the rule, he may be a bit skeptical of how it will affect the game. “It’s kind of the same rule we’ve always had…If you don’t have the ball, you can’t be in front of the plate. I don’t know if it’s going to change a whole lot. And then once the play starts, your instincts take over and you know what you have to do to prevent the run.”
Francisco Cervelli, another catcher injured in a collision, offered similar sentiment for adapting to the rule change. “The way I learn[ed] in [the] Dominican was [home plate] is my house and I gotta take care of my house…But obviously you gotta adapt to the new rules, and if it happen[ed] to me it can happen to anybody. After that collision and some other ones, I always say I gotta take care of myself a little more.” Cervelli was crushed by Elliot Johnson in a spring training game in 2008 and broke his arm. Those who remember the play felt the impact. Not only did it knock out a very promising young catcher at the time, but the entire play seemed to stand as a warning from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Yankees. The Rays were letting the team know they were no longer to be played with as cellar dwellers in the American League East.
Rule 7.13 is considered experimental for this season. After the season, the effects of the rule on play will be reviewed and modified if necessary. Implementing the rule is one of the largest changes to the game in recent history.