Thursday, November 7, 2013

Should Home Plate Collisions Be Banned?


Florida Marlins' center fielder Scott Cousins scored the go-ahead run in a brutal collision with San Francisco Giants' catcher Buster Posey in the 12th inning, injuring the Giants star. The Marlins defeated the Giants 7-6. (http://www.terezowens.com/buster-posey-hit-didnt-break-up-play/#UoG2GJ5uJKVCXmq5.99).


According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, at least five MLB managers and general managers, such as former St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony Larussa and Oakland Athletics' general manger Bill Beane, have called for changes on home plate collisions. 

Discussions to reduce that particular play are expected to be discussed next week when the general managers meet in Orlando, Fla, according to Olney on Thursday.

Home plate collisions have become a growing concern in MLB because of the number of catchers who sustain injuries. There have been many notorious home plate collisions; including the aforementioned collision between Florida Marlins' center fielder Scott Cousins and San Francisco Giants' catcher Buster Posey.

The Posey collision changed many team officials' mindsets about home plate collisions, according to Olney. "Before 2011, some team officials had already privately advised their catchers not to block the plate, but the conversation about a rule change gained momentum after San Francisco's Buster Posey had his left leg shattered in a collision in May of that season."

This has not stopped home plate collisions from occurring. There was a collision this past season that resulted in Chicago Cubs' catcher Dioner Navarro sustaining a leg injury.



According to Olney, part of the reason these discussions are occurring is because of the NFL. "I think we've learned a lot from what's going on in the NFL," said one club official, referring to the lawsuits that former players have filed against the league.

The NFL is constantly dealing with lawsuits from former players about long-term injuries they sustained during their playing days, such as concussions.

The home plate collisions tend to be some of the most exciting plays in a game. Until the umpire rules the base runner safe or out, it is like a scene from a movie where the fans do not know what will happen next.

ESPN Sports Science analyzed a collision that occurred between Toronto Blue Jays' third baseman Brett Lawrie and Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek in 2011 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIqDdkFBUdY)

The reason why MLB might be discussing the case now is due to the home plate collisions that occurred during game five of the American League Championship Series, Boston Red Sox-Detroit Tigers. 

The first collision occurred “in the bottom of the first inning, (Detroit Tigers' third baseman Miguel) Cabrera ran through the stop sign of third-base coach Tom Brookens and was beaten to home plate by the throw by yards. (Boston Red Sox catcher David) Ross planted himself in front of home plate, and Cabrera -- who likely weighs more than 240 pounds -- blasted into Ross, trying to knock the ball loose,” according to Olney.

Ross did not sustain an injury, but the following inning Tigers' catcher Alex Avila “suffered a strained patellar tendon in his left knee,” according to Olney, when Ross collided with him at home plate.


General managers have three options during those discussions about home plate collisions. They can leave home plate collisions the way they are, allow the base runner to automatically score, or allow the catcher to automatically tag the base runner.

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