Update: Ban on home plate collisions approved by MLB, MLBPABy
Feb. 24th: The rule change, which is being called “experimental,” has officially been announced by MLB and the players’ union. Long story short, the runner must not deviate from his path to the plate and the catcher can not block the plate without the ball. Plays at the plate are subject to instant replay. The full details are right here.
Feb. 19th: Via Jon Heyman: The ban on home plate collisions may be ratified in time for the start of Spring Training games. MLB approved the rule change back during the Winter Meetings, but both the umpires’ and players’ unions still have to sign off. Heyman says the umpires are likely to approve the change, so really all that’s left is the thumbs up from MLBPA.
According to Buster Olney (subs. req’d), the holdup has to do with precise language for the new rules and is not an indication things may fall apart. Several players and managers were consulted during the process, including Joe Girardi. The basic idea is that the runner will not be able to target the catcher and the catcher must give the runner a clear line to the plate. Everyone wants the game to be safer, but they also want the rule change to be approved soon so players can adjust during Spring Training, before the real games begin.