Update: Ban on home plate collisions approved by MLB, MLBPA

Open Thread: 2/24 Camp Notes
With Gardner and Ellsbury locked up, Yankees need to get power from their infielders

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.

Open Thread: 2/24 Camp Notes
With Gardner and Ellsbury locked up, Yankees need to get power from their infielders
  • W.B. Mason Williams

    Safety is great, but it just doesn’t feel right.

  • Eddard

    I strongly disagree with this. They’re telling ballplayers not to go all out like Pete Rose did in his famous home plate collision. I know Posey got injured for the year a while back but that’s because he had bad technique. Catchers need to fix their technique. And what are they going to do if a catcher doesn’t abide, fine him? The owner of the team can just pay that.

    • leftylarry

      Pete Rose ruined a terrific young catchers career in an All-star game for no good reason except he was a nasty bully by definition.

      I’ll miss the collisions at the plate too but not what Pete Rose did.

    • Hawkeye

      Yes, we should not worry about player safety. Get rid of all obstruction calls. First basemen could body check runners as they round first. If they learned “proper technique” no one would get hurt. Let players block all bases. Get rid of warning tracks, just think of all the neat collisions with the wall. As long as outfielders learned “proper technique” they would not get hurt. We could call this new game hockey ball. (evidently Eddard has already run into a few walls)

  • RetroRob

    In theory it sounds fine, yet I can see situations where it might create more dangerous plate collisions.

    I will say in the thirty years I’ve been watching baseball, home plate collisions seem to be worse and more frequent than they were before, and part of it is because catchers now do seem to block the plate before they have the ball, or even think they’ll have the ball.

  • Mandy Stankiewicz

    There are so many unwritten rules in baseball (stepping in the box while a pitcher warms, swinging on an 3-0 pitch in a blowout, stealing in a blowout, bunting to break a no-no, stepping in front of a catcher, etc.) why can’t we leave this to the catcher, the runner (and coaches) to police themselves. I know. I’m a monster.

    • D.Braden

      I’m sure you missed something there sparky.

  • Mandy Stankiewicz

    There are so many unwritten rules in baseball (stepping in the box while a pitcher warms, swinging on an 3-0 pitch in a blowout, stealing in a blowout, bunting to break a no-no, stepping in front of a catcher, etc.) why can’t we leave this to the catcher, the runner (and coaches) to police themselves. I know. I’m a monster.

  • Duzzi

    Let’s just change every other rule while we are at it. How about everyone gets 4 strikes instead? I agree that this might cause even more injuries because players will have to pull up at the last second not to have a collision. I got a bad concussion due to a collision in a high school game, was the runner supposed to stop for me because the shortstop made a bad throw into the baseline? It’s just part of the game.

    • OldYanksFan

      From reading your post, it is obvious that your concussion has had more serious effects than you are aware of.

  • soxhata

    To me,the catcher already has two choices.Block the plate,or,catch the ball,and do the swipe tag,like Posada did .Baseball can be a slower sport,and the home plate play is one of the coolest in sports.Not a fan of this at all.

  • BigLoving

    I will never have any respect for Posey regardless of what he accomplishes in his career. Disgusting that they are changing the way the game is played after all these years and taking one of the most exciting plays in baseball out of the equation all because a star whined about getting hurt at a position that you play knowing you will eventually be injured.

  • Cheval Anonyme

    I think it is a great goal to reduce injuries, but this seems a silly way to do it, as it is basically requiring players not to play as hard as they can. A better way might have been to make the catcher’s body “part of the plate” if he is blocking it. Then the runner wouldn’t need to take the catcher out in order to score.

  • EndlessJose

    Thanks Buster Posey for ruining for everybody.

  • forensic

    Still not a big fan of this. I actually kind of agree with Eddard, so many catchers just have bad technique.

    • Tanakapalooza Floozy

      Eddard has been oddly easy to agree with of late. Makes me feel like I need a shower.

  • deadrody

    The problem with this is enforcement. When and how is the catcher supposed to provide a “clear path” to home plate ?! Is the default when the umpire determines that the catcher did not allow a clear path, that the runner is automatically safe ? Nothing like taking a concrete out / safe rule and turning it into an umpire’s judgement call.

    This causes more problems than it solves.

    • Hawkeye

      How is it that difficult. The catcher cannot set up directly between third and home. If the ball beats the runner, tag him out, end of story. If the runner beats the ball, he is safe. Why should a runner that beats the ball be called out because he could not get to the base? I thought it was already the rule that catchers cannot block the plate without the ball. Why is it necessary to block the plate with the ball, if you have the ball before the runner gets home, tag him, otherwise it is obstruction as it would be anywhere else on the bases. I realize there will be times when the throw is offline and there is an unavoidable collision- but there is much less chance of injury to either player if the runner is sliding rather than dropping his shoulder in anticipation of having the plate blocked. As Yankee fans, which I assume most of us are, I would think we would want to reduce the risk of injury- especially to our shiney new catcher.

      • Now Batting

        Sooner or later a catcher is going to receive an off-line throw resulting in him questionably blocking the plate and tag the runner to decide a game. All hell will break loose.

        Perhaps hypocritically I am in favor of the new NFL safety rules and against this. I think NFL players are susceptible to far more damage.

        • Now Batting

          This makes more sense:

          “The rule allows collisions if the catcher has the ball and is blocking the runner’s direct path to home plate, and if the catcher goes into the basepath to field a throw to the plate.

      • villapalomares

        Agree Hawkeye. Prior to around the 1960’s catchers rarely blocked the plate without the ball because it was illegal. Then Bill Freehan, Elston Howard and others gradually started blocking the plate and umpires failed to call them on it. Soon baserunners got tired of being blocked at home and started becoming more aggressive. Hence the Rose/Fosse collision everyone remembers.

        • mike

          Beyond that it has to do with the equipment used.

          When catchers started looking like knights and less like ballplayers, they were also able to have more protection in a collision, and with the demise of metal spikes on the runners it makes getting “spiked” less likely.

          spikes were a threat weapon for the runner so a catcher didn’t know whether the runner would slide and spike him/glove, or bowl him over – thus making a collision less likely since the catcher wouldn’t set up like an offensive lineman.

          now, since the catcher likely isn’t going to get spiked ( armor and plastic shoe ware, especially on turf-fields) a collision is the only avenue unless a catcher just “swipes” the player – but that’s more due to the timing of the play rather than am defense of the plate.

  • Steve_Balboni

    I hate this, it is stupid and not based in real science. There actually is very little evidence supporting what is being pushed by the ex-pro wrestler Chris Nowinski’s activist group regarding concussions. Medical science does not support this notion that a few concussions causes long-term effects. Yest boxers suffer dementia pugilistica, but that is the extreme of guys who take massive abuse. A couple concussions in a career playing baseball is not going to lead to anything like that. So this whole rule change is a ridiculous politically correct move that just makes me sick because it is just a reaction to political activism and had nothing to do with actual safety or medical science. Oh and yes I am a physician and a scientist.

    • OldYanksFan


      Every year, 1.5 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which occur when sudden traumas damage the brain. TBI commonly occurs when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, as in a car accident or during a football tackle. Over 75% of TBI cases are considered mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI), which include concussions. This name is deceiving, however, since almost half of these MTBI cases actually results in major neurologic and psychological problems.

      In their study, the researchers used three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the amount of gray matter and white matter in the brains of MTBI patients. Gray matter is composed of neurons, while white matter is mostly made up of glial cells and myelinated axons. Usually, there is no evidence of structural brain abnormalities immediately after a concussion, but the researchers found that there was measurable brain atrophy one year after a concussion.

      Specifically, there was significant atrophy in the white matter of the anterior cingulate and cingulate gyrus isthmus brain regions. The anterior cingulate is important for many complex neuronal systems, including mood, attention, working memory, and executive function, all of which are frequently abnormal after a concussion. The cingulate gyrus isthmus helps regulate anxiety, as dysfunction of the cingulum has been implicated in several psychological disorders, including schizophrenia. The structural damage seen in patients with MTBI correlates with behavioral symptoms they report. Taken together, these findings confirm what has been long been suspected: patients who are symptomatic long after a concussion actually have permanent brain damage.

    • MartinRanger

      You’re a complete moron is what you are. Have you heard anything about the early deaths of NFL players like Junior Seau? How their brains were compared to those of boxers by the doctors who examined them post mortem?

      Also, a couple concussions won’t ruin a career my ass. Tell that to Corey Koskie, who was never able to play again and had to retire when he was certainly still good enough to be a starter. And Morneau hasn’t been the same either. And there are certainly others, including Mike Matheny, who had to end their baseball playing careers because of concussions.

      This has nothing to do with pro wrestling activists. It has everything to do with the similar measures the NFL has taken after they were forced to settle lawsuits with ex-players for failing to protect them from life-altering brain injuries. Tell those men and their families that it’s all exaggerated political activism and p.c. attitudes.

  • bobmac

    Great.First football and now this.I think we should go all the way and emulate the pc crowd.For now on after the season is over we won’t crown a champion as that might be hurtful for all the other teams.Instead every player in the league will be given their very own trophy. Way to go Selig and Goodell.Wimps.

    • lightSABR

      And the award for unintentional parody of the day goes to…

  • OldYanksFan

    Are defensive players allowed to block 1st, 2nd or 3rd base?
    Do runners look like defensive backs charging into 1st basemen, 2nd basemen or 3rd basemen?

    I thought defensive players were not allowed to block the basepath.
    I never understood why catchers were allowed to block the plate.
    I never understood why a runner who will obviously be out at home plate, is then allowed to bulldoze the Catcher as hard as he can, in attempt to be safe.

    Maybe it’s been this way forever, but it seems to me that the ‘Home Plate’ rules are very un-baseball like.

    • lightSABR

      I’m with you. The new rule’s better.

      • BigLoving

        Shut your pie hole.

  • EndlessJose

    Thanks Posey for ruining everything.I can’t wait till he goes to first like Mauer.These hitting first catchers have got to just be firstbasemen and DH’s and stop forcing themselves to be something there not.

    You don’t here Yadier Molina complaining.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      How abor this. We put some catcher’s gear on you and we get me, jjyank, havok, and the Great Gonzo to run head first into you, as fast as we can, from sixty feet away.

      No one needs to maim themselves for my amusement.

  • MartinRanger

    No, you only needed Mike Matheny’s career ended by a severe collision.

    Multiple players have sustained career-altering injuries in home plate collisions, and using Pete Rose as an example without considering what he did in an EXHIBITION GAME to a promising player like Ray Fosse shows painful ignorance.

    I’d much rather protect the players and see them on the field producing than have a few dramatic collisions, only a small fraction of which dislodge the baseball and have any effect on the play itself.

  • Baked McBride

    I like watching millionaires crashing into each other

  • Darren

    I’m not sure if the rules as currently written will help or hurt, but I am 100% in favor of ending collisions at the plate. While they were (are) one of the most exciting parts of the game, the potential cost is way, way to high. Try reading a story or watching any film clips of anyone with a traumatic brain injury or long term brain damage. It’s a horrible, horrible life.