Late on Wednesday reports surfaced that Major League Baseball plans to ban collisions at home plate, possibly as soon as next season but no later than 2015.
New York Mets general manager and chairman of the rules committee, Sandy Alderson confirmed those reports when made an announcement on Wednesday at the winter meetings. Player safety and general concern over collisions were cited as major factors in the ruling.
Alderson had the following to say about the decision:
Ultimately what we want to do is change the culture of acceptance that these plays are ordinary and routine and an accepted part of the game. The costs associated in terms of health and injury just no longer warrant the status quo.
Alderson also said the wording of the rules change will be presented to owners for approval at their January 16 meeting in Arizona. The players union must approve of the rule before it goes into effect, and that seems to be the only holdup keeping it from being implemented in 2014. The union declined comment on the matter until it can review the proposed change.
MLB also plans to vastly increase the use of instant replay by umpires next season in an effort to eliminate blown calls.
The issue of limiting or banning collisions has gained steam in recent years and was never in the news more than in May 2011 when San Francisco catcher Buster Posey broke a bone in his lower left leg and tore three ligaments in his ankle after a collision with Florida’s Scott Cousins. The injury ended Posey’s season.
Not everyone is in favor of the rule change. Yankees manager Joe Girardi claimed he enjoyed contact as a player and wasn’t sure how such a rule would even be implemented.
Alderson said the league intends to have varied levels of punishment, based on intent and several other factors.
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter made a great point, when he asked if it would include every base or just home plate? And what exactly would constitute “blocking” the plate?
Those are the issues the rules committee will be contending with as it drafts the new restrictions.