One big thing of note to come out of the Winter Meetings this past week was the approval from Major League Baseball's rules committee to ban home plate collisions beginning with the 2014 season. The decision is what it is, but is it good for the game?
The announcement came Wednesday that banning home plate collisions was approved via vote as New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson, Chairman of the MLB Rules committee confirmed.
"The result of the vote was we will eliminate collisions at home plate by governing both catchers and runners in that situation,'' Alderson said. "The exact language and how exactly the rule will be enforced is subject to final determination.''
There will be a lot research and work put into determining what type of collisions will be banned, the types of plays that result in the collisions, determining who is at fault for the collision on a give play, what punishments would be for both catchers and base runners, and lastly, how it will be enforced during the game.
Again, we get back to the question we posed, is it good for the game to ban home plate collisions?
We all remember the recent track record of home plate collisions as San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, one of the brightest stars in the game today, suffered a broken leg and torn ankle ligaments in a brutal crash with Scott Cousins of the then-Florida Marlins in May 2011, or Alex Avila of the Detroit Tigers who suffered an injury during this past season's playoffs.
Home plate collisions have been a part of the game for a long time as the catcher does his due diligence to block the plate, while the base runner does everything he can do to either jar the ball loose or get to the plate to score a run.
Baseball is a game full of rich history, but recently some of those time honored traditions have gone by the wayside in the use of instant replay, which seems to be expanding everyday, starting pitchers are no longer given the ball and expected to finish the game, and harsher penalties are being handed out for pitchers who intentionally throw at an opposing hitter in defense of his own teammate.
Now home plate collisions will be exonerated from the game, but when you look at what Major League Baseball truly is you can understand why the league is doing this. The MLB is a business and when some of your most popular stars (Posey, Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, and others) are catchers, they are simply protecting their business interests.
It may not be a decision that will sit fondly with baseball historians and traditionalists (our editor included), but overall this is a good for the game of baseball because it will help keep some of the games best players healthier longer, or help a minor league catcher who has great promise avoid a collision that could cost him valuable time and health.
"Ultimately what we want to do is change the culture of acceptance that these plays are ordinary, routine and an accepted part of the game,'' Alderson said. "The individual risks and costs associated in terms of health and injury no longer warrant the status quo.''
Let's face it, we here in Baltimore have been fortunate that Wieters has come out unharmed in the numerous collisions that we have seen him take at the plate and if the Orioles had lost Wieters for an entire season due to a home plate collision at some point, we would have much more feelings toward this.
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