On the New Collision Rules at Home Plate

It was back during the winter meetings when major league baseball made headlines by announcing their intention to eliminate home plate collisions. On Monday, MLB and the players’ association announced that a new rule will take effect in time for the 2014 season. The rule will be reviewed and possibly tweaked prior to the 2015 season.

The impetus to make a change is obvious, many teams count their catcher as one of their best players. In an otherwise non-contact sport, catchers get knocked off the field all too often. Baseball is a bit behind the curve. Other sports have been protecting exposed players for over a decade, like quarterbacks and kickers in football or goaltenders in hockey. Players like Buster Posey and Yadier Molina have been injured in recent seasons, as these two videos show (video one, video two).

The new rule can be read in its entirety here (twitter link). Umpires will now have two judgment calls to make on collision plays. Baserunners are disallowed from leaving a “direct line to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher.” Runners who break this rule will automatically be called out. This is not dissimilar from the double play rule that disallows baserunners from sliding out of the base path, so umpires shouldn’t have a hard time implementing the rule. Functionally, we should see catchers field the ball slightly in front of home plate, giving baserunners the opportunity to hook slide behind them rather than blind side them. The other component of the new rule is that the catcher cannot block the plate unless he is in possession of the ball. If he does so, the runner is automatically safe.

The MLB press release linked above states that the rule will “prevent the most egregious collisions.” In a sense that is true. The worst collisions are the ones like the Posey video where the ball and the player arrive at the same time. Under the old rule, the catcher is placed between a rock and a hard place where an out and a moderate case of whip lash is the friendliest outcome. With the new rule, Posey has to field the ball out of the base path, which may have prevented the injury.

Emphasis on “may.” As the Molina video demonstrates, the ball often arrives in time for the catcher to be set up in front of home plate. With this rule in place, maybe Molina fields the ball differently and isn’t hurt, but there are collisions each year where the ball beats the baserunner by enough time that the catcher can set up. There is no data to indicate that being fully prepared for a collision improves the health outcomes of the collision. Intuitively, the catcher can set up in the most effective manner to absorb a hit, but the advantages may be partially or completely mitigated by other factors.

What we do have data on is drunk and/or sleeping drivers. There are tragic headlines all the time like “Sleeping Driver Kills Two, Walks Out Unscathed.” Usually, when somebody runs into an immovable object while going 50 mph, all parties are going to get injured. With drunk or sleeping drivers, they don’t have the reaction time to tense up prior to a crash. That tension makes the body more brittle and prone to breaking bones and damaged connective tissue. Drunk and sleeping drivers do get injured frequently in their collisions, but they also walk away more often than otherwise expected.

Where this parlays back to catchers is that it’s not immediately obvious that a catcher prepared for a collision is much better off than a catcher that is unprepared. The prepared catcher is tensed and thus his body becomes more brittle. The unprepared catcher is (hypothetically) less tensed and thus more able to take the hit.

The new rule still allows collisions on plays where the catcher gets the ball in time to set up in front of the plate. This should reduce the number of full on collisions, but won’t eliminate them entirely. Maybe the most egregious collisions won’t happen, but the second most egregious still may. Fans who enjoy the collision play need not worry about it going extinct.

There is one last factor to keep in mind. The early supposition is that we’ll see more sliding plays at the plate. However, home plate has more in common with first base than second or third. The fastest way across the plate is running. While hook slides will probably go up, I also expect to see more glancing blows as runners try to scurry past the catcher. If my expectation proves accurate, we could be increasing injury risk to baserunners with the new rule. We’ll see how it shakes out and if any changes are implemented next offseason.




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Brad is a former collegiate player who writes for FanGraphs, MLB Trade Rumors, The Hardball Times, RotoWorld, and The Fake Baseball. He's also the lead MLB editor for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter @BaseballATeam or email him here.


67 Responses to “On the New Collision Rules at Home Plate”

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  1. Greg says:

    Interestingly, a catcher should really never have been blocking the plate without the ball under the previous existing rules: “7.06 NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.” I understand that catchers have been getting pounded sometimes, but there have been plenty of plays in which the catcher was essentially blocking the plate while waiting…and waiting for the ball to arrive, and runners have little choice BUT to run the over. But I never saw an umpire call a catcher for obstruction. Hopefully this new rule will even the playing field: Catchers won’t feel like they have to “man up,” and the umpires will now be forced to make some kind of call when there is an unnecessary collision.

    Not sure how this will affect Brian McCann’s decisions to not allow showboating HR hitters to touch home plate.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      The key phrase in 7.06 is “when he is fielding a ball.” Depending on an umpire’s interpretation, if the ball has been released and it’s directed at the point right in front of home plate, the catcher can be said to be fielding it, even if it’s still over a second from reaching the plate.

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      • ian says:

        I’m pretty sure that “fielding a ball” in that context usually means a batted ball or a ball on the ground, not a thrown ball.

        The catcher generally doesn’t need to be in the baseline even when fielding a thrown ball anyway, since they can nearly always move up further into the infield or behind the line/plate. The umps just choose not to call it, sort of like the neighborhood play. It’s just been baseball custom.

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        • TF12 says:

          “Fielding a ball” also extends to fielding a throw. By definition, you are not obstructing if you are in the act of fielding a throw. That’s why its not something that is probably rarely ever called.

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        • RC says:

          ” By definition, you are not obstructing if you are in the act of fielding a throw.”

          Tell that to Will Middlebrooks.

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  2. Cap'n Scrappy says:

    Great article! The way I read the rule, like you, is that it would change very little. A runner could not collide with a catcher if the catcher doesn’t have the ball but most big collisions seem to be a result of the runner seeing that the catcher has the ball and has them dead in the water, so they bash the guy as a last resort to try to knock the ball free. It would be a rare and incredibly dirty play for a runner to mash a catcher who didn’t have the ball. Probably worthy of a fine and/or suspension, not just an out.

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  3. james wilson says:

    And why is a catcher with the ball allowed to block the plate? If you are going to change the rule, change the rule.

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    • Lex Logan says:

      Agreed. No part of the catcher should be allowed between the runner and the plate except the glove with the ball, and the runner should not be allowed to contact any part of the catcher except the glove with the ball. At second base (or any other base) a runner who contacts a fielder (not in his base path)without being in contact with the bag should be called for a double play. “Baseball is best played as a non-contact sport.”

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      • arc says:

        Comparing home plate to the other bases is a mistake. That base is significantly different and to pretend otherwise is to ignore the basic rules of the game.

        Your normative statements about what players should and shouldn’t be able to do (despite the rules allowing and encouraging them to) are baseless.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        A fielder only has to keep one side of a base available. For example, a second baseman can put his leg down in a pickoff attempt. He is making the farthest three sides available to the runner in that case, which is legal. It even happens once and awhile, I know utley pulls it off at least once a year.

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    • arc says:

      Is this rhetorical? Home plate is significantly different from other bases, not only in terms of what reaching it safely signifies, but also in terms of the mechanics of how it can be reached by a runner.

      A base that can be reached differently and is the single most important base to the game can be defended differently. That doesn’t mean it’s right, but it is quite intuitive.

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  4. Evan says:

    Doesn’t the accompanying comment to the rule effectively ban the practice of bowling over the catcher in an attempt to dislodge the ball, such as occurred in the Molina play above by including those in the situations where the runner should be automatically out?

    Rule 7.13 comment: The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 7.13. If the runner slides into the plate in an appropriate manner, he shall not be adjudged to have violated Rule 7.13. A slide shall be deemed appropriate, in the case of a feet first slide, if the runner’s buttocks and legs should hit the ground before contact with the catcher. In the case of a head first slide, a runner shall be deemed to have slid appropriately if his body should hit the ground before contact with the catcher.

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    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      My interpretation of that is not that it bans the lowering of the shoulder, etc. per se, but that it would be evidence against the runner in the ump’s judgement call as to whether the runner went out of his way to smash the catcher. In other words, if the catcher has the ball and is standing between the runner and home so that the runner could not realistically slide in, he could lower the shoulder if he had to go through the catcher to score. It seems like 7.13 would be more for a scenario where it’s a close call and the ump thinks the runner could have slid but lowered the shoulder instead.

      Just my interpretation, not sure if it’s definitely right.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        That was my interpretation as well, with the same caveat about correctness.

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      • Evan says:

        I’m sure we’ll get more information as MLB reps and umpires explain these rules at the various spring training camps, but “would support a determination” strikes me as language intended to have the runner called out in these situations, but providing the umpire with just enough wiggle room that he is not forced into a ruling that would seem unfair on its face.

        Certainly common sense doesn’t always rule the day, but it makes more sense to me that the rule has banned the type of play in the Molina video and the expectation is that the runner will treat the C like he would a SS or 2B who is waiting at the base with the ball before he arrives.

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        • Cap'n Scrappy says:

          Holy crap baseball! They made this rule so confusing! My thought would be that if lowering the shoulder should be an automatic out they would have used “shall support” instead of “would support,” but who the eff knows? This thing is more cryptic than a Morrissey album.

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  5. Nate says:

    I don’t think the drunk driver analogy holds up fully. The catcher, even without the ball is still aware of a runner barrelling down the baseline and certainly more expectant of an imminent collision than a drunk driver. Although I will admit, if waiting to catch the ball, he’s not as prepared as if he had the ball and can brace himself.

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  6. Matt says:

    I also read in there that the runner can’t deviate from the path to hit the catcher, including simply putting his hands up to knock out the ball. With that provision in, the intention is for there to be no collisions at the plate at all – if the catcher has the ball, the runner has to go around to avoid, else any collision basically turns into a “deviation from his path”.

    In the Molina collision above, the runner should be out as soon as he lowered his shoulder to plow into Molina, whether or not he had or holds on to the ball. At least, that’s how I read the new rules.

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    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      The “deviate from the path” language is definitely the tricky part for me. What if the runner doesn’t “deviate from his path” but still lowers his shoulder? If you have to run around the catcher, isn’t that deviating from your path more than going straight through the catcher if he’s got the ball and is blocking the plate.

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  7. Ed Nelson says:

    I suspect that Posey and his $167 million dollar contract has probably already led to a 2015 rule change that will outlaw plate collisions altogether. It’s just too much money on the line for a play that is rare enough that the public outcry will be minimal. I wonder if the rates for insurance is higher for catchers than other position players based on these plays?

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    • Bryan says:

      The interesting part with the Giants is that they didn’t wait for the rule change. They have already banned Posey from every blocking the base path to the plate. I wonder why other teams don’t do the same? I mean, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it has actually cost the Giants many runs.

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  8. Tim says:

    The key part of the new rule is the first. Prohibiting runners from leaving the path means that the catcher now has the option of avoiding contact entirely.

    I’m a believer that if the catcher wants to stand in the way of the runner to make the play, he’s accepting the risk of getting run over. But catchers who would rather make swipe tags really should not be running that risk, and getting rid of it is a good rule change.

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    • Lex Logan says:

      Why give the catcher the option? Ban collisions — period. They do not add anything to the sport.

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      • arc says:

        What does “add anything to the sport” even mean? Everything in the sport is arbitrary.

        Why ban collisions? Many of you draw these conclusions based on an assumption that player safety is sacrosanct. But when you look at the rest of the sport and sport in general, that very obviously isn’t a sound assumption.

        You need to make an argument for why that should change. If you don’t start there, you aren’t saying anything.

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        • Cap'n Scrappy says:

          Here’s the argument, in very simple form, because I don’t understand what “sacrosanct” means:

          The risk of injury caused by home plate collisions outweighs any benefits of such collisions. There ya go.

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        • arc says:

          That is not an argument. That is a proposition.

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        • Wally says:

          You dorkous, arc. You’re not making an argument either. And what you are saying seems to be implying that that the status-quo somehow doesn’t need an argument, rather it needs a compelling argument against it for change to happen.

          Here’s a pretty simple argument:

          A) People getting hurt is bad.
          B) Home plate collisions cause people to get hurt.
          C) Home plate collisions should be abolished.

          Its really very simple logic. You offer ridicules against A to attack this argument, but you don’t actually create an argument of why A or B are wrong or why the logic between them are faulty.

          Go back to school.

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        • NS says:

          “You’re not making an argument either.”

          No shit. I’m not the one advocating change. One doesn’t make an argument for *not* doing something.

          “the status-quo somehow doesn’t need an argument, rather it needs a compelling argument against it for change to happen.”

          By definition, yes.

          “A) People getting hurt is bad.
          B) Home plate collisions cause people to get hurt.
          C) Home plate collisions should be abolished.”

          First of all, formally speaking, this is not a valid argument. C does not follow from A and B. You are missing at least two premises.

          Second, even if we imagine you were able to construct a valid argument with those premises, the conclusion would be to “all sports should be abolished”.

          This is exactly what happens when you people are pressed to actually articulate the thoughts behind your positions. You yap all day restating your conclusions a dozen different ways as if they are self-evident and anyone who disagrees is barbaric, but when it comes down to it you can’t even put together a casual argument that doesn’t collapse in on itself halfway through.

          PEOPLE GETTING HURT IS BAD, MMKAY?

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        • Wally says:

          NS, you’re plainly wrong. Of course you’re trying to make an argument. People want to change A to B, and you (or arc, are you the same person?) are making the argument that their reasons are not sufficient for change. Further, the status quo needs an argument to be maintained just as much as any decision to be made.

          The argument for the status quo is basically:

          A) Something exists.
          B) That thing should still exist.

          All I have to do is ask you “why should it exist?” and you’re forced to make argument defending the status quo as much as I am for changing it.

          That’s not logical either. Its an explicit fallacy even: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_tradition

          Further, its a common and prevailing bias of human nature that we require too much evidence to change a status quo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_quo_bias

          As for my own argument, of course it was a bit simplistic, but its the basic framework and the only thing missing is “Bad things should be abolished”, which I figured I’d skip for brevity.

          The whole argument of course would also introduce trade offs between injury risks and entertainment value specific to this topic, but that’s been discussed above. Most post here don’t see the risk being worth the reward. Those arguments don’t lead to abolishing all sports, but reducing injury risk in sports in certain situations.

          Your arguments against those pure ridicules (i.e., “Many of you draw these conclusions based on an assumption that player safety is sacrosanct.”) or easy to identify fallacies (i.e., “You need to make an argument for why that should change. If you don’t start there, you aren’t saying anything.”).

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        • chuckb says:

          Here’s an argument:

          Deliberate collisions are not allowed at any other base. What reason is there for allowing them at home? That the catcher has equipment on? That equipment is designed to protect them against foul balls and pitches in the dirt, not 220 pound men running at them full speed from at least 90 feet away.

          The notion that this rule was only created because “player safety is sacrosanct” is a huge strawman. Player injuries will always happen and are part of the game. There will still be collisions at home and at other bases as fielders going for balls will run into runners trying to advance or retreat. This rule is designed to eliminate deliberate collisions that can be avoided. There is no justifiable reason within the game of baseball to permit any runner to run over any fielder (or vice-versa, for that matter). It’s not permitted at any other base. There’s no reason for it to be allowed at home either.

          These collisions injure catchers badly. Buster Posey lost a season because of it. Mike Matheny lost his career to it. They’re senseless, destructive, and avoidable. That’s why they should be banned.

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        • arc says:

          Dissecting someone else’s argument and constructing your own are completely distinct. I have no idea why you are stomping your feet over this semantic issue.

          “Further, the status quo needs an argument to be maintained”

          No, it absolutely doesn’t. For the status quo to be maintained, *nothing* needs to happen. Nothing. This is tautological.

          I have not made and will not make an argument for the status quo. It is unnecessary. If you advocate change, you must present an argument and we can evaluate the merits of it.

          *Only if* the argument is sound will a counter-argument for the status quo be warranted. If the argument is frivolous, unsound, or invalid, no counter-argument is required. It’s as simple as dismissing the first. No change is made.

          You are spending a lot of time explaining why you shouldn’t have to present a satisfactory argument for something that you pretend the rest of the time is very easy to argue. This supports my suspicion that you don’t actually have anything on which to base your argument beyond arbitrary preferences.

          When you’re ready to spend half as much time putting one together as you have explaining why you shouldn’t have to, we’ll have something to talk about. Until then, you’re just another noisy set of uninteresting conclusions.

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        • arc says:

          “Here’s an argument:

          Deliberate collisions are not allowed at any other base. What reason is there for allowing them at home? ”

          That is not an argument; what’s wrong with you? That is a question with a very obvious factual answer explained by the rules of the game themselves. Home plate is not like any other base in terms of how it can be reached safely, what it means to reach it safely, and how it can be guarded. It would in fact be very *unusual* if the same rules applied to it that applied to other, very different bases.

          Again, that is not an argument. It’s just a bad question.

          “There is no justifiable reason within the game of baseball to permit any runner to run over any fielder”

          The rest of your post is yet another list of tedious conclusions without any support, just like this one.

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        • Brad Johnson says:

          Why would it be “unusual” for home plate to NOT be treated differently than other bases re: ways to reach it safely? That’s not at all intuitive.

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        • Wally says:

          Arc, you are creating arguments whether you like it or not. Take for example:

          “Many of you draw these conclusions based on an assumption that player safety is sacrosanct. But when you look at the rest of the sport and sport in general, that very obviously isn’t a sound assumption.”

          Your conclusion is that another person’s argument is flawed. But how do you justify that? With an argument of course. You’re using:

          A) You think player safety is sacrosanct.
          B) Looking at baseball and sports in general tells us its not.
          C) You are wrong regarding player safety.

          Everything has an argument. It sounds circular, but its not. You’re making an argument about why another person’s argument is wrong. You can choose to involve the topic or go straight to the logic and validity of the argument itself. You actually choose to involve the topic at hand, so I have no idea how you think you’re not creating an argument. Ignorance, stubbornness, what ever. You’re just wrong.

          “No, it absolutely doesn’t. For the status quo to be maintained, *nothing* needs to happen. Nothing. This is tautological.”

          Right, for the status-quo to continue nothing has to change (except you have to of course to choose to do what ever that status quo was again) but that doesn’t mean its the logically correct thing to do based on the current facts of what ever thing it is. Again, you need to just go read up some. The status-quo is not, or at least shouldn’t be, maintained out of some sort of default requiring someone to convince the irrational individual, such as yourself. Rather, arguments for all actions need to be made independently of what what’s currently going on and the best chosen. Might sound like semantics to you, but its not. Think of like this, to be rational you have continuously reevaluate every decision you make. Even if you just made the same decision two seconds ago and you have to do it again, the fact that you already made that choice is irrelevant to your next decision. All data are represented and all arguments are then made again independently.

          “I have not made and will not make an argument for the status quo. It is unnecessary. If you advocate change, you must present an argument and we can evaluate the merits of it.”

          Here’s the key, its not just whether you like the argument for change, it whether or not the argument for action B is considered more convincing than the argument for A (the status quo). Both have to be presented to make an informed decision.

          “Home plate is not like any other base in terms of how it can be reached safely, what it means to reach it safely, and how it can be guarded. It would in fact be very *unusual* if the same rules applied to it that applied to other, very different bases.”

          “*Only if* the argument is sound will a counter-argument for the status quo be warranted.”

          Only that’s not at all what your criticisms have been. If an argument isn’t sound, it isn’t sound. That’s that. But it is possible to have 2 sound arguments in conflict and that’s what we have here. You’re creating a misdirection, i.e. making appeals to ridicule like the “player safety is sacrosanct” argument, not actually addressing the validity or soundness of the argument. So what is it Arc? Do you want to discuss the logical flow of the argument or are you going to discuss facts supporting the argument. We can certainly do both, but you’re habitually confusing the two.

          “If the argument is frivolous, unsound, or invalid, no counter-argument is required. It’s as simple as dismissing the first. No change is made.”

          Feel free to actually do that…..

          “This supports my suspicion that you don’t actually have anything on which to base your argument beyond arbitrary preferences.”

          Of course it comes down to preference. Like I said with two sound arguments in conflict, you have to decide what you think is more correct. Its a sport played to entertain those individuals watching it. There is no morally or scientifically correct fact to base an argument regarding the level of acceptable injuries in sport. Its all personal preference. For me the argument goes basically like:

          A) Watching people get hurt isn’t fun. (this is a fact, I don’t like it, I don’t like watching UFC, your preference might be different but it doesn’t change this fact that I don’t like it)
          B) Watching people slam into each other isn’t fun. (same as above)
          C) Watching baseball is supposed to be fun (yes this can depend defining baseball and its purpose but seriously, do I need to spell those out, it should be self evident enough for you).
          D) To make baseball more fun to watch, we should minimize injury and collisions. (logically sound conclusion based on the facts above)

          Arguments for and against abortion (classical example if you take a logic class) are both sound. So, how do we pick which one to rule the day as the law of the land? It comes down to personal preference (read morality) based on many other factors for those that would be bound by this law. Its the same situation here, though much less important, as it comes down to a very simple argument that puts player safety ahead of perceived minimal gains, or even a decrease, in entertainment value. For MLB its as simple as a what rule will make them the most money given the personal preferences of the population of people that would like to watch baseball.

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  9. Hate It says:

    Look guys I get it. I caught for about 17 years – 8 of which were in independent ball. I was known for putting myself in a collision position every chance I got. I ended up having a back surgery at 27 and was done catching. Just had knee surgery for my 31st bday. Collateral damage from my catching days.

    I wouldn’t change it for the world. I hate the new rule. That’s my plate. You want to cross it, you’re coming through me. Maybe that’s barbaric and cold and brute. But that’s the way this perfect game was designed to be played.

    I understood the inherent risks. I accepted them gladly – as a child I accepted that in order to advance further I would don the tools of ignorance and own a hazardous position. Let me tell you – I wouldn’t successfully hung around in independet ball for all those years as a 2B or an OF. It was my choice, as it is for just about anyone who catches. Let us live with our decision.

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    • bobabaloo says:

      that trade off just doesnt compare in my mind. its one play, and is only a small part of the game. your health, and the mlb players’ health seems far more important. the game is hardly different without collisions.

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      • chuckb says:

        The game is better without these collisions because more of the better catchers in the game will be on the field more often.

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    • Lex Logan says:

      I remember when stall ball was legal in college basketball, and those who played the game argued it was part of the game. Then Cincy stalled for an entire game against Kentucky, on national television, with a final score of something like 24-11. The shot clock was added the next year. Your plate? Who says? Because that’s the way you learned it? Not worth losing even a fraction of a year of watching Johnny Bench at bat or behind the plate.

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    • Eric Walker says:

      The crux is that you say “let us live with our decision”, not “let me live with my decision”. By not having this rule, catchers not as, um, zealous as you to get their bodies broken up are obliged to take risks that many, probably most, of them would prefer not to. It ceases to be a choice and becomes a job requirement.

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      • Brad says:

        And how do you know most catchers feel that way Eric? You are assuming as much as you imply the OP is.

        This rule has likely very littler to do with how catchers feel and everything to do with protecting owners’ pockets and MLB’s public image. Given the weaknesses of human nature, the likelihood that this rule is predominantly about the feelings of catchers or really about their health is small to none. But of course, that is simply my assumption based on my observations of MLB and the corporation mentality as a whole and I would be thrilled if I was wrong.

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      • arc says:

        “It ceases to be a choice and becomes a job requirement.”

        A job *is* a choices. This “job requirement” was not sprung on anybody by surprise. It is not a late-breaking development. They are playing a game for a living by choice and have known the requirements of the job since they were children.

        At every single conceivable step of the way, it has been their choice.

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    • chuckb says:

      This argument is sort of like the NHL or NFL allowing hockey or football players who want to play without helmets to do so. It’s better for the players to require them to wear helmets even if it makes them feel a little less manly. It’s better for the game to have those players on the field (ice) than not, just as it’s better to have the best catchers on the field more often.

      If you want to do damage to your body, there are lots of ways to do that. But baseball has a vested interest in insuring that its best players play as often as possible.

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    • 68FC says:

      As a former catcher, I agree wholeheartedly. I lived for plays at the plate.

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  10. Johnhavok says:

    I think the rule as written is a compromise to those who dont want any change and those that want the contact taken out entirely.

    I watched a lot of videos on catcher collisions after the announcement of this rule and there’s a ton of them where the catchers were being bowled over when they weren’t blokcing the plate, and they were actually in front of it waiting for the ball or perhpas just caught the ball and were starting to turn towards home, but the runner came from outside the baseline and smoked them anyway rather than sliding or running straight through home.

    There were also a bunch of them where catchers had set up to block the plate and the ball hadn’t even got there yet and got steamrolled. it’s those two kinds of collisions that the rule is trying to prevent.

    The remaining collisions were usually ones where the catcher had the ball and the runner was out by about 10 feet and were set and then got hit by the runner – which under the new ruels would still be allowed.

    I didn’t bother with all of the numbers to see what % of each collision type was out of all collisions, but based on my memory, it would be at least 2 out of 3 being prevented.

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  11. me says:

    So to be clear by this rule what the runners did in those videos is fine?

    It seems this rule mostly holds the catcher responsible for avoiding the collision since it is rare for the runner to significantly go out of the way to hit the catcher.

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  12. Dwayne Carter says:

    I’d be shocked if Buster Posey had anything to do with this rule change. Concussion liability protection is the goal. The Posey narrative is simple-minded. Johnny Bench has been advocating for this rule change for years, but never got much traction. I believe the NFL concussion lawsuit, which was in court a month ago, is the impetus for why this rule was changed at this time. A concussion can be much more deleterious than a broken leg.

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    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      Would seem like it would have been much simpler to outlaw collisions entirely than to write this convoluted rule if concussion liability were the main concern, no?

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      • RC says:

        They’d never get it ok’ed. There’s too much “history” in baseball. Things can’t be done directly… need to trick the cranky old people in small steps.

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  13. Spunky says:

    Brad, great article about Rule 7.13. Thanks for posting!

    I do disagree with you regarding the Posey/Cousins collision. While it’s true that Posey may be required to take a step back until he has full possession, under Rule 7.13 Cousins would clearly be in violation of the “putting your shoulder down” part, as Harrison would have been in his collision with Molina. However, I agree with your ultimate point that, regardless who was at fault, this rule prevents these types of collisions from happening in the future.

    Rule 7.13 is great for baseball. I’ll take a healthy catcher over a hard collision any day.

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  14. Hurtlockertwo says:

    You can’t run over the catcher in any league before the age of 18, why does it become a good idea in professional baseball? Just make the runner slide and the catcher not be allowed to block the plate.

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    • MGL says:

      I agree 100%. I assumed that would be the change. I am disappointed it was not. If runner makes egregious contact with catcher while not sliding, he is out. Period. Yes, there will be judgment on the umpire’s part, as there is in many other umpire and referee decisions in all sports.

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    • Johnhavok says:

      Baseball is very slow to move on any rule changes like this simply because of it’s tradition. Like it or not, there’s always huge backlash so i think the MLB taking the middle ground is a way to appease the old school guys a bit while still making changes.

      It’ll be the first big play at the plate with a collision this year and we’ll all be back to argue about whether or not the ump amde the right call.

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  15. Matt says:

    “The new rule still allows collisions on plays where the catcher gets the ball in time to set up in front of the plate.”

    Or the catcher can set up in a position to avoid collisions, such as on the plate or to the side of the baseline. If the runner swerves to cause a collision, he’s out. If the runner simply goes full speed down the line, he’s easily tagged out with no collision. If the runner slides, it’s down to his sliding skill vs catcher’s ability to tag.

    Which leaves the possibility of collisions only if both players choose to have one. Catcher gets ball early enough to receive ball and move, then chooses to move in front of plate to block it, runner chooses to go through, instead of around.

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    • crapshoot says:

      So why not just remove the choice altogether? If it’s a 4-4 game in the bottom of the ninth both players are going to “choose” to risk the collision no matter how badly either one of them personally wants to avoid it. Home plate collisions should either be illegal or they shouldn’t be. There is no middle ground.

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  16. Buddy says:

    Under this rule, what happens if the catcher blocks the plate and the runner goes out of his way to run into him? As I read it, he’s both safe and out in that instance.

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    • siggian says:

      Don’t see how that is possible. If the catcher is blocking the plate, how can the runner go “out of his way” to run into him? The runner may indeed plow into the catcher but he wouldn’t have to go out of his way to do so.

      I’m waiting for when the catcher gets the ball and goes up slightly up the third base line and the runner attempts to hurdle him but clips the catcher on the way over. The catcher does not tag him before he touches the base. The runner is likely to violate the wording of the 7:13 comment (because he’s neither sliding and he’s likely leading a bit with his shoulder and perhaps even pushing down with his arms) but not the spirit of the wording (because he’s trying to avoid contact). It will be interesting to see how that is ruled.

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  17. Ted Lilly says:

    This is why I retired.

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  18. Machaut says:

    I like this page because it gives us an opportunity to watch “arc” be wrong about everything and terrible at arguing. Going to teach it in my logic class tomorrow. Thanks for volunteering, arc!

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  19. RC says:

    I can’t think of any situation where I’ve ever seen the catcher drop the ball without an injury that put him on the 15 day DL. It seems to me that the entire point of the plate collision is to try to injure the catcher badly enough that he drops the ball because of a concussion, or something tears or breaks.

    I think the game would be better with it gone. THat being said, I think the game would also be better off without collisions at 2nd, and with 2nd baseman having to actually touch the base.

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