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View Full Version : Time to Change The Play at the Plate


mintacular
06-08-2011, 08:10 AM
It's time for MLB to change the play at the plate rule and here's why.

1. The catcher is a sitting duck, standing stationary while the runner on the other hand has been running full speed around third, etc.

2. The play at the plate requires the catcher to focus on receiving the ball first before making a tag and therefore on bang-bang plays they don't have time to brace themselves for a full impact i.e. are prone to "blind-side" hits

3. The equipment for catchers is not adequate nor was it designed to absorb a collision

4. The play at the plate is not a fundamental part of the game, it happens sparingly and so a rule change is not akin to adding a 5th ball or 4th strike, etc.

5. There is a suitable alternative, quite simply the runner like at any other base has to slide and beat the tag. I suppose I could live with incidental contact at the plate or allowing ones legs to crash into the catcher but leaving your feet as a runner ala "superman" simply needs to go.

6. We know too much about concussions, coupled with the fact that today's athletes are stronger, faster means MLB and other major sports need to tweak rules accordingly

7. If you are a baseball traditionalist maybe this argument will work for you: the catching position will be filled with your weakest players as teams will not take the risk to put their talent behind the plate knowing they could get crushed/injured at a play at the plate

Leon
06-08-2011, 08:17 AM
Not a bad argument but I don't think I would want the rules changed. There have been crashes at the plate for as long as I can remember. The catcher needs to be a big guy and he, and all players, know that inevitable major collisions are going to happen. It's part of the game. Kind of like the wrecks in car racing. (it's part of the spectacle) I have seen the collisions go both ways too. When the catcher is able to have time, many/most runners are no match for them. Good discussion though.....I might even change my mind if persuaded but those are my initial thoughts. regards

D. Bergin
06-08-2011, 08:30 AM
Not that I would be upset if there was a rule change, but I have to wonder if there would be this much of an uproar if this happened to Jose Molina, instead of Buster Posey.

:confused:

barrysloate
06-08-2011, 08:31 AM
Interesting topic, and one that has come to light since Buster Posey's season has come to an end.

Best argument for changing the rules would be the fair catch rule, which protects the kick returner from taking a blind hit. A catcher is equally vulnerable as he can't watch the throw and the runner at the same time.

Best argument against it is catchers would then block the plate entirely, and since the runner wouldn't be allowed to barrell in, he would probably remain on third base unless it was a slam dunk he could score. He would rarely or ever risk what might be a close play. And that would hurt the game.

Maybe there is some nuance they could come up with that would allow the catcher more protection without changing how the game is played.

D. Bergin
06-08-2011, 08:39 AM
Interesting topic, and one that has come to light since Buster Posey's season has come to an end.

Best argument for changing the rules would be the fair catch rule, which protects the kick returner from taking a blind hit. A catcher is equally vulnerable as he can't watch the throw and the runner at the same time.

Best argument against it is catchers would then block the plate entirely, and since the runner wouldn't be allowed to barrell in, he would probably remain on third base unless it was a slam dunk he could score. He would rarely or ever risk what might be a close play. And that would hurt the game.

Maybe there is some nuance they could come up with that would allow the catcher more protection without changing how the game is played.


Well, they are talking about the catcher not being able to block the plate at all. He would have to apply a sweep tag, just like every other baseman.

No barrelling into the catcher and the catcher gets called for interference if he blatantly blocks the plate.

Leon
06-08-2011, 08:53 AM
and since I don't keep up with any new, professional sports I am unaware of this current Buster situation. My comments were general in nature.

steve B
06-08-2011, 09:16 AM
Well, they are talking about the catcher not being able to block the plate at all. He would have to apply a sweep tag, just like every other baseman.

No barrelling into the catcher and the catcher gets called for interference if he blatantly blocks the plate.

There's plenty of force plays at second where some partial blocking goes on. And completely blocking the plate is already supposed to be against the rules, it's just not enforced.

I think a change in equipment or actually enforcing the current rules as written would be better than a change in rules. (Also make the middle infielders actually be on second while holding the ball during double plays)

Anyone who plays catcher has to be durable. They also have to know when to take a hit and when to move. I ended up being the catcher for the softball team I was on because the other two guys got hurt In consecutive innings. One left a foot on the plate like a first baseman and got a broken ankle for his trouble (Should have been blocking or moving instead of stretching) The other took a foul tip in a very uncomfortable spot. After a couple games I stopped wearing the chest protector and shin guards as it was just too big a nuisance getting them on and off. 4 years- 0 collisions. Maybe a couple guys that didn't try to score because they didn't want a collision with a guy that wouldn't wear the pads.:D

Requiring better pads or just allowing better pads - Like the better helmets/faceguards and the throat protectors that became common after that one guy took a chunk of broken bat in the throat- That should help a lot.

Steve B

barrysloate
06-08-2011, 09:16 AM
Dave- having the catcher not be able to block the plate would be a whole lot safer but would change how one aspect of the game is played. Maybe they will try it next year in spring training.

Leon- Buster Posey is one of the rising stars in baseball and went last year from an unknown minor leaguer to a star of the world champion Giants. His season ended a couple of weeks ago when he both broke his ankle and tore ligaments in a home plate collision.

Robextend
06-08-2011, 09:30 AM
Leon- Buster Posey is one of the rising stars in baseball and went last year from an unknown minor leaguer to a star of the world champion Giants. His season ended a couple of weeks ago when he both broke his ankle and tore ligaments in a home plate collision.

In fantasy baseball circles, he wasn't an unknown minor leaguer. In fact, he was so highly touted that he was protected in quite a few keeper leagues when he was in Single A! :)

mintacular
06-08-2011, 09:42 AM
Since the catcher could not be barreled into, I believe the other part of the rule change would prohibit the catcher from standing right in front of the base. Thus the runner would have an opportunity to realistically slide and the catcher would have to catch ball in a zone above plate and sweep tag runner....

Buster Posey is a very talented player so if it takes him to get injured to reconsider the rule than so be it....

Anyone who plays catcher has to be durable. They also have to know when to take a hit and when to move. --if you look at the Posey play again, Posey was actually positioned above plate and Cousins the Marlin's player (within the current rules) could've slid across the heart of the plate but instead went air-born and basically ended Posey's season with that decision to do so...I'm also not sure how the Posey incident has anything to do about being "durable"--the injury he sustained was not a chronic injury, etc. and no amount of durability or physical training could've prevented his injury

I believe the NFL used to allow "close-line" tackles and this change in the rules has made the game safer without taking the physicality out of it.

Robextend
06-08-2011, 09:48 AM
I don't have a dog in this fight, but here is what Johnny Bench had to say about it:

"Buster was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award (as the top collegiate catcher in 2008) and is a great kid - I called him after the World Series last year. When I heard about the injury, I was anxious to see how this happened. Buster put himself in such a bad position. First of all, my catchers don't sit in front of home plate. They stand away from home plate and work back to the plate. But we (catchers) are just fair game. You've got a guy running around third base at 210 to 220 pounds with 3 percent body fat and with sprinter's speed. I teach my kids to stay away from the plate when you don't have the ball so the runner actually sees home plate and his thought is, slide. But Buster is laying in front of home plate, and it's like having a disabled car in the middle of a four-lane highway. You're just going to get smacked. Show them the plate. You can always catch the ball and step, or step and catch the ball, as long as you've got the runner on the ground. And if you have the runner on the ground, there's less chance of any severe collision."

mintacular
06-08-2011, 09:49 AM
Here is a video that shows the play from a few different angles, but I don't think nitpicking about if Posey or Cousins could've done something slightly different to avoid this incident then it's all good....But more so that the overall rule allows/encourages runners to slam themselves into the catcher and that is a bigger issue...

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15201655

Leon
06-08-2011, 10:13 AM
I watched the video. I don't see any need to change the rules. He was blocking the plate and that's what happens when you block the plate. I have had my share of collisions while playing. It's the physical part of the sport. BTW, if this was for enjoyment only, and they weren't making millions of dollars a year, I might say to change it. But, it's just part of the big bucks game. Just my opinion and many will think differently.

steve B
06-08-2011, 10:52 AM
Interesting, and a better video than the others I found.

I see it a bit different but that's the nature of close plays, always open to different interpretation.

I don't think he's actually blocking all that much. He is out in front of the plate, drops the ball as it comes in and turns to make a tag with plenty of base available to the runner. (The turning after the drop explains the drop, he's rushing the play. Not uncommon at any level) the turn he makes puts the left leg in a very bad position, twisted already, forced into the dirt by his weight and with no chance of helping support from the other leg. When he gets hit, the twist is too much and the spikes hold the foot in place. I'd almost bet that the x ray shows a spiral fracture very similar to ones skiers used to get very commonly. Those have been lessened by better bindings, but still happen. And they're usually bad breaks, taking a year or more to really heal right.

A couple ideas from checking the rules

Had he caught the ball and lost it during the collision I think the runner should have been called out on interference.

INTERFERENCE
(a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with,
obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play.
If the umpire declares the batter, batter-runner, or a runner out for interference,
all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the
umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise
provided by these rules.


As it is, Posey was probably guilty of obstruction, but the play finished with no difference between that call and the play so no call needed. Plus its tough to call a foul like that on the guy who got seriously hurt.

OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and
not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.
Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in
flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he
may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to
whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and
missed, he can no longer be in the “act of fielding” the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner,
he very likely has obstructed the runner.

I think the current rules pretty much cover the situaton. The way the rules are called may not adhere to the letter of the rules, but that's probably been true for as long as we've had Baseball.

There have been several guys hurt in all sports by cleats getting caught. I think the technology is there to have cleats that separate from the shoe in bad situations like this one but do the job otherwise. Having that wouldn't prevent all injuries, but would prevent a lot of them.


Steve B

barrysloate
06-08-2011, 01:39 PM
In fantasy baseball circles, he wasn't an unknown minor leaguer. In fact, he was so highly touted that he was protected in quite a few keeper leagues when he was in Single A! :)

Rob- I don't follow the minor leagues, so to me he was unheard of until he joined the Giants. Fair point.