Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Your Handy-Dandy Guide To The New Rules About Blocking The Plate In Baseball

Because we need more of this...
Why Is Everyone Mad?
Baseball, in conjunction with the players' union, has taken the unprecedented step of writing new rules that suggest umpires enforce the existing rules to prevent players from suddenly turning a play at the plate into the Seven Nations Rugby Championship. Old-school purists have decided that this means that they are wussifying the game, because there is no play more worth cherishing in baseball history than the All-Star Game collision where Pete Rose ruined Ray Fosse's career.


What Exactly Are They Outlawing?
Basically, they're getting rid of those home plate collisions you see on highlights shows where a runner who's out by twenty feet, rather than sliding, decides instead to lower his shoulder in order to knock the catcher into next Thursday. This, in theory, might dislodge the ball and allow the runner to score. In actuality, it is more likely to dislodge the catcher's brain, or perhaps his knee ligaments, as notables such as Buster Posey, Mike Matheny, Al Avila and countless others can attest.

That Seems Sensible...
Well, it is baseball we're talking about.

Why Wasn't This Outlawed Before?
It was. Baseball's rules have long since forbidden catchers to set up across the baseline and block the plate when they don't have the ball. This has generally been honored in the breach more than the observance, but until recently you didn't really have catchers setting up on the line like Duke freshmen camping out for tickets to the Clemson game well before the ball was even thrown. So as these bigger and bigger catchers started blocking the baseline illegally, making it impossible to slide, runners responded by pretending to be Earl Campbell.

So If It's Already Outlawed, Nobody Should Be Mad, Right?
Like I said, it's baseball. Some of these guys get mad when you don't rub dirt on a torn ACL.

Will Home Plate Collisions Be Reviewable On Replay?
So they're saying. However, if you can't tell if two guys have collided right in front of you, ump, I'm not sure how replay's going to help you.

In The Long Term, What's This Likely To Mean?
For about the first three months of the season, everyone's going to be extremely cautious as the umps try to figure out how to enforce the new rules that are really just the old rules that they should have been enforcing all along. After that, things will loosen up, at least until the next time a no-name AAAA guy for the Marlins decks Travis D'Arnaud and unravels every ankle ligament in his extended family.

So, nothing?
Nothing.



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