Posted September 06, 2013

Watch: Yet another reminder that home plate collisions need to be banned

Home-plate collisions, rule changes

The home-plate collision you can see above took place Wednesday night in the first game of the Eastern League semifinals (Double-A) between the Erie SeaWolves and the Harrisburg Senators. SeaWolves second baseman Brandon Douglas, who scored on the play, absolutely bulldozes Senators catcher Brian Jeroloman, who suffered a gash on his chin, was taken to the hospital for treatment and tests and will miss the remainder of the series. Douglas suffered no injuries. As bad as it looked, it could have been worse. Still, it shouldn’t have been allowed.

Simply put, a runner should not be allowed to intentionally strike a fielder in possession of the ball in a manner intended to dislodge the ball. It’s true that the official definition of a catch in the major league rule book states, “It is not a catch . . . if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, [the fielder] collides with a player . . . and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball.” I don’t necessarily think that wording needs to be changed. I do, however, think that if the contact is intentional on the part of the runner, and on a play like the one above it’s easy to discern intention, then the runner should be called out automatically.

It amazes me that collisions like the one above are allowed at home plate. If a runner plowed into a fielder in that way at any other base, there would be nearly universal outrage. If a runner makes an excessive attempt to take out a fielder on a potential double play, not only is he called out, but so is the batter running to first base. Yet a runner can plow over a catcher with no regard for the location of home plate and still be credited with a run if he hits him hard enough to jar the ball loose.

That’s madness.

I don’t care if the catcher is a career minor leaguer like Jeroloman or a superstar like Buster Posey — the Giants’ franchise player who missed most of the 2011 season after being leveled on a play at the plate — he should be protected from such assaults. Runners who intentionally steamroll catchers like Douglas did on Wednesday should not only be out, they should be suspended, as they would be for any other excessive on-field violence.

I’d also like to see umpires be more strict about determining when a catcher is “in the act of fielding the ball,” a loophole in the obstruction rule that has widened considerably on plays at home plate. A catcher should not be allowed to intentionally set up in the baseline in such a manner as to block all of home plate from the runner unless he has the ball or is very literally in the act of fielding it. That means that catchers can’t set up there and wait for a throw. They would have to set up either fully in fair or foul territory, only moving into the baseline if forced to by the throw. Enforcing that rule properly would give runners at least some part of the plate at which to aim when they are barreling down the line, making their target the plate, not the catcher.

VERDUCCI: What it will take to change the dumbest rule in baseball

The intent of baseball’s rules on interference and obstruction is simple and logical. The runner has the right of way in the baseline unless the fielder has the ball or is in the act of fielding the ball. If the game adheres to that basic premise, the runner has no right to initiate a collision with a fielder that is in possession of the ball and must make an effort to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field the ball. The fielder, meanwhile, must give the runner the baseline until he has the ball or is in the act of fielding it. That makes perfect sense to me, and if baseball clarifies its rules to that effect and enforces them equally at all four bases, hopefully ugly scenes like the one above will soon be a thing of the past.

105 comments
grantman813
grantman813

It's part of the game people like you are what makes games like baseball and football and other sports a wuss sport let the game be played

MarkGafur
MarkGafur

As a Catcher, This is part of the game of baseball.  The tools of ignorance, the fact that you are the general on the field, and the fact that you control the game more than the pitcher makes this position that much more important.  This is as old of a part of baseball as can be....

The catcher's job is to protect home plate.  These are the risks that we take as catchers.


djensen
djensen

you shouldnt be allowed to block the plate then!!!

Jonathan T
Jonathan T

I agree that type of hit should be banned but the only way to make it fair is to also make it illegal for the catcher to block the plate.  He should have to step to the side and reach out to make the tag.  If he wants to block the plate then he should be run over.

SirHacksaw
SirHacksaw

Hey CNN, that advertisement you tried to show before this article was beyond obnoxious, pop over video that sat dimming the page for 20 seconds.  I've been coming to this site for years, but if I run into crap like that again, I will take my page views elsewhere.

bobdevo
bobdevo

If the first, second or third baseman try to block the base, the runner can take them out.  Runners get penalized if they try to take out a player on a force out.  If the catcher doesn't block the path to the plate, there will be nor collisions - don't blame the runner - he has a right to the base path.

piizzadude
piizzadude

CLIFF CORCORAN 

Put your big boy panties on. It is part of the game, as it should be, so get over it. Next thing you will want is for them to stop keeping score, throw under hand, and wear face masks. 

Stop helping pussify sports. 

TheDoctorIsIn
TheDoctorIsIn

I've thought about this one for a couple of days now. 

It seems to me that the way the rules are currently structured, any collision that takes place is entirely up to the catcher and the runner. 

 If the catcher CHOOSES to avoid a collision, he will leave the plate accessible to the runner. If the catcher CHOOSES to open the door for a collision, he will block the plate. At that point, the runner will CHOOSE to go around the catcher, or attempt to go through the catcher.

This adds up to a simple conclusion...the choice is made by the participants in the play. That  being said, I think the rules provide adequate opportunity to avoid the collision. 

Nobody wants a player to get hurt, but let's face it: any physical activity carries a risk of injury to some degree. I'd be willing to bet that over the decades, there have been more injuries caused by the bases themselves than from collisions at the plate. (Rolled ankles, twisted knees, etc.) Just because a play was spectacular doesn't, shouldn't, and can't make it a target for special focus.

Dylar
Dylar

Catchers wear ARMOR.  They're fair game.

JoeGunter
JoeGunter

Outstanding article, Cliff Corcoran.  Now write another one about pitchers who throw at batters' heads.


mrbaseball_cpr
mrbaseball_cpr

Has anyone here Tweeted to Douglas to ask him his thoughts on the play? I'm just curious about it. Nasty and seemingly unnecessary though it may have SEEMED, I'm wondering what goes through a player's head when these moments present themselves. 

JosephBagadoughnutz
JosephBagadoughnutz

"collisions at home plate stand as the most brutal and, often, most memorable plays in the game. Careers have been derailed and lives altered with just one forceful impact, which can easily dislocate a shoulder, shred knee ligaments or break bones.

Yet the consequences notwithstanding, a full-impact collision belongs in the same league as the brushback pitch. It's part of the game, and it's a play that's as exhilarating as a steal of home or a triple play -- even for the catcher."    Kevin Yanik

Whatever
Whatever

Very simple answer:  Don't allow catchers to block the plate (other fielders cannot block a base), and don't allow runners to initiate intentional contact with a fielder. If you block the plate, that is interference and the runner is safe. If you initiate intentional contact deemed intended to dislodge the ball (and not just to get to the plate), you're out.

Catchers don't have gear to protect them from these collisions, and runners especially don't. Catchers usually aren't even looking at the runner so they can brace for the hit because they're looking at the ball. This is a senseless play and needs to be outlawed.

JosephBagadoughnutz
JosephBagadoughnutz

every other base, the runner can advance , but not home plate.  you block the plate, you are going down.  ask my fav auburn tiger

James C
James C

There is no other level, other than under the MLB rules that this play is legal. Every other rule code has some form or another that reads: If a runner intentionally contacts a fielder in possession of the ball, he will be declared out. If the contact is deemed malicious, the runner will be ejected. 

The rules also generally prevent a fielder not in possession of the ball from impeding the progress of the runner towards the plate (ie blocking the plate). 


One other thing, the rule on a catch is not exactly used properly on plays like this in my opinion. It is not a catch if the player catches the ball then immediately collides with another player and the ball is dislodged. Generally the catcher doesn't collide with another player, the other player collides with the catcher. It is a small wording thing, but it makes a difference. 


The simple fact is this play should be outlawed from the game in the name a player safety. This is not the same a tackling in football, as football players have protective equipment designed to protect them in collisions with other players. Catchers protective equipment is designed to protect them from injury when a 100 mph plus ball hits them. There is no comparison between the way they hit a player. 

nunEEE6
nunEEE6

not the kids fault that the rule is bad, but the rule is bad and very odd in the context of the rest of the game's rules

Bazelope
Bazelope

This is like taking a chain saw to kill an ant.  The runner is a moron!  Is it a legal play? Maybe.  is it a clean play.  No way!

DutchIt213
DutchIt213

So you go ahead and berate this kid for making the play that is allowed?  Cowardly. I see what you are doing here, making an example and saying "hey this is dangerous".  But you block the plate, you earn the hit.. that is the way it works.. If he hadn't blocked the plate, there would have been no reason to hit him... but he did, so Douglas did.  All of you worried moms should relax because "it could be your kid one day".  If that concerns you, then you should educate yourself on the rules of the game and then decide if you would like your child to participate or not.  These are minor league players, grown men.. this is not your son's little league game.. Professional sports are not for everyone, they are for tough, strong people, who can take the punishment that may come with their actions.  In this case, the action is blocking the plate, and the punishment was obvious.  Stop being soft about contact, and realize that if you with to change the punishment, you must change the action as well.

yahzooman
yahzooman

This column is just the latest in the inexorable feminization of America.

Keep this play in the game.  It's one of the most exciting in baseball.

Take it out of girls' softball if you must.

WildRhymer
WildRhymer

@bobdevo - dumb comment ...this catcher WASN'T blocking the plate and the runner plowed him anyway

sero.evo
sero.evo

@Dylar That "armor" is intended to protect them from a 5.25 ounce ball. It is not designed to protect a stationary person from a charging 190 lb human.

Arenascott
Arenascott

@Dylar ARMOR? you show your intelligence or lack thereof.  It would be pointless to explain why catchers wear gear or as you put it ARMOR.  Go back to your game of Dungeons and Dragons.

chipdavis
chipdavis

@JoeGunter But that is already against the rules and pitchers get thrown out of the game and can be suspended.

JoelPedigo
JoelPedigo

@JosephBagadoughnutz You are so full of crap!  Runner mad zero effort to plate but "seemed" his entire intent was to viciously attack catcher!  Not to mention head first which gets you suspended and fined in the game that actually allows you to attack a defenseless player in that manner.  Part of the game?  If you say so.

sero.evo
sero.evo

@Whatever In the video above the catcher was not blocking the plate, so while I agree that if the catcher blocks the plate he is basically opening himself up to a collision, the fact that even when he's not blocking the play and is leveled there is no consequence to the runner, which is insane.

Sportmentary
Sportmentary

@Whatever Then the same should apply to a 1st, second and third baseman who catches the ball and then blocks the plat in an attempt to tag the runner. Id the baseman is viciously hit like the catcher in the video he will be called out and probably suspended.

Stepback
Stepback

If you watch the play without bias it is clear that the catcher left a spot for the runner to slide.  The runner had absolutely no intention of sliding and avoiding contact.  He was head hunting and no doubt about that exists.  The catcher was in front of the plate more than blocking the path from 3rd.  If the catcher blocks the runner, than I understand he can be plowed.  Not the case here.  This type of play should be illegal.  It was an unnecessary move.  All of you people who are in favor of this type of play, I suggest you look at it from the point of view that the catcher is your son, brother or even Dad.  It shouldn't be part of of such a wonderful game. 

itsthinking
itsthinking

@JosephBagadoughnutz  

Learn how to write.  Your idiocy show's through your typing.  Your reasoning is flawed as well.  That's like saying, "hey if you run a red light everyone should get in a wreck and die." Just because something could happen doesn't mean it shouldn't be avoided.  Ask Buster Posey what he thinks, not some second rate college.  He almost lost his career to the same kind of play, and he is one of the best catchers the world has ever seen.

jdane
jdane

@James C Of course it should be banned.   The catcher is completely defenseless in this position since he has to concentrate on catching the ball, and there's nothing 'exciting' about it, unless you also like to see defensive backs hit receivers a half-second before they catch the ball, or perhaps defensive lineman dive into a QB's knees just as he throws, or hockey players take out guys who don't have the puck.    All these things 'happen'; they are just not 'permitted'.  


Arenascott
Arenascott

@DutchIt213 "Cowardly, you earn the hit, stop being soft", you are an idiot.  Being a grown man, strong people, who can take the punishment has nothing to do with it.  Then instead of sliding into second to break up a double play a full frontal collision to take out the second baseman should be allowed.


James C
James C

@DutchIt213 There are issues with blocking the plate as well. If you block the plate when you don't have the ball you are committing obstruction and should be penalized for that. If you have possession of the ball prior to the runner getting to the base, you should be allowed to block the plate, basically as a reward for the good defensive play that allowed you to posses the ball prior to the runner getting to the plate. 


The rule should be very simple, a runner is never required to slide, but that shall avoid intentional and/or malicious contact with a fielder in possession of the ball. 

At the same time, a fielder not in possession of the ball shall not impede the progress of a runner or fake a tag on a runner while not in possession of the ball. Blocking the plate while not in possession of the ball is an example of obstructing the runner. 


Dave Peterson
Dave Peterson

@yahzooman   It says a lot about you that you view "feminization" as a negative thing, and "girls' softball" as if it's some sort of subhuman activity.  You seem to have some sort of issues with females.

What exactly is your problem with women?

(And no, I'm not one of them.  I'm just not so threatened by women that I've got to use them as negative examples and adjectives.)

It also says a lot about you that you seem to be all fired up to see someone get the crap knocked out of them.  You sound like a real tough guy from your comfy couch.

James C
James C

@yahzooman EVERY other major rule code in BASEBALL has made this an illegal act. In fact every other rule code in baseball has a rule that if you maliciously contact a field, your are ejected from the game. The MLB rule code is the only code that allows this to occur. 

mnico213
mnico213

@yahzooman Numerous players have been injured on this play.  Is it really worth a player being out for a whole year so you can have 2 seconds of enjoyment on an unnecessary play that doesn't fit in with any other rules in baseball?  There are plenty of collisions in football, you can still watch that.  And what is so feminine about concern for the safety of other people and commenting on the liability MLB is exposing itself to by not encouraging that safety.

Dylar
Dylar

@sero.evo @Dylar I guarantee you the PSI transferred from a ball traveling at 95-100 MPH is greater than that generated by a runner traveling at 12-15 mph.  At the point of impact (head and chest), catchers aren't meaningfully less protected than football players.  Bottom line, these guys get paid unreasonable salaries to entertain me, and I'll be less entertained if the collision at the plate is removed from the sport.  The least they can do for the fans is take their concussions like men and keep their whining traps shut.

TheDoctorIsIn
TheDoctorIsIn

@Arenascott @Dylar I think the point being made was missed.

Nobody is saying that catchers wear 'armor' for protection during possible collisions at the plate. The "why" of a catcher's gear isn't the point.

The fact that catchers wear 'armor' possibly emboldens them to block the plate as they do have a bit of an advantage over the runner.

The equalizer the runner has is momentum.


TheDoctorIsIn
TheDoctorIsIn

@JoelPedigo @JosephBagadoughnutzbut "seemed" his entire intent was to viciously attack catcher!

Really? Does this mean that you believe that a person involved in an accident, who was wearing their seat belt, was only intended on viciously ramming the other car?

Bracing for the impact does not constitute a malicious intent. 

Please stop exaggerating.

sero.evo
sero.evo

@Stepback That's the main flaw with people and this video is they're overlooking that the plate was not blocked. A lot of masochism and a want to fight showing up with the topic.

It'd be like if I was standing next to a doorway and by foot happened to be out in front of the doorway by a few inches, but in no way would impede your ability to go through the door without contact, but you'd insist on bumping into me to push me into the wall. People are basically arguing that's ok because I was "blocking" the doorway, which is of course idiotic.

Mkmck
Mkmck

@itsthinking @JosephBagadoughnutz If you're going to criticize someone's writing, you might want to get your punctuation right. There's no apostrophe in "show's" the way you used it. Who's idiocy is showing through now, professor?

bobdevo
bobdevo

@James C @DutchIt213 The runner has the RIGHT to advance in the basepath.  If a defensive fielder chooses to impede his progress with his body - then tough luck.  Don't want run over?  Stay out of the middle of the road.

TheDoctorIsIn
TheDoctorIsIn

@Dave Peterson @yahzooman I was going to let your comment go Dave, but after second thought, I decided to reply.

Agree or disagree with yahzooman's "feminization" comment, the ad hominem attack on him is way over the top.

There is nothing wrong with feminization, in and of itself. But since that is true, it stands true that there is nothing wrong with masculinazation either. 

If yahzooman doesn't like or agree with the concepts of feminine sports, that's his choice. If you don't like masculine sports, that's your choice. 

But if you assert that resisting feminized versions of activities is wrong, you have to recognize that demonizing a masculine version is equally as wrong.

If you assert that disagreeing with a feminized version means the speaker has a problem with women, you must recognize that the person disagreeing with a masculine version must thereby have a problem with men.

So while I applaud the fact that you say you have no problem with women, you must, using your logic, have a problem with men. 

Does this mean you are homophobic? Or are you threatened by masculinity?

Well, I don't believe that to necessarily be the case. So therefore, I must dismiss your logic as being flawed.

Mocking someone's support of a tough play at the plate by using the seat they have when witnessing it...disappointing. 


Arenascott
Arenascott

@Dylar @sero.evo You are an idiot PSI from a ball, compared to velocity x mass from.  Give me a break, watch football and stay out of baseball talk.


Arenascott
Arenascott

Go out and do an experiment dr. and have a man run at you full speed as you are looking the other direction and let somebody yell at you to turn around less than second before impact and see who has a bit of an advantage.

Arenascott
Arenascott

@TheDoctorIsIn @Arenascott @Dylar There was no point missed, catchers don't feel embolden because they wear gear.  They know it is for protection from a baseball not a 250 lb man.  There is a difference blocking the entire plate with the runner has no access then just having his left foot on the line.

There are rules for runner obstructing and fielders obstructing you avoid this by making sure.  

 

itsthinking
itsthinking

@Mkmck

Not my fault this website doesn't have an edit button.  At least I don't have flawed logic unlike yourself...

DankCheese
DankCheese

@Mkmck @itsthinking @JosephBagadoughnutzYou should consider using correct punctuation if you are going to criticize someone's writing.  There is no apostrophe in "who's" the way you used it.  It should be "whose."  Here are some examples of the correct usage:  Whose idiocy is showing through?  Who's the idiot now?  Thanks and have a great day!

Mkmck
Mkmck

@itsthinking @JosephBagadoughnutz Oh yeah...and "ask Buster Posey, not some second rate college"? Will the college answer you if you do ask it? It takes a special kind of moron to lecture about someone's writing, then write like you did. Congrats...I guess.

Stepback
Stepback

@bobdevo @James C @DutchIt213 

The catcher was more in front of the plate than in the road of the runner.  The runner could have slid safely into home and avoided the whole problem.  He chose not to slide and initiated an unnecessary and extremely violent collision.  It is like hitting someone who is in zero position to defend themselves.  Not something to be bragged about, that is for sure.