Out of all the major sports leagues in North America, baseball is probably the one that is least likely to change.
I feel the way they have handled the whole instant replay ordeal proves that notion to be accurate. One of the major talking points thus far in Spring Training is a debate of player’s safety, most notably the issue of home plate collisions.
Mike Matheny, who is the current manager and former catcher of the St. Louis Cardinals, used to be a pro-collision guy. Now, however, Matheny has had quite the change of heart. Matheny had this to say to MLB.com:
“I know the league wants to do the right thing and I know Joe (Torre) does a great job. So that’s my prelude. But I do believe that this game will get to the point where there will no longer be a collision at the plate. And I am 100 percent in support of that.”
Matheny’s career was cut short due to post-concussion issues that had to deal with several home plate collisions, so he is a guy who has plenty credibility when talking about the subject. I agree with Matheny’s sentiments, seeing as home plate collisions have brought plenty of season-ending injuries in the past few years, with some not even being of the concussion variety – i.e. Buster Posey.
The only defense to keep collisions a part of the game is the classic “old school” or traditional view of things, and Matheny thinks that’s pretty bogus, too:
“I understand old school, and I consider myself an old school player, as far as the way I go out and the way I was taught the game. I just don’t see the sense in it.”
There’s a simple fix to this whole ordeal: if the runners barrels into the catcher, he’s ruled out. If that rule is set in stone, there will be no more home plate collisions.
It’s not that much different than the banning of the head-first slide in Little League. As a Little Leaguer, we knew that we would be called out if we did it; ergo, we didn’t do it.
I am completely on board with the banning of home plate collisions, even if it eliminates a traditional part of the game. I, like Matheny, think this will happen soooner rather than later, which is very good news for every catcher involved.