This week’s biggest debate is whether or not a new one-year experimental rule will eliminate collisions at the plate and make the game safer for catchers.
But there’s probably not going to be much of a change. The prediction here is that any change is not going to be drastic.
The biggest change will be for the runners. The new rule penalizes any runner that barrels around third base with the macho attitude that they have to knock the opposing catcher into the next ZIP code to score a run.
A catcher will still be able to block home plate if he has the ball, and in that case, collisions are allowed if the catcher is blocking the runner’s direct path to the plate. If a runner leaves his path to crash into the catcher, the new rule says that he will be called out, even if the catcher, or the pitcher covering home plate, drops the ball.
Umpires will be left with another judgment call, but the calls are going to be obvious. And they’ll have instant replay to help them in case they need to have a few more looks.
This rule makes sense.
Runners are getting stronger and faster. Runners don’t force collisions when running toward second or third base, so why should they be allowed to have a football-like collision at home plate?
Those who say that baseball is toying with eliminating one of the most exciting plays in the game are overreacting. I’ll take a slide-and-catch play decided by a fractions of a second any day over the runner lowering his shoulder to score a run and flatten the catcher.
And while the rule will not eliminate collisions, it will go a long way toward eliminating needlessly dangerous collisions that can sideline a player - such as the Giants’ Buster Posey in 2011 - for months.
The rule is a one-year experiment. My prediction is that there will be little drama and the rule stays.