Haskell's Hot Stove

No more home plate collisions? Give me a break!

By Mark Haskell | Dec 12, 2013
Mark Haskell

I am well aware that baseball is no longer the sport of our generation.

With texting, tweeting, Facebook, iPads, Kindle Fires, Playstation 4s and all the luxuries we used to live without, today it is all about instant gratification. Like the Queen song states, "I want it all, I want it all, I want it all and I want it now."

Who has time to sit down and watch a nine-inning baseball game anymore? We can just watch the highlights later on ESPN's SportsCenter, right?

The faster-paced game of football is now king, leaving America's Pastime ... well, in the past.

I can say without the slightest hesitation that baseball is still my favorite sport to watch. My wife and I got rid of cable last year and among, other factors, one of the largest determining factors for us was, “Well, the Red Sox are awful this year anyway.” We got cable back this year, obviously.

When I found out that Major League Baseball is likely going to do away with home-plate collisions, to put it bluntly, I was disgusted.

I have asked a few of my friends their opinion on this and expressed my outrage and they responded with: “I didn't know you cared so much.”

Neither did I. But we rarely seem to care as much about something until it is being taken away from us, much the way my son will get upset when I take away one of his toys and he has probably 5,000 others littered throughout the house.

To be clear, I don't necessarily like home plate collisions, it is just part of the game and always has been.

Baseball has 162 games in the regular season played by 30 teams, which shakes out to 4,860 regular-season games each year, plus add a few more once the postseason rolls around.

So nearly 5,000 games a season. How many home-plate collisions do we see? Five? Maybe 10?

The reasoning is, of course, for the safety of the players. The players that are making millions upon millions of dollars to play a game mind you.

It seems like every day professional sports are taking away more of the fabric of what makes their games their games, while at the same they are eliminating risk and, perhaps ironically, paying the players more money. What other job takes away risk and then gives raises? Can I sign up for this?

To me, this is just another reminder about how superstar athletes run their respective leagues and how the men running those leagues will do whatever is necessary to protect them.

In the last five years we have seen two catchers suffer season-ending injuries to home-plate collisions. That is only one more than players that have suffered season-ending injuries shagging fly balls during pregame in the outfield (Mariano Rivera). One!

The two catchers of course, were bona-fide all stars. Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants in 2011 and Carlos Santana in 2010, when he blocked the plate at Fenway Park against Ryan Kalish and the Boston Red Sox.

In my opinion, if those injuries had happened to say, Dioner Navarro and Kurt Suzuki, MLB is not having this conversation and I am not writing this column.

But two bright, fresh faces of the future of the MLB go down and we are going to rewrite the rules.

I don't agree.

While they say there is a plan, it will be impossible to regulate.

Sure, it appears to be cut-and-dry. Catchers will not be allowed to block the plate, runners will not be allowed to target the catchers. But leaving the umpires to make those determinations is going to be an arduous task.

What happens the first time a superstar athlete is ruled safe when he clearly made contact with the catcher? Or the first time an Average Joe brushes the shoulder of a superstar catcher and he is suspended for 10 games?

Of course, in terms of safety, the number one things people are trying to eliminate are concussions. I am in favor of that too. I do not think anyone wants to see a player get hurt. But the difference between football and baseball, for example, is football is a violent sport where the general premise is tackling a man to the ground. Catchers, by comparison, can move out of the way and not block the plate if they so choose.

So when they outlaw home-plate collisions, what happens next? Outlawing sliding head-first into second base? Justin Morneau got a concussion a few years ago sliding into second base. You just cannot make everything safer.

Professional athletes, by and large, are raw, physical specimens. Well, most of them are (sorry Bartolo Colon).

Regardless, they know what they are signing up for. They are getting paid millions of dollars, there has to be at least some risk involved, which in my opinion, will preserve the integrity of the game.

When it comes to baseball, I consider myself a purist. The ball is fair, or it is foul. The runner is out, or he is safe. With that being said, there is only one way, at least in my mind, that home-plate collisions can be avoided: Do not stand on the track when the train is coming through.

People tend to forget even when you are playing sports at the highest level, in its purest form, it is still just a game.

Let the players play it.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.

Staff Profile

Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
Email Me

Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.

Mark is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, fantasy sports, the AMC drama "Breaking Bad" and iced coffee.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn and sons Beckett and Austin.

Recent Stories by Mark Haskell