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Debate: Home plate collision rule in baseball

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Is the home plate collision rule in baseball worth preserving or scrapping?

Background and context

Catcher Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, the National League's rookie of the year in 2010, suffered a leg fracture and torn ligaments in May of 2011 when Florida's Scott Cousins barreled into him at home plate in the 12th inning of the Marlins-Giants game. This, along with many other injurious home plate collisions throughout baseball history have sparked a debate about the rule.



  • Home base collisions are just part of the game. Catcher Ray Fosse: "The game has been around more than 100 years, and now they're going to start protecting catchers?"[1]
Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek: "Catching, you're usually not on the winning end of those. Period. Some things are part of the game. But even the people who are playing hard and are in those collisions don't want to see anybody get hurt. Some things are part of the game. There's not a whole lot you can do."[2]
San Francisco Giants Manager Andy Skeels, a former catcher: "That’s the part of our business. You’re a catcher. There’s gonna be plays at the plate and guys are gonna try to run you over."[3]
  • Home plate collisions are essential tension of offense/defense. Dave Cameron. "It's time to end home plate collisions." Fan Graphs. May 26th, 2011: "Rounding the bases, getting to home plate and putting a run on the board for your team is what the game of baseball is all about. A baserunner wants to get there at all costs, whereas a catcher wants to protect it at all costs. The mutual discomfort that's evoked in both the catcher and the baserunner as a play at the plate develops is one of the intriguing peculiarities that makes the game of baseball so great."
  • Baseball is professional sport; running over catcher is fine. Fosse told the San Francisco Chronicle. "In high school, you can't run over the catcher. But that is high school. This is professional baseball."
  • Runner can't just stop if catcher has ball. The idea is to score runs. If the catcher has the ball and he's standing there, the runner has to stop? Is that the protection?'
  • Dangers are involved in every sport. Former All-Star catcher Bob Boone: "It's in every sport that we have, there are dangers there. There are dangers for a jockey climbing onto a horse. Do we just let the horses run by themselves and save injures? We see it in football. If we took the pads off and just played flag it be a lot better. We wouldn't have so many injures but it's part of our society. It's why it's so attractive to us, I think."[4]
Nick Cafardo. "Let’s keep rule change off our plate, please." The Boston Globe. May 29th, 2011: "Catchers understand that there are plays they must make that could jeopardize their careers. Just as the quarterback who hangs in the pocket until the last second knows that a 300-pound lineman or blitzing linebacker may crush him"
  • Home base collisions, injuries too rare to justify ban. Mike Rutsey. "Inside Baseball: Colliding views." Toronto Sun. May 27th, 2011: "These days, though, hard, smash-mouth collisions at the plate are rare birds, close to extinction. The reason for this is the money involved as neither the runners nor the catchers are willing to crash into each other willy-nilly as perhaps they did in the past. There is too much on the line financially."
Ricky Doyle. "Buster Posey's Injury Unfortunate, But Home-Plate Collisions Still Have Place in Baseball." NESN. May 29th, 2011: "to demand action to be taken as the direct result of the injury is a knee-jerk response, and one that is completely unnecessary. While they come with risk, home-plate collisions are rare occurrences in baseball, and injuries resulting from them are even rarer."
  • Banning collisions would give unfair advantage to runner or catcher. Ricky Doyle. "Buster Posey's Injury Unfortunate, But Home-Plate Collisions Still Have Place in Baseball." NESN. May 29th, 2011: "Collisions at home plate aren't always necessary, and should be occur sparingly, but to regulate them would inevitably hand either the baserunner or the catcher an unnecessary advantage in close-play situations. If Major League Baseball was to employ a rule stating that runners must avoid contact with the catcher -- similar to the 'slide or avoid' rule employed in amateur baseball -- it would give the advantage to the catcher. The catcher would have the benefit of dictating the course of action that a baserunner must take, and would -- perhaps more importantly -- have peace of mind knowing that there is no chance of an ensuing collision. If Major League Baseball was to make a rule stating that the catcher cannot block the plate, the advantage would certainly go to the baserunner, who would enjoy the luxury of a straight path to the most sacred ground on a baseball diamond."
  • Catchers don't have to block the plate. They can swipe an incoming runner out just as effectively. If they choose to block the plate, than this is their choice, and they are inviting the home plate collision and the risks of injury this entails.
  • Professional sports involve risks that athletes accept. Fadi. "In Defense Of Home Plate Collisions." Reasons for Termination. May 27th, 2011: "Why are we so concerned about changing the rules to sports (in this case an American past time) to protect athletes from injury? The emphasis here being the word “athlete.” They are athletes: major sports media seems to forget that these guys are getting paid millions of dollars to play sports. And in playing sports, injuries happen. It’s time we accept this fact and stop trying to change the game to accommodate injuries. Put it this way: let’s say you’re a baker, you get up in the morning, you kneed your dough, you put it in the oven, and out comes baguettes, croissants, what have you. One day, while you’re placing some baguettes in the oven, you burn your hand. Are the baking critics calling out “WE NEED TO CHANGE THE WAY BAKING GETS DONE, WE SHOULDN’T USE OVENS ANYMORE…IT PUTS INNOCENT BAKERS IN HARMS WAY!”? Absolutely not."
  • Banning home plate collisions: slippery slope to other limitations. Fadi. "In Defense Of Home Plate Collisions." Red State Blue State. May 27th, 2011: "Ban home plate collisions? What are you talking about, Buster? It was a freak accident. Ban home plate collisions!?! Why don’t we ban pitching inside too!?! And we should ban breaking up the double play on a hard slide into second!?! How about we ban walk-off celebrations and ban beer in the grandstands, JUST FOR FUN!?!"
  • Injuries are part of game, don't justify rule changes. Fadi. "In Defense Of Home Plate Collisions." Red State Blue State. May 27th, 2011: "No one likes to see people get hurt. No one. But guess what: it happens. People get hurt playing baseball all the time. Sometimes they get seriously hurt. It sucks. There’s no denying it. But that still doesn’t make it okay to go off and make drastic rule changes to the game, just because you and your worldwide leader in smut want blog traffic. Hate me ‘cuz it ain’t sugarcoated, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right."


  • Home base collisions shouldn't be preserved for tradition's sake. Just because it's been around for a while does not make it right or necessarily worth preserving. Tradition for tradition's sake is never fully justified.
Mark Smith. "Home plate collision: It's about the money." May 27th, 2011: "One of the most common arguments I heard was that the play had been a part of the game since its inception, and it be allowed. Tradition can be an important thing. It’s traditional to have a Thanksgiving meal with my family, and that has its rewards—family time, seeing relatives, bigger and better meal. But what’s the traditional reward here? What do we get from having this tradition? Is it exciting to see a guy get run over, and is that worth seeing catchers hurt? [...] doing something that’s always been done is a bad idea when there are better alternatives."
  • That catchers know risks doesn't mean risks can't be reduced. Mark Smith. "Home Plate Collisions." It's About the Money. May 27th, 2011: "Another argument is that Posey and all catchers understand the risk when they sign up to play catcher. It’s notoriously demanding behind the plate, and catchers know what they’re getting themselves into. It sounds good on the surface. Well, what do you think about factory workers? Back at the beginning of the century, they understood the risks of working in Industrial Revolution factories, but society still realized the conditions were too dangerous and changed the situation. Yes, they understand the risks, but that doesn’t mean they should be there to begin with. Yes, if I had the chance to make millions as a catcher, I would do it, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to do it without getting crushed at home plate."
  • Catcher pads are not meant for human collisions. Mark Smith. "Home Plate Collisions." It's About the Money. May 27th, 2011: "I also saw this argument, but I don’t think it was common. Catchers have pads and can withstand being hit. Just in case you believe this, yes, catchers have pads, but they aren’t great. They’re only somewhat helpful against half-pound leather projectiles, but that’s usually one after the ball has hit the ground. They don’t work against 200+ pound athletes barreling into you. Pads don’t always work well enough in football, and catcher pads are much worse at protecting the human body."
  • People shouldn't enjoy watching violent hits at home plate. Why is it that people seem to enjoy aggressive hits at home plate? If they do, it's probably for the wrong reasons. Individuals should probably not enjoy violence between individuals, hits, fights, etc. It's a savage impulse that shouldn't be honored by attaching some entertainment value to home plate collisions.
  • Collisions aren't allowed anywhere else; why home plate. Dave Cameron. "It's time to end home plate collisions." Fan Graphs. May 26th, 2011: "At no other position is a runner entitled to simply run over the defender hoping to dislodge the baseball before returning to touch the base safely. When Alex Rodriguez tried to swat the ball out of Bronson Arroyo‘s glove in 2004 – with his hand, offering no chance at bodily harm to Arroyo – he was roundly mocked and called out for interference. After the game, Kevin Millar said this: 'If you want to play football, strap on some pads and go play for the Green Bay Packers.' There was very little violence in Rodriguez’s actions, but because he initiated contact to try and dislodge the ball, it was considered a football-like move. Meanwhile, Cousins literally threw his entire body weight into Posey at home plate, breaking his leg in the process, but that’s okay because he was wearing a chest protector?"
  • Home plate collisions turn baseball players into gladiators. Dave Cameron. "It's time to end home plate collisions." Fan Graphs. May 26th, 2011: "I was a catcher in high school, and I was trained how to block the plate while trying to keep myself alive. High School isn’t MLB, but I still found myself in a few situations where a significantly larger player was barreling towards me at full speed, and I realized that I had to stop being a baseball player and start being a gladiator. It was ridiculous to me then and is ridiculous to me now. Millar is right – if you want to watch violent collisions, you can watch football. Or hockey. Or MMA. There’s no reason baseball needs to have similar kinds of plays; it’s an entirely different sport with a different premise and different rules. Well, at every base but home anyways."
  • Why subject pitchers to even more risks. Dave Cameron. "It's time to end home plate collisions." Fan Graphs. May 26th, 2011: "Major League catchers already endure enough wear and tear on their bodies as is. They break down in their early thirties and have the shortest careers of any position on the field. Why should we also expect them to have to stand in and take hits that no other player on the field has to take? Why do they have to be football players when everyone else gets to play baseball?"
  • Home plate collisions can be easily banned without changing game. Dave Cameron. "It's time to end home plate collisions." Fan Graphs. May 26th, 2011: "Just change the rules and make intentional contact with a catcher illegal, and make it illegal for catcher’s to impede the baserunner’s ability to run directly towards home plate. It’s a simple fix to a real problem, and there’s no reason why we should continue to delay making this change."
  • Runners would easily adjust to slide into home plate. Mark Smith. "Home plate collision: It's about the money." May 27th, 2011: "The next argument is what you would have the runner do instead. Slide around, of course. Players only bowl into home because they can. It isn’t allowed at first or third, and it’s only marginally allowed at second. But players don’t run through the defenders there. If there was a rule that took away the option to bowl over the catcher at home, runners wouldn’t even think about doing it. They would slide."
  • Other sports have changed rules to make game safer. Dr. David Geier. "Should MLB ban home plate collisions?" May 30, 2011: "changing rules about trying to score on fly balls would not fundamentally change the game. It would eliminate the collision, not the ability to score on fly balls. It would affect a small component of baseball to make it safer. Eliminating fighting in hockey or tackling in football are not equal comparisons, as some have argued. Eliminating chop blocks in football or body checking from behind in hockey are much better comparisons. They are evolutions of the rules in these sports to protect their players while still maintaining the integrity and nature of the sports."
  • Ending home plate collisions can be neutral for catcher, runner. Mark Smith. "Home Plate Collisions." It's About the Money. May 27th, 2011: "Yes, it’s a dangerous play regardless, but those who would change the rules should change it in favor of the runner and the catcher. The runner cannot run into the catcher. The catcher cannot contact the runner with anything other than his glove, and he cannot drop his knee down to block the plate (those knee pads can be dangerous, and the catcher shouldn’t be throwing his weight around anymore than any other player at another base)."
  • Many collisions have caused career-changing injuries. Giants manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher who had multiple head injuries in his playing days, called on Major League Baseball to explore ideas to protect players after the Buster Posey injury: "I think we do need to consider changing the rules here a little bit because the catcher is so vulnerable and there's so many who have gotten hurt. And not just a little bit, had their careers ended or shortened."[5]

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