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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 part of history 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]
  • 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."[2]
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.


  • Collisions aren't allowed anywhere else; why at 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."
  • 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."

Pro/con sources



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