MLB promotes safety heading into start of spring training

New regulation added to protect players

JP O'Hagan, Sports Editor

Major League Baseball established a one-year experimental change to the laws of the national pastime this past week. Over growing concern for player safety, the league established a no-collision rule for plays at home plate.

Close plays at home are a classic baseball highlight, with the momentary swell of suspense as the runner attempts to beat the ball to home. Traditionally, this play is marked by the runner barreling into the catcher, hoping to ensure his safety, knocking the ball loose from the mitt, tapping the plate and hoping, pleading for a “SAAAAFE” call from the umpire. However exciting this play has been, it has not come without injury as a player running into a stationary catcher guarding home has caused a good number of season-ending innings.

Now in a world of high-tech medicine and imaging and a better understanding of the ways in which players can get hurt, these collisions are now considered extremely dangerous. In 2011, one of the league’s best catchers, Buster Posey, was out for the rest of the season when a close play and following collision caused a horrific knee injury. Now the players will be forced to slide if at all possible, with the creation of an enforceable rule that has long been the standard of baseball etiquette.

Many purists worry that close home plate plays will go the way of scheduled doubleheaders. However, look at most close plays at home and most plays would not be in violation of the new rule. The move is supported by the players as it is a move to protect them, and the rule will likely be kept in place following this one-year experiment should it not pose unexpected complications. However, this will lead to a little bit of different preparation during spring training this year for clubs, as they practice hook slides and other methods to get around a catcher.

With spring training games beginning this past week and the snow starting to melt, this new rule is just one thing to look forward to going into the Indians’ home opener on April 4th against the Minnesota Twins.