Monday, December 23, 2013

Dead on Arrival

I was at work when I read that Major League Baseball was banning home plate collisions. With every ounce of my body I wanted to scream "AW HAIL NAW" but I didn't. While some are welcoming this decision, others think that baseball is going soft. Shoot, what sport looks like it isn't soft nowadays? So many precautions...

Last week, a monumental decision was made in the American baseball realm. This decision has begun a massive schism of the ages where there are people that believe in safety and people that believe in letting men act like men in the game. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this actually happened. With slow enforcement this upcoming season leading to a full enforcement during the 2015 season, any kind of collisions occurring at home plate will be banned. Those exciting plays at home? Gone. Fear that you will be losing your catcher (or runner) for a set amount of time? Gone. All of that exciting physical stuff? Gone.

With this decision, there are a lot of good intentions behind it: Firstly, it eliminates blind hits; therefore, any kind of injury is avoided, such as whiplash or freak accidents. Secondly, it diminishes the chance of collateral damage, such as concussion, broken bones, or ruined muscles/tendons/ligaments from the hit. Lastly, there will be disciplinary action whenever something like this occurs in the future, since the concept of "targeting the catcher" is taboo in this rule.

The biggest part of this incoming rule was that catchers would no longer be allowed to block home plate. While I understand that blocking the plate is a really dangerous idea and it's sort of a reflex in a close play such as one at the plate, my response was: "When did this become Little League, and why do they want to put something similar to the 'slide or surrender rule' into effect?" Is the catcher just some placeholder that only catches a pitch now? They have pads on for more than one reason, you guys. That's just me, though. You'll see why in a second.

Amid all of this commotion, Johnny Bench is actually praising this rule. He went to Twitter after the occasion noting how he has lingering knee issues after a collision with Gary Matthews in 1975. He has taken to many other outlets since then, basically stating that this rule should have been implicated some time ago, and that men like Giants catcher (and apparent future infielder) Buster Posey have become victims of the reckless plays at home plate that should never have been allowed in the first place. Somewhere on this planet, Pete Rose is looking at a picture of Ray Fosse and going: "You took it like a man. Why can't they?" For those who aren't familiar with that whole story, the Fosse/Rose duo are most infamously known for the home plate collision during the 1970 All Star Game in which Rose stormed home plate, injuring Fosse. It was later revealed that he had a broken and separated shoulder which had healed incorrectly, ultimately affecting his entire career after that.

Again, people are going to be 50/50 on the whole matter. But with recent findings making their way out to the public, this rule seems like it needs to happen whether we like it or not.

The human body has suddenly shown frailty in our sports-loving society. Late last week, it was announced that former MLB utility player Ryan Freel, an athlete who took his life in December of 2012, was discovered to have suffered from CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This makes Freel the first known case of CTE in Major League Baseball. He had allegedly suffered up to ten concussions in his nine-year career, and they were the catalyst in his untimely death. Even Cardinals manager Mike Matheny noted how many head injuries he had sustained because of collisions. Everything seems to be falling into place, and the right people are coming out and speaking up about how there is a dark side behind the plate, and there are more injuries sustained than ever believed.

I've noted on this blog that time and time again that athletes know they have to take these chances of suffering injury playing sports. If they didn't want to get hurt, they'd stay home and sit on their hands or take some cubicle job they can't stand. While it looks like I highly oppose a rule like this being implicated in MLB, there have been a lot of scary things going on when it comes to collisions at home plate, and nine times out of ten it results in a horrendous injury. With that said, I still approve of the close play of sliding into home plate. On top of that, there is also a difference between sliding into home plate and throwing your forearms into someone in a mid-air tackle like you're a Pokemon or some Dragonball Z character. In the case where Buster Posey shattered his ankle in May 2011, that was a case of Marlins player Scott Cousins being reckless. This was pretty reckless too, but this was Hollywood. When it comes to reckless tackles like that, you run the risk of missing home plate, so if that part was banned, I wouldn't mind it so much. The whole wiping it out completely is what baffles me the most. But que sera sera. It has to be done now.

Let's get them all out now, OK?


(For more reading, you can go here.)

Oh, and Merry Christmas, you sillies.

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