Major League Baseball has been looking into a topic that is beginning to gather more and more steam. No, it’s not replay or performance enhancing drugs, but rather it is the situation of plays at the plate.
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy has been very vocal on the issue since his catcher, Buster Posey, over on a play at the plate in the early part of the 2011 season. Posey missed that entire season after suffering a broken collarbone.
Bochy has been voicing that the MLB should look into reforming the current play: if the catcher is in the way of home plate, hit him. Bochy states that the play is similar to that of a defenseless receiver in football, and in some cases the catcher is more defenseless.
He hasn’t had much support from other managers around the league until this season when former Cardinals catcher and their current skipper, Mike Matheney, started to voice his opinion on the situation.
“We’re talking about the brain,” Matheney said in an interview with Clevland.com’s Paul Hoynes. “I didn’t want to be the poster boy for this gig, but I was able to witness in ways I can’t even explain to people how that altered my life for a short period of time and changed the person that I was. It’s scary,” said Matheney. “So that being said, you look at this game. Can this game survive without this play? And I say absolutely. You’re putting people at risk.”
Other managers, like the Indians Terry Francona disagree saying that more base runners will get injured with reform and that people just need to play the game right.
The big issue is how is a play at the plate going to be regulated, and will it affect the way the game is played?
As a person who is categorized with a group that is known as “baseball purists,” I think that the play at the plate should remain. However, I can see the argument with this situation as opposed to allowing a designated hitter in the National League.
In college baseball, if the catcher is “plowed” at the plate, the baserunner is automatically out and immediately ejected.
“After thinking about it, I’m glad we have the rule,” Tech head baseball coach Matt Bragga said. “It protects our guys from getting seriously injured.”
Matt Bragga played catcher for the University of Kentucky and for a stint in the minor leagues.
I presented Coach Bragga with the situation if he were on the rules committee for MLB, would he vote for a rule that was like the college rule?
“I think you would have to review many plays from past and present,” Bragga said. “I think I would be in favor of it though.”
If Major League Baseball were looking to institute a rule on plays at the plate, I would hope that they would not include an automatic ejection for the baserunner.
I believe that more baserunners would be getting hurt because they wouldn’t be playing at 100 percent and would be pulling up on plays.
There would also need to be regulations on how the catcher blocks the plate.
Another thing that would have to be looked into is when balls are thrown up the line, and the catcher has to leave home plate.
Because of all of these factors, and because MLB takes its time reviewing rule changes, I think that plays at the plate will be a part of the professional game for a while.
Anyway, MLB needs to look into more important things like getting rid of interleague play everyday, the new wildcard format and teaching umpires how to properly judge infield flies.