If memory serves, I got kicked out of one little league game. My crime was failing to slide during a play at the plate. I think I beat the ball by about five steps, but the umpire ended my afternoon early regardless. Safety was king and although I made no contact with the catcher, there was no use setting precedent that close calls would go to the runner in such circumstances. Frustrated and upset that afternoon, I can now look back and say that whoever was calling balls and strikes that day to make a few extra bucks made the right decision.
MLB and the Players Association agree as well, sort of. Yesterday both parties agreed to add a rule banning “egregious collisions” at home plate. Rule 7.13 states that catchers can block the plate if they catch the ball before a runner arrives, but the catcher cannot block the path of runner trying to score without the ball. If the catcher does block the plate without the ball, the runner would then be safe. Furthermore, runners who slide and/or catchers who provide the runner with a means of reaching the plate won’t be in violation of the rule. Umpires will also be able to utilize instant replay to see if the rule was broken.
Sound convoluted? It might be. How about this? Catchers can block the plate and all runners must slide. Seems simple enough and should serve to protect the health of all parties involved. But former Sox backstop AJ Pierzynski has other ideas. He told the USA Today he’s not a big fan of the rule:
"I disagree with it. I understand why they're doing it, but next, they're going to tell us that you can't slide into the guy at second base.
"It's one of those things, as a big-league catcher, I signed up for it. You never want to see guys get hurt, and you never want to see guys go down because of it, but it's part of the game you signed up for.
"There are going to be plays at the plate, late in games, where you need to block the plate and try to keep that guy from scoring, saving save a run that ultimately gets your team into the playoffs.
"And not given that opportunity is unfair. I understand why the rule is made, but I wish there was a better way to go about it.''
Sounds like the rule might be saving some players from themselves. And MLB, like the NFL, is going to do all they can to keep their stars healthy and on the field. If the rule does cost someone a game, oh well. It very likely will be saving a career or season ending injury somewhere else down the line. And for the record, I don’t like sliding into guys at second base either.
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