Another Home Plate Collision
Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote an article today stating his opinion that base runners should not be able to run into the catcher at home plate after Desmond Jennings bowled over Indians catcher Lou Marson in Sunday’s Rays-Indians game. Marson has since been placed on the 15-day disable list with a neck strain caused by the collision.
I have long been an advocate of reducing the number of home plate collisions. See here and here. However, I don’t agree with Verducci’s tacit conclusion that the rules should make the base runner solely responsible for avoiding collisions. In my opinion the rules should be changed to strictly bar catchers from setting up or moving into the base line before they actually have the ball in their mitts.
Here is the video of the Jennings-Marson collision. You can’t see it in the first angle, but in the replay from a different angle you can see that Marson sets up in front of home plate before receiving the throw. The throw does not pull Marson into the baseline, because Marson is already there.
In fact, because Marson is blocking the plate, Jennings actually begins launching himself for the collision a fraction of a second before the throw hits Marson’s mitt. With Marson blocking the plate well before the throw arrives, the only chance Jennings has of scoring is to launch his body into Marson.
I’m all in favor of barring base runners from launching their bodies above the waist into catchers in the manner than Jennings does here, but only if catchers are also barred from moving into the base line until the ball is actually in their mitts. If such a rule had been in effect and obeyed by Marson, then Jennings would have had at least some chance of scoring by sliding to the outside of home plate and hoping that he could beat Marson moving with the ball in his catcher’s mitt to tag him out. If the ball gets to home plate soon enough, Jennings is out. If not, then Jennings scores by tagging the outside part of the plate.
A rule which allows the catcher to block the plate but forbids the runner from coming in high will most likely shift injuries from catchers to base runners rather than preventing injuries all together. Sliding into a fixed object (the catcher) blocking home plate is going to cause injuries to base runners.