Home Plate Collisions And The Slippery Slope

Other than the hundreds of substantial and groundbreaking changes, baseball has not changed at all in over 120 years. Why start now?

You. Yeah, you. If you are seriously arguing that baseball should enforce a rule that’s already in place (blocking the plate without the ball) and possibly make a new one (a distinction between trying to reach home plate, or trying to dislodge a baseball by force), you don’t know what you ask. This is a game that hasn’t changed its safety rules at all in 100 years, other than batting helmets, improved catcher’s gear, and the Hal McRae rule. Baseball barely survived those changes. Now people want to change more rules in the name of safety?

You’re going to ruin the sport. Maybe not the fun of a nice day at the ballpark, but you’re certainly going to ruin the aesthetics of the game. Uniforms are fine just the way they are! Don’t change up the uniforms! Because as several columnists have pointed out, if you eliminate any aspect of home-plate collisions, you have to change the uniforms.

Bernie Miklasz kicks off the discussion:

... we can't put these guys in protective bubble wrap, especially if they are choosing to block the plate.

What a nightmare that would be. Bubble wrap would be awkward and bulky, and if a player wrapped it around his entire body, he would barely be able to run.

And just think what would have happened if a player like Nomar Garciaparra had bubble wrap: he’d step out of the batter’s box, adjust his batting gloves, his wrist bands, and he’d pop one of the bubble-wrap circles ... and then one more because, really, who can stop at one? And then another. And another. Soon games will be four hours because of bubble wrap. It’s awesome and useful stuff, but players just can’t wear it on the field.

Mychael Urban says that if we’re going to consider eliminating players attempting to dislodge a ball by force, the wardrobe requirements will just get more and more ridiculous:

How about a tutu?

Oh, man. A tutu in baseball. That would be horrible, mostly because women -- especially ones who dance around and stuff -- are ridiculous creatures. And if baseball players have to wear tutus, what’s next? Dresses? Petticoats? Ovary sheaths? I don’t even know what those ridiculous creatures wear. And if you’re for changing the rules to eliminate a runner specifically trying to jar a ball loose at the only place where it isn’t already outlawed, you’re for women’s clothing in baseball.

But Terry Francona might have the best point of all:

"What do you want to do? Do you want to make guys wear tennis shoes?" Red Sox manager Terry Francona scoffed.

This is horrible because it is also confusing. The issue was catcher safety, and Francona brought up tennis shoes, which aren’t something that would make a catcher safer. Actually, it would probably make it less safe, what with all the slipping and falling. But that’s the point. You start with safety, and then you move to comfort. Soon you have players with neck pillows in the dugout, sweat pants in the field, and Uggs. They’d be so comfortable, and no one wants to beat out a bunt when they’re wearing comfy, comfy Uggs. This is baseball, not uggsnugglingball!

There are other arguments to be made in favor of home plate collisions, like from Jeff Passan, who says he likes the collisions, and that the excitement for fans is worth the injury risk to players. That seems like an honest argument -- you know, a reason behind a stated preference instead of tired and absurd slippery-slope arguments -- but it’s also dangerous because he doesn’t tell his readers about the impending uniform changes. Sneaky, but he’s probably one of them.

Bottom line, if you’re for eliminating intentionally dislodging a ball at one of the four bases, you’re in favor of this:

 

 

This makes you a bad baseball fan, and a bad person. Shame on you.

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