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New rules 40 years too late for Ray Fosse

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Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

As I've mentioned at least a few times, there are a couple of subscription-only newsletters that I consider essential. One is Joe Sheehan's, which generally covers the events of the day from Joe's unique perspective. And the other is Craig Wright's Pages from Baseball's Past, which reviews the game's long history in wonderfully digestible helpings.

Monday, Craig reviewed the events that turned Ray Fosse from one of the best-hitting young catchers anyone had ever seen into a weak-hitting journeyman before he turned 27. Those events, of course, began with Pete Rose destroying Fosse's shoulder (video), but continued with a misdiagnosis of the injury. Anyway, Craig suggests something I'd never considered, that home-plate collisions increased as the catchers' mitts got bigger and more reliable. The easier it became to hang on to the ball, the more incentive the catchers had to stand their ground. Now, of course, it's incredibly hard to unhinge the catcher from his prize. But that doesn't stop the runners from trying, harder and harder.

And so it's not difficult to think of catchers who have suffered terrible injuries in these collisions. Craig:

And yes, this is why we want this rule, to help avoid losing a potential star career from someone like Ray Fosse, or having Carlton Fisk's career interrupted by having his knee blown out in a collision at the plate in 1974, or Buster Posey having his ankle broken and three ligaments torn in 2011, or Mike Piazza having to deal with concussions in back-to-back seasons (1999-2000). As Piazza once noted, the really dangerous collisions have been increasing. "You see some bone-jarring collisions. Twenty or thirty years ago, there was one guy on a team who could do that. Now there are a lot of them."

The game's equipment changes. The game's players change. There's absolutely no reason why the game's rules shouldn't occasionally change.