- Jim Bowden, Baseball, Insider
The new home plate collision rule has worked in terms of reducing collisions at home plate and lessening concussion risks. However, it has failed the game in terms of getting the correct safe or out call at home plate. This is why Major League Baseball must act fast to tweak the rule and end all the controversy.
There are varying opinions from managers and players on what changes should be implemented, but an overwhelming majority agree that at least something must be done. Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon told me last week he'd like to see the rule changed back to the old rule (which allowed collisions). Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the ESPN crew on "Sunday Night Baseball" that something needs to be done about the rule prior to the postseason, and St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told me earlier this week on my SiriusXM radio show that he would like to see a "must-slide, must-tag" rule implemented.
In fact, I haven't talked to a manager, catcher or GM who supports the present rule. In addition, multiple managers have told me they now plan to challenge almost every close play at the plate going forward because as one manager said, "You don't know what the umpire in the command center is going to call next." The command center can view only a certain number of camera angles, and it really can't get a true idea of the speed of a baserunner, position of the catcher or release of the throw by the fielder on the play. Managers tell me that often the call will go in their favor when it shouldn't, and vice versa. The bottom line is the rule is not working and needs to be adjusted accordingly.
Like Maddon, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington is one of my favorite managers and people in the game, and both represent a good number of baseball people who want the rule reverted to the old rule. But that's just not going to happen because the new generation of baseball executives are making it a priority to protect catchers from unnecessary collisions and possible season- or even career-ending injuries such as the ones we've witnessed (Buster Posey, Ray Fosse). Even though it can be argued that if Posey had been in better position, the injury wouldn't have happened, or tweaking the old rule to add that, in the judgment of the umpire, a baserunner who purposely injures a catcher could be subject to ejection or suspension, it still wouldn't stop the injury risks.
Therefore, the best solution is to implement Matheny's aforementioned suggestion. A "must-slide, must-tag" rule means that catchers must leave a lane for the runner to slide and the runner must slide on any play at the plate.
The new home plate collision rule has worked in terms of reducing collisions at home plate and lessening concussion risks. However, it has failed the game in terms of getting the correct safe or out call at home plate.