In the wake of yesterday’s news that home plate collisions will now be outlawed, I have a deep thought: will players who used to bowl over catchers now be retroactively considered cheaters the way pre-testing PED users are? Like, will we hold it against them for knocking over catchers even though there were no penalties for doing so?
But some people are serious about the topic. My exceedingly informal polling of Winter Meetings attendees last night shows that, at least among people in and around the game, the rule change is quite popular. Of the couple of dozen people I asked about it around the Winter Meetings lobby, all but one or two were sharply in favor of eliminating collisions. The couple who were less enthusiastic were still nonetheless in support of the rule change on some level — they acknowledged its utility and necessity — but offered some vague misgiving about not being able to see an exciting play like a runner knocking into a catcher.
The farther you are from the game, however, the more sharp one’s disagreement may be. Here’s an email I received last night:
I was stunned reading the headline of the Major League Baseball article about abolishing collisions at home plate. I started catching baseball and softball in 1952 and hung up my spikes in 1989. I was run into many times over the years. It’s an integral part of the game. It’s an exiting time for the catcher, the throwing player, and runner. What is wrong with Joe Torre? He caught for years and should have enjoyed the same exhilaration of the event . . . This new rule is childish. Today contracts mean more than risking your body. It’s an art for the catcher to end the collision play with success. If the players vote for this, they agree with me about their contracts.
That sort of thing makes me wonder if people think of ballplayers as actual people or as mere instruments of their entertainment. But I bet a lot more people feel that way about the matter than you think.