Thursday, January 23, 2014

2 comments Terence Moore is Enraged More than Ever about the Elimination of Collisions at Home Plate; Shoehorns in More Criticism of Instant Replay While He's at It

Have you had enough of the discussion about the change in rules for home plate collisions? Terence Moore has too. He doesn't understand why MLB insists on changing rules and ruining the sport of baseball to (throws up finger quotes in the air) "make it safer" and "protect the players from career-threatening and life-threatening injuries that could cause concussions and other life-changing trauma." It's baseball, not ballet. Terence has already given his opinion on the elimination of home plate collisions from baseball. He's going to re-write that column until MLB realizes what a huge error it is to mess with perfection. Consistently re-writing old columns is something two members of the Axis of Baseball Traditionalist Evil (Murray Chass and Terence Moore) tend to do. They find pet topics and then run that topic into the ground in their columns (Terence Moore) or on their non-blog (Murray Chass). This in turn forces me (at gun point nonetheless, so I have no control over what I write) to cover when Chass or Moore writes about their newest pet topic that offends their traditionalist senses. After saying the NFL has ruined football with rule changes, Terence points to a college basketball rule change as further proof all change is bad and eliminating home plate collisions is just non-sensical and goes too far. Just way too far. Now that MLB looks like they are going to eliminate the home plate collision Terence would say it is on like Donkey Kong, but Donkey Kong became popular in the 1980's and Terence thinks all societal progress should have stopped in the 1970's. So it's on...just really, really on.

First of all, collisions at home plate occur about as often as the Cubs are in the World Series.

Two responses to this:

1. Two home plate collisions happened in one game this past postseason. They aren't as rare as Terence Moore claims them to be.

2. If home plate collisions ARE as rare as Terence claims, then there needs to be the elimination of home plate collisions. Because for something that is so rare I can name 7-10 catchers that have gotten injured over the past few years as a result of these collisions.

Terence hasn't ever been good at arguing a point and usually he submarines his own point within the same column where he is trying to prove his point.

With apologies to Buster Posey and other catchers who have suffered horrific injuries in recent years after getting smacked by a runner trying to score

Terence goes ahead and ruins his own point early in this column. So home plate collisions are rare, but there are multiple catchers that have suffered horrific injuries in recent years as a result of a home plate collision. Doesn't this underscore the danger of a home plate collision if there aren't many of them, but there is a list of catchers who have suffered horrific injuries in recent years?

(you know, other catchers such as, well, um, I'm still thinking),

Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, Carlos Santana. Do research and you will find more than just that. Also, I just named three (and Posey is four) of the best catchers in MLB who have suffered injuries as a result of home plate collisions. MLB has a stake in ensuring the best players at the position of catcher don't get hurt. It's not good for the game.

this isn't an issue worthy of producing handwringing beyond just a few moments.

There is something wrong with Terence if he thinks the best catchers in MLB getting injured by runners plowing over them isn't an issue worthy of producing hand-wringing beyond just a few moments.

How about getting rid of the designated hitter? Now there's a worthy cause, and as the world's biggest baseball traditionalist, I'm not exactly giddy about the expansion of instant replay.

Again, being a traditionalist doesn't mean hating all change in baseball. A person can be a traditionlist and still not hate all change in the sport of baseball. Also, the designated hitter isn't causing horrific injuries to baseball players, so it's not a relevant topic when discussing home plate collisions.

baseball's rules committee announced this week during the Winter Meetings that legislation to eliminate home-plate collisions could go into effect as soon as the upcoming season and no later than 2015.

Oh my God. It's the baseball equivalent of Armageddon! A change to baseball that makes the sport safer and less traditional. What happened to the days when John Roseboro could get smashed over the head three times with a baseball bat by Juan Marichal? That was good, traditional baseball. Why doesn't that happen anymore?

In today's sports world, when something is perceived as awful or at the very least troublesome, the rumbling begins in the shadows, and then the shouting takes over.

I've explained various times before, but at no other base is the runner allowed to plow over the fielder. This is an example of where MLB gets ahead of a safety issue, identifies that issue and notices that it doesn't make a ton of sense for a runner to be able to plow over the catcher at home plate when the runner can't plow over any other fielder at any other base.

This isn't: In response to those yelling the loudest, rules often are changed or added by the decision makers of that sport without regard for the long-term consequences.

This decision to eliminate home plate collisions was made for no reason other than with regard for the long-term consequences of these collisions on the players who are a part of them.

There is men's college basketball, for instance, where a heavy emphasis on physical play through the years made teams offensively challenged. So the NCAA imposed legislation before this season that basically said a defender can't touch an offensive player anymore.

Now I don't like this new rule either, but the idea this rule hasn't worked so all rule changes in all sports won't work is just stupid, simplistic thinking. In other words, it's typical Terence Moore thinking.

Scoring is up by nearly six points per game, but so are fouls and the length of games. The head of the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee is Belmont coach Rick Byrd, and his team shot 52 free throws during its opener.

I'm not sure Terence's point outside of saying rule changes are bad. Is he suggesting eliminating home plate collisions will lengthen baseball games? In fact, it seems this is part of his argument. The time it takes to play a baseball game is a huge concern to Terence, but only when he is using the length of games to argue against a rule change he doesn't like.

Which brings us back to the banning of home-plate collisions. The ramifications will be plentiful. A few of them will be obvious, and others will leap out of nowhere. For a sport that has been around professionally since the end of the Civil War, you can't implement a rule of this kind where there wasn't one and not expect the unknown to come in unwelcomed ways.

As I said in the column that Nick Cafardo wrote about the elimination of home plate collisions, there will be currently unknown ramifications of this new rule. There always is. This doesn't mean the elimination of home plate collisions is a bad rule or after a period of time the kinks won't be worked out and the rule will be easily enforceable and help make baseball players safer on the field.

What is the rule?

The rule hasn't been decided yet. Again, the fact MLB is studying home plate collisions from the past couple of years to work up a good rule gives me hope this rule can be implemented and enforced with ease. Yes, there will be gripes from some catchers and the umpires won't initially always enforce the rule correctly. This has to be expected, though I am sure the first time an umpire enforces the rule incorrectly Terence will be banging out a 500 word screed on his typewriter about how baseball has been ruined forever due to this new rule change.

It remains a work in progress, but we know it will involve either all or some of the following: A runner won't be allowed to crash into a catcher anymore trying to reach the plate, and the catcher won't be allowed to block the plate anymore trying to keep the runner from scoring. Sounds simple, but what if the runner slides with his cleats high, especially if they are in the direction of the catcher?

Considering nobody knows the exact wording or nature of the rule yet, it's a bit presumptuous to answer this question definitively one way or another. I see no reason why a runner can't come in sliding with his cleats high since a base runner can do that at every other base. Allowing the runner to come in and "cleat" the catcher would be a rule consistent with what runners can do at every other base.

Is that allowed, and if they are high, how high is too high?

The runner can't drop-kick the catcher. That much I can guess at this point.

And if the runner dives head first, what happens if he sort of rolls over toward the catcher and touches the guy's leg or something? Under both scenarios, would the umpire have to determine whether the runner's act was intentional or not?

No, no, no. Don't be so dumb. The runner can touch the catcher, he just can't intentionally run over the catcher. I can't imagine a scenario where MLB says a runner can't touch the catcher when trying to score. Some unintentional acts like touching the catcher's leg seems like it would be perfectly fine. Running over the catcher would not be fine. There is a difference in touching the catcher and barreling over the catcher.

The bottom line: Umpires already are under a lot of pressure with just safe-or-out and fair-or-foul calls, but now with the various aspects of this targeting rule, that pressure is about to increase by a bunch.

Well, we wouldn't want the umpires to have any pressure on them, would we? 

The umpires will have instant replay, you say? Since you decided to go there,

You went there. I didn't go there. I say the umpires are professionals whose job it is to enforce the rules as laid out by MLB, so they will have to learn to deal with the pressure of enforcing the new targeting rule. Notice how Terence said earlier in this column that these home plate collisions don't happen often, but now Terence claims these home plate collisions happen often enough to increase pressure on the umpire "by a bunch." It's funny how the frequency of these collisions change as it fits the point that Terence wants to prove.

And speaking of instant replay, it will expand next season from just determining the validity of home-run calls to deciding fair-or-foul calls, safe-or-out calls -- and whether the runner was targeting or the catcher was blocking at home plate.

And of course including the targeting rule (that doesn't happen often according to Terence) is going to happen so often it will greatly increase the time it takes to play a baseball game. Again, these home plate collisions don't happen often enough to deserve a rule to protect the players, but they happen so often the review of them will greatly increase the length of baseball games. Both of those positions have been taken by Terence in this column.

you haven't guessed by now, those who support instant-replay are highly optimistic when they say these reviews won't last long. I mean, the more elements you add to what replay folks either can or must review, the longer that already long games will get.

It always comes back to instant replay for Terence and how terrible expanded replay is. This from the guy who loves the one-game wild card playoff for some reason. 

Then there are other factors. I mean, runners won't be as aggressive racing around third toward home for fear of suffering a targeting penalty that could result in a fine or suspension.

No, no, no. The runner will be aggressive, but just make an effort not to run over the catcher to score a run, while the catcher will make an effort not to stand in front of home plate. It's the same principle of base running that is used at every other base on the baseball field. This isn't a difficult concept to grasp. A runner going to third base isn't less aggressive because he has to slide into third and can't run over the third baseman. It's the same idea at home plate when collisions are eliminated.

Plus, indecisive runners will lead to injured runners, because their instant wavering ("Should I go in standing, or should I slide, or should I just go back to third?") will contribute to injured hamstrings, groins and knees.

This a concern that I don't believe is realistic. Again, base runners don't waver when it comes to sliding into other bases on the field and there isn't an increase of injuries because a runner can't decide whether to advance to third base or stay at second base. Yes, minor injuries will occur while a runner is sliding into home plate, but the elimination of collisions at home plate will reduce concussions and other major injuries. These concerns from Terence about runners hurting themselves from wavering on whether to advance or not are unjustified.

And if you're a third-base coach, do you gamble as much as you used to? Probably not. If runners can't attempt to score by any means necessary anymore, that gives the advantage to the catcher.

And again, notice how these home plate collisions don't happen often when it comes time for Terence to mention few catchers suffer major injuries, but when Terence wants to make it seem like the elimination of home plate collisions will change how players run the bases then home plate collisions happen like two or three times per game.

The catcher also doesn't necessarily have the advantage. Plenty of runners in the past have chosen to not bowl over the catcher to score a run and under the new targeting rule the catcher isn't allowed to block the plate. So any advantage the catcher has could be lost in that he won't be able to entirely block the plate anymore.

There also is that world of the unknown unleashed by ordering athletes not to do what they've done forever.

Not forever. Current baseball players are going to have to break habits they have had for over a decade or more, but it's not like they are breaking a 150 year old habit. Collisions have been legal at home plate since baseball was invented, but current baseball players haven't been playing the sport for 150 years.

But this is known: According to the USA Today, catchers suffered 10 of the 18 concussions that sent players to the disabled list last season. So something needed to happen.

Of course Terence has no ideas on what needed to happen. He presents no alternative ideas. He just knows what needed to happen didn't involve a rule change that would benefit the majority of catchers who went to the disabled list due to a concussion. I'd love to know what Terence thinks should happen outside of home plate collisions be eliminated. He's not the idea man though, he's just the "I hate change" man.

Not something this drastic, though.

Then what? Does Terence want players to wear a helmet as they run the bases? They already do that. If catchers suffered 10 of the 18 concussions that sent players to the disabled list last season then why not create a rule that helps to eliminate a catcher from getting a concussion?

I would love to know what Terence Moore thinks baseball should have done that was less drastic. Of course he has no alternative ideas to help prevent concussions by eliminating home plate collisions, but he wants to pretend there are alternative solutions in order to justify his position that eliminating the home plate collision is too drastic. 


Snarf said...

I'm not sure I understand his point regarding injuries from hesitant runners. Runners already get injured running the basepaths and sliding into bases to avoid a tag. That already happens, so eliminating collisions, likely the highest per-incident rate of injury for a baserunner, will probably not do anything to change this.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, I think his biggest point is that this would be a change and change is bad.

I have to wonder what Terence is thinking, because injuries at home plate are the predominant cause of concussions. Yet Terence seems more concerned about injuries at other bases that encompass fewer concussions to baserunners.