Some catchers-turned-managers weigh in on home plate collisions
Some big news in terms of a possible rule change emerged from the Winter Meetings Wednesday, which is that the league is set to ban catcher collisions at home plate, assuming MLBPA passes it. Here's a sampling on the variety of opinions expressed by managers who were catchers when they played.
ORLANDO - With the possible ban of home-plate collisions -- that is, when a baserunner intentionally bowls over a catcher in order to jar the ball loose on plays at home plate -- managers at the Winter Meetings were asked their feelings on the subject throughout the three days of manager sessions.
Here's a sampling of their feelings, taken from guys who were catchers back in their playing days, in no particular order.
Mike Scioscia, Angels
"I think everyone is in agreement that the mindless collisions at home plate where a catcher is being targeted by a runner, that needs to be addressed. I think it's easy to say a runner has to slide, but the other side of the coin, it's going to be difficult to contain a runner -- telling him what he has to do and let the catcher have carte blanche to be able to block the plate aggressively. And there will have to be some parameters around the catcher. It's a little bit of a dicey issue to work your way through, but I'm comfortable in the feeling that it will be addressed and addressed to a satisfactory level, where a runner can still be aggressive going to the plate with a hard slide and the catcher understands the need to have the ball in his possession and what he can do to tag a guy at the plate."
Mike Redmond, Marlins
"That's a tough one because I think as a player, I don't know that I minded the collisions. As a manager, obviously, with the concussions and the injuries, I want to protect my guys. I don't want them to get hurt because I need them. I'm not sure exactly the answer."
Brad Ausmus, Tigers
"I do think it should change. With all the new information on concussions, it's probably the prudent thing to do. However, I am a little bit old school in the sense that I don't want to turn home plate into just another tag play. This is a run. This is the difference between possibly making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. It should matter a little bit more. In my mind, I'd love to see something that if there's a collision, any hit above the shoulders, maybe the runner is out."
Joe Girardi, Yankees
"I always thought it was part of the game. I know that they're trying to protect catchers. And concussions are an issue in our country not only in football but in other sports. I know it's a concern and you don't want to see players get hurt. I think part of it is just having the sense not to run over a catcher if you can slide, but sometimes the emotions of players get the best of them. I lost time as a catcher being run over a couple different times, but I thought it was part of my job and I enjoyed the contact. Now I'm not so sure that everyone enjoys contact, but I love football, so I liked it."
Mike Matheny, Cardinals [Note: Matheny worked closely with Joe Torre and Major League Baseball on working to get this rule change done]
Matheny: "I'm proud of the league for taking a step forward. I don't know how it's all going to play out, but people who know me know my stance on this. I just believe it's something that we can't turn a blind eye to and what's going on in these other sports. Let's learn from what's going on there and see if we can make our sport better. The way we do that is try to lessen the risk to all of our players."
"I don't think catchers are protected as much as they should. The size of these runners coming in as fast as they are, I just want to try and eliminate any injuries, severe injuries."
"I think most of us feel that isn't a big part of the game anymore. There's been adjustments everywhere and I think it's time in baseball that we do change the rule and protect these catchers."
"This is not about Buster. I go back to Gary Bennett, [who] got hit at home plate in LA. I'll never forget looking over at him thinking this is a time to make a change here. It wasn't a cheap shot. Brian Jordan, great player, clean player, and he was going to home plate and here's a football player that I thought he realized he paralyzed him at first because he really got smoked at the plate. I said right then, we need to change this play at the plate because catchers aren't protected for this type of hit. It's been proven, scientific study done on ESPN, and they don't have the football equipment to handle this. Even in football they're protecting their players now. So that's kind of when I had mentioned it's time to change the rule there at home plate."