On Wednesday, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that it would ban home plate collisions starting in 2014 at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
While it might be proactive by the MLB to ban home plate collisions, ultimately this decision will hurt the game of baseball.
One of the prevailing issues with the game of baseball is the perception that it is a slow, boring game to casual fans. While slow might be an accurate assessment of the game, it’s certainly not boring. However, the American public seems to disagree. The 2013 World Series featured the hometown St. Louis Cardinals against the Boston Red Sox. Two of the traditional powers in baseball with large, loyal fanbases. So the ratings should have been great right? Nope, there were the 4th worst ratings in World Series history.
If the Cardinals and the Red Sox playing in an epic 6 game World Series can’t get good ratings, what hope is there for a Colorado Rockies-Kansas City Royals World Series? The game of baseball needs more exciting plays. There is nothing more exciting in the game of baseball than when a player hits a single up the middle with a man on 2nd and the 3rd base coach waives him home for a play at the plate. 1 on 1 against the catcher fighting to get that crucial run to win the game. With this ruling, it’s seems any contact between the baserunner and catcher will be illegal.
This opens up a number of questions that remain unresolved at this point. Now if they run into each other accidentally because of an off target throw, what happens? Is the runner out automatically on every collision? What happens to the catcher? Who is tossed from the game? How do you determine intent or do you not determine intent and any collision results in an automatic ejection?
So now you take out one of the few aggressive plays left in baseball. Americans love contact sports. You see the ratings for football games, they are insane. People for centuries have loved combative sports, they love to see power. Home runs aren’t at the level they once were a decade ago because of the policing on steroids. Now you take away home plate collisions?
25 years ago, Baseball was king. However, it has taken a large tumble out of the mainstream. With the emergence of Soccer in North America, Baseball may be destined to become the 4th biggest major sport in America behind Football, Basketball, and Soccer. Baseball needs to find ways to make the game more enjoyable to the casual fans. I am sure the reasoning behind this move was concussions and the potential legal ramifications of lawsuits. However, if they can’t keep fans interested in the game, there aren’t even going to have millions to settle with.
This will have huge ramifications on the sport of baseball and it will hurt the game more than it will help it.
Contact Chris Flanagan at [email protected]