By Ken Reed
Lost in all the trades and free agent signings of baseball’s offseason — often called the Hot Stove League — was a significant development: Major League Baseball’s rules committee voted last month to ban home-plate collisions.
For most of MLB’s history, it has been a mark of manhood for catchers to block home plate, and runners to bowl over said catchers, on close plays at home. However, it apparently has finally become clear to all the macho men in baseball that the excitement of a home plate collision isn’t worth the risk of injury, some of which — including concussions — can be career threatening or ending.
Why blocking the plate was never considered obstruction of the base path I’ll never know, but I digress….
According to New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, speaking for the rules committee, the idea behind the vote was to make the game safer without changing its essence.
Hey, there’s an idea for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: Gary, you can ban fighting in the NHL without changing the essence of the game. In fact, you can enhance the essence of the game!
“Ultimately what we want to do is change the culture of acceptance that these plays are ordinary and routine and an accepted part of the game, that the risks and individual risks, the costs associated in terms of health and injury, just no longer warrant the status quo,” said Alderson.
The rule change still needs to be formally approved by owners and the players union but that approval is expected with little resistance.
Basically, plays at home plate will now be treated just like plays at second and third base. The runner is entitled to a lane to home plate and the catcher faces an obstruction penalty if it isn’t given to him. The catcher might also get a fine or ejection based on the specifics of the play. The same holds true for the runner if it’s determined that he had a clear path to the plate but chooses to run into the catcher instead.
The lesson here for all sports, including football, hockey, soccer, and basketball, is to look for rule changes that make the game safer without changing the game’s essence.
Based on what we know today about brain trauma and concussions, there’s no other choice.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site. We discuss his experience at the MLB game at Field of Dreams; his thoughts on the appeal of the Field of Dreams, and baseball in general.
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Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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