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 #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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