I wanted to write about the Posey situation right after it happened, but I held back. I held back because I didn't want to write a purely reactive piece. I wanted to let it sink in and think about it rationally. If I was going to say that baseball should make changes, I wanted it to be because I thought it was needed and not because I had just seen Posey get run over a thousand times on TV. So I took some time to take a step back. In that time, I've read opinions saying that baseball should get rid of home plate collisions and I've read opinions saying that it's just a part of the game.
The reasons for why they should take it out have been pretty compelling. Grant Brisbee's article noted that "it's the only element of contact in a non-contact sport. It's like the NFL using Scrabble to decide games that are tied after regulation -- it's the exact opposite of how the rest of the game is played." An article written by Dave Cameron noted, "Major League catchers already endure enough wear and tear on their bodies as is. They break down in their early thirties and have the shortest careers of any position on the field. Why should we also expect them to have to stand in and take hits that no other player on the field has to take? Why do they have to be football players when everyone else gets to play baseball?" That Cameron article also included a hilariously ironic quote from Kevin Millar about the A-Rod interference play from 2004.
As compelling as those reasons are, the reasons for leaving collisions in persuade me just as much that they're not necessary. Basically, because I've yet to really find any good ones. Here are the reasons for why things should stay the same: Because "it's just a part of the game," the catchers wear protective gear, and because scoring a run is on the line. "It's just a part of the game" is the dumbest reason there is. That's not a reason. It's just a statement. An observation of how things are is not a justification for why they should stay that way. The catcher wears protective gear? Is that really a valid reason to use, when a catcher has had a season-ending injury - as the result of a collision - for the second year in a row? It sure is protective....just not from serious injuries. Now we come down to the issue of a run being on the line. The problem with this reason is that, technically, a run isn't always on the line. A collision can happen when the catcher has the ball or is fielding the ball. If you're colliding with a guy who he hasn't even secured the ball yet, wouldn't you have most likely scored anyway? And if you're colliding with a guy who has secured the ball, wouldn't you most likely be out anyway? How many times has a guaranteed out been undone by a collision?
The problem with collisions is that they can be done "in case". Plays happen so fast that a runner is not always going to be sure whether or not a collision is necessary to score, so they could end up running over the catcher "in case" they were going to be out. Should we really allow catchers to get run over, because the runner may have been out otherwise? Or when they could be out anyways? A runner should risk a lot of harm for the little chance that it may benefit his team? Is it really necessary to subject a catcher to a collision, where an out could stay an out or a run could stay a run, for the small chance an out could become a run?
Frankly, it seems like most of the arguments for leaving things the same are more of a resistance to change than a resistance to the results that the change would actually have. What would the adverse affect be, if no home plate collisions happened? What would the game lose? If catchers couldn't obstruct the path to the plate and the baserunner was mandated to slide into home (when there's a play at the plate), how different would things actually be? And any change that would happen, would it really be so much so that it negates the benefit of not subjecting the catchers to unnecessary punishment?
Player safety should be more important than this idea that somehow baseball would lose something if home plate collisions never happened. People should stop focusing on the idea that baseball would be changed and focus on how things would actually be different. If they did, I think they'd realize that they're fighting for way less than they think they are. How often is a player at risk of injury during a collision? Always. How often is a collision unequivocally necessary to score? Hardly ever. Why on earth are people supporting such a high risk, low reward play?
The rarity of success that a collision brings should not be more important than the widespread danger it entails. Make baseball safe. Throw collisions out.