LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Major League Baseball plans to eliminate home-plate collisions, possibly as soon as next season but no later than by 2015.
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, chairman of the rules committee, made the announcement Wednesday at the winter meetings. Player safety and concern over concussions were major factors in the decision.
“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,” Alderson said. “The costs associated in terms of health and injury just no longer warrant the status quo.”
In a sport long bound by tradition, a ban will be a major step. MLB also is instituting a vast increase in the use of instant replay by umpires next season in an effort to eliminate blown calls.
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“What are they going to do next, you can’t break up a double play?” Pete Rose said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “You’re not allowed to pitch inside. The hitters wear more armor than the Humvees in Afghanistan. Now you’re not allowed to be safe at home plate? What’s the game coming to? Evidently the guys making all these rules never played the game of baseball.”
Rose, banned for life in 1989 after a gambling investigation, famously bowled over catcher Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game. Rose insists Fosse was blocking the plate without the ball, which is against the rules.
Citing player safety, Alderson said wording of the rules change will be presented to owners for approval at their Jan. 16 meeting in Paradise Valley, Ariz.
“The exact language and how exactly the rule will be enforced is subject to final determination,” he said.
Approval of the players union is needed for the rules change to be effective for 2014.
“If the players’ association were to disapprove, then the implementation of the rule would be suspended for one year, but could be implemented unilaterally after that time,” Alderson said.
Discussion to limit or ban collisions has intensified since May 2011, when San Francisco’s Buster Posey was injured by Florida’s Scott Cousins. Posey, an All-Star catcher, suffered a broken bone in his lower left leg and three torn ligaments in his ankle, injuries that ended his season.
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