Major League Baseball won't fully rid itself of home plate collisions, but the new rule announced by the league on Monday aims to at least limit the damage.
The main parts of the experimental new rule, which will be put into place immediately, are that baserunners will no longer be allowed to change their path to initiate a collision with catchers and those same catchers won't be permitted to block the plate without possession of the ball.
Players who are in violation of the new rule will be subject to ejections, fines and suspensions, MLB executive vice president Joe Torre told CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly. The rule states that any player who slides into home plate, as well as any catcher who leaves a direct lane to the plate for said runner, would "never be found to be in violation."
Here's the full text for each part of the rule:
"A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or the player covering home plate). If, in the judgement of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or the player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball)."
"Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgement of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe."
The league is requiring teams to immediately begin training players on the physical aspects of the new rule from the low levels of the minors on up.
This is a health-conscious ruling that should have a positive effect on all parties involved. MLB players have had their share of concussions and other gruesome injuries as a result of something that, really, is a completely unnecessary part of the game. Naturally, the teams have also been affected by the loss of players due to those injuries. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Rockies' division rival in San Francisco might have won three consecutive World Series titles had Buster Posey not been lost for the majority of the 2011 season due to a broken ankle suffered in a home plate collision.
Come to think of it, why did we have to implement this rule? (I kid, I kid.)