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Finding Mudville: New rules for baseball

  • Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New rules for Major League Baseball to take place in 2014: First, thereís the managerís challenge, and second, no more home plate collisions.

Let me address the managerís challenge/instant replay first.

Iíll be brief.

I donít like it.

With this rule anything ever done by Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, Lou Pinella and Bobby Cox will never be seen on a baseball field again. Instead managers will issue a challenge. What fun is there in that?

Bobby Cox is just as famous for being tossed out of a game as he is for winning 14 straight division titles.

Itís the fabric of the game thatís being toyed with here, like going from 100-percent cotton to a polyester blend.

As for catchers blocking the plate, plays like the 1970 All-Star Game, 12th inning, Pete Rose and Ray Fosse collision at home plate are history.

I can see the rationale behind the new rule when you see what happened to Buster Posey two years ago.

The new rules, that Oakland Aís GM Sandy Alderson believes will be incorporated into the game before the start of the 2014 season, are as follows:

Catchers will not be allowed to block the plate.

Runners will not be permitted to target catchers.

Determining whether the plate is blocked or the runner has targeted the catcher will be reviewable and a decision readily available to the umpires.

Violators will be subject to disciplinary action.

The list of catchers hurt while defending their turf begins with Posey and his broken leg in 2011 and stretches past third to Fosse in 1970 and his separated shoulder.

Fosse was an All-Star and tabbed as the next Johnny Bench.

Posey was, and still is, the San Francisco Giantsí franchise player, in todayís world, a multi-million dollar franchise investment that about flew out the window the moment Poseyís leg and ankle bent in a direction it was normally not accustomed to bending.

I umpired as a means of earning some pocket money in high school and took my share of foul tips off the facemask, the chest protector that covered nothing, and the tops of my shoes left exposed from shin guards that covered even less.

I stuffed the catcherís mitt down my pants because there was no way I wanted to experience what that felt like.

My catcher though, was literally my right arm. You form a bond on the mound and behind the plate and your common goal is to make the hitter look stupid.

We succeeded more than we didnít.

The catcherís secondary job is to keep runners from scoring, which means blocking the plate in the event thereís a play at the plate.

Johnny Bench was the king of the sweep tag. Heíd plant his size 13s off the front corner of the plate and dare the runner to slide through him. Heíd take the throw in that Venus flytrap of a catcherís mitt and sweep the tag behind him.

No fuss, no rush, putout 2, assist 4, 6, 7, 8, or 9.

I like the new rule, though.

I donít want to see catchers get hurt. Theyíre exposed plenty enough already.

Thereís no way I want to be on the business end of a 97 mph fastball, shin guards or no shin guards.

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