Home plate collisions are rare and exciting, but their elimination was a calculated risk by Major League Baseball. (Associated Press photo)
In my story for today’s newspaper about the Dodgers’ reactions
to the new rule banning home-plate collisions, I focused on the micro: The thoughts in the moment, the individual experiences that gave birth to the thoughts in the moment.
Here are some big-picture figures and facts worth mentioning:
A.J. Ellis is entering his 12th season of professional baseball. He’s played 890 games and estimates that he’s been part of “a dozen or more” home-plate collisions in his career.
Tim Federowicz is entering his seventh season of professional baseball. He’s played 568 games and has been involved in two collisions.
Drew Butera is entering his 10th professional season. Six hundred ninety two games, “five or six” collisions.
In reality, the scope of Rule 7.13 banning home-plate collisions in baseball is extremely limited. The three catchers on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster have played a total of 2,150 professional games — the equivalent of 13 full seasons, and then some — and have been part of a total of 20 collisions. Let’s call it one collision every 100 games.
The plays are memorable precisely because they are rare. “In all of them,” Butera said of his collisions, “they were in close games, toward the end of the game.” Fans remember those kind of plays.
That said, the tradeoff for the league was a calculated one.
Those are the facts, and baseball isn’t hiding them. If anything, the tipping point might have been when Joe Mauer visited the Mayo Clinic following a concussion and came back a first baseman.
Still, Federowicz wasn’t convinced that he’s entirely safer because of the rule.
“Instead of being able to hit us in the chest,” he said, “they have to take out our knees. I guess we have to learn a new technique for tagging guys out.”
Remember, rule 7.13 is “experimental” for this season. If catchers are still in line for serious injuries, the league will simply change the rule.
Some bullet points for a Soviet Occupation Day: