Lou Brock’s shoulder-to-shoulder collision with Bill Freehan during the 1968 World Series and Pete Rose’s bruising hit on Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game could become relics of baseball history, like the dead-ball era.
Major League Baseball executive vice president Joe Torre said Tuesday momentum is building toward taking action that would help prevent collisions at home plate.
”There’s a pretty good possibility that something eventually will happen,” he said Tuesday after a meeting of big league general managers. ”Whether it’s going to be soon enough to have it done this coming year, that remains to be seen. But I don’t think it’s impossible.”
Torre said a written proposal will be developed that will be discussed when GMs gather again during the winter meetings, to be held at Lake Buena Vista from Dec. 9-12.
”There are college rules where you have to slide. I’m not saying that’s what you’re going to do.” Torre said. ”The players are bigger, stronger, faster. It’s like in other sports. They’ve made adjustments and rules in other sports for that reason, to protect people.”
Torre said collisions when pitchers cover the plate on wild pitches and passed balls also are an issue. He planned to discuss the matter Wednesday with baseball’s rules committee.
”You’re going to have very understanding people there, a feeling that something has to be done,” he said.
A change for 2014 would need the approval of the players’ association.
”Suffice it to say, the players have some thoughts of their own regarding home-plate collisions as well as a number of other topics,” union deputy executive director Tony Clark, a former All-Star himself, said in an email to The Associated Press. ”We’ll be addressing them all when we meet next month.”
Discussion to limit or ban collisions has intensified since May 2011, when San Francisco’s Buster Posey was injured in a collision with Florida’s Scott Cousins. Posey, an All-Star catcher, sustained a broken bone in his lower left leg and three torn ligaments in his ankle, an injury that ended his season.
Posey returned to win the National League batting title and MVP award in 2012, when he led the Giants to their second World Series title in three seasons.
”All that we know now about what’s happening in any sport with collisions and concussions has to be examined, not only from the catcher’s standpoint, but from the baserunner’s standpoint,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. ”Do you really want anybody in harm’s way and should they allow there to be any malicious intent in baseball?”
Torre said he will get together at the winter meetings next month with San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy and St. Louis skipper Mike Matheny, who retired as a player after the 2006 season because of a concussion. Torre, Bochy and Matheny all are former catchers.
”I’d be in favor of further discussing that position and ending that situation,” New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. ”I don’t think catchers should be getting pounded. I’d certainly be in favor of changing that rule.”
Concussions have become a bigger issue in baseball. David Ross of Boston and Alex Avila of Detroit jettisoned their hockey-style headgear and went back to old-style, heavier catcher’s masks because of foul tips. Ross missed a large portion of the season after concussions caused by tips off the bat of Toronto’s Colby Rasmus and Baltimore’s Manny Machado.
”Guys are throwing harder on a consistent basis, the ball moves more, more foul tips,” Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said. ”Our catcher takes a beating on a day-in, day-out basis.”