MLB announced last week that it plans to eliminate home plate collisions and members of the baseball community have voiced strong opinions on both sides.
Sandy Alomar Jr. weighed in on the new rule last week and said he isn’t a fan. The former Indians catcher and now first base coach thinks that blocking the plate is part of the job and that banning it “takes something away from the catching position”.
Interestingly, Alomar Jr.’s boss disagrees.
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Indians president Mark Shapiro said he is a “full supporter” of the new rule for collisions at home plate.
“I’m a strong believer in the rule,” Shapiro said in an interview with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “Especially having so much respect for Bruce Bochy and Mike Matheny and listening to those guys talk about it.”
Both former catchers and current managers, Bochy and Matheny were two of the biggest advocates of the rule change. Each made passionate pleas to the MLB Playing Rules Committee, articulating the effect concussions have had on their lives.
Shapiro said that after thinking about it, he didn’t see the rule change having a negative impact on the game.
“Looking back I never thought it took away from amateur baseball,” Shapiro said. “Watching high school and major college baseball, I never felt the rule diminished the game.”
It’s easy to see how Shapiro, a former GM, would be in support of a rule to not only protect players, but the investment in them as well.
“In a day and age where we have the ability to protect players, sometimes traditions and things that signified the game in the past don’t have the same meaning they used to have.”
On the other side of the argument is Alomar Jr.’s point. He thinks plate-blocking has always been a part of a catcher’s strategy.
“Back when I played if the catcher didn’t block the plate, you heard it from other players,” Alomar said. “I understand guys getting hurt and losing high-priced players, but the bottom line is that’s their choice and the choice is being taken out of the players hands.”
Alomar Jr. also argued that there’s somewhat of an ego factor involved and that like it or not, players want to protect their “machismo.”
“We need to get rid of something that’s false macho or falso bravado and not teach our players to do something that puts them in harm’s way and endangers their career and endangers a club’s season.”
It will be interesting to see if the two Cleveland Indians colleagues ever see eye-to-eye on the issue, or if it will always be something on which they agree to disagree.