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Minority of One blog

Baseball is not a collision sport

Steve Chapman

4:12 PM CST, February 27, 2013

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The National Football League is taking steps to minimize the risk of concussions and other head injuries. So is the National Hockey League. So is Major League Baseball -- but it can do more without hurting the game.

Baseball long ago cracked down on beanball wars, which used to be an accepted part of the game. Starting this spring, it's also mandated the use of new batting helmets that are 130 times stronger than the old ones. It's an important change that will protect brains and possibly even save lives.

 But St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has another suggestion: banning collisions at home plate. The former Gold Glove catcher suffered several concussions, which eventually ended his career, but he used to argue when Tony LaRussa argued that his catcher should try to avoid collisions. Now, however, he realizes that these crashes are too dangerous to justify.

And he wants MLB to change the rules to prevent them. Something like: Catchers would be barred from blocking the plate and runners would be forbidden to make intentional contact with the catcher.

It's a small price to pay to keep catchers (and baserunners) from serious injury. "Can this game survive without that play?" asks Matheny. "I say absolutely."