For those of us that love the game of baseball, there’s one thing that we’ve gotten used to seeing but is something we don’t see very often—the collision at home plate.

Baseball isn’t a contact sport; it’s never been known as one. But it has been known to happen and is part of the game.

A runner coming hard down the third base line has every right to turn himself into a hard-hitting linebacker after a wide receiver that doesn’t see him coming. If the catcher blocks the plate, he knows he is about to get lit up by someone arguably bigger than he is.

We’ve seen some big hits at the plate. We’ve seen both the catcher and the runner get the worst end of the hit, and we’ve seen both get up and go on with their respective roles.

Lately, however, it seems the trends are changing. I’m not sure whether it’s the runners that have gotten wimpier and are afraid to hit the catcher or if Major League Baseball is giving the catcher too much protection or freedom.

If you watch the game on a regular basis, or if you’re a big fan of the game, these days you’ll see catchers blocking the plate with their leg, forcing runners to try to slide around them or sometimes not slide at all. The question that has been raised is, are there more injuries being caused by runners not sliding?

Being a catcher growing up, I knew what I could and couldn’t get away with. I knew about blocking the plate, I knew about “owning” that space around home plate, and I have even paid the price of getting laid out a few times in my days.

I also knew that the runner had the same right to the baseline, and home plate, as the catcher did. The runner was trying to score and could do whatever he could do to get there, short of lowering his shoulder and purposely trying to hurt someone.

These days, it seems like catchers think they’re protected more than the runners. Popular opinion would be that runners should avoid catchers at all costs. That’s not how it should work.

Catchers are allowed far too much in the game these days. They can block the plate with every part of their body they can use short of covering the entire plate with their body. They can stick their leg out so a player can’t touch it with their hand on a head-first slide or with their feet as they go feet first. So what’s to stop runners from remembering their rights and making some of these catchers pay for blocking the plate?

It’s because most will tell you that running over the catcher would be against the rules. Some might even say catchers are as protected as Tom Brady with a “don’t touch me” red jersey. But how many players have to get injured, from broken fingers or broken wrists, before Major League Baseball steps in and takes some of those freedoms away from some of the worst offenders?

I understand that the catcher’s job is to keep the other team from scoring, a lot like a goalie in soccer or hockey, but at least in those two sports, other players aren’t getting injured trying to do just that.

Block the plate if you wish, but some of these catchers will have to learn that doing their job comes with some amount of risk. It’s going to take getting run over to finally realize that maybe blocking the plate completely isn’t the smartest move in their bag of tricks.

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