LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tyler Flowers can only recall three instances in his days behind the plate where he has had a close call on a collision.
The White Sox catcher said Wednesday night he’s had far more flirtations with danger as a base runner dating back to his high school days.
Even though he feels like those plays are pretty rare, Flowers is indifferent to the news that Major League Baseball aims to ban collisions at home plate, perhaps as soon as this season.
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and Joe Torre, MLB’s Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations, announced Wednesday that the league’s rules committee had voted to ban plate collisions.
Though the language of the rule and how it will be enforced has yet to be determined, Alderson said base runners and catchers who don’t adhere would be subject to fines and suspensions. Alderson also believes a resolution would be reached by next month in hopes the rule could be implemented this season.
Such a change would require approval of the MLB Players’ Association. Were the MLBPA to decline the rule would still be put in place with or without the union’s approval in 2015.
“I would think it’s not going to be a huge deal unless if a number of guys are suspended and fined early in the season,” Flowers said. “It’s a play that doesn’t happen all that often.”
The MLB rules committee had several reasons for the rule’s creation. First is a series of horrific accidents over the past few seasons involving high-profile catchers like Buster Posey and Carlos Santana, both of whom were lost for the season to leg injuries. The other reason Alderson cited is the general concern for concussions in contact sports.
“It's an emerging issue, and one that we in baseball have to address as well as other sports,” Alderson said. “So that's part of the impetus for this rule change as well.”
Though the details have to be finalized, Flowers believes the proposed changes would most likely favor catchers, who no longer have to worry about the potential for contact on a throw home.
“It could be an advantage to the catcher to hang in without fear of being decapitated,” Flowers said.
But Flowers again stressed how rarely he has encountered the fear of such a play in all of his seasons. Flowers said the only play where he feels more exposed than normal is when he awaits a throw from right field.
“You’re blind and have to figure out where he is,” Flowers said. “But they don’t happen all that often.”
Flowers thought the MLBPA would support the change in order to enhance safety. But he also wonders how players would react if fines and suspensions occur all too often once the rule is put into place. Flowers pointed out that remembering the law sometimes goes out the window when a game is on the line.
“When you’re in the heat of a game and catch a throw three feet to the left and then dive back it’s tough to keep rules in mind,” Flowers said. “You’re changing how a catcher does his job on plays.”