FanPost

A Modest Baserunning Proposal

In last night's plate collision between Mark Ellis and Yadier Molina, it looked like Molina might never have actually applied the tag. http://tinypic.com/r/5vdusj/5 seems to suggest otherwise, but even so I was pretty irritated by the notion that Ellis, who was beat by a mile on the throw, could get credit for attempting to knock Molina silly. This is MLB, not the NFL.

Outlawing home plate collisions has been under discussion for a while, and the usual idea is that the fielder should be required to give the runner part of the base, and the runner is obligated to take it. That might be sufficient to prevent injury, but I'm not sure. In pondering how I might solve the problem, I've come up with a much more radical solution.

The proposed rule changes:
1. Marks are placed along each baseline, except home to first, at the 15 foot mark from each base (that it's exactly 15 feet isn't especially critical).
2. In addition to existing force plays, a runner can also be forced at a base if he first crosses into the central 60 foot zone between bases, and then crosses one of the 15 foot lines to approach a base (from either direction). While in the central zone, if not otherwise eligible to be forced, the runner must be tagged to be out.
3. Whenever a force play is in order, the runner is now allowed to run through the base, as is already legal at first base. The same rules apply (only eligible to be tagged if you start towards the next base).
4. Whenever a force play is in order, the runner may NOT slide.
5. A fielder must ALWAYS yield the base path to a runner, except to field a BATTED ball (note that currently there are exceptions for thrown balls as well).
6. Similarly, a fielder CANNOT block a runner's access to ANY part of a base, unless in the process of fielding a BATTED ball.

Quick summary: most things become force plays, and if it's a force play, there's no sliding but you can run through the base. Things that don't become force plays include returning on pickoffs (unless you have a HUGE lead) and returning short distances after tagging up. Even if you aren't eligible to be forced, crap like http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/poll-obstruction-or-smart-defense/ is always obstruction.

What do people think? How would you react to these rules changes? What kind of criticisms do you have?

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