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File | Associated Press
Pete Rose crashes into Ray Fosse to score the winning run of the 1970 All-Star game in Cincinnati.

MLB: A new play at the plate

Well, I guess we won't be seeing this anymore.

And that's because of this.

The official line from Major League Baseball is this is the latest salvo in the war on concussions, but boiled down its essence it's really about this: The Seattle Mariners paying Robinson Cano, a second baseman, $24 million a year over the next 10 years.

Which is to say, we've reached a pass in baseball where even players who aren't normally enormous investments have become such enormous investments that their protection from injury is paramount. And scarcely anything in baseball courts injury more blatantly than trying to run over the catcher at home plate.

It cost Buster Posey, a commodity worth millions to the Giants, an entire season. And when Pete Rose famously ran down Ray Fosse in the All-Star game (see above) it cost Fosse a season with a fractured shoulder.

Not surprisingly, Rose, and a lot of old-school types, think banning collisions at the plate is a horrible idea. But when Rose ran over Fosse to score the winning run in the 1970 All-Star Game (an unnecessary bit of hot-dogging, considering the occasion and the fact a decent hook slide might have accomplished the same thing), players were still indentured servants. Free agency, and the fat contracts that came with it, was still six years away. And nobody worried about concussions then.

You can pine for those days all you want -- although why you would defies logic -- but they're not coming back. And so catchers will no longer be allowed to block the plate, which means baserunners will no longer be compelled to launch themselves at catchers in response.

Instead, they'll be compelled to make baseball plays instead of what essentially has always been more a football play. It's true it will be a judgment call for the umps, but the umps make judgment calls all the time. And it's not like they'll be making them every inning, because frankly these sorts of collisions happen rarely, anyway -- which calls into question just how fundamentally the new rule will change the game, as some claim it will.

But mainly?

This is about the money. As ever.

Ben Smith's blog.

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