Change baseball and basketball rules to protect players

Sports | Zachary Abate

Change baseball and basketball rules to protect players

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny
Associated Press/Photo by Julio Cortez

Mike Matheny believes he may have suffered more than 25 concussions during his 13 seasons as a catcher. Symptoms from those concussions—fatigue, memory loss, lack of focus, and vision problems—forced him to retire in 2007. Now, as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Matheny is urging Major League Baseball officials to ban home-plate collisions, the chief culprit behind his head injuries. 

 “I do believe that this game will get to the point where there will no longer be a collision at the plate,” Matheny told “And I am 100 percent in support of that. … This isn't a collision sport. There's enough of a physical grind with guys being out there for 162 games. We've got the physical aspect of this game. It doesn't need to include that one spot."

Injuries to star catchers in recent years have highlighted the danger of collisions. In August 2010, Indians catcher Carlos Santana, the team’s top rookie player, was carted off the field after a devastating collision with a Boston base-runner. Santana would need surgery to repair the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee and would miss the rest of the season. In May 2011, Giants catcher Buster Posey, now the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, suffered a broken ankle in a home-plate collision that left him writhing on the ground in pain. Posey also missed the rest of the season.

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"I'd just love to hear the rebuttal, because what I've personally witnessed was enough for me to change my mind,” Matheny said. “It actually took me a little longer 'till I got to the realization of the risk we're putting these guys in—and the runner, too.”

Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski also is fed up with what he believes is an unnecessary danger to his players. On Thursday, Coach K declared fans should be banned from storming the court— at least before the visiting team has a chance to get off the floor. 

"Whatever you're doing, you need to get the team off first,” Krzyzewski said. “Celebrate, have fun, obviously you won. That's cool, but just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on."

Once a gesture reserved for monumental victories, court-storming has become the norm in most college basketball conferences. Fans charge onto the court to celebrate with the home team, pushing, shouting and knocking each other over. The Southeastern Conference issues fines to schools whose fans storm the basketball court—$5,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second, and $50,000 for a third. The Atlantic Coast Conference will now consider doing the same. 

“Put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches.” Krzyzewski said. “I’m not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, ‘Coach you’re [expletive],’ or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.”

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