Upon further review, replay a welcome addition
Compared to other sports, baseball's latest changes minimal
Speaking for stubborn traditionalists everywhere, maybe expanded replay in baseball really isn't that sinister. Not only that, I'm having less of a problem with these new guidelines regarding home-plate collisions.
Did I just type what I just typed? Yep, and upon further review, I don't even need smelling salts. I'm changing my mind (well, sort of) on the implementation of the replay thing and the home-plate thing for the Major Leagues this season, because I'm looking at what's happening to other sports these days by comparison when it comes to changing stuff.
The operative word is brutal. One moment, the NBA is losing its mind by floating the idea of a four-point line, and the next, the NFL is talking about making extra-point kicks obsolete after touchdowns.
Those two sports join a slew of others in always considering a drastic switch from the status quo after years or even decades.
That's just for starters.
Baseball officials aren't into such knee-jerk reactions. They banned the spitball in 1920, and their next significant move didn't happen until after the "Year of the Pitcher" in 1968 with the lowering of the pitcher's mound. Five years later, they approved the designated hitter in the American League, but since then, they've changed nothing worth mentioning.
Not until the addition of instant replay and the new rule about home-plate collisions.
About the replay thing: all baseball officials seek to do is make sure they are using the best technology possible to determine the accuracy of nearly everything that happens on the diamond. As for the home-plate thing, they wish to make sure that, on close plays, the catcher isn't knocked into La La Land along the way to landing on a stretcher for an extended stay on the disabled list. Essentially, the runner can't purposely go out of his way to blast the catcher anymore, and the catcher can't block the plate without the ball.
Those are admirable goals -- you know, as opposed to whatever they are trying to do in other sports.
What are they trying to do?
They don't even know.
Take college football, for instance, which decided before the 2013 season to do its version of trying to protect the catcher. They wanted to make sure offensive players weren't susceptible anymore to losing brain cells on gigantic blows by instituting the so-called targeting rule. Under the original rule, defensive players who hit offensive players in the head were automatically ejected, and their teams were assessed a 15-yard penalty.
Sounds simple, but it really wasn't. Referees were required to review every hit to confirm whether the defensive player was going after the offensive guy's head on purpose. If not, the ejection was overturned, but the penalty stayed.
Huh? Don't ask.
After just one year in operation, the NCAA decided last week to change the targeting rule to say that if the ejection of the player was overruled, the penalty also would be revoked.
Here's a better idea: College football should follow baseball's lead and stop making rules by the millisecond. But back to reality. With the targeting rule being tweaked -- and likely headed toward being re-tweaked next season about something else -- the NCAA is now considering a rule to keep defenders from hitting a quarterback below his waist while he is in the pocket.
College football is seeking to resemble the NFL, where a defender virtually can't tackle a quarterback anymore. Then again, this is the same NFL that decided after more than 50 years of existence to do something drastic by moving the goal posts from the goal line to the end line. Now drastic is the operative word, and for verification, consider some of the other NFL rule changes in recent years, and they all are as big as the replay thing and the home-plate thing.
• During a free kick, at least four kicking team players must be on each side of the kicker when the ball is kicked.
• A block below the waist against an eligible receiver while the quarterback is in the pocket is a 15-yard penalty instead of a 5-yard penalty (an illegal cut block).
• During a field-goal attempt, punt or extra-point kick, a defensive team player who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at snap must have his entire body outside the snapper's shoulder pads.
• The restraining line for the kicking team is moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line in an effort to increase touchbacks.
• All kicking team players other than the kicker must be lined up no more than five yards behind their restraining line, eliminating the 15- to 20-yard running "head start" that had become customary for many players.
College basketball also is part of this rule-changing madness. Six years after the NBA instituted its three-point shot for the 1979-80 season, college basketball approved the gimmick. In contrast, the NBA later shortened the three-point line while college basketball lengthened it. College basketball also told referees before this season to blow their whistles as soon as a defensive player touched a guy with the ball. Scoring is up, but so are foul calls. And Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is talking about even more changes for his sport. He wants college basketball to go from its traditional five fouls for each player to six. Plus, Izzo wants his sport to widen the lane.
So the replay thing and the home-plate thing?
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.