At last week's Major League Baseball winter meetings, the rules committee proposed that home-plate collisions no longer be permitted. In other words, no more blasting away at the catcher as if he is a crash-test dummy. It's probably a smart idea. No one wants to see catchers with broken bones, dislocated joints and, most of all, concussions. Still, if the owners and players pass the rule, we will no longer see one of the most mesmerizing plays in all of baseball. Really, you can't help but watch. There have been thousands of home-plate collisions in baseball, but these are our five most memorable.
Pete Rose-Ray Fosse
Some say this is the prime example of why Rose is one of the all-time great competitors. Or, as I look at it, one of the all-time biggest jerks. In the 1970 All-Star Game, which was nothing more than an exhibition game, Rose looked like he was going to slide headfirst but instead lowered his shoulder and barrelled over Fosse to score the winning run for the National League. Fosse, in his first big-league season, sustained a separated shoulder and, really, was never the same player again.
Scott Cousins- Buster Posey
Probably The collision that sparked the debate about eliminating such plays. In May 2011, Cousins of the Marlins bowled over the Giants' Posey. Posey sustained a fractured fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle and was lost for the season. Almost immediately, the cries began to end home-plate collisions.
Phil Bradley- Buck Martinez
Back in 1985, the Mariners' Bradley annihilated the Blue Jays' Martinez at home plate. Martinez held on, and Bradley was out. But Martinez suffered a broken leg on the play. As Martinez lay in pain, Seattle's Gorman Thomas ran from second to third. Martinez threw the ball wildly into leftfield, and Thomas tried to score. Incredibly, leftfielder George Bell threw home, and Martinez, still not able to stand, caught the ball and tagged Thomas for an incredible 9-2-7-2 double play.
Lou Piniella-Carlton Fisk
During a 1976 game, Piniella of the Yankees tried to score on a single to right, but the Red Sox's Fisk blocked the plate. With nowhere to go, the fiery Piniella plowed into Fisk. The two could not untangle themselves after the play, leading to kicking, shoving and, eventually, punching. The benches emptied during the brawl. And Red Sox starting pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee, who was backing up the play at the plate, got the worst of it, suffering a shoulder injury that kept him out for nearly two months.
Desmond Jennings- Lou Marson
The best of the local collisions. The Rays' Jennings absolutely crushed Cleveland's Marson in a game back in April of this year. Marson said he had no problem with Jennings, adding, "He had nowhere to go." Indians manager Terry Francona agreed it was a clean play. Yet later in the game, Evan Longoria was hit with a pitch that Rays manager Joe Maddon believed was retaliation for the Jennings play.
New York blues
New York is one of America's great sports towns with a rich tradition that includes the Yankees and Giants. But these days, New Yorkers are having a rough go of it.
Let's go back to baseball season. The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in five years and only the second time since 1994. Meantime, the Mets had a dreadful season, finishing 22 games out of first place.
Football? The Giants were supposed to be a playoff contender but come into today with a 5-8 record. The Jets, as bad as they are, actually have a better record than the G-Men. The Jets are 6-7 but still are a mess and might fire their coach.
Meantime, the winter sports are ugly, too.
Both NBA teams were considered playoff contenders, but both are lousy. The Knicks are in last place in the Atlantic Division and off to one of the worst starts in franchise history. Despite putting together a three-game win streak that ended Friday, the Nets are 8-15.
Finally, in the NHL, both the Rangers and Islanders are under .500.
These days, a New York state of mind is desperate.
• Once again, another major shakeup with ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Analyst Orel Hershiser is leaving to join SportsNet LA, a new regional sports network that will cover the Dodgers. Curt Schilling will replace Hershiser and join Dan Shulman and John Kruk in the Sunday night booth. Good move. Schilling is an ace as a broadcaster.
• Speaking of SportsNet LA, it's believed that it also stole Nomar Garciaparra from ESPN.
• ESPN pulled analyst Jeff Van Gundy from a Knicks-Bulls telecast last week because there are rumors Van Gundy could take over the Knicks if they fire coach Mike Woodson.
• Last week's Big Ten football championship between Michigan State and Ohio State (13.9 million) drew more than twice the viewers than the ACC championship between Florida Stake and Duke (5.6 million). The games aired at the same time.
• Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, one of the most respected media critics in the country, selected ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas as his broadcaster of the year.
• Former Bucs standout Ronde Barber will call his first Bucs regular-season game today, working with Dick Stockton on Fox. The game is going out to 18 percent of the country.
Names of the day
Radio host Dan Patrick picked up on this last week. What do Peyton Manning, John Elway, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Young, Adrian Peterson and Andrew Luck have in common other than being great NFL players? All were runnersup for the Heisman Trophy.
Three things that popped into my head
1. How ironic is it that a school (Florida State) so firmly associated with "wide right" is the only one to have three players win the Lou Groza Award for the country's best kicker?
2. Just wondering: If Robert Griffin III was thrown back in the NFL draft right now, would you take him ahead of Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater?
3. Many folks would argue that because of resources and all, Texas is the best college football coaching job in the country. Hard to argue that, but at this moment, I'll take Ohio State. Resources are there. Ohio State dominates the recruiting in football-rich Ohio and Pennsylvania. And it is in a conference that is down and ripe to be dominated.
tom jones' two cents