Ever since Buster Posey broke his leg in a brutal home plate collision at the start of the 2011 season, there has been a lot of talk about eliminating that play from baseball. In fact, the debate flares up pretty much every time we see such a collision now, whether anybody gets injured or not. And more and more people inside baseball are expressing their opposition to home plate collision, including Cardinals manager and former 4x Gold Glove catcher Mike Matheny.
Should MLB get rid of the home plate collision? In my opinion, yes. They pose serious long-term health risks to players, and they occur infrequently enough that eliminating them won’t significantly alter the way baseball is played.
However, I certainly understand why you might disagree with me. Despite the fact that they are dangerous, just like NASCAR crashes and hockey fights, they’re still kind of awesome. I admit it. And today’s list will actually show both sides of the issue—it has home plate collisions that are terrifying and unnecessary, and it has home plate collisions that are just flat out awesome and exciting.
Ready to see some “hard-nosed” baseball? Then have a look.
This is actually the collision that inspired the list, and since it's the most recent, having occurred just last week, it's a perfect place to start. As you can see, Tampa's Desmond Jennings plowed right into Lou Marson's head with his shoulder. It's actually kind of a miracle that Marson wasn't injured. Hopefully he didn't conceal any concussion-like symptoms from the Indians' medical staff.
12. Desmond Jennings vs. Lou Marson
This one took place on August 31, 2012, and it actually looks more like a hockey check than a home plate collision. Chipper Jones and Phillies backup catcher Erik Kratz actually collide while both are standing up, which you rarely see. Of course, Kratz hangs on to the ball, and everyone walks away from the hit unscathed.
11. Chipper Jones vs. Erik Kratz
Here's another collision that, amazingly, does not result in anybody leaving the game. It comes from an Astros-Brewers game on April 23, 2012. Houston catcher Jason Castro catches the throw from Carlos Lee, then turns and gets himself squared just in time to take the blow from Milwaukee's Mat Gamel. As you can see, Castro had both of his legs bent underneath him at the time of impact, so he's pretty lucky nothing got torn, twisted, or broken on this one.
10. Mat Gamel vs. Jason Castro
New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira absolutely obliterated Angels catcher Bobby Wilson on April 23, 2010, and even the Yankees television announcers thought the collision was unnecessary. Teixeira clearly had plenty of room to slide on the right side of the plate, but he leaned in and gave Wilson a shot anyway, knocking the catcher out of the game and sending him to the hospital with a concussion.
Oh yeah, and that was Bobby Wilson's first Major League start.
9. Mark Teixeira vs. Bobby Wilson
You wouldn't think a little guy like Shane Victorino could do all that much damage to a guy like McCann, who is 6'3" and 230 pounds. But on this play from July 27, 2008, you can see that McCann makes the catch and dives back toward the plate, and Victorino crashes right into his head. Then you see McCann just lying there in terrifying silence. Luckily the guy "only" had a mild concussion, and he didn't miss all that much time.
8. Shane Victorino vs. Brian McCann
At #7 we have the first of two consecutive collisions involving the Cardinals' Yadier Molina, the best defensive catcher in baseball today. This one comes from a game against the Phillies on June 15, 2008. With the score tied 6-6 and runners on first and third with just one out in the top of the 9th, a chopper to first base results in a play at the plate, and Molina takes a brutal shot from behind from Philadelphia's Eric Bruntlett. Somehow Molina actually holds on to the ball to record the out, but the guy had to be removed from the field on a stretcher, which was a little terrifying. The Cardinals won the game, though, 7-6 in ten innings.
7. Eric Bruntlett vs. Yadier Molina (2008
The second home plate collision involving the Cardinals' Molina happened on August 28, 2012. The Pirates' Josh Harrison plowed into Yadier with the force of a Mac truck. Once again, Molina held on to the ball and got the out, but once again the guy had to leave the game. Amazingly, he sat out just one game as a precaution.
(Note to MLB base runners: don't mess with this guy.)
6. Josh Harrison vs. Yadier Molina
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find an embeddable video of this play from a June 6, 2005, interleague game between the Braves and Angels. Thus, if you want to watch it, you'll have to click right here. Go ahead, take a look. I'll wait.
That was a nasty one, wasn't it? Obviously, Erstad has plenty of room to avoid Estrada. The guy left a lot of the plate open. However, Erstad went for the "hard-nosed" play and gave the Braves catcher a concussion, the effects of which lingered for years and eventually forced Estrada out of the game.
5. Darin Erstad vs. Johnny Estrada
Brian Jordan wasn't just a baseball player. He also played safety in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons from 1989 to 1991. Obviously, that's where the guy learned to hit like he did on April 16, 2003. Padres catcher Gary Bennett must have been seeing stars after this one. It's pretty impressive that the guy went on to play five more seasons with the Brewers, Nationals, Cardinals, and Dodgers.
4. Brian Jordan vs. Gary Bennett
Is Buster Posey's form bad on this collision with Scott Cousins from May 25, 2011? You bet it was. But that doesn't mean a Giants fan had to enjoy going all of 2011 without the guy. As long as home plate collisions are legal, guys are going to take hits while in compromising positions. Posey wasn't the first and won't be the last.
3. Scott Cousins vs. Buster Posey
This is probably the most famous home plate collision in baseball history. It's not so much that it was any more brutal than the other ones on this list, but because it involved Charlie Hustle himself, Pete Rose...and because it came during the 1970 All-Star Game.
That's right, the All-Star game. Players used to care about winning that back in the day, and none more than Pete Rose. If you watch this clip and still think he would ever have tried to lose a game to win a bet, you're crazy. This collision won the game for the National League, but it gave Ray Fosse a separated right shoulder—an injury which would never leave him the same again.
2. Pete Rose vs. Ray Fosse
This play from a July 9, 1985, game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners isn't just the most epic home plate collision in modern baseball history. It's probably one of the greatest plays, period. The Mariners' Phil Bradley absolutely crushes Toronto catcher Martinez at the plate, breaking his leg. But then Martinez, with a broken leg, tries to throw out the runner at third. His throw is off target and the ball goes into left field, so the runner tries to go home. But there, sitting on the ground with his broken leg, Buck Martinez catches a throw from George Bell and tags runner Gorman Thomas out.
I'm not sure, but that was probably the only 9-2-7-2 double play with a home plate collision and a broken leg in the history of baseball, and it pretty much ended Buck's career.
1. Phil Bradley vs. Buck Martinez
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