New Proposal Leaves Uncertainty at Home Plate

Major League Baseball proposes rule to prohibit "egregious" home plate collisions.
Major League Baseball proposes rule to prohibit “egregious” home plate collisions.

Major League Baseball announced Monday that it passed a new set of rules regarding plays at home plate, prohibiting not all collisions between base runner and catcher, but only “the most egregious.” Though players need to sign off on the experimental, one-year rule change before it’s put into effect for Opening Day on March 31, Tony Clark, the union chief of the Major League Baseball Players Association, has already stated (audio clip below) that the players are “remarkably concerned” about the proposal.

In short, the statute mandates that a runner attempting to score “may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher or other player covering home plate,” and that the catcher cannot block the runner’s path to the plate unless he, the catcher, is in possession of the baseball. It’s important to also note that these plays can be subsequently reviewed by instant replay.

The proposal comes nearly three years after San Francisco Giants star catcher Buster Posey fractured his ankle after bearing the brunt of a home plate collision, which is part of what some believe has inspired the new rules.

“I think it’s not only a reaction to the Posey injury, but to the problem with concussions in the NFL,” said Murray Chass, former national baseball writer for The New York Times. “Baseball is saying, ‘let’s not allow us to get to that point.’”

While the rules are intended make the game safer, it implicitly considers the runner to be the one in control of play, when in fact the catcher is protected by a chest guard, mask and leg pads, and can still drop his knee to block the plate, thus forcing the runner into a collision where the only option is for the runner to barrel over the catcher. Umpires would not deem such a scenario egregious, but the rule would still favor the catcher.

Why We Still Like The Girls

HBO announced that it would be ordering a fourth season of “Girls” at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in January just days before Season 3 premiered. And with the current season’s first episode that aired Jan. 12, the Lena Dunham series pulled in 1.1 million viewers, a 28 percent increase from Season 2’s premiere.

But despite the show’s success, its characters have reached their most unlikable points yet. With eight episodes underneath its belt, Hannah, Shoshanna, Jessa and Marnie have all grown progressively narcissistic, cruel, broken and emotionally unhinged.

The world continues to revolve around Hannah and her romantic notions of destined writer’s fame and nothing will stand in her way—not even the death of her editor for which she displays no empathy. Free-spirited Jessa enters rehab, only to leave and relapse yet again by stealing money from her job to buy more drugs by the end of episode eight, “Incidentals.”

In episode seven “Beach House,” Shoshanna bitterly (and drunkenly) puts down all of her friends without any glaring repercussions.

As for Marnie—?

She continues to spiral in the aftermath of her breakup. The second-hand embarrassment with her is frankly painful.

No one in their right mind would want to be friends with these girls, let alone aspire to be them—yet the show continues to flourish in the face of an appalling cast of characters. Why?

Because we can still relate—it’s where the “real life” factor of “Girls” stems from. It’s satire, it’s dark comedy and it’s not afraid to showcase the Hannah/Marnie/Shoshanna/Jessa parts of us we’d never explore or would hate to expose otherwise. Dunham seems to have a handle on how to twist yet serve in a season (so far) more cohesive than its predecessor.

In Freudian terms, the girls are the proverbial “id” viewers can live vicariously through, with the boys turning out to be the most likable of all.

Case in point, Shoshanna’s ex-beau and Marnie’s ex-fling Ray is a breath of fresh air and “ego” whenever he makes an appearance on screen.

NBA Misses on Dunk Contest

The NBA is in it’s second week of action after mid-February’s All-Star break. As the league moves past their annual mid-season celebration and into the playoff push, new commissioner Adam Silver will have to answer for this year’s failed slam dunk contest before All-Star Weekend comes to New York next year.

The slam dunk contest has brought fans some of the more iconic memories in NBA history. MJ jumping from the free-throw line in ‘88 to beat Dominique Wilkins in Chicago and Vince Carter testing the limits of gravity in ‘01 during his breathtaking performance in Oakland are just two moments from the dunk contest that will forever live in NBA lore.

However, the lack of star participation in recent years have led to declining TV ratings and a loss of interest in the dunk contest. But  there was slightly more optimism headed into this year’s competition with All-Stars Paul George, Damien Lillard, and eventual winner John Wall all entered in this year’s 6-man field.

Nonetheless this year’s contest was beleaguered by an uninspiring format that featured a freestyle round which acted as a glorified pre-game layup line and confusing rules that even left commentators Kenny Smith and Kevin Harlan confused as to when the competition came to an end.

Wall’s spectacular contest-winning dunk over a Wizards mascot left fans begging for more. But not in a good way. Fans had to sit through missed dunk attempts and a flawed format before they got to see Wall’s slam, only for the contest to be ended prematurely because of that same flawed format.

Many have called on LeBron James to enter the contest to restore it to its previous glory. But in a society that clamors for the “never before seen,” can his presence alone save the contest? Or will  fans need to go to Youtube or dust off their old VCR to relive its glory days.

Michael Sam and the NFL Combine

Michael Sam

Every year college football standouts make up the talent for NFL Draft consideration. Conventional wisdom would say that the best players in the NCAA would make the best NFL players. However, the football played in the NFL is a higher standard, making many NCAA standouts not being suited for the NFL game. Such is the early opinion of Michael Sam.

Sam, who has garnered more fame for his sexual orientation than his SEC defensive player of the year distinction, has had an underwhelming performance as at the NFL combine. There is still plenty of opportunity to change this public perception before the draft.

It seems inevitable that if Sam slips into the second or third day of the draft, which seems extremely possible at this point, it will elicit a lot of discussion. The initial announcement of Sam’s sexuality resulted in several statements from media members that warranted apologies to follow. It will be interesting to see how much has changed since then.

The real issue is the spectacle that this announcement initiated and how we likely have not seen the end of it. By frowning upon teams for not drafting Sam and speculating on whether his homosexuality was a factor, this problem is only exacerbated.

There will be numerous college stars who face the reality of just how competitive the NFL is on that early weekend in May and there is no good reason that Sam should be discussed aside from X’s and O’s. When other stars fall lower than expectations in the draft people will say its the nature of the sport, for Michael Sam that luxury will not be afforded.

For a society that isn’t yet ready to view homosexuality as normal-place this scrutiny will likely follow Sam for most of his career.