Changing The Home Plate Blocking Rule

The home plate blocking rule have raised its fair share of controversy, so let's explore what the history of the rule is, and what can be done to solve the situation.

In the days before people truly were concerned about ACL tears and concussions, home plate collisions were the equivalent of a monster sack in football, the only truly violent collision that always occurred on the basepaths. The logic behind it? If a batter ran as hard as he could into the catcher, he could knock the ball out of his glove, and thus be able to score. The logic behind a catcher blocking the plate? To force the runner to make a decision about how to reach the plate - do I try to slide under the tag? Do I run around the catcher? Do I hurdle him?

That all changed after the MLB implemented what is now known as the "Buster Posey Rule", after the San Francisco Giants' star was injured in a home plate collision. Extended legs can be ran over, head to head collisions can occur, so the reasoning to remove these collisions was logical in terms of player safety. However, the rule has created tons of controversy. The rule only hampers the defensive team, the catcher, as only the catcher can be called for such an infraction. Incidentally, should the catcher indeed commit an egregious violation of the rule, he's the one who stands to get hurt just as much, if not more, than the runner, as he's stationary, taking the full on blow.

Today's example of the White Sox losing a run to the Giants due to a catcher being in the way highlights potential issues in the rule. Usually, home plate collisions occur on fly balls or other hits to the outfield. However, what about plays in the infield, where the throw is shorter and the catcher has less time to react to a thrown ball and needs to get in a place to catch and tag the runner?

Since a catcher is allowed to be in the way of a runner if a throw goes there, then doesn't that make all balls hit to the right side of the field harder for the defense since a throw must be cut off before it reaches exactly the plate, then must be carried in the glove of a catcher to make a tag?

It's not like horsecollar tackles or facemask tackles in the NFL, where the team that commits the penalty is risking only the other team's safety, the catchers themselves risk their own health as well.

Ah, so what can we do to improve the entertainment of baseball without sacrificing player safety? After all, baseball is and always be simply a game...

1. Mild mockery proposal: Make all plays at home plate force plays if a player is within 10 feet of the base, thus declaring that he truly wishes to try and score. This way, there is no incentive for a player to bull into a catcher because just like any other force (such as 1st base), the player is already out.
Of course, this is probably the least fun to watch, but brings much more strategy (ex: a player may choose to run back or stop before entering the 10 foot zone, where upon entering, he would be ruled out.

2. Allow the catcher to block the plate if the runner is not within 10 feet of the base upon catching the ball. The current rule does not really clarify what can be construed as blocking the plate, so in theory, a player that just rounds third while the catcher is standing in front of the plate could score because of "obstruction"

3. Change the rules altogether and instead, have throws go to the mound. If a player has not reached a base, then he must go back to the base he last touched. Kickball style.

In all seriousness, the issue of home plate collisions is no joke, but in order for the current rules to stay valid and useful, they must become more clear on what is/isn't legal.

cLEAVEland Cavs' Worst Offseason

Cleveland's best move was signing LeBron James. And even that move wasn't a completely free transaction. The Cavaliers lost a prolific contributor on both ends of the floor in Luol Deng, who should make an impact in Miami. The teams, while by happenstance just swapped SFs, didn't make a deal, but it worked out that way.

LeBron James came at a steal (in relative terms) at $20.6 million this year and a $21.6m player option next year. But the fact that he does make a large salary cap dent is an issue. Not a great one when you consider how much James contributes to a team, but it is a factor to notice.

The Cavaliers also signed Kyrie Irving to a longterm max-deal. Irving is an outstanding player, but the team simply threw a ton of cash at him, and when you have tons of money going to a couple of players, it limits your flexibility should anything go wrong (look at the Bulls struggling without D-Rose for a couple seasons).

The Cavaliers also will acquire Kevin Love, another high paid superstar that will eat into the salary books. Look at Miami this year. They had all this money committed to the Big Three, and once the Big Three ended its tenure, they had to scramble to sign Danny Granger, Deng and Josh McRoberts.

The Cavaliers lost two #1 draft picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, both guys that would be under contract for much lower than their market values due to rookie contracts. They lose their first draft pick in this upcoming season. They bailed on the future, searching for wins now.
And frankly, it doesn't improve the team that much.

You can argue that the Cavaliers had depth at SG (Dion Waiters, and they also drafted Joe Harris), and PF (Tristan Thompson, and now Love). But in essence, the T'Wolves got what the Cavaliers had before the acquisitions of LeBron and Love, incomprehensible talent on good deals. Incomprehensible talent on good deals means that you win now and later.

Bold Call: Cavaliers will be a strong team, but they have so severely mortgaged the team that in a few years (maybe even this offseason), LeBron James will be forced into another free agency frenzy as the Cavaliers struggle to maintain relevance in the NBA.

Minnesota Loves Love Trade

The Minnesota Timberwolves never got anything going as a team with Kevin Love.

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A Spanish import, tabbed to be the next Steve Nash. Ricky Rubio's book certainly isn't closed, but it certainly was when Love was around.

Scrap-heap players like JJ Barea, Alexey Shved, etc., graced the team with serviceable time on the court. However, they were certainly not impact players that could bring wins to Minnesota.

Corey Brewer offered his defense. There isn't much else to be written about on him.

Nikola Pekovic still stands at center, a cornerstone for future years.

Gorgui Dieng, a breakout bigman sensation last season.

Talented, athletic Zach LeVine could stand to make an impact as a guard alongside Rubio.

Kevin Martin will be the everlasting shooter, the quintessential sidekick like Mike Miller, Ray Allen, the sharpshooters.

The story of unused talent alongside middling professionals ends now.

With the Cavaliers sending Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and 2015's 1st round draft pick for Kevin Love, the Timberwolves successfully got two #1 picks for Love. They unload a huge contract for two cost-controlled players, and a third to come.

The T'Wolves will have insurmountable depth on a team that will look like this:

G: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Zach LeVine, JJ Barea, Alexey Shved, Shabazz Mohammed

SF: Andrew Wiggins, Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger

F/C: Anthony Bennett, Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng

With this trade, the T'Wolves have ended mediocrity.

Bold call: T'Wolves will be a top 6 seed in the playoffs this season.

Verlander Tosses Ball to Kate Upton

Maybe it's a sign. Justin Verlander flipped a ball to Kate Upton and they enjoyed a little moment together.
The Tigers didn't win tonight, but we know that Verlander did.

Verlander has struggled mightily this season, but has started to turn it around. He went 8 innings in his last start, and looks like Upton might be a good luck charm.
We'll keep you updated on how Verlander performs after this event. Maybe this is advanced analytics.

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David WIlson Shut Down, Rashad, Andre Williams Must Own?

In an unfortunate turn of events, New York Giants running back David Wilson has been shut down, and his career may be in jeopardy. We sincerely hope that Wilson is able to return to football, but health is always first.

In fantasyland, Rashad Jennings only has to contest with Andre Williams for touches. It has been reported that Andre will be getting goal-line scores, so Jennings may not be a huge fantasy value, but Williams definitely enters fantasy relevance with Wilson likely out of the picture.

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Jeremy Lin Fan Appreciation Week: Signed Stuff Giveaway!

While the Houston Rockets didn't show any particular love to Jeremy Lin, Lin definitely knows how to keep positive public relations with fans.
This week, Jeremy will be holding a Fan Appreciation Week with signed memorabilia being given away.

Monday: Facebook Photo Caption Contest: Lin will post 10 photos on both his Chinese and English Facebook pages, and the top three comments per photo (chosen by him) will win a signed Linsanity Poster.

Tuesday: Twitter Multiple Choice quiz: First person to tweet @jlin7 the correct answer to 10 multiple choice questions will win a signed pair of shoes.The next two that are correct will get a signed T-Shirt. The quiz will be at 9AM PST.

Wednesday: Instagram Video Contest: More details to come, but the first prize is a signed pair of shoes and the two consolation prizes are signed Linsanity Movie posters.

Thursday will consist of a live Q/A session at 10AM PST on Facebook

Friday: Tweet to him artwork you've created related to him, and he will choose three winners to get a signed t-shirt.

Best of luck to all!

Dalton's $115m Extension Grossly Overpaid

The Cincinnati Bengals signed Andy Dalton to a 6 year, $115 million extension.

What has Andy Dalton done to justify this large of a salary?

He did have 4,293 yards and 33 touchdowns last season, but the average of 19.2 million a year salary would mean that he is a leader at the forefront of the quarterback position, right?

He's in good company, but whether or not he deserves to be paid at the same rate as Peyton Manning is a different story.

He was pretty underpaid prior to this extension, so in a way, it balances out the price. However, the value of the player simply isn't there yet.

The following quarterbacks would cost the same or less per year:
Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Phillip RIvers, Ben Roethlisberger, Sam Bradford, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, and many more.

With zero playoff wins in three tries, that's a big amount of money to spend on a player.

Could Colts' Two TE System Produce Offensive Machine?

Last season, the Colts' ground game didn't work, and injuries to many of the receiving corps' members hurt the effectiveness of the group. However, guys like TY HIlton stepped up, and many players are back healthy and ready to make an impact.
Let's take a look at the two TE system the Colts will be using this upcoming season.

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As the fullback slowly fades away in the NFL, a two TE scheme is effective in being flexible for both the run and the pass, especially when athletic targets Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen are involved.

OC Pep Hamilton was a big proponent of this two TE scheme, and it didn't quite go as expected. Trent Richardson busted terribly, and even Donald Brown became fantasy relevant...
However, that also means that... Donald Brown became fantasy relevant. There's definite potential for running backs in the scheme to produce, as defenses will be kept on their toes regarding whether to defend the rush/pass. This year, Trent Richardson claims that he understands the playbook much better now, and I think he's a legitimate value as a starting running back with no one behind him (Ahmad Bradshaw is injured always, and Vick Ballard suffered another likely season-ending injury). He should silence the critics pretty soon, and validate his latter-stages draft price.

Meanwhile, the wide receivers on this team are capable of contributing, as Reggie Wayne will be back from injury, and TY Hilton may not even be a starter.That's because newly acquired ex-Giant Hakeem Nicks may have a bounceback season with a talented QB at the helm of the offense. Rookie Donte Moncrief has potential, and last year's draft pick Da'Rick Rogers could also be lightning in a bottle. Even Griff Whalen could make an impact like he did last year. The Receiving corps is surprisingly deep for Luck.

That leaves just the tight ends. Both Fleener and Allen are athletic, and the ceiling could be a Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski throwback style performance. There's no doubt that Pep Hamilton to will cater simple throws to protect his QB, and many will end up in a tight end's hands. Now, that's not gonna happen every week, but watch out for both Colts' tight ends, especially in deep leagues.

The only thing that can stop them now is a weak offensive line. But I believe that the team will be able to pull through, and this offense could be a high-octane performer.

Tiger Withdraws With Back Injury

Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a back injury, citing a "jarred" feeling after an encounter with a bunker and an awkward stance. Let's hope that Tiger's injury isn't too serious.

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VIDEO: Paul George Gruesome Leg Fracture

In a Team USA scrimmage today, Indiana Pacer's SF Paul George suffered a gruesome injury. In transition defense, George's foot hit the stanchion (the padded post of the basketball goal) and the leg simply snapped in the wrong direction.
A doctor speculates that George will need 9-12 months to recover, but will he ever be the same again?

Here's the video, (warning: very gruesome)

Prayers go out to George, his team, and his family.