The Home Plate Collision
As Entertainment: In the NFL (Note to editor: It's a football league--not sure what the letters stand for, however), collisions are routine. In fact, more collisions occur on one NFL play than they do in a month of major league baseball. Yet when some foolhardy baserunner attempts to bowl over the catcher and knock the ball loose in the process, it's far more exciting than 99% of the collisions that happen in football. The thought of a man running headlong into a fully-padded guardian of the realm--well, it's damn near something worthy of Shakespeare. What is more, it's a manly act. You might notice that all of the other activities discussed here are a little...well, how shall I say...? Wimpy. The bunt is just tapping the ball lightly with the bat like a debutante might if she could be pressed into learning the game. The hit-and-run is a diversionary attack rather than a frontal assault. The sacrifice is, although seemingly noble in concept, a concession to very low expectations. The stolen base is getting an extra base without benefit of muscling one's way to it.
The home plate collision, though--that's the act of heroes. Ever since running into an outfield wall became a walk in the park thanks to the installation of padding, hurling one's body at the catcher is the last refuge of the player for whom reckless abandonment is a way of life. It is the last, true act of courage left to the baseballer.
As Functional Tool: But does it work? How often does a baserunner successfully separate a catcher from the ball by frontally assaulting him? I'm asking because I don't know. My guess is that it's not worth the risk. Catchers aren't built like you and I. On top of that, their facades bristle with armor. If a runner can arrive at the same time as the ball and nail the catcher in the act of fielding the throw, then maybe he can affect the outcome. If, though, the ball is already securely in the catcher's womb-like glove, then it's a fool who impales himself on that particular fortress. Never mind that impeding a runner's path to the plate is actually illegal, though the rule is widely ignored.