You’d be very right in that assessment, but no amount of reiteration or emphasis of it at plate meetings is going to fix it.
Most FPSR violations in youth amateur baseball, whether it be under OBR or Fed rules, can be chalked up to naivety or ignorance. Sure, there are some high-intensity high school ballplayers that will stretch the limits of the Fed rule, but these violations occur, more often than not, within equally intense high school vs. high school games. This speaks to my main point, coming up in a moment.
In professional baseball, at all levels, there’s an understanding or unwritten protocol regarding hard slides and FPSR. At the end of the day, it’s every man for himself, and each man is trying to showcase his skills and talents, and is trying to get paid more or better. A R1, forced into a likely double play, has no real allegiance to the teammate who just hit him into this double play, and is not going to jeopardize his own ability to play tomorrow, or injure a fellow player – opponent or otherwise – who may be a teammate someday, or be represented by the same agency. Indeed, the FPSR for OBR was modified to what it is now because something needed to be done when that protocol is ignored. It’s illustrative to my point that the OBR FPSR modification was enacted largely due to the Utley-on-Tejada slide during the 2015 NLDS (read: a game with something at stake).
In a similar vein, to revisit the topic before I hit the main point of this post, when we have amateur ballplayers on the cusp of being recruited or signed, playing in showcase or tournament games, they largely observe whatever FPSR is in place. So too, when we conduct summer college tuning / development / exposure leagues, the NCAA FPSR is not only adhered to, but we rarely see any instances of anything that would constitute a FPSR violation in the other two codes.
So what’s at the root of these FPSR violations in NCAA games, and the point of my post? Tribalism. There are such heightened stakes for the team that every play matters. If you have a chance to bust up a potential double play, you do it for the good of the team, regardless if you injure yourself or your opponent. This same theme plays out in college football, lacrosse, and hockey. College coaches are not actively teaching their players to violate FPSR restrictions, but they sure will condition and encourage them to stretch those limits as far as possible, with the difference between legal and illegal being razor thin. And what compounds this is the speed and intensity of the college game, especially in the tension of the postseason.