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The new home plate collision rule is officially announced

Feb 24, 2014, 2:26 PM EDT

Press release from Major League Baseball: the new home plate collision rule is out. It’s Rule 7.13 .It reads as follows:

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).  If, in the judgment of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball).

Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score.  If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.

That seems fairly straight-forward. Major League Baseball added this, however, as explanation:

In determining whether a runner deviated from his pathway in order to initiate a collision, the Umpire will consider whether the runner made an effort to touch the plate, and whether he lowered his shoulders or pushed through with his hands, elbows or arms when veering toward the catcher.  The rule that will be in effect in 2014 does not mandate that the runner always slide or that the catcher can never block the plate.  However, runners who slide, and catchers who provide the runner with a lane to reach the plate, will never be found to be in violation of the new rule.  Beginning immediately, Clubs will be required to train their runners to slide and their catchers to provide the runner with a pathway to reach the plate at all levels in their organizations.

Also: instant replay will apply to Rule 7.13 interpretations. The league will be going around spring training to apprise every team of the rules and to answer questions.

Expect this one to be a bit uncertain for a while.

  1. The Dangerous Mabry - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    So if I read this correctly, if a catcher has the ball and is in the baseline to make the tag, it’s still fine to annihilate him. Is that right?

    • stex52 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      Subject to the umpire’s judgment that the runner was following a path to the plate and he doesn’t throw w\elbows, I think you are right.

    • drewsylvania - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      Potential exploit: sliding with spikes (very) high.

    • brazcubas - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:08 PM

      Well, the obstruction rule is still in the books, no? I would imagine they would actually start enforcing it, otherwise it will be as you say.

    • unclemosesgreen - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:09 PM

      No, it’s not o.k. The explanation states that runners can’t use the forearms or shoulders anymore. They don’t have to slide, but they can’t deliver a football-like hit.

      MLB will send explanation guys to every team’s spring training to go over it ad nauseam in front of bored crowds of ball players. Basically – let’s stop running into each other out there fellas.

    • moogro - Feb 25, 2014 at 1:00 AM

      I think you read that poorly-worded rule correctly. You can still annihilate the catcher, you just have to do it by sliding, feet first or hand-first.

    • dmoas - Feb 25, 2014 at 1:26 AM

      Yes. I think that last bit is throwing people off a bit. Those are just things the ump can use to make their judgement. Frequently runners will lower and elbow or shoulder (usually to their own side) with the intent to dislodge the ball. That’s not allowed. HOWEVER, if they remain in their path and it’s blocked, they can lower their shoulder/elbow in order to attempt to reach the plate. If the ump judges that was his INTENT (reach home), he’s okay. If the ump judges that his INTENT was dislodge the ball out of the catcher’s mitt, he’s out. That second paragraph just notes the things the umps will look at to provide that judgement.

  2. conjecture101 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    get ready for flopping in MLB

    • bostonboresme - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      booo.

  3. sdelmonte - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Still impressive that everyone can reach agreement on a rules change in so short a time.

  4. stex52 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Is this much different from what they would rule at second base right now?

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      It appears to still allow more leeway to hit the catcher as hard as you can, as long as he’s in your way. The rules may allow for the same thing at second base, but I’ve never seen it done, and I imagine there’d be a whole lot of backlash if it were.

      • chadjones27 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        Problem with the second base analogy is that a runner needs to stop at 2nd, else he’s out. So, you don’t see runners dropping their shoulder at 2nd or 3rd. With home plate you just need to touch it, run through it, etc…

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        This is true about second base, but the rule of attempting to dislodge the ball is inconsistently applied. See the “A-Rod Slaps Balls” controversy. If it was a catcher (or perhaps if it wasn’t Alex Rodriguez), it would have been fine.

      • paperlions - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        The runner isn’t out if the fielder is laying in a heap and the ball is dropped. Over running 2nd does not make a runner out, he still has to be tagged or actively trying to avoid a fielder with the ball. A runner can run anywhere in the field of play he wishes as long as no one is actively trying to tag him, at which point the “base line” rule come into effect…which is not a line between the bases, but between the runner and the base he is heading toward.

  5. schlom - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    In determining whether a runner deviated from his pathway in order to initiate a collision, the Umpire will consider whether the runner made an effort to touch the plate, and whether he lowered his shoulders or pushed through with his hands, elbows or arms when veering toward the catcher.

    That part is confusing. If a runner does any of those things does that mean it’s illegal even if he hasn’t deviated from his pathway? Or if he avoids those things then it’s not illegal if he deviates from his pathway?

    • paperlions - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      Yeah, this isn’t well written. The plate is obviously on the ground, is the runner’s pathway to the plate, which is on the ground or is it the entire vertical axis from the runner through the plate location?

      If a runner doesn’t deviate and plows the catcher while making not attempt to touch the plate until after the collision, is that a violation of the rule? Not as written.

      Also, it the addendum in inconsistent with the rule and incomplete as it just says that teams much teach runners to slide and catchers to give a lane to the plate…is that with and without the ball or just without the ball? Runners must be taught to slide, but maybe don’t have to if the catcher has the ball and is blocking the plate?

  6. Bar None - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    So drop kicks by runners are still ok? Good.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      I see nothing wrong with this.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        Izzy Alcantara, youtube was made for moments like this

  7. yordo - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    There goes the most exciting play in baseball. DID HE HOLD ON?! WHERE’S THE FUKIN BALL?!

    • historiophiliac - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      Most exciting play in baseball?

      /recalls Miggy grand slam, Tulo’s unassisted triple play, fan catching a ball with his beer

      I’m gonna say no on that.

      • bostonboresme - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:47 PM

        Watching Jose Fernandez pitch.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 25, 2014 at 12:15 AM

        How could I forget King Felix’s perfecto?

  8. billybawl - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    Would be nice if they could post some videos of past plays that would have violated the rule, and others that would not.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      It would also be nice if you could embed MLB video immediately instead of 2 days later, but MLB isn’t exactly on the cutting edge when it comes to these sort of things.

      On a side note, the NFL is especially guilty of this as they could very easily put together a reel showing what is and isn’t a legal hit on a quarterback or a wide-receiver, but continue to fail to do so. Then we are left wondering why the officials seem to have no clue and make it up as they go along.

  9. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Remember that cool Matrix-like move Ichiro pulled off near the end of the 2012 season, where he dodged the catcher’s attempts at tagging him? Everyone is not required to do that or the run doesn’t count.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Apparently according to this rule, Ichiro would be thrown out for deviating from a path that was not direct to the plate.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        I thought to issue was deviating from the path in order to collide with the catcher. Would he be out for deviating from the path to avoid the catcher? That rule has always been a bit fuzzy with regards to home plate.

  10. steve7921 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    I will refrain from comment until Joe West or Angel Hernandez screw my team using this rule!!!

  11. brums21 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    This is too vague…I don’t like judgement calls by the umpires.

    • chc4 - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      Then you must not like baseball. Umps make judgment calls all the time.

    • billybawl - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      It’s subject to review, so at least it’s not a single ump’s decision ultimately.

  12. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    So basically it’s OK to annihilate the catcher as long as you planned to do so early enough that you ran directly for the catcher instead of running for the plate. Oh, after you take out the catcher, stick your hand or foot out so you can say you “attempted” to score. I don’t really get why this rule is written is such a complicated fashion. How hard is it to say “Runners must slide on a play at the plate.” “Catchers must not block plate.” Problem solved. See, I solved it in 14 words. MLB used 264. And somehow came out more confusing.

    • chc4 - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      Did you read the rule? It appears not.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        I did read the rule. However the statement by MLB contradicted the rule and further muddied the explanation. Hence my confusion.

    • moogro - Feb 25, 2014 at 1:16 AM

      Your wording is definitely more clear than MLB’s. The problem lies in mandating a slide, and when the runner does a run-through resulting in collision thinking the play wasn’t going to be close.

      Home plate should be handled like the rest of the bases, just by following the rules already written. “Person with the ball can’t block the base, runner can’t try to dislodge ball.” That’s even simpler.

  13. penguins87and71 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    So wait you can still runner of catchers? So then what’s the point of implementing the new rule if you can still run over the catcher? Isn’t that defeating the purpose?

  14. clydeserra - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    So in other words, the only change is the runner can’t lower his shoulder. catcher not interfering without the ball is the same, just never enforced.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:38 PM

      As of this year. I take the wording to suggest that it will become more restrictive in the future. They are trying to transition it in, it sounds like.

  15. dollasnsense - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    A common play at the plate is for the catcher to stick his leg to the 3rd base side of the plate to ‘protect’ the plate, causing the runner to go outside of the basepath and tap home with his hand as he’s sliding next to homeplate. Is this move now illegal for catchers to do, considering they’re usually doing this without the ball and it causes the runner to change paths (forcing the runner to go outside of the basepath, thus not giving the runner a lane to homeplate)?

    I might be cynical, but I can’t help but feel like we’re going to have to hear Joe Buck and Tim McCarver explain this one in October. And the less I hear from Buck and McCarver, the better…

    • clydeserra - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      that move was always illegal, just never enforced.

  16. realgone2 - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Well this seems to accomplish nothing…

  17. mtr75 - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    Perfect, not only a stupid and pointless rule, but poorly defined as well. Well done, MLB! More games in the hands of umps.

    • jkcalhoun - Feb 24, 2014 at 8:20 PM

      What were your specific apprehensions about this when it was first discussed? I forget. Does the wording meet with your entire disapproval or does it avoid at least some of the things you were concerned about?

  18. grussell10 - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    For those who feel this is the “most exciting” play in baseball you obviously never played the position. As a 15 year catcher who lost his career in AA via collision at the plate, I assure you exciting is not the word. I had been run over countless times from “good baseball” plays to the occasional jackass who thought lunging themselves while I was not looking. The career ender was the latter, a jackass that veered out of the lines to hit me broadside. I loved the position and all the risks associated with it. I would still want to catch today if I had the chance to do it again. The other parts of the job, of which there are many, are extremely exciting..however, home plate collisions I would not describe as the “most exciting play” in baseball until you have been a party at the scene of the collision
    God Bless all the “Catchers” (now pay them better!!)

  19. mackie66 - Feb 25, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Silly

  20. skerney - Feb 25, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Baseball is not a contact sport.

    It’s not football, it’s not MMA. Players should not injure each other. That’s not the point of the game. If you think violence and injuries are exciting go watch the aforementioned sports and enjoy them.

    Baseball is not a contact sport.

  21. bbk1000 - Feb 25, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Buster Posey and the Giants celebrating a championship…..

    http://tinyurl.com/busterp

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