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Report: MLB likely to adjust rules for plays at home and transfer catches

Apr 19, 2014, 10:10 AM EDT

transfer rule

While expanded instant replay in MLB has had some missteps in the early going, it has been an overwhelming positive for the most part. However, confusion remains about the new home plate collision rule and the new interpretation of the transfer rule. And it looks like something is going to be done about it soon.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has the story:

The first, at minimum, would be a guideline in which catchers will be asked to give the runner a lane to the plate in their initial positioning, further reducing the possibility of collisions at home plate.

The second would be a less strict interpretation of the transfer rule, in which umpires would rule on catches the way they did in the past, using more of a common-sense approach rather than following the letter of the law.

Officials from the union met with MLB executives earlier this week to voice their displeasure over what constitutes a catch now that baseball has expanded instant replay, sources said.

Both sides agreed that certain plays are being called incorrectly, and MLB officials will seek to clarify what constitutes a catch in a conference call with members of the umpires union early next week, sources said.

It’s refreshing to hear, as both rules have been major sources of frustration this season and obviously need some clarification and/or tweaking. We have seen multiple instances of catchers seemingly blocking the plate without being called for doing so and the changes to the transfer rule are simply counterintuitive. By the way, here’s the latest example of the transfer rule in action.

Kudos to all involved for making it a priority to accomplish some clarity in the near future. We can’t have this level of confusion linger into the postseason.

  1. serbingood - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Oakland is jealous at the speed that MLB can move when so motivated.

  2. jolink653 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    I still don’t entirely understand the need to eliminate collisions at home plate. It’s been part of the game for over 100 years, and just because Buster Posey happens to get hurt, we have to eliminate them entirely? If a catcher blocks the plate, he should expect to be bulldozed by the runner coming down the line, or get out of the way if he doesn’t want to get hit. The league is trying to eliminate something that these catchers have been trained to do their entire careers, and I don’t see how an umpire should be dictating what’s too much of a block and what’s not. Just complicates things further

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      It’s been part of the game for over 100 years, and just because Buster Posey happens to get hurt, we have to eliminate them entirely?

      Minorities not being allowed to play was part of the game for years. 6 balls for a walk was part of the game for years. The DH was only introduced about 40 years ago. etc etc etc

      Also it wasn’t just Posey that got hurt. Santana also lost a year from a home plate collision.

      • anxovies - Apr 20, 2014 at 7:50 AM

        If you don’t have a good argument, play the Race card.

    • paperlions - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      It has not been part of the game for over 100 years. Traditionally, players always slid into the plate, it wasn’t until the 1960s that guys started to run over the catcher and that umps started to allow catchers to block the plate without the ball.

      MLB has royally screwed this up by not just enforcing the rules already on the books. All they had to do was to state that obstruction and interference would no longer be tolerated at home plate and the problem is solved. Instead, they crafted an ambiguous new rule that isn’t clear to anyone.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        No idea if this is true or not, but the YES guys constantly bring it up. Apparently there was a meeting of coaches(GM’s?) in Toronto, and Girardi asked about straddling the plate. The officials told him (again according to the YES guys) that straddling the plate was interference.

        When Girardi asked for that in writing, they stopped responding.

      • paperlions - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        That is freaking stupid. Again, there is no reason to have different rules for home. None whatsoever. It is small thinking that leads to convoluted systems of rules when a simpler system would work just fine.

      • jblokhed - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        This is correct. Home plate is no different than any other base and strictly by the rules a path for the runner has to be allowed. They just started making unwritten exceptions for trucking the catcher.

      • jblokhed - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        A defensive player blocking a runner’s path is obstruction, not interference. Offensive players “interfere.”

  3. 1harrypairatesties - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    Yes I agree with jolink653. Collisions at home plate are part of the game and need to stay part of the game for years to come. I think baseball is tinkering too much with some of the rules.

    • rje49 - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      Yes, and they should allow blocking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bases too! It’s only fair. Right? Right? Huh?…

      • paperlions - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        And you should be able to blind side other infielders that are trying to tag you out. Matt Holliday could lead the league in steals, who is going to stay in there with him running you over?

  4. Joe Vecchio - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Unlike that other sport, baseball is not an inherently violent sport. We have the neighborhood play because nobody except maybe Ty Cobb wants to have a barrage of injured infielders. I expected some difficulties with the new rules about blocking because they’re new rules and everyone has to adjust.

    The transfer rule, on the other hand, has been interpreted very badly. It really should apply mostly to the pivot infielder turning a double play, very often they never really have full control of the ball, they basically bounce it off their mitt and into their throwing hand (I know this because that’s how I used to do it back in the days when I could play softball), which is fine as long as it isn’t dropped. I’ve seen a lot of plays where the runner was still called out when the infielder clearly never had control of the ball, so that needed work.

    But I don’t want to see a great catcher like Buster Posey ruin his career because of these collisions. Let’s leave that part of it to the NFL, shall we?

  5. American of African Descent - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I don’t understand the new collision rules either. If the catcher doesn’t want to get run over, get out of the way. If the catcher is standing in front of the plate, blocking it so that he can make the play, he needs to expect that he’s going to get hit. And if the catcher is dumb enough to stand in the runners path while looking the other direction because he’s waiting for the throw from right field, he deserves what he gets.

    Paperlions is absolutely correct—all MLB had to do was enforce existing rules.

  6. sophiethegreatdane - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    The transfer rule is total crapola. Again, in the replay linked here, the runner is clearly out. It’s time for some common sense.

  7. zdravit - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Always adjusting and adding pointless rules. How about eliminating some?

  8. musketmaniac - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    The Home plate collision has already incorrectly cost the pirates a game this year.

    • mazblast - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:29 PM

      Yes, but that’s “just” the Pirates. There won’t be a real change until it costs the Yankees or Red Sox a game.

  9. creek0512 - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    MLB took years to decide to implement any replay, and yet they decided to change the definition of a catch for no reason. Are they really surprised that everyone is so pissed off about it? Fans, players, coaches, even umpires don’t like the change. The umps keep making the call the way they always have and it only gets made the new way after replay, which causes fans to blame and hate the new replay system.

  10. anxovies - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    The transfer rule should be changed and I am somewhat ambivalent on the catcher blocking the plate, there are good arguments for each side. However, watching the manager sauntering out to the first base ump and standing there with his arms folded while sneaking looks at the dugout to get the OK to challenge from somebody watching the replay looks really contrived and dumb. Either make the challenge immediately from the dugout or let game proceed. Watching Earl Weaver screaming up at an umpire who was a foot taller than him or Sweet Lou in the throes of an insane rage was entertaining dumb. This is just dumb.

    • anxovies - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:03 AM

      Is “somewhat ambivalent” a redundancy?

  11. greymares - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    The rule change on the play at the plate is the 2nd worst rule change in the history of Baseball. Right behind the D.H.rule.

  12. campcouch - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    head into home plate spikes up a few times,that’ll clear the obstruction.

  13. mtr75 - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    The please-don’t-hurt-Buster-Posey rule has been, as I predicted a disaster. Runners are confused, catchers are confused, umpires are confused. At any other base, if a fielder has the ball and is blocking the runner’s path the runner can run him over. Home plate should be no different. If you don’t want to get decked, get out of the way. Simple as that. The Posey rule is unnecessary, confusing and just plain stupid. You can’t legislate injuries out of the game. Pretty soon they’re going to put a speed limit on the base paths to reduce hamstring pulls.

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