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MLB tweaks Rule 7.13 to eliminate obstruction calls on force outs

Jun 24, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has some news:

Rule 7.13 is the home plate obstruction/collision rule, and the reason for this tweak to it happened last week, when Russell Martin of the Pirates was called for obstruction when merely standing on home to receive a throw in a force out-at-the-plate situation:

Which, of course, is absurd, because how else is a dude supposed to get a force out other than by touching home plate?

Rosenthal says that while catchers can now get the force out without having to worry about being called for obstruction, runners attempting to score still can’t interfere with the fielder (i.e. bowl over the catcher) which also makes sense. Force plays are still reviewable to make sure they were correctly called, but they are not reviewable for purposes of determining whether the obstruction rule was properly applied.

This all makes sense, and is in keeping with MLB’s stated goal of tweaking on the fly in the wake of realities in application. So I guess that’s good. Still: I wish the whole obstruction rule applied to catchers blocking the plate with the ball as well as without the ball. But maybe that’s for the offseason.

  1. musketmaniac - Jun 24, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Tweak. that’s funny because the only explanation of that is everbody was on Meth when they decided to make that rule.

  2. rbts2014 - Jun 24, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    They should just eliminate this home plate collision rule – if a catcher doesn’t want his bell rung or leg taken out, stay out of the way until the ball is in hand.

    If you have to keep the rule, the rule should be modified to make groundskeepers chalk up a one foot wide running zone centered on the 3rd base baseline going 10 feet out from home plate (similar to the running zone halfway up the first base line to first base) where no part of the catcher can be in that home plate running zone area until the ball is in his glove or hand otherwise the runner is automatically safe at home.

    Way too much non-uniform application of the rule plus there is no accountability or transparency since the replay umps making the final decision depending on what side of the bed they woke up on don’t show up in the box scores… but they should! Craig Calcaterra posted: “Ken Rosenthal has some news: Development on Rule 7.13. Effective immediately, umpires instructed not to apply it on force plays at home plate. — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 24, 2014 Rule 7.13 is the home plate obstruction/collision rule, “

    • paperlions - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      I agree. Let’s get rid of obstruction and interference penalties at all bases. If the 1B doesn’t want his bell rung on a ground out, he’ll GTFO of the way….if a 2B/SS doesn’t want his bell run on a stolen base, he’ll GTFO of the way….now, leading the league in stolen bases and seasons ended….Bulldozer Matt Holliday.

      • davidpom50 - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        Is there a rule against blocking the base at other bases? Seems like a lot of middle infielders use their foot or even their knee to block the bag on stolen base attempts. Obviously, there’s far less reason for collision and therefore far less risk of injury, but just wondering if it’s legal or not.

      • paperlions - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:54 PM

        Yes, a fielder is not allowed to obstruct the progress of a runner unless he is in the process of fielding a ball or has the ball in his possession….and a runner is not allowed to intentionally interfere with the actions of a fielder (e.g. attempt to dislodge the ball from the glove on a tag play, take out a SS/2B on a slide) by doing anything outside of the normal actions of a runner. Those rules apply to ALL bases. There were no special rules for home plate on the books until this year. All the umps had to do was to enforce the existing rules….MLB didn’t have to make up new ones.

  3. SocraticGadfly - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    David Ortiz protested, and just got awarded a base hit.

  4. 6superbowls - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Effective immediately??? WTH took so long? It should have been done two minutes after some idiot in NY botched the call on Martin.

  5. bfunk1978 - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    I was actually OK with the way it was applied. Martin needed to stretch like a 1B and do everything he can to catch the ball IN FRONT OF the plate. yes the throw was to the 3B side, but if he was in position properly ahead of time he catches the ball in fair territory, isn’t on top of the plate, and there’s no controversy.

    • bfunk1978 - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      In this particular case, the left foot should have been on the plate, not the right. I guess you can’t really stretch like a 1B in that case, but you can still catch the ball in front of the plate.

    • scotttheskeptic - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      His right foot was on the plate, his left foot was in the right handed batter’s box. As he was not in front of the plate, he cannot be blocking the plate.

      • DJ MC - Jun 25, 2014 at 12:33 AM

        In terms of the baserunner, he was in front of the plate. Which is blocking the plate. Standing “in front” of the plate, in terms of the pitchers mound and the rest of the field, cannot be blocking the plate under any interpretation.

    • prostock75 - Jun 24, 2014 at 7:28 PM

      No offense, but anybody who even slightly agrees with how it was enforced on that play should have their head checked. That was easily one of the dumbest calls I have ever seen in baseball.

      • DJ MC - Jun 25, 2014 at 12:43 AM

        The rule was enforced terribly, but it wouldn’t have been an issue if Martin had positioned himself properly.

    • clydeserra - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:45 PM

      ok, but if he has to act like a first baseperson, why is he allowed to line up before the pitch in foul territory? are we going to raise the plate 2 inches so he can put his toe on it without standing on the plate? and now we have to make the plate square.

      there are significant differences in the positions, the bases and the strategy around it, its fine how it is now

      • bfunk1978 - Jun 25, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        My theory might be kind of out there, but you don’t make any sense at all.

      • clydeserra - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:30 PM

        no, your idea was dumb. I am pointing out what the differences are.

        you can’t equate home plate to first

  6. hcf95688 - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Buster Posey will not be pleased with this decision.

    • clydeserra - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:46 PM


  7. gilly327 - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    At least they made a correction within a week if an issue unlike the nfl which would apologize a week later and do nothing else about it till the offseason if then

  8. musketmaniac - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    the game was lost before the call. as a pirate fan I was over it as it happened. As a baseball fan, good decision.

  9. clydeserra - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    great, now can they change the rule about not being able to review a caught foul tip?

  10. Detroit Michael - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:16 AM

    It would be better if MLB actually changed the rule, not provide instructions to umpires that differ from the written rule.

  11. dj4900 - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    What is this, the 2nd or 3rd “tweaking” of idiotic rule interps this year already? Interps that should have never had to be addressed if they had been applied with common sense in the first place. Like a lot of level headed cops like to say, “the law written and the law applied are two different things, be smart enough to know the difference” Tunnel vision never sees anything as it is meant to be seen.

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