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The plate-blocking rule leads to a dumb result once again. And helps cost the Marlins a game.

Aug 1, 2014, 8:27 AM EST

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 8.23.06 AM Getty Images

The plate blocking rule is well-intentioned, but something has to be changed. To see why, look no further than last night’s Reds-Marlins game in which the go-ahead run was scored on a sac fly even though the ball beat the runner home by a country mile.

The situation: The Marlins had a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth. Zack Cozart was on third with one out. Todd Frazier hit a fly ball which was caught by Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton throws home as Cozart tags and tries to score. Catcher Jeff Mathis fields the ball way, way before Cozart is close to home. Watch the play unfold:

Yes, Mathis is blocking the plate without the ball for a brief moment. But then he has the ball, well before Cozart is there, and there’s no way in heck that a collision is going to happen here. And preventing such collisions is the purpose of the rule.

Major League Baseball apparently realizes this got messed up, because after the game they released this statement:

“We have begun to examine the Crew Chief Review in tonight’s Reds-Marlins game, which resulted in a violation of Rule 7.13, the call being overturned and a run scoring on the play,” the statement said. “We plan to discuss this situation further with the appropriate parties tomorrow, and we will communicate with the clubs after our discussion about this play.”

Fact of the matter is that the rule needs to be changed. Or, at the very least, some umpire judgment needs to be allowed here. Allow them to determine whether or not the catcher’s block actually, you know, made a difference. Whether it put the runner in the position of having to run into the catcher or not. Because as it is now, a rule that was designed to help protect catchers is being used against them.

  1. rbts2014 - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    I agree with the ruling of that play (safe) but I still think the rule needs to go. Let the catcher determine how bad he wants to try to make the out. If it’s a 7-3 game, the run isn’t likely to make a difference in the end. If it’s a 2-2 tie, the catcher will likely decide trying to get the out is worth it and let whatever happen happen, whether it be a collision or an injury on the slide.

    If you are going to keep the rule, replay should look at every incident – why burden the managers with their precious one replay challenge to have to figure out what side of the bed the replay umpire woke up on that morning since this rule has been applied inconsistently.

    Also start putting the replay ump names in the boxscore so there is accountability for the replay decisions in the game.

    As for the second base rule, I say make it the decision of the 2B/SS – don’t pitch a tent and camp out on second base if you don’t want to face a collision or slide. Catch your ball off the base and quickly tag the base for the out. No more neighborhood play that also isn’t consistently ruled properly when replay challenged despite the fact they aren’t supposed to be reviewable.

    • twinfan24 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      The rule does not need to go. Catchers just need time to get used to it. When you have played a certain way your entire life, muscle memory is going to tell you to stand in a certain spot on a play at home. They need to train themselves to not stand there.

      As far as leaving it up to the catcher decide whether or not to take the hit, that is what we had before, and every team will pressure their catcher to make the out (even if they say differently to the media). Players can’t be counted on to protect themselves. Look no further than the NFL to prove that.

  2. scoochpooch - Aug 1, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    easy fix, make a catchers’ box in front of the plate where they must have one foot in when receiving the throw. Foot out = obstruction. Too easy to do for MLB though.

  3. scoochpooch - Aug 1, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    easy fix, make a catchers’ box in front of the plate where they must have one foot in when receiving the throw. Foot out = obstruction. I know this is too easy to do for MLB though.

  4. linhsiu - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    “Yes, Mathis is blocking the plate without the ball for a brief moment. But then he has the ball, well before Cozart is there, and there’s no way in heck that a collision is going to happen here.”

    Statement like this makes me wonder… what were you watching??? Runner obviously was blocked before catcher had possession of the ball… no way in heck that is collision is going to happen??? Only because the runner chose not too…

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