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Thursday, June 19, 2014

MLB’s New Home-Plate Rule Had Its Lowest Moment

The bases were loaded—this was a force play. Bucs catcher Russell Martin received the throw, tapped home plate with his his foot, then got out of the way of the sliding Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco was ruled out; Bryan Pryce argued, and after a lengthy chat with the replay office in New York, umpires overturned the call.

Natty Fan Posted: June 19, 2014 at 01:40 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: catcher collisions, pirates, reds, rules

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   1. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: June 19, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4730855)
I don't like the rule but this looks like the right call. Martin is standing on top of the plate (there is no "tapped home plate with his foot", he's on it the whole way) and Mesoraco doesn't have a lane. Martin was not on it as if he were a first baseman. Admittedly, he gets out of the way but his body was covering the entire plate without the ball while he awaited the throw.
   2. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 19, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4730857)

Horrendous call, which MLB is already admitting was wrong. Between the lousy replay implementation, the transfer rule, and the new collision rule, this has not been a banner year for MLB when it comes to rules and umpiring.
   3. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: June 19, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4730865)
Just watched the replay. You can argue that Mesoraco had a small path to the inside of the plate but I think that's dicey. The thing that strikes me is on a force play Martin is in the worst possible location to receive the throw. He should be moving towards the throw rather than backing up.

Between the horrendous replay implementation, the stupid transfer rule, and the new collision rule, this has not been a banner year for MLB when it comes to rules and umpiring


In fairness I don't like the collision rule but many people do and they fixed the transfer rule pretty quickly. On top of that after some high profile gaffes early it seems like we haven't seen much in the way of butchered replay situations. I think expecting perfection right away is unfair and I say this as someone who would happily see video review completely done away with.
   4. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: June 19, 2014 at 04:29 PM (#4730875)
Horrendous call, which MLB is already admitting was wrong. Between the lousy replay implementation, the transfer rule, and the new collision rule, this has not been a banner year for MLB when it comes to rules and umpiring.


At least they're trying. One of the things I dislike most about Baseball is the tendency of many to worship the rulebook as sacred and immutable.
   5. God Posted: June 19, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4730908)
An obviously horrific call like this one is probably good for the game in the long run, because the publicity it generates will (and apparently already has) motivate MLB to clarify and correct the interpretaition of the rule.
   6. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: June 19, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4730931)
At least they're trying.

Their participation trophy is in the mail. The results have be sh!t.
   7. BDC Posted: June 19, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4730966)
I clicked on the video but all I saw was a psychotic barista talking to a piece of cereal on her shoulder.

No, I watched it. Interesting is how Martin goes totally out of his way to somersault backwards and avoid a collision. If there was ever a guy trying to comply with the spirit of the rules, this is it.
   8. DKDC Posted: June 19, 2014 at 05:49 PM (#4731005)
I tend to agree with Jose.

The best path to the plate for the runner here is to run straight through like it was first base, and Martin was blocking that path.

Maybe it was a misapplication of the rule, but this was poorly recieved by Martin.

On the other hand, the runner's path to the plate was interfering with the play, which is probably why Martin recieved the ball the way he did. Could the runner have been called out for interference?
   9. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 19, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4731015)
On the other hand, the runner's path to the plate was interfering with the play, which is probably why Martin recieved the ball the way he did. Could the runner have been called out for interference?


I don't see how. He's not required to run in foul territory as he would be if he were going to first.

Martin should have set up at the front of the plate, toward first to give the pitcher the best angle to throw. He had time to do so. Such a position also makes it less likely the runner can score.

Having said that, I don't think this was a good application of the rule.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: June 19, 2014 at 06:24 PM (#4731035)
I admire baseball admitting when they make a mistake. None of the lesser sports would have the gumption to do that.
   11. dr. scott Posted: June 19, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4731061)
Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 7.13 if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner and that contact with the runner was unavoidable.


this seems to be the important part of the rule for this play, no? The question is did he need to block the plate to field the ball? Seems like once he set up yes, but that he set up poorly. honestly I would not have known how to call that one either.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: June 19, 2014 at 09:24 PM (#4731144)
He's not required to run in foul territory as he would be if he were going to first.

Perhaps they should on force plays at the plate.

I've watched the video. I don't see anything to think the rule applies. He does set up in a dumb spot but, obviously, to get the force, he has to have his foot on the plate somewhere. A foot on the plate, especially when standing, is not blocking the plate.

Also why is the runner sliding on a force play? Is that also required by the new rule?

If for some reason this is the sort of play you want to get rid of, I suppose you could require the C to set up (and receive throws?) on force plays such that the second foot is in fair territory. That would always give the runner the back half of the plate -- similar to 1B. 1Bs are however allowed to get into the path of the runner to field the ball.

I certainly support the spirit of the rule because I think that home plate collisions are dangerous and almost always unnecessary and usually easily avoidable. But most of the nasty ones (from my memory) have been the fault of the idiot runner trying to jar the ball loose, not the C blocking the plate. And I don't recall any that happened on a force play. Certainly on this play, the only danger to the runner was that he might get beaned by the throw.
   13. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 19, 2014 at 09:37 PM (#4731156)
Perhaps they should on force plays at the plate.


It's not required at second or third, so I'm not sure why it should be the same at home. At those two bases, depending where the ball is fielded, the runner may well obstruct a clean throwing lane to the next base, and the defense is expected to work around that. It seems to me that home should be handled the same way.

Also why is the runner sliding on a force play? Is that also required by the new rule?


Force of habit, I imagine.
   14. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 19, 2014 at 10:14 PM (#4731174)
Also why is the runner sliding on a force play?


Because if the throw is off and he's running straight up, he's more likely to be tagged out than if he slides. On a comebacker to the mound, your only chance to be safe is probably if the throw is off.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: June 20, 2014 at 01:00 AM (#4731238)
It's not required at second or third, so I'm not sure why it should be the same at home.

A bit hard for the runner to be in foul territory when coming into 2B or 3B. :-)

While the rationale at 1B is to keep the runner from interfering with the throw it has the additional result of avoiding collisions at 1B and runners trying to jar the ball loose. Although not expressly written, the result of the rule is that the 1B sets up on the very inside part of the bag while the runner gets to use the outside part of the bag.

The rationale on force plays at the plate would be to avoid collisions on force plays at the plate, not avoid throw interference. If that's not sufficient then don't pass such a rule. But if the current rule means that the C has to have his foot on the plate to get the force but has to have it placed in such a way that the runner has a clear path to the base but the runner can take any path to the base that he wants ... how is a C supposed to make a force play without the risk of obstructing the plate? The effect of such a rule would be to essentially give the C the "top" part of the plate and the runner the back part.
   16. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 20, 2014 at 01:23 AM (#4731242)
While the rationale at 1B is to keep the runner from interfering with the throw it has the additional result of avoiding collisions at 1B and runners trying to jar the ball loose. Although not expressly written, the result of the rule is that the 1B sets up on the very inside part of the bag while the runner gets to use the outside part of the bag.


That's not really a result of the rule, but of common sense. The runner will not be called out if he's inside the baseline on any other ground ball. The fielder takes the inside of the bag because that a) gets him closer to the throw, and b) allows him a place to anchor from which he can stretch.

The rationale on force plays at the plate would be to avoid collisions on force plays at the plate, not avoid throw interference.


I don't see how. Regardless what side of the foul line you're approaching home from, you still end up at the same place at the time a potential collision would occur.

I think the mistake (made by the review guys here, though fortunately corrected by the league) is thinking that a catcher is blocking the plate simply by having his foot somewhere on the plate. A foot, regardless where it is placed on the plate* is not actually going to stop a full-speed to sliding runner from being able to reach home.

*It would be much, much harder to block home plate, mostly a flat surface, than it would be to block one of the other bases with a foot, as the bases themselves could be used as anchors in a way that home really can't.

   17. bunyon Posted: June 20, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4731357)
For interference, the runner has to be hit by the ball - even when running to first. If he runs on the inside of the baseline and the ball doesn't touch him, he's fine.


I think the mistake (made by the review guys here, though fortunately corrected by the league) is thinking that a catcher is blocking the plate simply by having his foot somewhere on the plate. A foot, regardless where it is placed on the plate* is not actually going to stop a full-speed to sliding runner from being able to reach home.


I think this is right. As long as the runner can slide and get a piece of the plate, the catcher isn't blocking it.
   18. Eddo Posted: June 20, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4731390)
   19. DKDC Posted: June 20, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4731419)
For interference, the runner has to be hit by the ball - even when running to first. If he runs on the inside of the baseline and the ball doesn't touch him, he's fine.


I'm pretty sure I've seen interference called on a runner going to first when the ball didn't hit him.

As best as I can tell from the rules, any act by a runner that is intended to interfere with a fielder making a play is interference. I'd make the argument that the runner intentionally was trying to make the throw more difficult in this case based on his circuitous route to home plate, but I recognize that the established standard for intentional interference seems to be reserved for more blatant cases.
   20. bunyon Posted: June 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4731426)
I'm pretty sure I've seen interference called on a runner going to first when the ball didn't hit him.

Yeah, I was thinking about this during a conference call (after posting). It may be that you can be called out home to first without being hit - I'm feeling much less confident about my statement than when I posted it. I'm pretty sure you have to be hit by the ball between other bases.

Anyone know for sure?
   21. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4731440)
I'm pretty sure you have to be hit by the ball between other bases.


It's more than that. The only way you're getting called for interference at the other three bases is if you make some deliberate action to get hit by the ball. If you take one square in the back, that's on the defense. This is most obvious on the play when the runner gets picked off at first and sprints for second (and, if he's doing it right, will run on the home plate side of the basepath in his pursuit of second). The first baseman deals with this by taking a step closer to the mound to give himself a throwing lane for the toss to the shortstop.
   22. dave h Posted: June 20, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4731581)
You do not have to be hit - in fact the ball doesn't even have to be thrown. I got a DP called when I was the pivot at 2B because after receiving the throw I looked at first and the runner was going into second standing up. The umpire judged that I couldn't throw because the runner was interfering: batter-runner was called out.
   23. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 20, 2014 at 01:31 PM (#4731596)
Ok, now that I've looked at it- that was awful! Martin was not blocking the plate; he was on the plate. A runner sliding into home would have touched the plate before hitting Martin. If that's considered a violation by Martin then the rule needs to be revised. Ridiculous.
   24. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 20, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4731746)
MLB has now admitted that the ruling was wrong
   25. Barnaby Jones Posted: June 20, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4731764)
Also why is the runner sliding on a force play?


He's sliding because if he doesn't he would have run right into Martin. Because there is no running lane while he's approaching. I don't like this rule application, but Martin was standing directly in the way; I don't know what other people are seeing. If he runs directly to the plate without sliding, there would have been a collision. Isn't that what the rule is supposed to be preventing?

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