Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New MLB Plate Blocking Rule Confusing

The new MLB rule designed to prevent homeplate collisions, is somewhat confusing, at least in its initial form. It's an experimental rule designed to limit plate collisions. Apparently, there would have been too much retraining of catchers required in too short a time period to completely eliminate collisions. But, to me the way the new rule is worded leaves too much discretion in the umpires hands and could lead to a hit first, ask questions later approach by base runners.

In particular I think the second comment associated with the rule is particularly vague: (From an ESPN story): "unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score." The runner shall be declared safe if the catcher violates that provision. In addition, it is not a violation "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."

Later in the story it says Orioles catcher Matt Weiters would "like to get clarifications from Major League Baseball on exactly what is and isn't permitted." I agree.

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