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.
Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.
While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.
The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.
Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.