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.