Yesterday Major League Baseball issued a memo to all clubs and umpires clarifying the home plate collision rule. The idea: umpires are not to simply rule runners safe, even if the catcher is technically blocking the plate, if it isn’t clear that the catcher was physically preventing the runner from actually reaching home plate. The idea: those plays in which a ball beats the runner by a mile and the tag is a mere formality should NOT be called blocking. Because, really, c’mon.
That’s a good sense rule. It allows umpires to use a bit of judgment and tell the difference between a play in which a runner simply can’t get to the plate and a play where the block didn’t matter. Unfortunately, in its first test, it looks like the umpires and replay officials got it wrong. To New York:
How that isn’t a plate block I have no idea. This was not one of those “the runner is out by 20 feet” plays the clarification is aimed at changing. This was going to be a close play if Drew had a chance to slide into the plate. But where was Stephen Drew supposed to go?
After the game, Joe Girardi said that, if the calls are going to be like that, his instructions to his base runners would be “Run him over. Bottom line: Run him over.” The catcher here, Ryan Hanigan, said this:
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to catch that ball besides the way I caught it,” Hanigan said. “As the throw came in, it came to the middle of the plate. If you call him safe right there, it’s ridiculous. If he hits me, I’ve got no problem with that. I think the play was called correctly.”
I don’t think it was called correctly. But Hanigan and Girardi have a point that, really, the only option there for Drew was to run Hanigan over. Which given what the rule is designed to prevent, is not what Major League Baseball wants, I’m sure.
You have three weeks to get this right before the playoffs, MLB.