Sports

MLB’s New Blocking-The-Plate Rule Is Bullsh*t And Might Ruin Baseball

at AT&T Park on May 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California. at AT&T Park on May 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  

There isn’t much that Major League Baseball has messed up in recent memory.

Whether it be the Wild Card in general, revenue sharing, interleague play, or even the unbalanced schedule, the game has prevailed and life has gone on as usual for many baseball fans. (Even the vast majority of instant replay has been for the betterment of the game as a whole. Sorry Dad).

However, MLB really screwed the pooch this year.

Rule 7.13, known better to the diehard or common fan as the new blocking-the-plate rule, has reared its ugly head time-after-time this season and has moved on from being a well-intentioned rule (in theory) to one that has a real chance of ruining the game and, specifically, the postseason.

Rule 7.13 states as following:

‘Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. 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.’

Previously, it was a free-for-all at home plate between the runner and the catcher. The catcher could block the plate. The runner could run over the catcher. It was all (mostly) fair game.

Then the Buster Posey injury happened.

Yes, San Francisco’s Posey is a great player and has (thankfully) rebounded back to form. But sacrificing an important part of the game for a muddled rule that hurts everyone involved is absurd.

If a journeyman catcher or some minor league lifer had done the same thing, there wouldn’t be a rule in place.

It’s an asinine rule that is ill-conceived and not applied right.

The Marlins literally lost a game because of this rule last night.

After the overturned call, the Reds scored two runs and went on to win the game.

Miami has more than a right to gripe here. They were robbed.

The shame of it all is that this happens regularly.

After Russell Martin’s encounter with the rule in video #2, he told reporters “My immediate reaction was, ‘What can I do? What adjustments do I make? But honestly, I don’t think I need to make an adjustment — there’s an adjustment to make to the rule.”

Even the guy who he tagged (Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco) said, “I wouldn’t have done anything different myself.”

Martin, Mesoraco, and their fellow backstops might as well become Spanish bullfighters at this point and say “screw it, what’s the point?”

Catchers are taught to block the plate from Little League on up. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Either the MLB should revert back to the old rules, or follow high school and the NCAA’s lead and institute a slide or avoid rule, while allowing the catcher to block the plate.

If the MLB is serious about reducing collisions at home plate while retaining the integrity of the game it rightly needs to, this is the idea that makes the most sense.

It’s wrong, a major problem, and one that could very well impact the postseason (god forbid the World Series) if this rule continues to be applied in similar fashion.