Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Test Yourself: MLB Adopts Home Plate Collision Rule 7.13

MLB adopted a formal rule on home plate collisions meant to decrease violent contact at home plate on plays in which a runner attempts to score and a catcher attempts to tag him out by blocking home plate. After lengthy negotiations, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement to adopt the new Rule 7.13, which outlines rights and responsibilities for runners and catchers (or other defensive players) on specific plays at home plate that historically have proven susceptible to the traditional home plate collision.

Official Baseball Rule 7.13: Collisions at Home Plate
A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball). In such circumstances, the umpire shall call the ball dead, and all other baserunners shall return to the last base touched at the time of the collision.
Rule 7.13 comment: The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner's lowering of the shoulder, or the runner's pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 7.13. If the runner slides into the plate in an appropriate manner, he shall not be adjudged to have violated Rule 7.13. A slide shall be deemed appropriate, in the case of a feet first slide, if the runner's buttocks and legs should hit the ground before contact with the catcher. In the case of a head first slide, a runner shall be deemed to have slid appropriately if his body should hit the ground before contact with the catcher.
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.
This collision looks illegal, but is it? (Yes, it is)
In other words, a runner must attempt to touch home plate rather than initiate contact with the defensive player while the defensive player must concede a path to home plate unless he is in possession of the baseball. Nowhere in the Rule does interference and/or obstruction come into play as the umpire shall simply signal the runner safe if the catcher violates while penalties similar to interference (declared out, other runners back to bases) but not explicitly termed interference will result if the runner violates.

The new Rule 7.13 requires catchers to concede a path to home plate unless they have possession of the ball. The change here concerns timing. Whereas in 2013, a catcher could block the plate from the moment he was in the act of fielding the throw, in 2014, a catcher can only block the plate when he is in physical possession of the ball (after the catch) unless the throw clearly takes him into the path of the runner.

Got it? See below for sample videos of plays at the plate and make the call! Answers are below.

Scenarios 1-26: Compilation of plays at the plate (identified by timestamp in answer key) (Various)

Answer Key - Yellow represents legal play / Red signifies runner's violation / Green = fielder violated
1 (0:10): R2 is out; no violation of Rule 7.13 as runner did not deviate from his direct pathway to plate.
2 (0:23): R3 is out; legal play; runner does not deviate and catcher has possession of the ball.
3 (0:26): R3 is out; potential violation of Rule 7.13 as runner had access to home plate.
4 (0:28): R3 is out; angle prohibits discussion as to legality (did runner have access/catcher poss)?
5 (0:30): R3 is out; legal play; F2 must occupy position in order to field throw, contact unavoidable.
6 (0:32): R3 is safe; F2 violated, blocking pathway without ball possession.
7 (0:35 & 0:42): R3 is out; legal play; F2 must occupy in order to field throw, contact unavoidable.
8 (0:38): R3 is out; illegal because R3 deviates from direct pathway in order to initiate contact with catcher.
9 (0:52): R2 is out; illegal because R3 deviates from direct pathway (see still frame at 0:35).
10 (0:59): R2 is out; potentially illegal due to R2's actions; F2 possessed ball, contact unavoidable.
11 (1:08): R3 is out; illegal because R3 makes no attempt to touch, as in Rule 7.13 comment.
12 (1:16): R2 is out; illegal because R2 deviated by pushing through with upper body; F2 in poss.
13 (1:29): R2 is safe; F2 violated by blocking pathway without possession of the baseball.
14 (1:40): R1 is safe; legal, contact incidental because F2 must occupy position to receive the throw.
15 (1:57): Same Play as 6 (0:32) ("Posey play") - Posey violated by not having possession of the ball.
16 (2:09): R3 is safe; catcher fails to provide runner pathway by blocking plate without the ball.
17 (2:16): R1 is out; illegal because runner pushes through with upper body; initiates contact; F2 poss.
18 (2:30): R2 is safe; catcher occupies base path after failing to field throw in violation of 7.13 comment.
19 (2:46): R1 is safe; contact incidental (runner attempting to score, fielder has possession of ball).
20 (2:52): R3 is out; illegal because runner pushes through with upper body to initiate contact.
21 (3:06)R2 is out; illegal, runner deviated from direct pathway to initiate contact with catcher.
22 (3:24): R3 is out; illegal, runner makes no effort to touch plate; deviates to initiate contact.
23 (3:35): R3 is safe; contact incidental as catcher must occupy position in order to field throw.
24 (3:48): R2 is out; contact incidental as catcher occupies pos to receive throw, runner attempts to score.
25 (4:02): R3 is out; illegal, runner pushes through with upper body to initiate contact on catcher in poss.
26 (4:11): R1 is out; contact incidental as catcher carried up the line to receive the throw from RF.

2 comments :

Gil Imber said...

The comment uses the phrase "... would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 7.13." Though it might mean that a runner who does any of the mentioned things has likely violated the rule, it doesn't make it automatic. It still allows that if the runner maintains his line direct to the plate - and assuming that the catcher is on that line - that contact can occur and the runner not be automatically out.

Gil Imber said...

Still confused,probably as the pros are. They need to take out the lowered shoulder part. If the feet left the ground as in a head first slide upper body contact would be in violation.

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