Friday, March 29, 2024

Plate Blocking Replay & Missed Foul Ball Leads to Run

A pair of Opening Day plate blocking replays at home in Houston and Miami brought out some fiery opinions from the Marlins broadcasters while a missed foul ball call led to Chicago's 9th-inning go-ahead run as the Rangers catcher argued with the umpire during play rather than pursuing the loose baseball, allowing a heads-up Cubs baserunner to score all the way from second base.

We begin with an Astros challenge of HP Umpire James Hoye's out and home plate collision rule no-call in Houston as Yankees outfielder Juan Soto threw out baserunner Mauricio Dubón on a close play at home plate.

Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i)(2) pertaining to home plate collisions states, "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."

A catcher's legal position for this play, through which the defensive player gives the runner a path home, for better or worse often can be illustrated using the foul line—if the catcher is positioned to the right of the line (or at least in fair territory), blocking is unlikely, but if the catcher initially positions in foul territory (or straddling the line), blocking becomes a possibility. Replays indicate New York catcher Jose Trevino initially set up entirely to the infield-side of the foul line and at no point—even after catching the ball—appeared to actually block the runner. Accordingly, the out call was upheld.

In Miami, Marlins TV took exception to a Pirates challenge of the home plate collision rule and HP Umpire Chris Guccione's out call when catcher Nick Fortes tagged Pittsburgh baserunner Michael Taylor out at home on a throw from first baseman Josh Bell. In this situation, replays indicate the catcher initially set up straddling the foul line, which could theoretically lend itself to a blocking call.

However, OBR 6.01(i)(2) continues, "Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder)."

Replays indicate first baseman Bell was on the infield grass when he threw home and from this drawn-in position, catcher Fortes' potentially blocking occupation is exempted as legal by rule.

Finally, Chicago took a 9th-inning lead over the Rangers when HP Umpire Chad Fairchild did not notice a foul ball off the bat of Cubs batter Miles Mastrobuoni. As the ball bounced away from Rangers catcher Jonah Heim, Cubs baserunner R2 Michael Busch took off from second base and, as Heim continued to argue the call during live action, took two bases, scoring a run, on the passed ball-turned-wild pitch (scoring decision).

To our chagrin (we've been asking for this for years but it still hasn't happened), this play is not reviewable.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Plate blocking refresh & run scores while player argues call on Opening Day


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