MLB and the player’s union has officially instituted a new rule designed to curtail injuries resulting from home plate collisions. Rule 7.13 will be implemented, effective immediately, on an experimental basis.
The new rule states that a catcher cannot block the runner’s path to the plate prior to possessing the baseball. Okay. That makes sense.
Also, a runner may not deviate from his direct path to the plate for the purpose of initiating contact with the catcher. Hey! That makes sense too!
At first, I thought I was going to be opposed to this rule. But, the way it is written, I actually like it.
Home plate collisions are still going to take place. And many of them will be within the framework of the rules. The catcher is still allowed to block the plate — as long as he has the baseball before the runner arrives.
The pressure will be on the umpires to enforce the new regulations. Per the umpire’s judgement, a runner can be called out if he violates the rule. Likewise, a runner can be called safe if the catcher is in violation.
From MLB’s website:
All calls will be based on the umpire’s judgment. The umpire will consider such factors as whether the runner made an effort to touch the plate and whether he lowered his shoulder or used his hands, elbows or arms when approaching the catcher.
While some baseball people have been critical of changing the way players play on the field, Astros catcher Jason Castro is one player who is in favor of the new rule.
I think those are positive changes. I don’t think they’ll change the game, just some safety stuff that will keep guys on the field a lot longer.