First of all, I join everyone in sending my best wishes to Lucroy for a speedy recovery. But looking at the play and looking at the rule, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Lucroy was blocking the plate before he had possession of the ball. This is in direct violation to Part Two of the rule.
Further, the comment to Part One of the rule states, “If a catcher blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall not find that the runner initiated an avoidable collision in violation of this Rule.” Based on Torre’s comment, MLB’s basis for suspending Marisnick is an assertion that he initiated an avoidable collision, but that assertion is false.
It’s true that the comment also states that “the runner’s lowering of the shoulder…would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher.” Marisnick did lower his shoulder, which is what makes it look egregious at first glance. But a further examination tells a different story.
When Lucroy is blocking the plate while waiting for the ball, he makes a slight move toward the outside (e.g., toward the backstop). When Marisnick sees this, he makes the decision to go to the inside, as he himself explained. Once this happens, Lucroy’s attempt to catch the ball also pulls him back toward the inside and right into Marisnick’s path.
By that point, it was too late for Marisnick to change course. He was running at full speed and simply could not avoid the collision. So, instinctually, he lowered his shoulder in order to protect himself, rather than colliding headfirst with Lucroy.
Part Two of the rule does state that “it shall not be 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,” but Lucroy had been blocking the plate before the throw came in.
Further, it states “a catcher without possession of the ball shall not be adjudged to violate this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the runner could have avoided the collision…by sliding.” But with Lucroy positioning himself right in front of the plate, where was Marisnick supposed to slide? In fact, he attempted to slide to the inside under the belief that Lucroy was going to the outside, which unfortunately turned out to not be the case.