Rule 7.13 could still just a little work…
You might remember Rule 7.13, at least if you were a baseball fan in 2014.
In 2015, maybe not so much. Between catchers adjusting and a minor clarification, it’s just not an issue nearly as often this season as it was last season. And baseball’s much, much the better for it, as catchers are now more in the business of making baseball plays than football plays.
But occasionally that pesky little bugger does pop up, and Wednesday night was a classic case:
Here’s the relevant clause, by the way:
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.
Well, the umpires never call the runner safe. They’ve been programmed since they were little umpires to call the runner out. Which is why these things are almost always settled back in the Manhattan Replay Bunker.
Looking at the video a bunch of times and stopping the action at the relevant moments, it’s absolutely clear that Montero did block the pathway of the runner, but it’s not clear that he had possession of the ball. From the various angles, one just can’t tell if the ball was actually in his glove when he dropped his knee and blocked Florimon.
And without that evidence, it’s impossible to find a violation of Rule 7.13.
So good job, Manhattan.
But while acknowledging that there will always be borderline calls and situations, and you’ll never create a no-risk situation without seriously annoying a great number of people, I can’t help wondering why the catcher is allowed to purposefully block the plate at all. Yes, the throw took Montero into the baseline. I get that. But the throw didn’t force him to drop his knee. Florimon, through absolutely no fault of his own, could have suffered a serious injury upon plowing into Montero’s leg armor. And the point of all this is to keep the injuries to a minimum.
I think almost everybody’s now fine with Rule 7.13 as it’s currently applied. It’s certainly a HUGE improvement over the pre-2014 practices. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.