Home Plate: Contact Free Zone

Written by athooks on .

Considering the Cardinals have the best catcher in baseball, a rule that protects that asset (Yadier Molina) should be welcomed with open arms in St. Louis. 

First the rule. 

It's expected to be approved in time for the 2014 season, but no later than the 2015 season. Per ESPN.com here are the details:

1) Catchers will not be allowed to block home plate.

2) Runners will not be permitted to target the catchers.

3) The question of whether or not the plate was blocked or the runner targeted the catcher will be reviewable, with an immediate remedy available to the umpires.

4) Catchers or runners who violate the new rules will be subject to disciplinary action.

There are still details to be ironed out, but this rule is going into effect sooner than later.

Every single story that you read about this rule will reference Buster Posey or Ray Fosse. But make no mistake, while the overall health of players is an element in this rule change, worries about concussions and concussion related law suits (like the NFL and NHL are involved in) is the reason this is getting put into action now, as opposed to 2011 or 1970 when Posey and Fosse were hurt.

We're spoiled in St. Louis. Molina is a precious commodity... a superstar that is a catcher. Look around MLB and count up just how many catchers you actually know anything about, let alone would consider a 'star'. 

So you're right. This is a good thing for the Cardinals.

But I'm just not sure what it means for baseball. Please explain to me how this will work. Who actually has the right of way?

It's not like home plate collisions happen often. Most times the catchers know when to get out of the way if there is not going to be an ultra-close play. The reason they block the plate, though, is that it IS going to be ultra-close.

So is it now up to the umpire to not only decide who was the instigator of a 'hit', but also if he would have been safe? Loads of power is now given to blue and been taken from the fielder, catcher and runner involved in the play. 

People are taking sides on the debate. I honestly just don't even know how this will work. 

We're going to need more details before we pass judgment. But for now, this feels like many other things that sound good, but we have no idea how to handle. Homelessness? Let's get rid of it! Set up a shelter in my neighborhood? HECK NO.

How does this work? How will it work? Will it even work? 

There is still some major meat left on this bone. And until we get more answers, it's pointless to feel one way or another about this rule change. So realx for the time being and know that however it shakes out, the Cardinals win again.


How could the implementation of this rule be hard?  It's the same way high school, college, and some semi-pro leagues have been doing it for decades upon decades.  The high school and college method of calling the play at the plate makes it pretty darn simple:

1) The runner can not target the catcher.  In any way.  Headfirst above the ground is almost always an out, because there's literally no reason to dive instead of slide if you're trying to be safe.  Besides, you're more likely to be safe if you slide for the back corner of the plate anyway.

2) The catcher has to have the ball in his glove before he can shift towards the runner, and until then, there has to be daylight to the plate.  It doesn't have to be at a certain point of the plate, but there has to be room for the runner to slide to the plate.  Between the legs, behind, in front—doesn't matter.

3) And, for the umpires, if anyone violates point 1, he gets run.  No debate.  Anything that looks like targeting the catcher should be dealt with immediately and firmly.  Blocking the plate is punished by allowing the run and the catcher getting slid into, which will likely hurt when the guys are as big as they are in The Show.  As for who targeted whom, it's honestly not that hard to tell, even without slo-mo replays.  You can see it coming as an umpire, as long as you're in the correct position.

I see no way this is a bad thing, except for the kind of brain-numbed concussion magnets who think that tackling in football can be "totally safe."  Teams will feel safer about investing in high-dollar, high-skill catchers.  Heck, I'd bet Brian McCann could even hold for more money now that the chance of him having his career ended on a collision is out the window.  And as you said, the Birds come out the absolute winners on this deal.


By the looks of it, I am pretty sure there is a homeless shelter in your neighborhood, like right next door, and across the street.


@MattNeighbors Thanks for that very "black and white" explanation. No ambiguity there.  No sir.  There could be no room for controversy with that bullet-proof interpretation.  And ejections?  Let's talk about suspensions.  That ought to wrap this whole rule up in a pretty little bow.

athooks moderator

Thanks for all the detail. I didn't know most of that.

We will see how it goes, but I do think that the rule will create some never before seen moments and calls if it's implemented next year.

And, like I said, protects Yadier. So all good by me.


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