Blocking-The-Plate Rule Screws Marlins; Mike Redmond Starts Undressing

The Marlins got boned in a major way by the new and confusing rule that prohibits catchers blocking the plate. Although Zack Cozart was initially ruled out by home plate umpire Mike Winters, a lengthy umpire review eventually overturned the call and ruled him safe. Instead of a 1-0 Marlins lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Reds tied the score and scored two more runs in the inning.


With the bases loaded, Todd Frazier hit a flare to right field that Giancarlo Stanton caught. He then threw home to Jeff Mathis to to get Cozart. Cozart was about halfway down the third base line, as Mathis was setting himself up in front of the plate. He fielded the throw, and applied the tag for the out. Miami headed for the dugout, but the umpires immediately reviewed the play and eventually ruled Mathis blocked the plate and called Cozart safe.

The rule is a mess. Even after the learning experience that was the debacle with Russell Martin in June, no one knows what the hell they should be doing as a play unfolds on the field.

The relevant portion of the rule, again:

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. Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 7.13 if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner and that contact with the runner was unavoidable.

It's clear that Mathis is standing in front of the plate, but...where is he supposed to stand? And we don't really know what "in order to field a throw" means. When is a catcher deemed to have started to field a ball? Is anticipating where the ball will land fielding it? It looks awful, too, because Cozart is clearly dead-to-rights. But confusion reigns: he is unsure of what to do and doesn't slide, so after the play you can see him raise his arms as if to say "WTF, man?" There was no collision and no contact except for the tag.

The purpose is obviously good—no one wants to see Buster Posey get blown up again—but it's proving to be near impossible to negotiate this rule in-game to any degree of satisfaction.


Cue Mike Redmond:


The real kick in the nuts is that the reversal not only prolonged an inning Miami thought it had gotten out of, but it tied a close game, late. As a result of the reversal, Devin Mesoraco moved to third and on the next at bat, Billy Hamilton stole second base. Ryan Ludwick then drove them both in to give the Reds a 3-1 lead. Miami went quietly in the eighth and ninth innings and lost.