Jayson Stark is reporting that MLB and the Players Association are close to an agreement that would take the hugely unpopular blocking-the-plate rule and give it a few more moving parts, in the hope that it will give umpires just enough leeway to avoid any postseason fuckups.
Here's how Stark has the proposed change to the rule:
Primarily, the clarification of Rule 7:13 would remind umpires that while the intent of the rule was to protect catchers from violent home-plate collisions, the wording was not intended to be interpreted so strictly that it would allow runners to be called safe on a technicality if the throw had beaten them to the plate by a substantial margin.
This is progress, sort of. It does away with the scenario where a catcher is just sort of standing on the base path before he catches a throw that beats a runner by a good 30 feet, only to have the runner called safe on the technicality. But for the umpire, it introduces the judgement call of how far is far enough for when the catcher is allowed to be on the path, waiting for a ball, and when he has to get out. The simplicity of the old version, even if it caused obvious, stupid decisions, at least made the rule understandable. This change seems to introduce room for ever more nuanced and even Talmudic interpretations of the rule, which is to say it's exactly what you'd expect from baseball.