Here’s the thing. I’m a rules guy. I love analyzing and looking into rules and I cherish above all else, players that are able to tweak the rules to there advantage. I’ve always appreciated the way Darrell Revis can get away with holding on almost every single snap. I love the way a veteran pitcher can use his prowess to gain an extra inch off the black. Still, being a rules guy, I believe that rules that are written should be enforced. Last night, Major League Baseball cost the Mets a game because they created a rule that shouldn’t have been written and then went against it with the game on the line.
We’ll start off with the part of the rule which covers the baseline, which is number 7.13:
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 (MLB.com).
Like it or not, that’s the rule. Is it asinine? Of course. Is it necessary? Of course not. One of the game’s elite catchers had a season ending injury and everyone lost their minds, rushing to create a rule that made zero sense in the context of a baseball game. It’s as if it were written by a bunch of lawyers who had never even seen a baseball field. Collisions at home plate have been and forever should be a part of baseball. It’s one thing to intentionally try to hurt someone but in most cased, that’s just not what the runners are trying to do.
Fast forward to last nights loss. The Mets didn’t deserve to win that game. They blew chance after chance with runners on base and wasted another dazzling outing by Bartolo Colon. Those things aside, there it was. The tying run in the form of Matt den Dekker sprinting home. In his way, at least one entire leg blocking the base paths was catcher Wilson Ramos. He didn’t have the ball and didn’t for at least a few ‘Mississippi’s.’ Finally, he got the ball and den Dekker slid into his leg. If that’s not an example of rule 7.13 then I’m not sure what is.
This post isn’t really about the rule or the game. It’s about the marriage of the two. If the rule exists, then it has to be enforced. Ironically, the night before, a very similar play happened with Buster Posey in the Giants vs. White Sox game. In that instance, Posey was standing way up the first base line to receive the throw and then had to dive back across to successfully tag the runner out. That call was upheld by replay. It was clear to everyone that Ramos was violating the rule but baseball decided not to enforce it in that situation.
Having watched my fair share of baseball, there’s a simple solution here. Redact rule 7.13 and go back to the way baseball had been played for over a century. If you play catcher, there’s a chance you’ll get hurt. That’s just the way it goes. The Mets lost last night and that’s a shame but the bigger issue here is that Major League Baseball penned a rule and they’re not quite sure how to enforce it.