In a nutshell, high pucker factor collisions at home plate will now result in a run if the catcher doesn’t have the ball, and an out if he does. If the runner slides, or the catcher provides a lane, then there will be no penalty. Umpires can use instant replay to verify the call at their discretion.
In a do-or-die situation, with the season hanging on the outcome, both baserunner and catcher are totally focused on making the outcome of the play go their way, consequences be damned. That’s baseball, and it will be a different game without it. For myself, I always did my best to get set and to get a shoulder underneath the runner to flip him ass over teakettle to the far side of the plate. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I saw sparkly lights on the periphery of the tunnel I seemed to be looking through. If I could tell the manager where I parked my car, I could continue to play. If I couldn’t, I got an early shower and an icepack.
I get that the baserunners and catchers of today are multi-million dollar investments for the clubs, and in light of the new information coming out of the serial concussion factory that is the NFL, there was a snowball’s chance in hell of this rule not coming into existence.
A couple of years ago, baseball fans endured the ratings gold mine that was the high-definition endless loop of Buster Posey’s broken leg. His season ended by the evil meany-pants Scott Cousins (he’s a Marlin, don’t you know), the peaches-and-cream cougar bait catcher instantly became the poster child for someone to do something, right now. The media began to bay, sounding the death knell for tradition and the honor of sacrificing self for the greater good of team success.
Fewer players will suffer season-ending injuries because of this rule. We also just gave up another incremental inch of our national strength.
Here is the text of the experimental rule:
OFFICIAL BASEBALL RULE 7.13
Collisions at home plate
A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball). In such circumstances, the umpire shall call the ball dead, and all other baserunners shall return to the last base touched at the time of the collision.
Rule 7.13 comment: The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 7.13. If the runner slides into the plate in an appropriate manner, he shall not be adjudged to have violated Rule 7.13. A slide shall be deemed appropriate, in the case of a feet first slide, if the runner’s buttocks and legs should hit the ground before contact with the catcher. In the case of a head first slide, a runner shall be deemed to have slid appropriately if his body should hit the ground before contact with the catcher.
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