Recently a baserunner was headed toward home plate and the catcher with the ball was partially blocking his path. He avoided the catcher by running around him. He was called safe by the umpire, though (to this day) he never has touched the plate. Video review upheld the safe call, citing it followed the interpretation of the rule.
Of course, one team was happy and applauded and the other team was frustrated and felt cheated.
The purpose of the new rule is to avoid a collision when a player is speeding home and attempting not to be tagged out, or beat the throw on a force play. Serious injuries to catchers and runners have occurred. Runners have intentionally barrelled into the catcher to knock him over, prevent him from catching the ball, or knock it from his hands. That was legal, the runner has a right to a path to the base. The catcher had a right to try and block the runner from scoring. Players got hurt, and I understand maybe something had to be done about it.
The new rule puts most of the responsibility on the catcher. Awaiting the ball, does he get in front of the plate? Behind it? He has to move to catch a less than perfect throw; that may bring him into the path. Yet, the baserunner can waltz around him and score the winning run without even touching home plate. Not right.
And, it is not the runner’s fault; he’s following the rules. It’s not the umpire’s fault; he’s following the interpretation of the league. It’s certainly not the catcher’s fault being put in an awkward position to do his job.
Should the league abolish this rule and go back to the way it was?
Maybe, the catcher knows he may be run over; the runner knows he must run him over. It's baseball. A player may cause an injury to himself or another player by making an over-zealous collision. That over zealousness, or god forbid, intention to harm the other player, which has happened, is what should be dealt with. That's not baseball.
The idea is to score runs. It is not good sense to make a rule so difficult to comply with and interpret when players are doing their job-score, or prevent a score.
In baseball if you do not touch the base - you’re out.
A proposal, simply stated: treat all plays at home plate as a force out.
That means the catcher only has to touch home plate before the runner does. The catcher can stand with a toe touching the plate like a first baseman. The runner can run past the plate, or slide. If he beats the throw, he’s safe. It means the runner cannot go back to third if he has committed to run home.
Radical, I know. But not stupid like the DH rule, having a player bat without playing in the field.
An aside: "Poor pitcher, you can’t hit well, in fact you suck at it, so, we will let this guy who can’t throw very well bat for you. How’s that?”
The only problem I see with my proposal is when a runner rounds third base and has to decide to run home or not.
Easy solution: if he gets more than halfway home he cannot go back.
A little line at 45 feet, halfway, gives him plenty of time to decide and the umpire a definitive answer to whether he committed or not.
Commitment Rule: If a runner passes third base and passes ‘the commitment line’ which is a mark equidistant from the base and home plate, he cannot retreat to third base. Any play at home will be considered a force-out. The catcher, or any defensive player with the ball, can tag the runner or the plate to record an out.
Some baseball people will like this, and some will not. I get it, it is smart and crazy. But not as much as this other proposal to fix the home plate collision rule. It is the DR Rule, the full name being The Designated Third Base Runner Tag Rule.
The DTBRT rule allows the runner to tag a DR runner after touching third base. The DR would stand in the base coaches box (which isn’t used anyway) and becomes the new runner when tagged. The DR will usually be a guy like Jim Brown or another 260 lb fullback, in full protective gear, who certainly will make the damn catcher get out of the way.
Some critics say this won’t work because there will be so many video reviews since the umpire will often be uncertain if a tag was actually made. That problem can be solved by having the home plate umpire give each batter a relay baton. (The ump can keep a few in his big pocket, the one that holds hundreds of baseballs.) After rounding third base the runner must pass the baton to Jim Brown before reaching the commitment line.
Some of this post is an attempt at humor.
Some is serious.
I still love baseball, the game, but not as much as in the 1950's when I was an infatuated boy listening to Mel Allen and Red Barber on my transistor radio, when I could rattle off the current batting average of my whole team. And before I knew what technology and money could do to it.