Major League Baseball is thinking too hard, which means that stupid things are bound to happen.
Baseball’s new home-plate rule was instituted as a means to avoid concussions in the game, but the idiotic way in which it can be interpreted on the field lends in no way to that goal. On that note, we give you Wednesday night’s Reds-Pirates game, which Cincinnati led, 5-0 in the third inning, when it had the bases loaded. Alfredo Simon tapped the ball back to Pirates pitcher Stolmy Pimental, who threw the ball back to catcher Russell Martin for the force out on a sliding Devin Mesoraco. Easy call. Out.
Ah, but alas, Rule 7.13 says otherwise:
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.
So, let me get this straight. Martin can catch the ball, but has to avoid the runner, which means he can’t stand on home plate where he’s attempting to record the out? How in the Buc is the catcher supposed to field the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner in this instance?
In the end, the Reds beat the Pirates, 11-4, so it wasn’t like the blunder was a factor in the result of the game. But this is just waiting to show up as a beacon for just how dim-witted this portion of rule truly is.
And for the love of God, will somebody get Martin some lemonade?