Major League Baseball announced today that a rule to outlaw “egregious” collisions at home plate will go into effect this year on an experimental basis.
- 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, the 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 runner covering home plate loses possession of the ball)
- 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.
Major League Baseball notes that the rule that will be in effect this season “does not mandate that the runner always slide or that the catcher can never block the plate.” However, it stipulates that all clubs must immediately begin training their runners to slide and their catchers to provide a pathway for runners.
As presently constituted, this rule protects defenseless catchers (who don’t have the ball) while prohibiting runners from going out of their way to initiate contact.
One would expect that in 2015 and beyond, the rule will be updated to further prevent collisions at the plate.
Before today, the Mets were already instructing their catchers to allow runners a path to home plate.