It’s been coming down the pipeline for awhile now, but MLB made it official on Monday. Home plate collisions are no more. Well, at least for the most part.
Rule 7.13 has been adopted by the league and its players’ association. The new rule will take effect immediately for the 2014 season, but for now it will remain as an experimental rule. Based on how things go, it could become a permanent rule starting in 2015.
So what exactly does rule 7.13 entail? Here’s the official description:
“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.”
Runners who violate this rule will be called out, even if the catcher drops the ball. But if the catcher does not have the ball, the runner shall be ruled safe. In addition, the catcher may block the plate to field a throw, if the umpire determines the catcher had to be in that position to catch the ball.
So long story short — intentional plowing of the catcher has been taken out of the game. Is this a bad thing? It really depends on who you ask.
Many view plowing of the catcher as just another tactic. But in today’s culture of ‘safety first’ in sports, this rule change makes a lot of sense. Just like other sports leagues, MLB is taking steps to avoid unnecessary roughness. That’s really what this boils down to.
Will people like or dislike the change? We won’t really know until we see it in action. But my guess is that most fans won’t even notice. Until it comes into effect on the big stage, most people will forget the rule was even changed. If I had to guess, I’d bet that 7.13 sticks beyond 2014. Player safety is the name of the game in modern day sports.