Major League Baseball has announced that they’ve implemented a new rule for the 2014 season. Rule 7.13, which is being rolled out on a one-year experimental basis, will aim to cut down on unnecessary collisions at home plate between the runner and the player covering home plate.
Collisions at home plate in years past have taken some of the games’ greatest players out of action for considerable amounts of time. Most notable in recent memory was San Francisco Giants’ MVP catcher Buster Posey, who had his leg broken in May of 2011 in a scary home plate collision.
Hammering out the wording of the rule was likely a difficult task. The rule’s final version will disallow runners from going out of their way to collide with the catcher — and should be seen as a compromise between player safety and keeping the integrity of the game intact. The rule will see a trial run during the 2014 season and will be implemented fully right from the beginning of Spring Training, which begins this week, to give players the time needed to adjust.
VISUAL CONTEXT: THE TYPES OF INJURIES SUFFERED IN MLB BY POSITION
The full text of the rule runs as follows:
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.