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Why is the catcher allowed to block the plate to prevent a runner from scoring?

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  • Why is the catcher allowed to block the plate to prevent a runner from scoring?

    If at any other base the fielder can not obstruct the batter-runner from advancing, then why is the catcher allowed to block the plate and force a physical collision between him and the runner? What is the logic behind that rule?

  • #2
    Actually, I don't think the rules allow the catcher to block the plate. The practice somehow evolved over time, and umpires began to allow it. Bill James wrote an interesting article about this once, but I can't remember in which book it was.

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    • #3
      So what would happen if a runner got tagged out after a collision with the catcher, and his manager protested on the basis that there isn't any rule in the book allowing it to happen? I'd love to see that scenario take place!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by LarrySC View Post
        So what would happen if a runner got tagged out after a collision with the catcher, and his manager protested on the basis that there isn't any rule in the book allowing it to happen? I'd love to see that scenario take place!
        Somebody would have dared to do that by now if it wasn't such an ingrained practice.
        46 wins to match last year's total

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        • #5
          Originally posted by BigRon View Post
          Actually, I don't think the rules allow the catcher to block the plate. The practice somehow evolved over time, and umpires began to allow it. Bill James wrote an interesting article about this once, but I can't remember in which book it was.
          Here you go. Enjoy.



          Blocking the Plate 1.JPG

          Blocking the Plate 2.JPG
          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LarrySC View Post
            So what would happen if a runner got tagged out after a collision with the catcher, and his manager protested on the basis that there isn't any rule in the book allowing it to happen? I'd love to see that scenario take place!
            The umpire would say "what the $€%¥ are you talking about?!?!" The manager would explain himself again, and the umpire would deny him, simply say no to him, or state his call of out again, one of those three probably. If the manager continued, he'd get run pretty quickly.
            "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by LarrySC View Post
              If at any other base the fielder can not obstruct the batter-runner from advancing, then why is the catcher allowed to block the plate and force a physical collision between him and the runner?
              I don't think that's true. If the fielder has the ball, he can block the base/plate.

              OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner. If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered "in the act of fielding a ball." It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the "act of fielding" the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.

              7.06 When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal "Obstruction."

              (a) If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire's judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out. When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls "Time," with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given; however, should a thrown ball be in flight before the obstruction is called by the umpire, the runners are to be awarded such bases on wild throws as they would have been awarded had not obstruction occurred. On a play where a runner was trapped between second and third and obstructed by the third baseman going into third base while the throw is in flight from the shortstop, if such throw goes into the dugout the obstructed runner is to be awarded home base. Any other runners on base in this situation would also be awarded two bases from the base they last legally touched before obstruction was called.

              (b) If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call "Time" and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction. Under 7.06 (b) when the ball is not dead on obstruction and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire's judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call.

              NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.

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              • #8
                Any fielder can block the path of a runner as long as he has the ball or is in the process of fielding the ball. Second basemen, SS, and third basemen all block bases and generally do it by basically smothering the bag with their body and legs. The reason why there are collision at home and generally not on the bags is because all you need to do is touch home plate while on second and third you have to remain on the bag to not be out. So when a fielders sits on a bag you have to slide around them and try to get to the bag while at home you can decide to simply go through the catcher.

                Personally I think fielders should not be allowed on the basepath at all. I don't care if they are about to catch the ball or even have it. The basepath and bases should be clear at all times for the runner.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                  The reason why there are collision at home and generally not on the bags is because all you need to do is touch home plate while on second and third you have to remain on the bag to not be out.
                  Yes, and since the infielders aren't wearing armor like the catchers, blocking the base isn't the wisest thing to do. There's really no need to. "Blocking the base" with your glove is good enough.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ipitch View Post
                    Yes, and since the infielders aren't wearing armor like the catchers, blocking the base isn't the wisest thing to do. There's really no need to. "Blocking the base" with your glove is good enough.
                    And yet virtually all fielders block bases.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LarrySC View Post
                      So what would happen if a runner got tagged out after a collision with the catcher, and his manager protested on the basis that there isn't any rule in the book allowing it to happen? I'd love to see that scenario take place!
                      Sounds like something Billy Martin would've done.
                      Baseball Junk Drawer

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                      • #12
                        This is probably the most striking example of what I was talking about in the threads debating the IF Fly call from the Atlanta game--widely-accepted conventions of the game that don't correspond to, and sometimes overtly contradict, the written rules. Making that call was a bit like calling a catcher for interference--technically correct, but startlingly outside normal practice.

                        I wish the Rules Committee would work through each of these instances some time and decide which way they really want to play the game. Amend the written rules as necessary. Write comments and umpire directives to make sure everyone's on the same page.
                        Last edited by Pere; 10-09-2012, 06:47 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pere View Post
                          This is probably the most striking example of what I was talking about in the threads debating the IF Fly call from the Atlanta game--widely-accepted conventions of the game that don't correspond to, and sometimes overtly contradict, the written rules. Making that call was a bit like calling a catcher for interference--technically correct, but startlingly outside normal practice.

                          I wish the Rules Committee would work through each of these instances some time and decide which way they really want to play the game. Amend the written rules as necessary. Write comments and umpire directives to make sure everyone's on the same page.
                          Not a bad idea. Add in neighborhood plays at 2b, the running lane on bunt plays, balks and batters wasting time stepping out of the box. I've given up hope on the strike zone.

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