Experimental home plate collision ban announced

Ronald Martinez

Just in time for spring training, an experimental rule regarding collisions at home plate has been agreed upon.

The details surrounding the plate collision ban proposed in December 2013 have been in the air for some time.

Because of the impact the new rule could have on the game, MLB was careful to make sure the way in which the game is played was not fundamentally altered in the process.

On Monday, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced that owners and players have reached an agreement regarding home collisions. It will be an experimental process for now that will change as needed.

Ken Rosenthal provided the initial details regarding the parameters of the ban on Twitter:

Rule says runner may not deviate from direct pathway to plate to initiate contact with catcher or another player covering home plate. If, in umpire’s judgment, runner attempting to score initiates contact in such a manner, the umpire shall declare the runner out. Unless catcher has ball, he cannot block path of runner trying to score. If catcher blocks in such fashion, runner shall be called safe. Collision plays are subject to replay review, according to new rule.

The full parameters are listed below as released by MLB.

OFFICIAL HOME PLATE COLLISION BAN 7.13

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.

MLB will distribute training materials throughout Spring Training and discussions on the new rule, including the retraining of catchers and base runners, will be held during MLB's meetings with managers in the weeks ahead. Additionally, MLB and the MLBPA will form a committee of players and managers to review developments as the season progresses and to discuss the possible application of the new rule in 2015.

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