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VIDEO: New home plate collision rule confuses Yankees

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

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In the top of the third inning in an eventual loss (in which they were shut out), the Yankees saw Francisco Cervilli thrown out at home plate. They believed he should have been called safe due to their belief that Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole illegally blocked home plate.

Here's the play:

Under the new rule regarding plays at the plate -- which is not a ban on collisions but is intended to cut the unncessarily violent ones -- we'll find the following:

(2) 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.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi pointed out after the game what the teams have been told:

“This is going to be the toughest replay of all of them because it's such a judgment,” Girardi said (lhblogs.com). “The way it was explained to us, if the catcher is in front of home plate toward third base, straddling the base, that is considered blocking home plate if you don't have the ball. And I believe that's how it was.”

He has a case, but it does seem like the throw kind of took Thole into the area between Cervelli and home plate. I'm just not sure what Thole is supposed to be expected to do there. He has to attempt to catch the ball and tag the runner.

On the flip-side, Thole was between the runner and the plate and eventually left very little room for Cervelli to get to home plate.

Then again, was Thole actually blocking the plate prior to having the ball? One could argue that he didn't get in the way until he had the ball -- at which point he's definitely allowed to block.

Given that it was a bang-bang play at home plate, we should pretty easily know whether or not it was illegal. In watching the highlight several times and reading through the rule, a good argument could actually be made for both sides.

For whatever it's worth, I don't think Thole did anything illegal, but I do understand the Yankees' confusion. This won't be the last time this season where this issue arises, either.

 
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