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updated: 8/17/2014 10:44 PM

Rongey: Common sense must prevail in new rule

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  • White Sox manager Robin Ventura is ejected by umpire Fieldin Culbreth for arguing a call on the Giants' Gregor Blanco last week. Blanco originally was ruled out at home but then ruled safe after review.

      White Sox manager Robin Ventura is ejected by umpire Fieldin Culbreth for arguing a call on the Giants' Gregor Blanco last week. Blanco originally was ruled out at home but then ruled safe after review.
    Associated Press

 
 

Before Toronto manager John Gibbons even came out to challenge the play the plate in the first inning Sunday, I already knew the call would be reversed.

If you've paid any attention to how the rule has been interpreted and enforced this season, there was never any question, despite the fact Jose Reyes would've clearly been out had that play happened last year.

After what occurred in San Francisco, where a game-tying run was allowed to score though the throw and Tyler Flowers' tag easily beat Gregor Blanco by two steps, I was certain Reyes would be awarded the plate after stepping on Adrian Nieto's shin guard. Nieto, you see, had "obstructed" the runner.

I knew what was going to happen. So did White Sox manager Robin Ventura, which is why we didn't see another ejection. This is the state of the collision rule in MLB today.

Admittedly, I'm a proponent of some sort of baseball legislation preventing unnecessary season- or career-ending plays at home plate. Those collisions don't make baseball better. Losing Buster Posey for a year as the result of a single, pointless moment does not make baseball better.

However, something is getting lost in those plays. Mainly, the suspense of it. No longer is there really any such thing as a "close play at the plate."

As the rule is now imposed, the responsibility is on the catcher to have possession of the ball well before the runner is anywhere close in order for the play to not be in danger of reversal.

This is not (or, at least, should not be) the spirit of the rule.

The sensible thing to do is to simply prohibit the runner from going out of his direct path to the plate to make contact with the catcher. Or to allow the catcher to set up for the throw with one foot on one side of the plate while leaving the other half open for the runner. You might even mandate that the runner slide if the play will be that close.

There you go. Collisions prevented. Plays at home can still be thrilling while maintaining a level of safety.

I'm sure there are other useful components that could be added to streamline the rule even further, but these should be a good foundation.

The idea of the rule is to keep the runner focused on the plate instead of jarring the ball loose, and to dictate the catcher leave him a reasonable avenue to score. However, a play like we saw against the Giants where the runner would have been out regardless of where Flowers set up breaches that idea.

The last thing baseball wants to do is leave everyone, including the fans, confused after a ruling is made. What's worse is knowing in advance the ruling will defy reason.

I don't believe we're ever going back to the days of 2013 when a baserunner would plot the demolition of the catcher before he even reached third base. That era still is likely done, but there will be some revision this off-season.

And I expect common sense will find its way back onto the field and in the review center in New York.

• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter@ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com.

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