One of the biggest controversies and conversation starters in Major League Baseball this season has been Rule 7.13, which was adopted this season on an experimental basis to protect catchers. Under Rule 7.13, a runner “may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher” and catchers “cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score.”
This season, the league has seen calls at home plate overturned due to catchers not allowing a pathway for the runner. Likewise, runs have scored on catchers that have been too timid to interfere with the path of a runner.
Last week though, fans witnessed an overturned call in the Reds-Pirates game that had everyone talking about Rule 7.13. After video replay, Pirates catcher Russell Martin was eventually called for obstruction on a force play at home plate – a play that required he step on the plate to record the out.
We got a huge advantage from that play that I didn’t expect yesterday by any means, but if they’re going to hold themselves accountable to writing the rules and then holding the players accountable to executing the play, we have to call them on that when we don’t feel like it’s being executed the right way. [...] I do believe the call was right even though I don’t necessarily agree with the rule.
When asked about the updated rules, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on Power Alley that he was “completely dumbfounded.”
I’m just totally dumbfounded by what’s going on with this thing and I’m sure we probably need to revisit this and try to figure out a better way. And you know what? There’s no shame in that.
Royals manager Ned Yost shared a similar opinion with Ferrin and Duquette.
I think there’s still so much gray area in that and to answer you’re first question, no, I have not received any clarification on any of that stuff.
On Tuesday, the league provided some clarification and eliminated the enforcement of Rule 7.13 on force plays at home plate. Much like the adjustment of the transfer rule made this season, MLB has shown an ability to make alterations mid-season if necessary.