September 21, 2023

Did the Runner Violate the Home Plate Collision Rule?

San Francisco Giants challenge the actions of the runner

Did the Runner Violate the Home Plate Collision Rule?

The Giants and Rockies played at Coors Field on Sept. 15, 2023.  In the bottom of the ninth, the Rockies had Elehuris Montero at bat with Charlie Blackmon on second and Nolan Jones on first and one out when Montero singled to left field. Blackmon charged home and arrived safely. Mike Yastrzemski’s throw got by Giants’ catcher Patrick Bailey. Jones continued home and the Rockies won the game, 3-2.

Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler challenged section (1) of the home plate collision rule, 6.01 (i), claiming that Blackmon violated the runner’s aspect of the rule. Plate umpire Will Little had no violation.

The Replay Official denied the challenge responding “… no violation of the Home Plate Collision Rule occurred by the runner. The call is CONFIRMED, it is not a violation.”

Ruleball Comments

  1. Normally when there is a challenge of the home plate collision rule it involves the  positioning of the catcher. In this play, however, Kapler challenged the actions of the runner (Blackmon).  
  2. According to rule 6.01 (i) (1), “A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher, or otherwise initiate an unavoidable collision.”
  3. Other factors that constitute runner interference at the plate include failure of the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, lowering of the shoulder, or pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms.  Blackmon was not in violation of any of these restrictions.
  4. If the runner violates the rule, he is called out, regardless of whether the catcher maintains possession of the ball.
  5. If the umpire invokes the rule, it creates a dead ball, and all other runners are allowed to occupy the last base touched at the time of the collision.
  6. A slide is deemed appropriate if the runner’s buttocks and legs hit the ground before contact with the catcher. This is what Blackmon did.
  7. In the case of a head-first slide, it is legal as long as the runner hits the ground before contact with the catcher.
  8. The genesis of rule 6.01 (i) that was enacted in 2014 goes back to the Buster Posey home plate collision with Scott Cousins on May 25, 2011, when the Marlins played the Giants.  Ironically, it was the actions of the runner, not the catcher, that triggered the rule. Cousins was on third base with one out in the top of the ninth with the score tied, 6-6. Emilio Bonifacio hit a short fly to right field that was caught by Nate Schierholtz. His throw to the plate appeared to be on time but Posey was unable to catch the ball after Cousins deviated from his path and targeted Posey causing a violent collision. Posey fractured his fibula and tore multiple ligaments.  
  9. The play created quite a stir. Giants’ general manager Brian Sabean criticized Cousins calling the play malicious and unnecessary.
  10. Cousins, who received death threats, was apologetic but claimed his actions were within the framework of the rules. At the time, he was correct.
  11. The current rule is designed for the catcher and the runner to share responsibilities in avoiding a collision.

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  Angels, D’backs, Dodgers, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees, Bally Sports, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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