MLB Set to 'Provide Guidance' on Home Plate Rule Changes

Back in February 2014, the MLB announced a new ruling that sought to prevent injuries and increase player protection. The ruling plagued the regular season as teams failed to grasp the experimental ruling, 7.13 and with the postseason fast approaching, teams are finally demanding answers from the MLB to provide some clarity on the rules so they do not become an issue or a deciding factor in the play-off period.

Some highlights from the experimental ruling - which was largely implemented due to Buster Posey's season ending injury that was suffered at the hands of a violent home-plate collision in 2011 with the San Francisco Giants - are highlighted below.

Although this doesn't seem to have made it any clearer for MLB teams to know what runners and catchers can and cannot do when attempting to score:
  • A runner may not run out of a direct line to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher, or any player, covering the plate. If he does, the umpire can call him out even if the player taking the throw loses possession of the ball.
  • The catcher may not block the pathway of a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball. If the catcher blocks the runner before he has the ball, the umpire may call the runner safe.
  • All calls will be based on the umpire's judgment. The umpire will consider such factors as whether the runner made an effort to touch the plate and whether he lowered his shoulder or used his hands, elbows or arms when approaching the catcher.

After the intense criticism the new ruling has seen already this season, the MLB are keen for this problem to subside before the postseason arrives and have stated that they intend to send every club a memo on Tuesday that will aim to 'provide guidance' on the ruling.

Should the ruling stay, there are growing fears among players, coaches and fans that it could eventually hamper the postseason and possibly decide the outcome of the World Series, which would no doubt cause even more controversy for the MLB to contend with.

Among the teams looking for World Series glory later this year, Los Angeles will be particularly wary of the clarity the memo can provide on the ruling, as they have not just one but two teams seemingly destined to go far this season - with pair seen as joint favourites to win the World Series outright also.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels are tied at a price of 11/2 to see World Series glory come the end of the season, although they are closely chased by the Washington Nationals, as they are priced at 6/1 to overcome the powerful odds that LA currently hold in seeing the World Series head to their state at the end of the current campaign.

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2016

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