Home plate collision rule only leads to more confusion for Dodgers

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Ruiz wins again.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers lost out on a play at the plate on Thursday against the Phillies, but the explanation by the umpires provided more questions than answers.

In the fifth inning, down 3-2, the Dodgers had runners at first and third with one out. Yasiel Puig hit a ground ball fielded by Cody Asche behind third base. Hanley Ramirez was instructed to run home on and ground ball, and Asche threw home to get him rather handily. But at issue was catcher Carlos Ruiz blocking the plate without the ball and not providing a clear path for Ramirez to slide.

Rule 7.13, enacted this season, was designed to limit home plate collisions. Part of the rule is as follows:

(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.

It is not a play that can be challenged by managers, but umpires can at their discretion decide to review these plays as needed. Manager Don Mattingly coerced Hunter Wendelstedt to review the play, but after three minutes, 18 seconds of review in MLB's replay command center in New York, the call on the field was upheld.

"New York tells [Wendelstedt] 'Safe or out,' and he doesn't give me an explanation. But basically they are as confused on it as everybody else," Mattingly said. "To me, he doesn't give him a place to go, and I thought that's what the rule was. The runner has to have a place to slide, and where Ruiz is Hanley doesn't have a place to slide, before the ball got there.

"Obviously this is a work in progress. This is one of the toughest ones to call for the umpires, especially on the infield. ... But that still doesn't in our mind change the rule."

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