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MLB Umpires Respond to Criticism About Home Plate Collision Replays

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 18, 2022

AP Photo/Ron Schwane

The Major League Baseball Umpires Association released a statement on Wednesday responding to recent criticism from players regarding the home plate collision rule.

"This rule change was adopted after Buster Posey was involved in a home plate collision and suffered a severe leg injury," the statement read, in part, per ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "The Players Association and the owners decided to protect their key assets (players) and adopted the home plate collision rule that players are now complaining about."

The statement came after Cleveland Guardians catcher Austin Hedges tagged out the Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez at home plate in the first inning of a matchup between the teams on Tuesday.

Baez was called out on the field, but video review overturned the decision, finding that Hedges "did not give the runner a lane."

Bally Sports Detroit @BallySportsDET

After a lengthy review... the <a href="https://twitter.com/tigers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@tigers</a> are ☝️ one in the first. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DetroitRoots?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DetroitRoots</a> <a href="https://t.co/rpqlpMjq0n">pic.twitter.com/rpqlpMjq0n</a>

"First of all, it cost the game," Hedges told reporters after the loss. "It's a play that's been called a few times now recently that really has never been called before. ... There's plays at home that are beating the runners, and for 150 years, you're out. And now, we're calling some type of rule that is really tricky to define."

FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX

Following last night's loss, Austin Hedges responded to a call he said "cost [the Guardians] the game" ⬇️<br><br>"To take the game into their own hands like that...it's a disgrace. It's embarrassing."<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/BallySportsCLE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BallySportsCLE</a>) <a href="https://t.co/v03U5loc7i">pic.twitter.com/v03U5loc7i</a>

The Umpires Association's statement on Wednesday countered that "it is the catcher's responsibility not to position himself so as to block home plate without the ball."

"It's simple: don't block home plate without possession of the baseball or change the rule," the statement added.

Guardians manager Terry Francona thought it was a less cut-and-dry play than that:

Bally Sports Cleveland @BallySportsCLE

"I don't think they put Hedgie in a fair spot."<a href="https://twitter.com/CleGuardians?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CleGuardians</a> manager Terry Francona gives his thoughts on the controversial play at the plate from Tuesday night. <a href="https://t.co/8ZAViEAIgw">pic.twitter.com/8ZAViEAIgw</a>

The rule, which has been in effect since 2014, prevents catchers from blocking the runner's path to the plate unless they have the ball or are actively fielding the ball. It was put in place to protect players from collisions at the plate.

But MLB sent teams a memo earlier in August, saying that some catchers have been trying to trying to find a loophole against the rule.

"Recently, we have seen catchers taking advantage of runners they expect will slide by moving into the running lane without possession of the ball in violation of Rule 6.01(i)(2)," it read. "Such conduct only invites runners to collide with catchers, causing potential injury to players in a manner that the rule was designed to prevent."

The umpires, based on the tone of the statement, seem to feel stuck between a league that wants to see the rule consistently enforced and the players who criticize them when they do so.

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