Before the season started, Major League Baseball enforced the rule of a catcher being unable to block the plate to prevent injury. Although they enforced the rule, today’s Yankees/Blue Jays game proved the rule wasn’t entirely crystal clear.
During the third inning of play, Francisco Cervelli tried to score from second base on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury. Cervelli was thrown out on the play but Joe Girardi believed Cervelli was safe and that catcher Josh Thole blocked the plate without giving Cervelli a chance to score. The umpires reviewed the play and later declared Cervelli out, but with Girardi’s limited knowledge about what the qualifications of blocking home plate are, it showed a major flaw in the new rule.
“I believe this is going to be the toughest overall for them to get right all the time,” Girardi said. “To me it’s a vague interpretation of what blocking home plate is, and I think it needs to be in writing. The way it was explained to us, if you are straddling the base in front, towards third base, that is considered blocking home plate.”
It appeared Thole left a small lane for Cervelli before he had possession of the ball, but the bigger problem at hand was the “out” call at home plate. Girardi asked if he was allowed to play the game under protest and Major League Baseball declined. Girardi felt Thole had blocked the plate to prevent Cervelli from scoring, and Cervelli was just as certain.
“Halfway, I saw part of the plate,” Cervelli said. “And then he blocked the plate a little bit, and then I had to go straight, but I couldn’t visualize home plate. … I was supposed to slide for the outside part (originally). That was my thought. But when he blocked the plate, I didn’t know what to do.”
All this confusion might cause Major League Baseball to go into detail about the home plate rules, and in the end it wouldn’t be a bad thing so the teams could have a clearer idea on what’s acceptable and what’s not going forward.