Prior to the season, Major League Baseball added a new rule designed to minimize collisions and injuries at home plate. However, the loose interpretation of that new rule reared its ugly head and had a huge impact on a game with two teams fighting for a playoff spot.
The call came in the eighth inning with the Miami Marlins holding a 1-run lead over the Cincinnati Reds and both teams in the hunt for the final Wild Card spot in the National League. The Reds had the bases loaded with one out and the Marlins appeared to get out of the jam when Giancarlo Stanton made a perfect throw to double-up the runner trying to tag from third base.
However, Zack Cozart immediately threw his hands up after the tag arguing that Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis had illegally blocked Cozart’s path to the plate.
While it was not a manager’s challenge, the umpires went to the replay while both sides awaited the ruling on the potential game-changing call.
If the call stands, the Marlins are going to the bottom of the eighth with a 1-run lead. If the call is overturned, the game is tied and the Reds are still batting with two runners on base.
As catchers are being taught now, Mathis put his left foot on the plate to make sure he is not in the base path before he receives the throw from Stanton.
As the throw comes in, Mathis shifts over to catch the ball, placing his body in the basepath and forcing Cozart to go around.
The new rule specifically states that a catcher is allowed block the pathway “in order to field the throw.”
The grey area in the rule above is that the umpire must determine if the catcher could have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway. Could Mathis have stepped in front of the basepath and still fielded the ball? Probably. But Cozart was nowhere near the plate when Mathis made his move, which raises the question of whether he was actually blocking the runner’s path.
Even the umpires seemed unsure as the review took over six minutes. But when they came to their decision, the call was overturned and the Reds were given a run.
Needless to say, Marlins manager Mike Redmond was livid.
He had a right to be. The runner was out by a mile, the umpires were clearly not convinced about the ruling, and yet they still changed the call.
Redmond would have even more reason to be angry later as the Reds went on to score two more runs in the inning and win the game 3-1.
Here is the video.
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