Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dumb collision rule bites White Sox in San Francisco

White Sox manager Robin Ventura is often criticized for being too laid-back and lacking in fire. Alas, Rule 7.13 -- aka, the Buster Posey rule, or the home-plate collision rule -- is enough to send even the world's calmest man into a fit of rage.

On Wednesday, the Sox were screwed by the aforementioned Rule 7.13, and Ventura stormed out of the dugout to put on perhaps the finest dirt-kicking exhibition we've seen by a manager this season. In fact, it was one of the better manager tirades we've seen in quite some time. In my book, Ventura's anger and frustration were justified.

The Sox were leading the San Francisco Giants 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning. San Francisco had runners on first and third with one out when Giants' second baseman Joe Panik hit a squibber to Chicago first baseman Jose Abreu, who charged the grounder and threw to home plate in plenty of time to get San Francisco's Gregor Blanco, who was trying to score from third.

I'd say Blanco was still 20 feet up the line when Sox catcher Tyler Flowers received the throw. He waited for Blanco to arrive and tagged him for the second out of the inning.

Or not.

After about a six- or seven-minute review, which is an absurd length of time, umpires ruled Flowers had violated Rule 7.13 by planting his foot in front of home plate before he had possession of the ball.

I'm not going to bother dissecting whether this was the correct interpretation of the rule. It probably was, but who cares? It's a dumb rule. It defies common sense that a runner can be called safe after being thrown out by 20 feet on the basis of where a catcher's foot was when he caught the ball.

Moreover, why the hell did it take so long to finish the review? It should not take any longer than two minutes to determine whether an improper call has been made. The call on the field should stand automatically if the process takes any longer than that. It's asinine to have the game stopped for that long. But I digress.

In this case, the call on the field was reversed. The Giants were awarded the tying run, and Ventura blew his stack. The next San Francisco batter, Brandon Crawford, as was retired on a routine fly ball. So, Sox pitcher Jose Quintana would have been out of the inning with no runs allowed had Blanco been called out at home. Instead, the inning continued. Quintana walked pinch hitter Joaquin Arias and was removed from the game. The Sox bullpen imploded, combining to give up six two-out runs, and the Giants prevailed 7-1.

No surprise there. I think we all knew it wasn't going to end well after Quintana left the mound.

Here's the thing that irritates me most about this rule: It's not necessary. It was put in place only because one guy, Posey, got hurt on a play three years ago. I'm sorry he was injured. He's a good player, and I know his absence ruined the season for the Giants in 2011. But you know what? Those are the breaks. It's sports. Sometimes players get injured. Collisions happen at the other bases, too, not just home plate. It's part of baseball.

There hasn't been a rash of injuries to catchers on home-plate collisons, so this whole thing about needing to protect guys is bunk to me. I understand the need for such a rule at youth and amateur levels. When kids are playing, safety is often the first priority. I get that. However, professionals aren't kids. They are grown men, and they understand there is a risk of injury when they step on the field. They are well compensated for assuming that risk, and they don't need to be protected in this manner.

Major League Baseball is guilty of trying to fix a problem that did not exist with this rule. It is an overreaction to an injury that happened to a star player three years ago. If that same injury had happened to a lower-profile catcher than Posey, would this rule be in place? I don't believe so.

Now, we've got a rule that creates senseless calls like the one that cost the White Sox the game Wednesday. In the big picture, maybe it doesn't matter because the Sox are out of the race. But, say your team is one game out of first place in the division race. Could you stomach losing on a call such as this?

You know, if they really want to protect catchers, there's an easier way to do it. Just say that anyone who runs over a catcher at the plate is automatically out. There. Done. It's black and white. Not everyone would like it, but everyone would get it.

I'd rather they do that than stick with this stupid rule with all these gray areas where we're taking six or seven minutes of review time to determine where a catcher placed his foot when he caught a throw coming to the plate. The whole thing is just dumb.

In any other year besides 2014, Blanco would have been called out. And that's the way it should be.


  1. At least you guys don't have Edwin Jackson taking the mound every 5 days.

  2. Ah, but once upon a time we did. Of course, Jackson was more serviceable (and cheaper) with the Sox than he has been with the Cubs.

  3. I can't believe he's still in baseball. Saw the Cubs trying to take 3 of 4 from the division leaders then realized EJ was pitching. Guaranteed 5 innings 4-5 runs and 115 pitches.

  4. Maybe the Cubs will give the newly acquired Jacob Turner a look in the rotation soon. He could take Jackson's place. Turner is a reclamation project, but it would someone different to watch.