December 11, 2013

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 10 comments

Learning to Love David Moyes: A Guide for Manchester United fans.

Away, the team would often adapt a deep-lying "not in the face" formation. Substitutions were anathema and attacking changes were rarely made unless the game was long gone.

posted by yerfatma at 11:13 AM on December 11

Way back in September, I noted that it looked like there were going to be a lot of really bad teams (which I arbitrarily defined as 10+ losses). I specifically called out Bucs, Redskins, Jaguars, Raiders, and Chargers. While I'm convinced that the Bus and Jags will end up realizing their destiny and losing another one to meet the quota, I admit I was wrong about the Chargers, who have turned out to be okay.

Looking at the current standings, here's a look at who we can put on this list now:

At 10 or more losses): Houston (technically, the only team currently out of the AFC playoff picture). Atlanta Washington

At 9 losses: Oakland Jacksonville Cleveland Buffalo Tampa Bay Minnesota

At 8 losses: Tennessee Pittsburgh New York Giants St Louis

I could also easily see the Jets pulling this trick out, as well.

And in the "parity doesn't always work the way we may want it to" category, currently, of the total of 12 playoff slots available, only 5 of them are really in contention:

AFC North Divisional Leader AFC Wildcard #2 NFC East Divisional Leader NFC North Divisional Leader NFC Wildcard #2

(with Carolina/San Francisco being in the lead for NFC Wildcard #2, and Arizona having good shots in case someone falls, and AFC West/NFC South still being "in contention", but really coming down to who gets the Wildcard slot as a door prize).

Makes me miss baseball, where the playoff race really is a race.

posted by Bonkers at 03:02 PM on December 11

Sorry to clog up the Huddle, but worth noting: the IRS says Manny Pacquiao owes them $18 million.

Not counting the Philippine government, which says Manny Pacquiao owes them $50 million.

posted by Bonkers at 04:07 PM on December 11

Hope Solo doesn't take anything personally.

posted by yerfatma at 07:19 PM on December 11

MLB to ban home plate collisions.

posted by tron7 at 07:33 PM on December 11

MLB to ban home plate collisions.

Good. My least favorite part of the game that doesn't rhyme with Tankees.

posted by Etrigan at 07:57 PM on December 11

The rule, which must still be defined and finalized prior to a vote, will also prohibit catchers from blocking the plate, similar to players making tags at a base.
This seems like a good idea, provided that clause does make it into the final rule- in fact, I'd argue that preventing catchers from blocking the plate is more important, as without that you can't really change the rule about collisions.

What's interesting to me is I'm not sure a rule change is even needed. Fielders on the bases can block the base after a fashion since they have "right of way" while making the play, and the base runners are allowed a certain amount of latitude to slide into them provided they are going for the base while doing so- in other words, if ball and runner arrive at the same time, the runner is allowed to slide into the bag even if the fielder is straddling it while receiving the throw.

If you look at rules 7.08 and 7.09, specially 7.08b, 7.09f, and 7.09j:

7.08b: Rule 7.08(b) Comment: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not. If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless, in the umpire's judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional. If the umpire declares the hindrance intentional, the following penalty shall apply: With less than two out, the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter out. With two out, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

7.09f: If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes
with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious
intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner
out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner

7.09j: Rule 7.09(j) Comment: When a catcher and batter-runner going to first base have contact when the catcher is fielding the ball, there is generally no violation and nothing should be called. "Obstruction" by a fielder attempting to field a ball should be called only in very flagrant and violent cases because the rules give him the right of way, but of course such "right of way" is not a license to, for example, intentionally trip a runner even though fielding the ball. If the catcher is fielding the ball and the first baseman or pitcher obstructs a runner going to first base "obstruction" shall be called and the base runner awarded first base.

So what is the difference between the existing 1st/2nd/3rd base rules and a play at the plate? Well, the fielder can't simply squat in front of the base unless he is in the act of making a play, and so long as they aren't doing that and obstructing the runner, the runner is free to slide into them (as opposed to collide into them) and the umpire makes a discretion call whether either runner or fielder were making a legitimate attempt at the ball or base that happened to coincide with the opponent, or intentionally aiming for the base/fielder without regard to the play or a legitimate slide.

I didn't re-read the entire rules, but after a quick scan, I didn't actually find any exception in the rules allowing explicitly for the catcher to block the plate more so than any other fielder in the act of making a play and having "right of way". So is it simply the case that runners have historically "bowled over" the catcher and everyone including the umpires just accepted that- but it was never a legal move by the runner?

posted by hincandenza at 10:24 PM on December 11

So is it simply the case that runners have historically "bowled over" the catcher and everyone including the umpires just accepted that- but it was never a legal move by the runner?


In the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, blocking the plate became "accepted" (for whatever reason) sometime between 1965 and 1980. It then became "accepted" to allow a baserunner to bowl over the catcher if he got in the way.

The rule (7.06B) makes it very clear that the catcher is not allowed the block the plate in any way, and they were EXTREMELY strict about it...until they were't.

In fact, according to James:
"Catchers in the early 1980s actually would run several feet up the third base line and wrestle the baserunner while waiting for the throw; this was not an exaggeration to make a point. This practice, which was always illegal, has gradulally modified over the last twenty years."

It basically became the case where if they weren't going to call the catcher for his transgressions, they allowed runners free reign to do whatever they wanted on the charge for home...if the catcher was in the way.

posted by grum@work at 11:33 PM on December 11

Australia leads the world in one important football metric.

posted by owlhouse at 01:56 AM on December 12

So is it simply the case that runners have historically "bowled over" the catcher and everyone including the umpires just accepted that- but it was never a legal move by the runner?

Obstruction, as defined in Rule 2.0, has always been pretty clear, leaving it to the umpire's judgement in determining when a fielder was actually in the act of making a play. The clever catcher would position himself such that a throw would come to him when he was in a blocking position. While this tended to push the envelope, it was not so obvious that it merited obstruction. If a catcher did not actually have possession of the ball as a runner was making hard contact, it was quite likely the catcher would be unable to catch the ball, let alone catch, turn, and tag.

The wording of the new rule has not yet been determined, but I think it might go something like this:

Plays at the Plate: If the catcher or any other fielder is in position to attempt a tag of a runner approaching home plate, the runner must avoid direct contact with the fielder. He may do so by a slide, taking a route to the plate that avoids contact, or by giving himself up. If the runner fails to avoid contact, the ball shall be declared dead, the runner shall be declared out regardless of whether or not a tag is applied, and if in the judgement of the umpire the contact is intentional the runner shall be ejected from the game.

This is similar to what appears in the high school rule book. It has been in use for a long time, and it has done its job in limiting serious injury. I had to apply it only once when a runner got caught in "no man's land", that is, too close to retreat, too far away to slide, and unsure of what to do next. He put his arms up to protect himself and ran into the catcher. I had no choice but to eject, and to his and his dad's credit, they were quite remorseful and apologized to me and to the other players involved. My response was that if the rule were not quite so hard and fast (no judgement of malice or intent, I would not have ejected him, but I had no choice. My report to the state association (ejection involved, report required) recommended that the automatic one-game suspension for ejection be waived.

posted by Howard_T at 03:09 PM on December 13

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