I Think They Got the Albert Almora Home Plate Call Right, and I Also Think the Rule is a Good One

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I Think They Got the Albert Almora Home Plate Call Right, and I Also Think the Rule is a Good One

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs won today’s decisive game against the Phillies by a single run, the last of which they scored in the 5th inning after a play at the plate.

That play initially had Albert Almora ruled out at home on a would-be Anthony Rizzo sac fly, and required a review. But even on replays, it was pretty clear that Almora was out.

Except that wasn’t the question. Instead, it was the ever-looming and controversial catcher-blocking rule, which essentially holds that a catcher cannot block the plate without the ball. He can only block the plate if he has the ball, or if the act of receiving the throw takes him into the runner’s lane – otherwise, he’s gotta leave a lane for the runner to safely reach the plate without trucking him (it’s actually supposed to protect catchers).

Here’s the play, if you missed it:

What made that one a tough call was just how close/arguable it was that Andrew Knapp was simply receiving the throw and his leg then blocked the plate. His leg juts out to block the plate as he receives the throw and as Almora arrives at the same time. Had Knapp needed to put his leg out like that to make the catch, I think Almora is out. But the difference here is that – to my eye – it’s pretty clear that the throw didn’t take Knapp’s leg into the path of Almora’s slide, and instead Knapp was just trying to do a very classic block of the plate. It just so happened that the throw was almost there, too.

It’s worth reminding folks that, without this rule in place, Almora would have simply blown up a defenseless catcher, and or taken out his leg.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The real problem right now for this rule – the spirit of which I do like (sorry, I’m a “protect the players from unnecessary injuries” guy) – is that in the process of protecting catchers from getting trucked, they’ve now exposed runners to injuries as the catcher swings around to a runner who is not bracing himself to meet the catcher. So, then, if you call a play like this one an out, you really encourage catchers to *aggressively* swing their leg out to block a sliding runner as they catch the ball (even if they don’t need to do that to catch the ball), and you’re gonna have a bunch of broken hands and wrists or even some spiked faces.

So, then, from a policy perspective, I think the league got this one right. And, even on the face of the rule, I think they got this one right, even though it was reeeeeally close.

You can read about the Cubs’ and Phillies’ reaction to the call here at Cubs.com. As you would no doubt expect, Joe Maddon thought it was a perfectly fine play, but the rule allowed them to get an extra run, so he was gonna take advantage.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.