During the Cleveland Guardians versus Detroit Tigers game yesterday, catcher Austin Hedges was involved in a controversial call behind the plate. Tigers shortstop Javier Baez was initially called out at the plate as it appeared Hedges tagged him. However, the call was ruled in violation of the new obstruction rule, and the run scored.
The Guardians ended up losing the game 4-3, partly owing to the call reversal. The play happened with two outs in the first inning. With Baez out, the inning should have ended. Instead, Kerry Carpenter hit a two-run shot the next at-bat, putting Cleveland down 3-0 in the first.
After that three-run debacle in the first, the Guardians put up a run in the bottom of the inning. The Tigers put up one more in the third, but then went scoreless for the remainder of the game. Cleveland tried to make a comeback by scoring in the seventh and eighth innings but ultimately fell short.
Before the obstruction rule was implemented in 2014, catchers were allowed to block the plate, and runners could truck the catcher. However, many argued that it risked too much injury for the players. Now, a runner cannot run into the catcher, and the catcher must give the runner a clear path to the plate.
This is where things get controversial, because it appears that the clear path rules vary by umpire. Some are more lenient than others. This then confuses fans watching the game, and no one fully understands.
Now, Austin Hedges is not the only catcher this has happened to this season. Fans want it addressed, because it can cost games.
Austin Hedges is one of many catchers affected by rule
Earlier this week, the San Diego Padres were victims of the same overturn. In the seventh inning in a game against the Washington Nationals, a call at the plate got overturned in Washington’s favor. This ultimately caused San Diego to lose a crucial game to the Nationals.
Major League Baseball should look into the logistics of this rule a little bit more. If they are going to keep the obstruction rule, every umpire needs to enforce it with the same consistency. There should be zero gray area when it comes to a rule in baseball.