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MLB tweaks Rule 7.13 to eliminate obstruction calls on force outs

russell martin getty
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has some news:

Development on Rule 7.13. Effective immediately, umpires instructed not to apply it on force plays at home plate.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 24, 2014

Rule 7.13 is the home plate obstruction/collision rule, and the reason for this tweak to it happened last week, when Russell Martin of the Pirates was called for obstruction when merely standing on home to receive a throw in a force out-at-the-plate situation:

[mlbvideo id="33840745" width="600" height="336" /]

Which, of course, is absurd, because how else is a dude supposed to get a force out other than by touching home plate?

Rosenthal says that while catchers can now get the force out without having to worry about being called for obstruction, runners attempting to score still can’t interfere with the fielder (i.e. bowl over the catcher) which also makes sense. Force plays are still reviewable to make sure they were correctly called, but they are not reviewable for purposes of determining whether the obstruction rule was properly applied.

This all makes sense, and is in keeping with MLB’s stated goal of tweaking on the fly in the wake of realities in application. So I guess that’s good. Still: I wish the whole obstruction rule applied to catchers blocking the plate with the ball as well as without the ball. But maybe that’s for the offseason.