Zack Cozart was initially ruled out after he was tagged by Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis, but the league office based in New York overturned the call.
Rob Foldy/Getty Images
By Albert Chen
July 31, 2014

A controversial play decided a game between two teams jockeying for position in the NL wild card race. With the Marlins up 1-0 in the top of the eighth, Cincinnati had the bases loaded with one out when Todd Frazier hit a fly ball to right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Zack Cozart tagged up and attempted to score from third, but Stanton’s throw easily beat Cozart to the plate, and catcher Jeff Mathis tagged the shortstop, who didn’t even attempt a slide. The Marlins, clinging to a one-run lead, were out of the inning.

Or so it seemed.

Reds manager Bryan Price argued that Mathis was blocking the lane for Cozart to score, and after an interminable six-minute, 10-second delay for an umpire review, the call was overturned. The umpires in New York ruled that Cozart was safe because Mathis was illegally blocking the plate.

Take a look.

According to new Rule 7.13, “Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.”

Replays show that Mathis was standing in front of the plate, with his left leg out in front of the plate, before the ball arrived at home — but what, exactly, was Mathis supposed to do as the play unfolded? That it took six minutes for the umpires to make a decision tells you just how confusing the collision rule is.

Marlins manager Redmond, a former longtime catcher, was understandably livid with the ruling and argued with umpires before he was ejected. Things quickly unraveled for Miami from there. After the lengthy delay, reliever Bryan Morris gave up a two-run single to Ryan Ludwick to put the Reds on top 3-1 — the final score of the game.

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