Don't blame Ryan Howard for an awkward looking play that happened on Sunday afternoon at CBP when the Phillies took on the Arizona Diamondbacks. It started with a routine pop-up by Marlon Byrd who threw his bat in disgust and Ryan Howard started going through the motions of running the hit out as there were 2 outs and it looked as if the Phillies would be out for the inning.
Howard took a que from the crowd, as the ball was dropped by second baseman, Didi Gregorius, Howard picked up the pace and started motoring around third base, unaware that a sharp center field player had picked up the dropped fly ball and had a perfect throw to home plate lined up to gun Howard out by a mile at home plate. The throw was perfect the old way a catcher used to put a tag on a runner, but with the new rules in place with avoiding home plate collisions, the play ended much differently than it normally would. Howard was called safe after his path to home plate was blocked by the catcher. It took New York umpires from the MLB a full 3 + minutes to come back with a verdict, but it was the only verdict they could have rendered due to the rules laid down by the MLB themselves.
Immediately there was a flurry of tweets about the play just after it had happened. Phillies beat reporter, Matt Gelb, who writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer, lambasted Ryan Howard for not running harder and essentially blamed him for the odd looking play. Howard would have never been able to score on that play even if the was running full out, the throw was perfect.
Major League Baseball has created a monster with this rule. Ryan Howard is safe for failing to hustle.
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 27, 2014
No, we can't blame this on Howard, who was in a 3/4 jog mode on a routine pop-up, the kind of play that is caught 99.8 percent of the time. This play was different though and it highlighted a change in baseball that was made specifically because of the injuries that have been caused by collisions at home plate.