Snyder’s Soapbox: Time to start enforcing boundary rules around home plate to

Welcome to Snyder’s Soapbox! Here I pontificate about a matter related to Major League Baseball on a weekly basis. Some of the topics will be pressing matters, some might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things and most will be somewhere in between. The good thing about this website is it’s free and you are allowed to click away. If you stay, you’ll get smarter, though, that’s a money-back guarantee. Let’s get to it.

Did everyone see Willson Contreras’ broken arm last week?

Have you ever noticed at a game in person that a player very early in the game, very likely the leadoff man, makes a point to dig into the back line of the batter’s box in order to basically remove the visibility of the line?

Did you know catcher’s interference calls are skyrocketing?

All of these things are related and should be mostly avoidable.

So far this season, we’ve seen 36 catcher’s interference calls. This comes after 96 last season, 74 in 2022 and 62 in 2021. If we go back just about a decade, there were 25 in 2013, 23 in 2012 and 27 in 2011. Diving back several decades, there were 25 in 1983 and 15 in 1982. We could keep going, but you get the point: There’s been an explosion here in the 2020s and it started late last decade.

Why? Well, a few more are being caught on video review, but mostly the catchers are trying to set up a little bit closer to home plate in order to steal strikes via framing.

An easy solution here is the automated balls and strikes system, which completely renders any attempted framing moot. For me, that’s probably the biggest argument for it.

Anyway, this isn’t to blame Contreras, solely, for his broken arm. The catcher’s are not the only ones to shoulder the blame here for the excessive catcher’s interference calls. The batters insist on getting as far back as possible in the box for pretty obvious reasons, such as the ridiculous velocity they are tasked with dealing with. Of course they are going to try and get as far away as they can, as they feel like every millisecond counts, not to mention a longer period of time to see the break on off-speed pitches.

But there is a boundary back there and it should be made a point of emphasis to stop letting players so brazenly stomp all over it.

The batter’s box rule states that a hitter must have both feet inside the box through his entire swing. Let’s look at J.D. Martinez’s feet when he accidentally hit Contreras. Pause it around the 38-second mark and try to find the outline from the left-handed side of the batter’s box to give you an idea where the line should be on Martinez’s side. It’s tough, but it seems very apparent, to me, his entire back foot is behind the back line of the box.

Even if someone wanted to argue he was touching the line, you can’t tell me his entire foot is within the boundary. It’s not.

This isn’t to pick on J.D. but instead to give an illustration, because pretty much every player does this and, here’s an important point, is allowed to do it. No opposing players or managers complain. No umpires really enforce the back of the box. It’s just assumed the hitter is going to get back as far as he can. It’s kind of a nudge nudge wink wink nothing to see here.

Meanwhile, the catchers sneak closer and closer in an attempt to skirt the actual rules and steal strikes.

This is madness! Anarchy!!

The umpires have so much to deal with these days and I generally think they do a great jobbut they could stand to enforce the back of the box better. The catchers need to be aware of their own safety and stop creeping up. My biggest complaint, though, lies with the hitters. Quit putting your entire foot behind the back line. An extra three inches isn’t making the difference you think it is.

Leave a Comment