Crash rule without the ball
R3 stealing home and the ball is not near the catcher who is straddling home plate. R3 touches the plate and then crashes into the catcher. The plate umpire calls obstruction. The runner is then ejected for deliberately running into the catcher.
Q1: if the catcher is straddling the plate, is he obstructing, if the plate is available to the runner, who could/should be sliding and would have been able to easily slide between the legs of the catcher?
Q2: is the runner safe at home, if the catcher is correctly called for obstruction but crashes the catcher?
Q3: does the run count if the runner touches the plate, then crashes the catcher and is subsequently ejected?
1. Yes, if the catcher does not have the ball and he cause any contact with the runner who is advancing to the plate it is obstruction. The catcher straddling the plate has no bearing on this play. By straddling the plate, he is forcing the runner to slide which is the same as a player who fakes a tag. When the runner is forced to slide and the fielder does not have the ball, this is impeding the progress of the runner. Rule 1-62 b1
2. Yes, the runner is safe at home. If the catcher does not have the ball and obstruction is called, the crash rule does not apply. If the crash is flagrant, you can kill the play and eject the runner for the flagrant act. Rule 1-25.
3. Yes, the run counts. In this play the catcher cannot cause any contact with the runner attempting to score. SP Rule 8-9s and FP Rule 8-9q calls the runner out when a defensive player has the ball waiting to apply a tag and the runner remains on his/her feet and crashes into the defensive player. In your play, the defensive player does not have the ball. If the catcher had the ball there would be no obstruction call in the case play and the ball is dead immediately on the crash. The runner then is guilty of interference, “Dead Ball” and the runner is out. Other runners return the last base touched at the time of the crash.
ASA/ISC would call the runner out if he crashes a fielder without the ball. If obstruction had been called the obstruction would be ignored and the crash rule enforced in ASA. We feel the runner should not be penalize for the catcher’s act of obstruction but will still penalize the runner for his flagrant act by ejecting him.