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MLB says obstruction call that cost Marlins was correct, but review took too long

This will not make the Miami Marlins any happier.

On Friday, a little less than 24 hours after an official review determined that catcher Jeff Mathis violated Rule 7.13, which overturned a critical call, awarded the Cincinnati Reds the game-tying run in their eventual 3-1 victory, and sent Marlins skipper Mike Redmond into a frenzy, MLB released an official statement.

In it, MLB states that the officials were correct in overturning the call. However, they expressed concern with how long the officials needed

The Replay Official judged that the catcher did not provide a lane to the runner and hindered his path to the plate without possession of the ball. The throw also did not force the catcher into the runner's pathway. As a result, in accordance with Rule 7.13, the ruling on the field was overturned and the run was allowed to score.

We realize that people may reasonably have different opinions regarding the application of Rule 7.13 in any particular instance because it is a judgment call. We are continuously evaluating the application of the new rule, and we anticipate a full review with all appropriate parties in the off-season in order to determine whether any changes should be made. We also recognize that the exorbitant length of last night's review, which was more than three times the season average, must be avoided in the future.

That said, the most important goal of this rule has been to eliminate dangerous collisions at home plate, and it cannot be disputed that the rule has been very effective toward achieving this purpose.

As we noted originally, technically the call was correct based on the layout of the rule. However, when MLB said late Thursday night that they intended to thoroughly examine the call, many were hoping that would lead to an immediate amendment to Rule 7.13, much the same way we've seen with the transfer rule on bang-bang plays in the infield and catches in the outfield.

The reason for that hope was simple and could actually be summed up in the one sentence from MLB's statement:

"We realize that people may reasonably have different opinions regarding the application of Rule 7.13 in any particular instance because it is a judgment call."

All anybody asks for is consistency when it comes to applications of rules, but it's impossible to establish that consistency when one umpire or replay official may see it even slightly different than another. It also becomes difficult to make a call in an acceptable amount of time when that disconnect exists as well.

Even if the length of the review was MLB's biggest concern coming out of the controversy, it still drives home the point that MLB needs to more thoroughly examine the rule as it is written to give everyone a better idea of how to handle it. Hopefully that takes place during the offseason. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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