As you can clearly see in the video, or in This still photo, Varitek is blocking the plate before the ball arrives, sticking his leg out at the last second to block off Byrnesy. Something Varitek was notorious for doing.
My point? Blocking the plate without the ball has always been, technically, illegal. If umpires had called this all along runners would never have had to target the catcher. I think the new collision rule is a good clarification, but until Umpires actually penalize catchers for interference, which they haven't done many years, I doubt it's effectiveness. This is where I wish the runner had plowed over the catcher, risking injury or concussion, Then the As win the ALDS.
Yesterday, Josh Reddick made two amazing pre-season catches, robbing Mike Morse of two home runs. Not only his own teammates, but the MLB.com analyst, were calling the first one one of the most amazing catches of all time.
Which of course brings back bad memories of the 2013 ALDS, when Victor Martinez hit a "home run" where a fan reaches into field of play and interferes with the ball. No interference was called, and much of the analysis rationalized this by saying that the ball was "uncatchable". Still think it was uncatchable you stupid Umpires and Detroit fans?
O.K., rant mode off, I'm excited for this year to see bounce back years by Reddick and Cespedes, the debut of our SS of the future, and more great pitching. And Nerd Power!