"I don't get the rule," manager Terry Collins said. "All I know is that it looked like a pretty clean play to me."
With one out in the second inning, Pierzynski singled off Mets starter Bartolo Colon. Two batters later Andrelton Simmons rocketed a double to the wall in right-center field. Trying to score from first with two outs, Pierzynski was cut down on a bang-bang play at the plate by a strong relay throw from second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Both Pierzynski and the baseball arrived at home plate at approximately the same time. Recker tagged Pierzynski with both hands as Pierzynski slid through Recker's legs. Pierzynski did reach home plate, but after some contact.
Rule 7.13 states that a catcher may not block the pathway of a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball. Because Recker was straddling the plate before receiving the throw, he was found in violation of the rule. But Recker said he was told that his stance was legal unless he dropped to his knees and created a barrier to the plate.
"If I play it any differently I'm basically giving them the run," Recker said. "I'm trying to understand. It just doesn't make sense to me.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to make a play on the ball. The ball was thrown right there. I don't know where else I'm supposed to go, other than right there. Not to mention he did eventually get to the plate, even though I tagged him before he got there. To me, that means he obviously had some way to get there."
New plate-collision rules were implemented in 2014 with the intent to prevent injuries to both runners and catchers. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, who is the chairman of MLB's playing rules committee, was integral to the change. But even he disagreed with rulings that took runs away from the Mets last season, most notably after a June game against the Marlins where New York was forced to surrender two.
Ambiguity still persists after a full season with the new rules.
"As a runner, I just knew there was nowhere for me to go," Pierzynski said. "I've said from Day 1 that I hate the rule. Two years ago, it would have been a collision. I would have run him over. But as a baserunner, we're not programmed or wired anymore to do that."
Both Recker and catcher Kevin Plawecki said they would handle that play the same way in the future because that's the way they understood the rule when briefed during Spring Training.
"I would challenge them to make that call during the World Series," Recker said. "That would cause an uproar."