I finally got around to watching the “matrix” scoring playing from Ichiro that everyone is talking about. It takes some kind of special athlete to be heads up and to be that swift to the plate. But the praise for Ichiro on this play needs to tone down a bit.
As impressive as this play was, it’s actually aided by one of the worst mental blunders catchers frequently make.
When a runner is trying to score, catchers are taught to block the plate. Their goal is to get in the way of the runner so they can’t score. Wieter’s first attempt to tag Ichiro was not textbook. But I’ll let Wieters slide on this one since he was off the plate receiving the ball.
The second attempt to tag is what I have an issue with. After missing the tag, his thought should not be to reach and try to tag Ichiro again. Instead, his best bet to get Ichiro out was to take his glove (with ball inside) and use it to cover home plate. After avoiding the first tag, Ichiro’s only option was to find a way to touch home plate. But if Wieters used his glove to block home, then Ichiro would eventually end up touching Wieters’ glove in an attempt to score.
This is something I’ve seen way too often in baseball. Catchers are so concerned about tagging an elusive runner that they forget their goal is to block the plate. Instead of attempting to make the tag, they should just cover home plate to block off any chance the runner can touch it. That’s where Wieters messed up last night and as impressive as Ichiro’s scoring play was, it was aided by a mental lapse from the catcher.