Carlos Gomez hit a home run last night, but he never touched home. Fifteen or so feet from reaching the plate, Gomez met up with an angry Brian McCann. Their jawing quickly led to the benches clearing. Eventually, the parties were separated and Gomez was escorted into the dugout. He still never touched home.
So why did the run count?
The baseball rule book is very clear that a runner abandoning the basepaths or skipping a base is out, even on a game-winning home run. This comment from Rule 7.08(a):
Rule 7.08(a) Comment: Any runner after reaching first base who leaves the base path heading for his dugout or his position believing that there is no further play, may be declared out if the umpire judges the act of the runner to be considered abandoning his efforts to run the bases. Even though an out is called, the ball remains in play in regard to any other runner.
This rule also covers the following and similar plays: Less than two out, score tied last of ninth inning, runner on first, batter hits a ball out of park for winning run, the runner on first passes second and thinking the home run automatically wins the game, cuts across diamond toward his bench as batter- runner circles bases. In this case, the base runner would be called out "for abandoning his effort to touch the next base" and batter-runner permitted to continue around bases to make his home run valid. If there are two out, home run would not count (see Rule 7.12). This is not an appeal play.
It's a big deal to make sure you touch home plate on a home run.
At first, I thought Gomez would be called safe thanks to the "Chris Chambliss Rule":
Rule 4.09(b) Comment: An exception will be if fans rush onto the field and physically prevent the runner from touching home plate or the batter from touching first base. In such cases, the umpires shall award the runner the base because of the obstruction by the fans.
As you can see, though, that rule is clearly and only about fans preventing a run from scoring. So why was Gomez awarded the run even without touching home plate? It turns out to be a very simple answer.
Rule 7.06: When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal "Obstruction."
NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.
Gomez did not touch home plate because Brian McCann prevented him from doing so. As with any other obstruction call, Gomez, who had already touched third base, would be awarded home. The run therefore counts.