It’s the last week of scrimmages and games begin next week. So, by the rules of the baseball gods, the weather turns cold and wet. Almost predictable. I hope your scrimmages have gone well and that you are ready for the start of the 2020 high school baseball season. It may not be the best weather to start, but soon enough we will not be happy with the heat. A few things that have come up over the past week: 1)Shorts – In one scrimmage last week, one of the teams was cutting their pants to shorts level or tucking them up around the knee. The question arose if that is legal. Yes, it is. The NFHS, for now, does not specify the length of the uniform pants. I cannot help but wonder, after a few games of sliding on some of the rough infields we have in the state, if the cut off portion gets sewn back on. Umpires – no shorts please. 2)Play Lists – This past week we have had a number of questions about play lists on players in high school. The NFHS rule and position on these play lists have not changed. The play lists are allowed, but must be worn on the arm or placed in a pocket. Having them on a belt is NOT legal for high school. The pitcher may wear a play list on his glove arm but it cannot be white or gray or judged to be distracting by the plate umpire (bright or neon colors or even multi-colors would likely be judged to be distracting). The information portion cannot create a glare or a reflection. Most pitchers that are wearing them have the information covered by a flap secured with Velcro. If the play list is judged to be distracting, then the player must remove the arm band and put the list in their pocket if they wish to continue to use it. 3)Pitch Speed Display – A team has a radar gun set up in the stands behind home plate. This is no issue at all, definitely legal. There is a display set up in the home dugout only, that will display the pitch speed for a pitcher, both home and opponent. This is not legal. The team may display the pitch speeds provided both teams have equal access to view them. That could be done with a display on an outfield fence or having displays in both dugouts. Otherwise, the display would need to be turned off in the home dugout. Additionally, team players or coaches may not be working the radar gun in the bleachers if they are in team uniform. 4)An Enthusiastic Athletic Director – During a game last week, a player hit a three-run home run. The third base coach patted the batter-runner on the back as he trotted by (which is okay and is not coach assistance). The Athletic Director, very enthusiastically, came onto the field from where he was sitting in the stands and “high-fived” the batter-runner as well. (The word on the street is that the player may have been related). The plate umpire, very emphatically, called the batter-runner out for “spectator interference,” thus beginning a lengthy and emotional discussion. This is not spectator interference. No out should be called. The AD and head coach should be “warned” that individuals from the stands, or dugout for that matter, can come out and congratulate a player while running the bases. But this action is not such that a run should be negated. 5)Pitcher’s Motion in the Set Position – In the link (Click Here), you will see a pitcher’s motion from the set position. Some have deemed this motion illegal and therefore a balk. However, the NFHS have ruled that, while unusual, this motion is legal. If the pitcher were to touch the ground with the non-pivot foot in this motion, it would be illegal. Also, if at any time in this leg motion, the non-pivot leg moves to home, the pitcher has committed to pitch. Pitching never fails to be an interesting part of the game. Play From Last Bulletin - The second baseman’s name is Brown and he is wearing jersey number #24. However, the coach lists him on the lineup as Brown wearing jersey number #4. After reaching base in the third inning, the defensive coach appeals to the home plate umpire that Brown is batting out of order. As the expert parent in the stands offers advice and your base partner becomes totally engrossed with the condition of the soil in the infield, you decide to do what? RULING: While Brown is in TECHNICAL violation of the rule that requires a player’s name, number and position be on the lineup card, there is NO PENALTY, since the batting out of order rule requires only the NAME be in the proper order. So, in this situation, just make the correction on the card and continue the game. Next Week’s Play – The starting pitcher has begun to tire and needs to be replaced. The substitute pitcher the coach really wants in the game is not yet ready so the coach brings in a different pitcher. After taking his eight warm-ups, the coach has the next batter be intentionally walked. The desired substitute pitcher is now ready to come in so the coach makes that substitution. The defensive coach is adamantly confident that this is not legal. As the stands engage in a friendly and spirited debate, what should the plate umpire do?
That’s it for this week. Please continue to send me any questions, situations, plays or issues you may have. Kyle 979-446-5522 Jkyle1974@aol.com
The first week of scrimmages for the 2020 Texas Baseball Season is in the books. I hope they all went well and were productive for the teams and yourself. It is good to knock the dust off, see some live pitches, and close plays on the bases. A few items have come up this week, so let’s talk about them. 1)NOCSAE LOGO: The NOCSAE logo that is shown in the rulebook on page 10 is not the logo that is on the baseballs. That logo will look like this: The NFHS logo may be on the other side of the ball. Manufacturer to manufacturer, there seems to be some inconsistency as to the placement. Please accept these balls; this is a legal NOCSAE stamp. 2)TAPPS POLICY TO COMPLIANT BASEBALLS: From TAPPS - TAPPS supports the changes for baseballs and body/chest protectors for all levels of high school competition. Please ensure that all baseballs have the appropriate stamps including the NFHS and the NOCSAE statements. TAPPS schools’ requirements for catchers' protective gear has also changed. TAPPS supports these safety changes for all levels of high school competition. While it is expected that all games use the compliant baseball, TAPPS also stated that if the teams did not have the compliant baseballs, the game is to be played and a game report is to be submitted. The body/chest protectors are to be worn in all levels of play. 3)PHONE APP: There is a phone app that can be purchased on the market claiming to help a team steal and decipher their opponent’s signs. One takes pictures via the phone camera and the app will tell the team what the sign just said; “Steal; bunt; take; hit and run; etc.” This App is not legal for game play. When an umpire knows that a team is using the app, the coach should be warned and discontinue the use of the app. A second violation would restrict the coach to the bench. 4)WIRELESS/BLUE TOOTH COMMUNICATION WITH THE CATCHER: Some teams are using wireless or blue tooth communication from the coach to the catcher. The catcher’s device is either in the helmet or in the catcher’s ear. This technology is not legal for game play in high school. The rules committee will review this and make a determination after the season. For now, the use of these communication devices is illegal. When an umpire knows that a team is using these devices, the coach is to be warned and the use stopped. A second violation would restrict the coach to the bench. This is considered to be illegal equipment. 5)NFHS APPROVED RULINGS: On the same Baseball Page, the 2020 NFHS Baseball Approved Rulings have been posted. Approved Rulings are official play rulings for situations. Please take some time and look them over. PLAY: Let’s start with one that should get us thinking. The second baseman’s name is Brown and he is wearing jersey number #24. However, the coach lists him on the lineup as Brown wearing jersey number #4. After reaching base in the third inning, the defensive coach appeals to the home plate umpire that Brown is batting out of order. As the expert parent in the stands offers advice and your base partner becomes totally engrossed with the condition of the soil in the infield, you decide to do what? That’s it for this week. Please send me any questions, situations, plays or issues you may have. Kyle 979-446-5522 Jkyle1974@aol.com
As you know, we have 1 rule change for this season (new DH option) and 2 other rules that were passed in 2017 and implemented in the 2020 season. It is these two rules that are being implemented this season that we need to discuss in this bulletin.The UIL has provided an updated policy with regard to baseballs and body/chest protectors for the 2020 season. From the UIL: Baseballs – Baseballs must meet the current NOCSAE standard for baseball. The NFHS and NOCSAE mark shall both be visible on the ball. All varsity baseball teams will be expected to be in compliance by the first playing date of February 24, 2020. Varsity scrimmages played with non-approved baseball will be allowed to be played, but the umpire will be requested to submit an incident report to the UIL. The penalty for nonapproved balls will be treated the same as the penalty for an illegal bat in regular season games and district games is as follows: • Rule 4-1-3b - Penalty for an illegal ball/bat utilized in a game results in the head coach being restricted to the bench/dugout for the remainder of the game. Penalties assessed to schools utilizing non-approved baseballs during a contest will come from the local District Executive Committee. TASO Perspective for Umpires (Key Points): •Varsity Scrimmage Games – May be played with non-compliant baseballs. We are to submit an incident report to the UIL for a scrimmage game when this happens. •Varsity Contests (Beginning February 24) – All games are expected to be played with compliant baseballs. If the coach does not have compliant baseballs: oThe opposing coach has the option of playing the game or not. If the opposing coach chooses not to play the game, the officials are paid and an incident report will be submitted. The District Committee will decide what happens next with regard to that game. oIf the opposing coach chooses to play the game, it will be played. The home head coach will be restricted to the bench for the remainder of the game and an incident report will be submitted. oOnce a coach is restricted to the bench, there will be NO other penalty assessed to him for the use of non-compliant baseballs. •Junior Varsity and Freshman Games: oWhile it is recommended that these games be played with the use of compliant baseballs, it is not mandatory for the 2020 season. oAccordingly, no incident report needs to be submitted for non-compliant baseballs used in a sub-varsity contest. •As officials, check each baseball that is presented at the pre-game conference or during the game. If it is a non-compliant ball, ask if there is a compliant one to be used before accepting the baseball. From the UIL: NFHS Catcher’s Chest/Body Protector Changes: Mandatory for varsity competition and highly recommended for sub-varsity. (This will be mandatory for sub-varsity baseball contests in 2021.) Chest Protector/Body Protector Changes - Coaches are responsible for knowing if the catcher’s chest/body protector equipment meets the rule and should affirm that fact with the umpire-in-chief prior to the start of the ball game. • Rule 1-5-3 - Failure by a player to wear proper equipment after being so ordered by the umpire, shall result in ejection of the player. (This means the equipment is available, but the player refuses to wear it). TASO Perspective for Umpires (Key Points): •The coach certifies at the pre-game conference that his players are equipped according to rule. Unless a coach or a catcher directly tells us that he is not wearing the chest/body protector equipment now required, we take the coach’s certification. •Under no circumstances would we ask the catcher to undress to see if he is wearing a body protector. • If a player were to directly tell us he is not wearing a new body/chest protector, we do ask him and the coach to obtain the proper equipment. The game cannot continue until the catcher has the legal equipment. • If the team does not have the equipment and the opposing team is unable to share an extra chest/body protector, the game is suspended; it cannot continue. A game incident report would need to be filed. •Again, the use of the chest/body protector is recommended but not required this season at the junior varsity and the freshman level. In the 2021 season certified baseballs and legal chest/body protectors will be required at all levels of play. The timing is unfortunate, as most chapters have concluded their coaches’ meetings. Please remember to provide me with any issues, situations, questions, concerns, etc. you may have. Kyle McNeely TASO State BB Rules Interpreter Jkyle1974@aol.com 979-446-5522
Well, the first week of playoffs are beginning. Games that may have been just a baseball game last week, will take on heightened importance this week. Coaches, players, and parents will be more on edge and excitable. Stay patient and in control. 1) TAPPS –If you have a TAPPS game this week, might be good to review the TAPPS rule exceptions at https://tapps.biz/baseball-rules/ before the game. People can become confused in the post-season. 2) Game Ending Procedures – Game ending procedures have changed somewhat from what they were in the regular season. Any suspended game that is not a complete game, will resume at the point of suspension. Games never roll back to the last completed inning to be declared a complete game. The ten-run rule is still used in all playoff games after the fifth inning (or after 4 ½ if the home team in the bottom of the fifth is ahead by more than ten runs). At any point in the game, if both head coaches agree that the game is done, it is a complete game with the score recorded at that point. By rule the umpire-in-chief is also to agree with the head coaches, but I am sure none of us, with both coaches ready for the game to be done, would insist on continuation of a game. When you have a suspended game, record all information on your line-up cards: number of outs, runners on base, count on a batter, warnings, ejections, conferences used, score, etc. The lineup cards should be current with all substitutions, number of charged conferences taken, any warnings, restrictions, or ejections. If you are not sure you will be returning for the continuation of the suspended game, give the cards to one of your crew or to the home head coach. Also, a player who was not at the game when it was suspended, may play as a substitute in the continued game. Remember, as TASO officials we are to enforce NFHS Baseball playing rules. UIL policy rules regarding games in the playoff series are not for us to enforce. Let the coaches and ADs work it out with the UIL. 3) Media - With the post-season, there may be more media present. If they are to be on the field, please ensure there is a marked media area declared before the game begins. We cannot create a media area part-way into the game. And, despite what the coach may say, a media area once created is always a dead ball area, whether it is occupied or not. If it were to be a dead ball area only if occupied, a coach could have it occupied only when he is on offense and empty when his team is playing defense. There cannot be parts of the field that are sometimes in play and sometimes not. Additionally, avoid any discussion with the media. No matter what you say, you run the risk that you may not be quoted correctly or have what you say is taken out of context. Silence cannot be quoted. If the media needs information on a ruling or a situation, refer them to the TASO. Read PROVERBS 17:28 – “Even a fool is thought to be wise when he remains silent.” 4) Professionalism – As with any game, we are representatives of TASO. We must continue to be professional in every aspect. Our behavior and appearance reflects on TASO and all officials. Be aware of how you leave the parking lot or locker room. Do not leave trash piled up in the locker room or around your car. If your locker room continues to be the parking lot, please park smartly and be respectful of all fans that may be near. Please be discrete and courteous and not provide them with an unexpected experience. Take pride in your appearance and dress. It might be a good time to buy new hats, and then after the post-season make them your hats for the 2020 regular season. How you look makes a statement as to what type of official you are and the respect you show the game and fellow officials. Lastly, be aware of your body language. Your body language communicates a lot and is perceived by many to say something you may not be intending to communicate. Be aware of folded arms, hands on hips, a scowl on a face. Play from the last bulletin: Play: With a runner on second base, the batter hits a high foul fly ball in the vicinity of the on-deck circle. The on-deck batter, the clean-up hitter who is 3-3 with 2 home runs and a triple, watches the catcher coming toward him and backs away from the ball, unfortunately into the path of the third baseman. There is contact between the clean-up hitter and the third baseman. The defensive head coach is very inventive, he wants a double play; an out on the batter and an out on the on-deck hitter for interference. The offensive head coach, hearing the emotional rhetoric from his counterpart, wants malicious contact on the third baseman and both runners awarded a spot on the bases. The umpires, hearing the rules logic from the coaches, just want the field in their rear-view mirror. None of them got what they wanted as quickly as they wanted it. Ruling: All we have is interference by a team member on a defensive player attempting to catch a foul ball. The umpires briefly thought about whether the catcher or third baseman had the best ability to catch the foul fly, but then realized that rule applied to runner interference. They called the batter out, and brought the on-deck hitter to the plate. The defensive head coach, after some additional highly emotional arguments and demonstrations, wanted to file a protest (Not allowed in Texas). It was hard for him to do it from the bus. And as the baseball gods rolled in laughter, the clean-up hitter hit another home run. Remember and take pride in the important and essential role you play in the educational experience of those who play this game. You may not know how, but you did make a difference. This will be the last Baseball Bulletin for this season. I hope you have found them to be of some value. Please, if there is something we did that was of value, or if we need to do something else, let me know. If there are situations that arise over the summer, please get them to me. We may have a bulletin with plays over the off-season.
Have a great post-season. Again, thanks for all you have done and will continue to do for the sport of baseball in Texas and all those who engage in the game. Yours in Baseball, Kyle McNeely Jkyle1974@aol.com 979-446-5522
Well, we are rounding third and headed for home for the regular 2019 high school baseball season. I trust that overall your season has gone well. This week is vitally important to many teams as they look to a postseason. With all that said, we have a few things to discuss: 1.Ejected Players: We have had a couple of games where an ejected player was requested to go to the bus. Fortunately, in both situations, an assistant coach accompanied the player.(The coach was not ejected; just chose to be with the player). We need to remember that an ejected coach must leave the immediate vicinity of the game. He can be asked to come back by an umpire for an injured player. However, an ejected player is never to be put in a place without adult supervision. The ejected player should stay in the dugout with his team for the remainder of the game. If he were to continue to be a problem or a distraction, it is up to the coach to handle the situation. 2.Infielder Warming Up to Pitch: We have had multiple occasions where a coach, during a visit to the mound, has wanted to have an infielder warm up to be a pitcher. This is not legal. The following is an Approved Ruling from 2014: As the head coaches moves to the pitching mound for a defensive conference, he tosses a baseball to his third baseman and has him take warm-up throws with another player to get ready to pitch. RULING: A team cannot have a fielder, in the game, throw a baseball for the purpose of warming up as a pitcher, during a defensive conference or a pitching change. If they desire to warm up a player in the game to prepare him to pitch, they would need to take him out of the game to warm up and then later re-enter him under the substitution rule. (3-4-1). 3.Media in the Playing Field: A media person entered the playing field during play to take pictures. As the baseball gods never let anything go un-noticed, the batter hits a foul fly ball that came down near the photographer. The defensive player, attempting to catch the ball, ran into the misplaced photographer and as a result did not make, what would have been an easy catch of a foul ball. Everyone in the stands immediately voiced their knowledge of the rule and the dugouts chimed in with their respective opinions, while the officiating crew wondered if they could legally just start the game over. As you can imagine the defensive team and their fans wanted an out declared, and the photographer held until tar and a feather pillow could be acquired. While, in a sense of fairness, we want to award the out, we cannot. Unless the media person intentionally moved or did something to interfere with the catch, we have nothing other than a foul ball and excitement generated in a slow game. This is the reason the rule requires a designated media area if any media personnel are to be on the field. And by the way, the photographer got an excellent picture of the player missing the catch. 4.PA Announcers: There have a few reports of some PA Announcers at fields offering their educated opinion of rule enforcement or judgment by the officials. While many of these “color commentators” are students, some parents played junior ESPN announcer as well. Whenever a PA announcer goes over the line, ask the respective coach to immediately get it curbed back. If that has no impact, you may hold the game up until the mic is unplugged. 5.Runner Not Sliding and Being Hit by a Throw: There have been multiple games in the last few weeks where either the coach or an umpire had questions on the force-play “slide” rule. A runner advancing to second had been already forced out and was either hit by a throw or “caused” a throw to be off line because he did not slide. In all instances, the runner was not close enough to a base where he should be expected to slide. In one case, he was running slightly more than halfway to second when he was hit by a thrown ball from the shortstop. Of course, the defense immediately petitioned for interference and an out declared on the batter-runner advancing to first base. This is not a violation of the rule. Unless the runner did something else to enable him to be hit by the throw, we simply have baseball. We cannot expect a runner to slide on the base path at a location where he would not normally slide. This is not interference by a retired runner. The runner may veer off or duck if he chooses, but if is in a position where he would not be expected to slide, he is not required to do so. In these instances, the ball remains live and in play. 6.Play From Last Week: This play illustrates those moments when we, as umpires wish we really didn't know the rules. In this play, it would be so much better to let happen what the crowd thinks happened, vs. what we should do by the rule. After all, no one else knows, right? With bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the seventh, the score is tied. (of course). The batter swings at a 55-foot curve ball and the pitch gets by the catcher and the winning one comes in to score. The catcher retrieves the ball and sees the runner on second doing jumping jacks in excitement. The catcher has no play at home or at first so he fires to the third baseman who catches the ball and touches the bag. In the midst of a game ending win celebration, the umpire gets to call the third out and deny the run. The saving grace is that the extra innings, yes innings, that ensued caused most of the militant spectators to leave before the game finally did end. We are not always rewarded for doing a good job. Plays from the Last Bulletin: 1.With the bases loaded and one out, the batter bunts but pops up. The first baseman comes in, lets the ball hit the back of his glove and fall to the ground. He next picks the ball up and throws to the catcher for out two with the catcher throwing to first base to complete the double play for out number three. Everyone looks at each other wondering what just happened. Ruling: An infielder may allow a pop-fly or pop-up to drop untouched, he cannot drop the ball or maneuver it to the ground with his glove. The ball is dead and the batter-runner is declared out. 2.With the bases loaded and the runner on third base breaking for home, the batter swings at a pitch, hitting it high in the air between the pitching mound and home plate. As the plate umpire properly declares “Infield fly if fair,” the ball hits the ground and rolls back toward home, contacting the runner from third in fair ground as he slides to the plate. The base umpire becomes extremely interested in the condition of second base. Ruling: The batter-runner is out on the infield fly. The runner from third is contacting by a fair batted ball that has not passed any infielder. We have two outs, two on, and two massive headaches. Play for Next Week: Play: With a runner on second base, the batter hits a high foul fly ball in the vicinity of the on-deck circle. The on-deck batter, the clean-up hitter who is 3-3 with 2 home runs and a triple, watches the catcher coming toward him and backs away from the ball, unfortunately into the path of the third baseman. There is contact between the clean-up hitter and the third baseman. The defensive head coach is very inventive, he wants a double play; an out on the batter and an out on the on-deck hitter for interference. The offensive head coach, hearing the emotional rhetoric from his counterpart, wants malicious contact on the third baseman and both runners awarded a spot on the bases. The umpires, hearing the rules logic from the coaches, just want the field in their rear-view mirror. None of them got what they wanted as quickly as they wanted it. We will talk this play and post-season next week. Until then, have a good one.
It has been wonderful Baseball weather the last week and I hope all have been a part of some great games. I think everyone is in District play and so for many, the pressure tightens and games take on a heightened importance. There has been several interesting and unusual plays and situations that have come in this week, and we will go through some of them in this bulletin. 1.A coach, due to various predicaments, has a team that is continuing its season with only nine players. (Upside: don’t have to worry about the DH rule with them, and no complaints for the coach about playing time). Downside? This situation. While playing basketball at home one evening, the second baseman sustained a high ankle sprain. This meant that the next several games, district play, is now a problem. Does the coach forfeit as he cannot have nine starting players? The coach had a great idea. He listed on his line-up nine starting players. Once the game started, after all infielders, pitcher, catcher and batter are in position and the umpire has announced “Play,” the coach would request “time” and pull his injured player (if it was a home game) or tell the umpire the second baseman was out of the game (if on defense). He knew he could by rule continue the game with only eight players. The first time the coach attempted this, the opposing coach protested it was not legal, and the umpires were not sure themselves.The coach argued that he wanted to start the game so at least his other eight players could play and have a chance. He knew he was a disadvantage playing eight, but it was better than forfeiting games. Bottom line? This is legal. I applaud the coach for knowing the rules and doing what he can to play. 2.Pitcher Substitution: In the fifth inning of a game, the coach wants to replace his tiring starting pitcher. He informs the plate umpire of the lineup change, who makes the change on his card and informs the other team. After the fifth warm-up pitch, the coach realizes his substitute pitcher now warming up, will be in violation of the pitch-count requirements if he throws a pitch. The coach goes back to the plate umpire and wants to bring back the starting pitcher. The umpires won’t let the coach re-enter the starting pitcher but do allow him to bring in another substitute pitcher. Is this right? Is the coach correct? The change has now been legally made, so what options exist? By rule we know that when a substitute pitcher comes into the game, he is required to pitch to the batter then at bat (or a substitute for that batter) until the batter is put out, reaches first base, or until a third out has been made. If these conditions are not met, the pitcher for whom the substitution occurred cannot return to pitch. The only allowed reason we would allow this substitute pitcher to be pulled before the above conditions are met are: the substitute pitcher develops an injury or is guilty of flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct to his coach, other team, or basically anyone. Even in this instance, the coach could replace the substitute pitcher but the pitcher for whom the substitution is being made cannot return to pitch. Without the substitute pitcher being injured or guilty of unsporting behavior, the only real option to the coach to fulfill the rule but not violate the pitch-count regulations, is to have the substitute take only the allowed warm-up pitches (eight) and then with the game resumed, intentionally walk, without throwing a pitch, the batter. At that point the starting pitcher may return (provided he has re-entry and was not removed due to excessive charge conferences). While this is somewhat confusing, we cannot ignore the pitcher substitution rule just because a coach was not aware of a pitcher’s relation to the pitch-count. Just hope this does not occur to you in the bottom of the seventh of a tied game with the bases loaded. If so, be assured the stands will articulate their feelings on your insistence that the rule requirements be met. 3.A batter is legally in the batter’s box when he is surprised with a pitch that is headed to the batter’s box. The batter, not knowing what to do, reacts out of instinct and raises his hand to protect his torso, which would have been hit by the ball, and the pitch contacts his hand. The plate umpire, judging that the batter did not truly permit the ball to hit him, awards first base. The defensive coach, predictably, argues that the batter hit the ball (meaning the ball didn’t hit him) and should not be awarded first base. The rule does not demand that the batter go through various movements to avoid a pitch; he just can’t permit the ball to hit him. In this instance, and umpire judgment is the factor, the batter did not permit himself to be hit. The pitch was such that he did not know how to move and simply protected himself out of an instinctive reaction. Award first base. 4.The batter, with a runner on first base, hits a ball in the gap in the outfield. The runner from first attempts to score with the throw from the outfield being off line. The pitcher has moved to back up the play and the on-deck batter has moved (fifteen feet from the plate) to tell the runner if he needs to slide. The throw gets by the catcher and deflects off the on-deck batter and rolls a few feet. The on-deck batter was not between the throw and the pitcher. The catcher picks up the ball and throws to third in an attempt to tag out the batter-runner, but the throw is not in time for the out. The defensive coach argues that this is interference by the on-deck batter and the batter-runner at third should be ruled out. The umpires disagree and allow the play to stand. The umpires were correct. Unless the on-deck positioned himself in a manner to interfere, he can be where he wants or needs to be. The wild throw is not his fault and if he is trying to stay out of the way of the fielders there is no interference. 5.Easton Project 3 Alpha Bat – This bat has been successfully tested to meet the BBCOR requirements. Applied to the bat is a decal that covers the barrel of the bat that has thin and shallow stripes, less than .15mm. These “ribbings” have no impact to the bat performance and the bat is legal for competition. 6.Over the last two weeks, there have a couple of umpires who have called the NFHS either asking for a ruling or offering their advice to a rule. Please do not call the NFHS. While I am sure this is well intended, they will not answer your question. They will refer you back to the State Interpreter (me). You can imagine how it would be even if only 5% of high school umpires called to discuss a play. The process is for you to go to the State Interpreter who will provide an answer, so some research to confirm a ruling, or call the NFHS if needed. Plus, calling Mr. Hopkins insane and an idiot does not represent Texas or TASO well. Plays from the last bulletin: 1.In the fifth inning, with one out and the bases empty, the batter hits a double to center field. Unfortunately, the batter sprains his ankle as he slides into second base. A) there are no eligible substitutes available; or B) there is one player who could go in as a substitute, but the coach chooses not to use him. As the plate umpire, what do you do now? Walking off the field is not an option. Ruling: As we know, if a runner is injured while on the base, it is legal for the coach to put in the most recent batter not on base to run for the injured player. If there are no eligible substitutes available, an out will be declared and the game continues. An out will be call each time in the game that spot in the batting order comes to bat. (Don’t worry about not knowing when that spot comes to bat; my experience is that the opposing team will be very diligent in assisting you in knowing). If there is a player eligible to enter, but the coach for his reasons chooses not to use him, then the game goes on and outs are called when the spot in the batting order comes up. We cannot force a coach to use a player he chooses not to use. 2.With the batter doubling off the fence, the second baseman is granted “time” and meets his pitcher. Pretending to give the pitcher the baseball, everyone goes back to their fielding positions. With the pitcher on the pitching plate, the batter in the batting box, and the catcher properly in his catching box, the plate umpire announces “Play” in which the second baseman immediately goes and tags the runner off second base. With the stands loudly and freely offering advice, and both coaches, in their best trots, come out of the dugout, while the umpires search the clouds for inspiration. What do we have? Ruling: With one side wanting an out and the other side a balk, rest assured you will not be loved by anyone, especially if you get this right. The reality is you have nothing on this play. The ball was never legally in play because the pitcher did not have the ball, a requirement to legally resume the game (along with the batter and catcher legally in their positions and the pitcher on the pitching plate). Even though the umpire declared “Play,” the ball remained dead. With a dead ball, we don’t have a tag out and a pitcher cannot balk. Making everyone mad is your only option as you reset everything and now truly make the ball live. 3.With one out and a runner on first, the batter swings at strike three and misses. The ball came off the catcher’s glove and rolls about ten feet in front of home plate. The runner advances to second and the retired batter-runner runs toward first and draws the throw from the catcher. The batter-runner was not in the running Lane but ran in the field of play and was struck by the ball. After being hit by the throw, ball deflects off the batter-runner and bounces into foul territory. R1 advanced to third, and the batter-runner second. Wondering if you could fake a cardiac event and be able to leave the game, you first rule what? Ruling: A batter has the right to attempt to run to first on a missed or possibly missed third strike by the catcher; even if first base is occupied. The defense is responsible for knowing the conditions and the rule as to when the batter is out. So, had the retired batter-runner been properly in the running lane when he was hit by the throw, we would have nothing but play on. However, since the batter-runner is out of the running lane on the side the throw is from and is subsequently hit, we have interference. Since the batter-runner is already out, it is interference by a retired runner. If the runner from first could have been throw out in any possible way, he will be out for the batter-runner interference. If he could not have been put out, he would be returned to first base. Plays to think about for the next bulletin (they happened last week in some state): 1.With the bases loaded and one out, the batter bunts but pops up. The first baseman comes in, lets the ball hit the back of his glove and fall to the ground. He next picks the ball up and throws to the catcher for out two with the catcher throwing to first base to complete the double play for out number three. Everyone looks at each other wondering what just happened. 2.With the bases loaded and the runner on third base breaking for home, the batter swings at a pitch, hitting it high in the air between the pitching mound and home plate. As the plate umpire properly declares “Infield fly if fair,” the ball hits the ground and rolls back toward home, contacting the runner from third in fair ground as he slides to the plate. The base umpire becomes extremely interested in the condition of second base. Go to the TASO website this week there is a video play for you to watch. Keep the plays and situations coming. Hope all of you have a great week.
I hope all has gone well for you so far this baseball season. While I am sure that not every game you have worked has been a hour ten, 1-0 pitching gem by both pitchers, with the home team winning with the 37th strike out of the game in the top of the seventh, but maybe every game has been a great experience for all. It does seem that a lot of interesting games have been played, and I thank you for sending in so many of your plays, situations, and questions that have come from those games. Some that have come in recently: 1)Cold Weather Gear: All of us hope that the cold weather is now past us and we no longer need to layer up so much as to resemble the Michelin Man. Two questions have come up concerning cold weather gear. A. Cold Weather Mask: A game recently had a tough cold wind resulting in some noticeable wind chills for everyone. A pitcher came out to start an inning wearing a solid black cold weather mask over his face. With some envy of the mask and a desire to wear one as well, several people in the opposing dugout questioned if it was legal (and if it was, could they could buy it from him). It is legal for the pitcher or other players to wear such a mask. As you would think, there cannot be anything on it that is profane, vulgar, or unsportsmanlike in nature; and it cannot be distracting, in the plate umpire’s judgment, to the batter, but without any of those stipulations present, it is legal. B. Hand Warmers: A batter, in an even colder game, came up to bat with some hand warmers in the palm of his batting glove. The catcher claimed they were either illegal or they must be shared. Being the nice guy that he was, the catcher was willing to take them for the batter. The batter told the umpire he was willing to sell them for $10. Fortunately, the umpire correctly told the umpire that the hand warmers were legal, and if the batter could get $10 for them, he had some for sell as well. 2) EYE BLACK – This past week there were two known instances where a player was instructed by an umpire to remove his eye black. High School baseball does not have a rule that makes eye black, or excessive eye black illegal. Provided the eye black is not unsporting, taunting, demeaning, or profane in nature, we don’t care where, or how much, or what color it is. The pitcher’s eye black, obviously, cannot be such that it is judged to be distracting to a batter. 3) SUNGLASSES – I am not sure why this is an issue, but apparently it is in some areas of the state. We have no rule concerning the use of sunglasses. In some places, we have had a few umpires who will not allow a player to place his sunglasses on the bill of his cap during play. We have no rule that supports such a position. A pitcher may wear sunglasses, provided it is not the type that would be deemed distracting (reflective, etc.). 4) PITCHER WEARING A BATTING GLOVE UNDER HIS FIELDING GLOVE: In a least one game this season, an opposing coach insisted that the opposing pitcher remove the batting glove he was wearing underneath his pitching glove. The glove was a solid dark color and in no way distracting. Bottom line, a pitcher may have a batting glove under his fielding glove. As with the rules for a pitcher, it cannot be white or gray or distracting. Otherwise, no problem. 5) BAT DEVICES TO USE WHILE WARMING UP TO BAT: In a game last week the batter used an oar like device that was added onto the bat, thus extending the length of the bat. This on-deck batter used this device to prepare himself for his upcoming at-bat. This is not a legal device for the batter to use. The batter may use additional bat(s) to swing to warm up to bat, or commercially made doughnuts (weights) only to prepare for his at-bat. 6) UMPIRE USE OF VIDEO: An umpire wanted to wear a mini video camera so that he could later look at his plays and his strike zone. This is not permitted. There are considerable safety issues surrounding the use of a camera by the umpire as well as possible legal considerations of taping players without their consent. Have someone video you from the stands or ask for a copy if a team videos the game. 7)TEAM USE OF VIDEO: A team wanted to use a “Flightscope” or similar device to tape their games. This device is a 3D tracking radar that records ball position, speed, angle of pitch and ball trajectories. For the moment, this device may certainly be used by a coach in practice but not during a game. LAST WEEK PLAYS: 1) With a count of 3-1 on the Viking batter, his teammate at second takes his lead. The pitch by the Panther pitcher is ball four and bounces off the catcher and goes into the dugout. Where do you place the runners? Ruling: The batter is entitled to first base only. The runner on second is awarded third. At the end of awards, runners are at first and third. 8-3-3d. Across the nation, a lot of umpires want to award the batter second base, first base on the walk and second base on the pitch that became dead. But we cannot do that. Only one award here. Runners at first and third. 2) With his teammate on second base, the Bulldog batter hits a single to the outfield, which the Fire Bird left fielder fields and throws to the shortstop. The shortstop next throws to the catcher in an attempt to tag out the runner attempting to score from second base. The throw is slightly on the first-base side of home. The catcher has plenty of time to secure it in his glove and prepares to tag the runner. Before the action at the plate, the batter-runner has touched second and takes just a few steps past second, watching the play at home. The catcher applies the tag to the runner's front sliding foot, but the force of the slide dislodges the ball out of the catcher's mitt and it rolls into the dugout. Thinking you would have been better off turning this game back, what do you rule? Ruling:The catcher has the ball in possession, so no possibility of obstruction; the runner slides legally, so no malicious contact. The issue is what do we award with the thrown ball going into the dugout. We know the award is two bases, but the key question is two bases from where? Is it from where the runners were at the time of the throw? by the left fielder? by the shortstop? At issue is where is the batter-runner placed? second, third, home? Inquiring coaches want to know. Once the catcher secured possession, any subsequent action is a new play. The ball going dead by rolling into the dugout is treated as if the catcher threw it there. Even though the impetus came from the runner, it is a two-base award from the time the ball was dislodged from the catcher's glove. Score the batter-runner and circle the wagons. Be thankful if this play did not end the game. Be thankful if there is game security. 8-3-3c2
PLAYS FOR NEXT WEEK: 1. In the fifth inning, with one out and the bases empty, the batter hits a double to center field. Unfortunately, the batter sprains his ankle as he slides into second base. A) there are no eligible substitutes available; or B) there is one player who could go in as a substitute, but the coach chooses not to use him. As the plate umpire, what do you do now? Walking off the field is not an option. 2. With the batter doubling off the fence, the second baseman is granted “time” and meets his pitcher. Pretending to give the pitcher the baseball, everyone goes back to their fielding positions. With the pitcher on the pitching plate, the batter in the batting box, and the catcher properly in his catching box, the plate umpire announces “Play” in which the second baseman immediately goes and tags the runner off second base. With the stands loudly and freely offering advice, and both coaches, in their best trots, come out of the dugout, while the umpires search the clouds for inspiration. What do we have? 3. With one out and a runner on first, the batter swings at strike three and misses. The ball came off the catcher’s glove and rolls about ten feet in front of home plate. The runner advances to second and the retired batter-runner runs toward first and draws the throw from the catcher. The batter-runner was not in the running Lane but ran in the field of play and was struck by the ball. After being hit by the throw, ball deflects off the batter-runner and bounces into foul territory. R1 advanced to third, and the batter-runner second. Wondering if you could fake a cardiac event and be able to leave the game, you first rule what? Go to the TASO website this week. Here is a video play for you to watch. Click Here to view the Video or copy and paste this into your browser: https://www.brainshark.com/taso/vu?pi=zH8zWL9ghzOv3Nz0 More of these will be available in the coming weeks. Keep the plays and situations coming. Yours in baseball, Kyle Jkyle1974@aol.com 979-446-5522
Well, the season for Texas is underway. I trust each of you had a good first week. About half the nation is still waiting to throw a pitch outdoors. I appreciate all the emails and phone calls. Your input and questions help put this bulletin together. For the past two weeks, I have been in Guyana visiting my daughter. The temperature is 85 every day and I have been watching “baseball.” Only problem is the baseball here is cricket and I still have no idea as to the rules. I have, though, about figured how who the bowler and all-arounder are. 1.Turf Field: A great question came in from some games that were played last week. It seems in some areas, the schools have been putting in all-turf fields. This is great for maintenance and weather, but as some coaches found out, it can provide quite a problem for a runner sliding into second base. When the runner over-slid second base into the fielder on a double play the officiating crew called two out automatically. The coach felt that since it was a turf field, the rule for over-sliding second base and making contact with the fielder should be ignored. The officials certainly got it right, the rule does not provide any exception to the forced-play slide rule depending on the type of field. 2.Bat Lists – I was asked for an illegal bat list for NFHS play. Great request, but the NFHS doesn’t maintain an illegal bat list. Approved bats for the NFHS can be found on the Washington State University website under the Sports Science Laboratory. If you wish, go to https://ssl.wsu.edu. At the moment, there are only two BBCOR bats that have been decertified for NFHS play. The Marucci CAT 5 33” model and the Reebok Vector TLS 32” model. If any other bats are de-certified this season, I will notify you as soon as possible. 3.Play Lists: Once again, the subject of players wearing play lists and the location where they may be worn has come into question. It feels like we have covered this every season since the 2016 Season, but there appears to be some issues with what may and may not be done. Many coaches find benefit with the play lists and accordingly they may be used, but by NFHS Approved Rulings these play lists may only be worn on a player’s arm or wrist or placed in a pocket. They MAY NOT be worn on the belt. This has been the ruling of the NFHS for several years and has not changed. If a player is wearing a play list on the belt, professionally ask him to wear it on his arm/wrist or put it in his pocket. If he does not comply, ask the coach to so instruct the player. While we do have a rule that says failure by a player to wear proper equipment after being so ordered by the umpire, shall be ejected (1-5-4 penalty). I would hope that the situation could be handled without an ejection. 4.There was a game last week in which the coach wanted to talk with his pitcher. This was his first conference of the game so there was no problem with his having a defensive conference. He finished his conference and went back to his dugout. After a pitch, the coach wanted to have another conference with his pitcher (the same batter was still at-bat). The request was denied with the umpire saying the coach could not have another conference while the same batter was still at-bat. We are mixing up rule codes on this. NFHS rules allow three (3) defensive charged conferences in seven innings. Those three conferences may be taken in the same inning, with the same batter, and/or without another pitch being thrown if the coach desires. We would not allow a conference if, by having that conference, we would be forced to remove a substitute pitcher who had not yet fulfilled his pitching substitution requirements (pitch until the batter then at-bat has advanced to first base or is put out, or until a third out is made). Again, in the situation above, it was legal for the coach to go back to his pitcher for a conference. 5.Batter hit by pitch: Batters are specifically prohibited from intentionally moving so that they are hit by a pitch. Some batters intentionally move their elbow or a knee into the path of a pitch, or turn their shoulder and by so doing move into the pitch. When this happens, they are to stay at bat and the pitch is whatever it was. At one time the rule book stated that the batter should attempt to avoid the pitch. But in 2009, the language was changed to say that the batter shall not “permit a pitched ball to touch him” (7-3-4 and 8-1-1d-1). It has been the philosophy of the NFHS for decades that a batter shall not “take a pitch” if he is able to avoid being hit. Taking one for the team in a kidney is not the safe approach. For many years, if a batter was hit by a pitch, the opposing dugout and the respective fans immediately yelled, “he’s got to move; he didn’t attempt to get out of the way.” The intent of the rule was to not allow a batter to take a pitch if he could have avoided it, but it was never to turn him into the villain when he couldn’t move. There are times when a batter may see a pitch and has no idea of what to do. That was certainly true for me with hard breaking curve balls. We do not want a batter who has no idea of how to move and avoid a pitch and thus just freezes, to be forced to stay at-bat if he was hit. So, the language was changed to say a batter cannot permit himself to be touched by a pitch. Bottom line, the batter does not have to show an attempt to avoid, but you as the plate umpire must be certain he was fooled such that he couldn’t move. Honestly, I believe we as umpires get this right 98%+ of the time. Appeal Play Situations Situation 1) With bases loaded and one out, the batter hits a bases clearing triple. With a live ball, the defense appeals that the batter/runner missed first base. The pitcher balks while throwing the ball to first base. Everyone knew that the defensive team could no longer appeal first base but the defensive team’s head coach argued convincingly that he could appeal the runner from second missing third base. Is he correct? Ruling: No, the coach is not correct. An appeal may be made until: 1) an legal or illegal pitch has been made; 2) at the end of the inning, before the pitcher and all infielders have left fair territory; 3) an intentional base on balls has been granted; 4) on the last play of the game the umpire(s) leave the field of play; or, 5) a play or attempted play has been made (8-2-5 Penalty). Since an illegal pitch (balk) has been thrown, no more appeals may be made on that play. Situation 2) Following a base hit and with the batter-runner on second base, the visiting team wants to appeal the runner from second missing third base as he advanced to home. After playing action is over, the pitcher throws the ball to the third baseman while appealing that the runner missed the base. The third baseman was making after game plans with his girlfriend and the throw went into the stands. What do the umpires, other than see if their automatic car start still works, do next? Ruling: After awarding the batter-runner two bases, the visiting team may still appeal the runner from second base missing third base as he scored. The throw was an appeal, not a play and the visiting team retains its right to appeal the baserunning error. (2-29-6; 8-2-5 Penalty). When the appeal process was brought back into high school play, the committee did not want to have the same issues arise that caused the appeal play to be taken out of the rule book in the first place. The main issue was few teams seemed to know how to make an appeal from the mound and the result always seemed to end with gnashing of teeth, spirited conversation, and ejection reports to file. Accordingly, when the appeal was brought back into the rule book, the committee allowed for a coach or player to make a dead-ball appeal by just verbalizing the appeal. It seems to be working well. Plays for next week: 1)With a count of 3-1 on the Viking batter, his teammate at second takes his lead. The pitch by the Panther pitcher is ball four and bounces off the catcher and goes into the dugout. Where do you place the runners? 2)With his teammate on second base, the Bulldog batter hits a single to the outfield, which the Fire Bird left fielder fields and throws to the shortstop. The shortstop next throws to the catcher in an attempt to tag out the runner attempting to score from second base. The throw is slightly on the first-base side of home. The catcher has plenty of time to secure it in his glove and prepares to tag the runner. Before the action at the plate, the batter-runner has touched second and takes just a few steps past second, watching the play at home. The catcher applies the tag to the runner's front sliding foot, but the force of the slide dislodges the ball out of the catcher's mitt and it rolls into the dugout. Thinking you would have been better off turning this game back, what do you rule?
Until next week, have a great one. Yours in baseball, Kyle McNeely Jkyle1974@aol.com 979-446-5522
From: TASO Baseball Rules InterpreterTo: TASO Baseball Umpire Membership Subject: Baseball Weekly Bulletin 19 -1 The 2019 high school Baseball season is upon us. I hope that for every one of you, it will be the season you each hope it to be. Your hard work and diligent efforts over the last few months are most appreciated as you prepared for the games to begin. We have some of the best baseball played in the nation and I am glad we have the officiating to match. Please remember to provide me with any issues, situations, concerns, etc. you may have. It is most helpful. The intent is to provide information, rulings, and answers to plays and issues that arise during the season. 1.Cheek and Jaw Protectors: Over the last month there has been considerable amount of questions touched with confusion on how the Cheek and Jaw Protectors are to be handled in the 2019 season. All the issues are complex with many wheels in motion at the same time. There is much activity behind the scenes and as soon as I can provide more information I will.Bottom line: Be diligent. Coaches are to know and verify the legality of the helmet/protector at the pre-game conference. Insure that this occurs. Please let me know if you still have questions. 2.“Cup Checks”: Last week in another state there were two instances of a “cup check” that can get us in a lot of hot water. In the first instance, the home plate umpire, on his own initiative, thumped the catcher with his fingers in a “cup check” test. The catcher did not have his cup and the action provided some amount of pain, embarrassment, conversation, and reaction from the stands. Needless to say, this is not a good idea. Conversation between the school, the parents, the state office, and the home plate umpire continue. In the second occasion, the plate umpire handed the catcher a bat and told him to “bump” himself in the groin area to check his cup. While this time, the catcher did have his protective cup in place, the request was not well received in the respective dugout and stands. Bottom line, don’t do or have “cup checks” performed. When the coach verifies for you at the pre-game conference that all players are legally equipped by rule, take his word. Only when you know without a doubt that a catcher is not legally equipped, should you ask the coach and provide what you know to him. These “cup checks” were bad ideas that created poor outcomes. 3.Appeal Plays: These appeal situations came in from a state where high school baseball has already begun.Situation 1) With bases loaded and one out, the batter hits a bases clearing triple. With a live ball, the defense appeals that the batter/runner missed first base. The pitcher balks while throwing the ball to first base. Everyone knew that the defensive team could no longer appeal first base but the defensive team’s head coach argued convincingly that he could appeal the runner from second missing third base. Is he correct?Situation 2) Following a base hit and with the batter/runner on second base, the visiting team wants to appeal the runner from second missing third base as he advanced to home. After all playing action is over, the pitcher throws the ball to the third baseman while claiming that the runner missed the base. The third baseman was making after game plans with his girl friend and the throw went into the stands. What do the umpires, other than see if their automatic car start still works, do next? In next week’s bulletin, we will provide the rulings and some discussion on appeals. 4.For your use, a video of the 2019 Baseball Rule Changes has been created. It can be accessed by all umpires from the Baseball page on the TASO website. 5.On the same Baseball Page, the 2019 NFHS Baseball Approved Rulings have been posted. Approved Rulings are official play rulings for situations that occurred over the 2018 season and may not have a specific rule reference. Please take some time and look them over. That’s it for this week. Please send me any questions, situations, plays or issues you may have. Kyle 979-446-5522 Jkyle1974@aol.com
From: Texas State Baseball Rules Interpreter To: TASO Baseball Umpire Membership Subject: Baseball Weekly Bulletin 17-3 It seems that more than the temperature is beginning to heat up so do our games. The past week we have had more than our share of confusion, weird plays, substitution concerns, and overall just high school baseball being high school baseball. Not only is the game itself just great, but these situations, plays, and strategies are keeping us young. Right? We have an abundance to cover this week, so let’s get at it. 1) DH Substitution – The DH is batting for the 2B in the 7th spot in the lineup. During the game, the coach wanted to let the 2B bat for himself. Later in the game, the coach desired to re-enter the DH. After the original DH was now back in the game, a few innings later the coach wanted the 2B to come back and finish the game. The experts in the stands had a field day offering their sage advice and wisdom. Bottom line, what the coach wants to do is legal. So here's why: Both players are starters and hence both players have re-entry capability (one time). They just cannot legally be in the offensive mix at the same time or on the field at the same time. When the coach puts the 2B in to hit, two things have just happened: 1) the role of the DH is over for that game, and 2) the DH has been withdrawn one time. Later, when the coach wants to put the DH back into the game, he may. That will be the DH's (no longer the DH but we will still call him that) one re-entry. The original 2B now must come out of the game and that is his one withdrawal. All this is okay. When the coach wants to reinsert the original 2B, he may do that as well. When that occurs, the original DH is now done for the day as that would be his second exit from the lineup and it would also be the original 2B's one re-entry. 2) Warming Baseballs in the Dugout – Barring a major cold front hitting us, the odds of anyone needing to know this new ruling here in Texas is hopefully nil. In States up North, some teams have put in their dugout a little “oven” in which the keep the baseballs so that they may stay warm or at least warmer than ambient temperature. Artificially warming the baseballs is not legal and as a result, having a device in the dugout to do is not allowed. If we get a cold snap, and who knows what we will have this Spring, no warming of the baseballs. 3) Coach warming up the Pitcher – In a few games recently a coach (head, assistant, or other adult) came out to warm up the pitcher while the catcher got geared up. By rule, the pitcher has one minute from the last out to get his five warm up pitches thrown and the coach didn’t want the situation to be that by the time the catcher got out to warm up the pitcher, little to no time would be left. The fact the adult coach came out to catch the pitcher was not the issue. In some instances, the fact that the adult coach did so without wearing a mask or cup was the concern. The rules require a non-adult warming up the pitcher at any location and while in the crouch position, to wear head protection and a mask with throat protection along with a cup. If the adult coach is willing to handle a 56 foot fastball without protection, the rules don’t mandate otherwise. 4) Pitcher Staying Warm in the Bullpen – In some games last week, with the temperature being a little less than desirable, some pitchers while their team is on offense, have gone into their bullpen to throw and stay warm. This is perfectly legal. The only requirement is if the one catching him is a non-adult, he must adhere to the discussion above concerning wearing of equipment. If the bullpen is outside an enclosed area in the field, then a player, with a glove, must be between them and home plate with a glove. 5) Ball Four with the Pitch going Dead – With runners on first and second, the batter took ball four. The pitch got past the catcher and rolled into the dugout, becoming a dead ball. The umpires awarded the batter first base for the ball four and then second base for the pitch becoming dead, thus scoring the runner from second. The decision created the equivalent of a presidential debate with the fans acting as moderators. Not the right decision.The batter is awarded first on ball four and other runners are awarded the one base for the dead ball. If they are moved because of the batter’s award, that satisfies the dead ball award. If there were runners on second and third and the batter received ball four on a pitch that then became dead, the batter would be awarded first base only, and the other runners would be awarded one base on the pitch being dead, thus scoring the runner from third. OUR PLAYS FROM LAST WEEK 1) This play happened in a game in a neighboring state. While we may all chuckle and think to ourselves, "How could they do that?" we are all one brain cell away from having a brain fog ourselves. Play: On a batted ball down right field line, the ball bounces over the right fielder's head, and ricochets off the foul pole above the fence and lands back onto the playing field. The right fielder retrieves the ball and throws out the runner at second base. The crowd goes wild while the two coaches offer their best insight. The Offensive coach says the out should not stand while the Defensive coach argues that the ball never left the field and hence the runner is out. Looking to your partner who is dutifully inspecting the cloud formations over center field, you will rule? RULING: Ruling: In the actual game, the umpires allowed the out to stand, much to the delight of the home crowd. Unfortunately, the visitors were down by a run, and never got a runner to second again. Who knows if that run would have scored, but it did provide fodder for the wailing and gnashing of teeth that followed the loss. The actual ruling is that the out will not stand. The hit is considered to be a ground rule double, since the ball would have bounced over the fence. The ball is dead when it struck the foul pole over the fence. Rule 8-3-3c and 5-1-1f-4. 2) With a runner on first and the pitcher struggling in the top of the fifth inning, a right handed relief pitcher comes to the mound and begins to throw his warm-up pitches. His coach announces to the plate umpire the change. The plate umpire marks the change on his line-up card and announces the change to the opposing team and official scorekeeper. After only four warm-up throws, the defensive coach now decides he really wants the left hander to pitch and brings him to the mound. He tells the plate umpire that since the ball has not yet been made live, the substitution has not yet been made legal, and he can change his mind. Hoping the trainer has some Excedrin you can take, you will rule? RULING: The root issue in today's play is "When is a substitution a done deal?" In other words, when can a coach say, "I was only kidding and when does he have to live with his decision?" The officials in the game allowed the coach to change his mind with no repercussion, as they unfortunately mixed up some rules. When we have an unreported substitute, that substitution becomes legal when the player is in the position of the player he is replacing, and the ball is made live. If the substitute for the starting pitcher in this play had not reported, then the substitution would not be legal or in effect, until the pitcher was on the pitchers' plate and the ball made live. This was not the case here. On an announced substitution, the substitution is legal and in force when the coach has informed the umpire-in-chief, and the UIC has made the changes on his line-up card and announced the changes to the other team (and official scorekeeper if that person is not with one of the two teams). In this case here, the right hander is legally now in the game. Now, inquiring minds want to know, "Does that right hander have to face one batter (or his replacement) until that batter is on base, out, or we have a third out." That is the rule for a substitute pitcher, but we would not force that pitcher to "walk" a batter to satisfy the rule if he can't continue. If the substitute was hurt and couldn't continue, or if had told the coach what could be done (or other unsportsmanlike behavior) he could be pulled immediately. We don't want a player who is hurt to further be at risk of a larger injury nor do we want to handcuff a coach who needs to make a change for valid disciplinary reasons. The penalty would be that the substitute pitcher could not pitch again in that game. So, bottom line in this play, the substitution can't be undone, it is legal, and the right hander must satisfy the substitution requirements for a relief pitcher. 3) With a runner on third base and no outs, the batter hits a pop fly in fair territory in front of home plate. The catcher misses the ball completely, never touching it, and the backspin on the ball causes it to move back toward home where it strikes the runner, who is advancing to home from third base, in fair territory. The ball continues to move into foul ground where it comes to rest. The offensive team’s head coach argues that his runner can't be out since the batted ball "passed" an infielder, the catcher. Hence the run should count and the batter should stay on first base. Not knowing what to argue the Defensive coach simply glares. Is the offensive team's argument valid? Will you ever work a baseball game again? RULING: This play came from a state that allows protests and caused considerable emotional discussion and a protested game. The visiting coach's argument was quite inventive and creative. It caused the officials to think through the rules, and eventually they bought into the visiting coach's position. The home coach just didn't believe this could be true and so he protested the game at that point. The protest was upheld. The action of the ball in this situation is not considered to be "passing" an infielder. So, the ball is dead immediately, and the runner from third is declared out for being contacted by a fair batted ball. The batter is awarded first base. (8-4-2k, 5-1-1f-1). Had the ball contacted the runner in foul ground, it would have been a dead ball, with the runner returning to third and the batter remaining at bat. But you must give the coach some credit for his quick thinking. Next Week’s Plays 1. With runners on first and second and no outs, the batter bunts a slow roller down third base line. The third baseman, seeing that he has no play on any of the runners, starts blowing on the ball from his hands and knees, trying to get the ball to go foul. The ball eventually rolls into foul territory where it comes to rest. As half the crowd applauds and the other half protests, you realize it is one of those moments we all dread. Hoping you appear confident, you rule: 2. Let's work plays in the outfield and do a two-parter. 1) A fly ball hit deep to right field along the foul pole, hits the right fielder on the head (the outfielder was in fair ground at the time). The ball bounces off his head and in flight goes over the outfield fence but does so on the foul side of the foul pole. 2) A fly ball is hit deep to left center. The ball hits the fence, bounces off the fence and still in flight hits the left fielder in the head and goes over the fence. Both coaches, several hundred fans and your partner want to know: Is it a home run? You just want to go home. 3. With a runner on third and first, the offense attempts to steal second base. The batter clearly interferes with the Catcher's attempt to throw out the runner stealing second. As the catcher still manages to throw to second base, the runner from third breaks for home. The shortstop steps in front of second base and cuts off the throw from the catcher and then fires a bullet to home in time to retire the runner attempting to score. As the defensive team fans roar their approval, you will rule:
From: Texas State Baseball Rules Interpreter To: TASO Baseball Umpire Membership Subject: Baseball Weekly Bulletin 17-2 Well, high school baseball is well under way now in Texas. What had been some quiet weeks has now turned into anything but. We have several things to discuss plus I will add some plays at the end for you to think about. As always, please continue to email or call me with your questions and plays. I would rather have too much than be scrambling. So, let’s go with what seems to be our hot items, here in Texas as well as nationally. 1) The Crow Hop – It may have been in place before, but Carter Capps (MLB pitcher) has brought the “crow hop” delivery to the front page. In high school, this is illegal and should be called an illegal pitch or a balk if runners are on base. In this delivery, a pitcher releases the ball at a shorter distance than if his foot had stayed on the pitching plate. If you haven’t seen this or not aware of it, I hope that continues. But if you want to know what a “crow hop” delivery is, I have attached two links to videos for you to see. Place your curser on the words and hold the control button down while you left click. The video should start. Crow Hop 1 (Click link on left to see video) Crow Hop 2 (Click link on left to see video) 2) Flipping the Bat – Flipping the bat after a homerun in the MLB is becoming an “in” thing to do. A player after hitting a home run does the Bautista "Bat Flip". In a tournament this past weekend, a hitter flipped the bat a good 20 feet in the air, and about 30 feet away from home plate after hitting home run. No warning was given, and no penalty was invoked. Rule 3-3-1c and l address the issue: a team warning if the bat is carelessly thrown and an ejection if the bat is deliberately thrown. This is a safety issue foremost, but also a sportsmanship issue. Whether it is meant to be “showing up” the opposing team or not, it will be taken that way by someone and the game could easily be impacted. There also was a game last week where the player who flipped the bat was called out as well as ejected. Please note the only penalty is an ejection, after playing action is over. PLAY: With two on and down by three, the batter hits a homerun to tie the game. He flips his bat high in the air and the umpire immediately calls him out, for out number two, negates his run, and ejects him. RULING: This is a delayed-dead ball situation. After all runs have scored, the batter will be ejected and replaced in the lineup. The game continues tied. Also, look at Casebook Play 3.3.1CC as it addresses this as well. 3) Pitcher with Dirt in his Back Pocket – On an all turf field, the pitching staff has started carrying “dirt” in their back pocket, and while off the pitching plate, put their hand in that pocket and get a little dirt before gripping the ball for the next pitch. Now, getting a little dirt from the mound to dry off a hand is certainly okay. We, as umpires, will use dirt around home plate to “rub” up the baseball so we have no issue, except in a game on a regular field both pitchers have that opportunity to use the same dirt. In this case, what the pitcher is doing is not allowed for two reasons. One, this “dirt” is not available to the pitcher from the opposing team, and two, while unlikely, the opportunity for a special substance to be in the dirt does exist. Ask the team to put a rosin bag out on the mound and both pitchers can use it. We had a game last year where after recording the third out, the pitcher would take the rosin bag with him to his dugout. He must leave it there, for the other pitcher’s use if desired. Only fair. Just know that when you disallow this, the pitcher’s father will assess your education and you may have an opportunity with the coach to showcase your people skills. Not the first time, right? 4) Painted Bats – Hard to go a week without a bat issue. Many manufactures are providing, at time of bat’s manufacture, a team to order the bat to be painted in a special color, like the school colors, or a certain design, or with the player’s name on the bat. If this is done by the manufacture, and we can still see the BBCOR logo as well as bat length, weight, and diameter, it is legal. If any of the important information on the bat is covered up and cannot be seen by the umpire, it is an illegal bat. Painting post production, i.e., someone painting the bat themselves is also illegal. 5) Runner at First Base – Hard to believe, but a strategy that was killed some thirty years ago is coming back. Several times this past week, we had a runner at first base take his lead, not towards second, but towards the pitching mound, in a direct line from the pitcher to the bag. In essence this is blocking the first baseman’s view to first and making a pickoff difficult. This was a popular strategy three decades ago, and an Approved Ruling made it illegal and the strategy died off. It is considered to be interference and the runner is to be called out when he assumes this leadoff position. Casebook Play 8.4.2F: “In the opinion of the umpire, R1, while leading off first base, moves up to the front of the baseline, thus effectively screening the first baseman from the ball on an attempted pickoff. RULING: R1 shall be called out for interference. COMMENT:If this is not ruled to be interference, the runner gains an advantage not intended by the rule. This maneuver taught by some coaches shall be penalized.” My thought is the first time you see it, talk with the coach if you can and get it stopped. I can promise you when you call the runner out, someone may be slightly upset. 6) Substitution Play – Is this substitution play legal? It was used by a coach in a recent game. PLAY: A pinch-hitter is used for the catcher. The pinch hitter safely reaches first base. At this point, the coach re-enters the starting catcher to run for the pinch-hitter. The coach then uses a courtesy runner for the catcher. RULING:This is legal. The pinch hitter is now done for the game, and the catcher has had his one re-entry allowed by rule. If this is okay for the coach, it is okay with us. Now some plays for you to think about until next week: 1) This play happened in a game in a neighboring state. While we may all chuckle and think to ourselves, "How could they do that?" we are all one brain cell away from having a brain fog ourselves. Play: On a batted ball down right field line, the ball bounces over the right fielder's head, and ricochets off the foul pole above the fence and lands back onto the playing field. The right fielder retrieves the ball and throws out the runner at second base. The crowd goes wild while the two coaches offer their best insight. The Offensive coach says the out should not stand while the Defensive coach argues that the ball never left the field and hence the runner is out. Looking to your partner who is dutifully inspecting the cloud formations over center field, you will rule? 2) With a runner on first and the pitcher struggling in the top of the fifth inning, a right handed relief pitcher comes to the mound and begins to throw his warm-up pitches. His coach announces to the plate umpire the change. The plate umpire marks the change on his line-up card and announces the change to the opposing team and official scorekeeper. After only four warm-up throws, the defensive coach now decides he really wants the left hander to pitch and brings him to the mound. He tells the plate umpire that since the ball has not yet been made live, the substitution has not yet been made legal, and he can change his mind. Hoping the trainer has some Excedrin you can take, you will rule? 3) With a runner on third base and no outs, the batter hits a pop fly in fair territory in front of home plate. The catcher misses the ball completely, never touching it, and the backspin on the ball causes it to move back toward home where it strikes the runner, who is advancing to home from third base, in fair territory. The ball continues to move into foul ground where it comes to rest. The offensive team’s head coach argues that his runner can't be out since the batted ball "passed" an infielder, the catcher. Hence the run should count and the batter should stay on first base. Not knowing what to argue the Defensive coach simply glares. Is the offensive team's argument valid? Will you ever work a baseball game again?
From: Texas State Baseball Rules Interpreter To: TASO Baseball Umpire Membership Subject: Baseball Weekly Bulletin 17-1 The 2017 high school Baseball season is upon us. I hope that for every one of you, it will be the season you each hope it to be. Your hard work and diligent efforts over the last few months is most appreciated as you prepared for the games to begin. We have some of the best baseball played in the nation and I am glad we have the officiating to match. We started the first two weeks of the season rather quietly with little for me to pass on, but this last week did provide some material. Please remember to provide me with any issues, situations, concerns, etc. you may have. It is most helpful. Well, let’s start with bats; it has been some time since we needed to do that. 1)Easton Lock n Load. We reported to many of you back in January that the Easton Lock n Load bat, while not legal for NCAA play, was allowed for high school games. The concern was that the NCAA was not going to allow the BBCOR logo to be on the bat. So we told everyone in January, that the bat was legal for high school play despite not having a BBCOR logo on the bat. Now, after some deliberation, the NCAA has allowed, despite the bat still not legal for their games, the BBCOR logo to be placed on the barrel of the Lock n Load bat. I am not sure how many bats without the logo have been sold, but the bottom line now is with or without the BBCOR logo, the EASTON Lock n Load bat is approved for high school play. 2)Illegal bat reporting. Some concern has arisen that the incident rate for BBCOR bats being altered (rolled or shaved) is higher than previously thought. To begin to understand the true extent of this possibility, all baseball umpires in Texas are being asked to do the following upon discovery of an illegal bat: a) continue to enforce the applicable rules, rule 7-4-1a for the batter and 4-3-3b penalty for a coach, and b) complete the UIL incident report that can be found on the TASO website. This data collection will provide the ability to better determine illegal bat use. 3)2017 Rule Change 3-2-2 and 8-4-2s. As you will remember, these rules were changed and added to show that if a coach physically assists a baserunner, it is no longer interference or a delayed dead ball. We simply have an out at the time of the infraction and play continues. Unfortunately, rule 5-1-2f and the Dead Ball Table item 10 on “After Infraction, Ball Not Dead Until Umpire Calls Time” were not deleted. Please line through those rule portions as they are no longer applicable. We will correct this omission in the next rulebook. 4)Third to first pick-off move. As a reminder, in high school rules, the third to first pick-off move, when done in compliance with the rule, is still a legal move. We have had 3 reported balks with the only reason being is it was a third to first move. 5)Play Cards. As with last year, the use of play cards on players is legal provided they are worn on the players arm. Wearing of the play card on the belt is not legal. 6)Protection of Players in an unprotected area. Rule 3-3-4 mandates that whenever players are warming up in an unprotected area within the confines of the field, another team member must be positioned between them and the batter to protect them from a batted or thrown ball. This player is required to have a glove, but it is not mandatory for him to wear a helmet. We have had two incidents in the last two weeks where one coach was restricted to the bench for not having this player wear a helmet and another where the team, having limited helmets, could not have a player on-deck warming up because the umpire required the player protecting the catcher and pitcher to wear a helmet. PLAYS THAT HAVE OCCURRED IN THE EARLY SEASON A few unusual plays have occurred already. PLAY: One out and a runner on 2nd base. The pitcher is warming up in a bullpen located inside the fence in the playing area along left field fence. The ball gets by the catcher and rolls to the fence behind the catcher at the backstop. No one saw this and as luck would have it, the pitcher next throws a wild pitch that gets past the catcher and rolls to the fence next to the other baseball. The catcher runs back to the backstop, picks up the wrong ball and throws a strike to retire the runner attempting to advance. What do we have beside a cluster and a reminder to kill the play when another ball makes its entrance? RULING: The runner is safe. The catcher must have the game ball. Only the game ball can get an out. If no one absolutely knew which ball was the game ball and they were truly in the same position such that it was clear the defense got no advantage, then we could play on. Thankfully, the vast majority of times when this happens, the two baseballs are not near each other and at least the base umpire will know which one is the game ball. PLAY: With one out and men on first and second. The batter hits a foul ball and runners return to their bases but do not touch their base. (Got close but did not actually touch it). Invoking Rule 8-2-9, “Each runner shall touch his base after the ball becomes dead,” the base umpire called both runners out after the ball was made live for an inning-ending double play. I cannot accurately describe to you the scene that next ensued. RULING: Yes, Rule 8-2-9 does state that each runner touch his base after the ball becomes dead. But also notice the rule does not mandate a penalty. Why? Look at Rule 8-2-2 which states that “the umpire will not make the ball live until the runner returns to the appropriate base.” So, the ball was made live inappropriately. No outs should have occurred; no police cars needed to be called; no shed needed to be occupied for protection. Please provide any feedback on the bulletin. And again, please send to me your plays, issues, situations. PLAY: This play did not happen in Texas this week, but is still a good review. In the bottom of the last inning, the home team is down 4-2. With one out and runners on first and second, the batter hits a deep fly ball that clears the fence over left center field. As the runners advance, the runner from first in his enthusiasm passes the runner from second. He then becomes aware of what he did, slows up for the runner from second to take the lead and all three come in to touch home plate. A lot of discussion and opportunities for the umpires to work on their people skills begins. RULING: With one out at the time, we simply call the runner out and allow the other two runs to score. With two outs and the score now 4-4, the game continues.