TEXAS ASSOCIATION of SPORTS OFFICIALS BEAUMONT BASEBALL CHAPTER
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the 2B in to hit, two things have just happened: 1) the role of the DH is over for that game, and 2) the DH has been withdrawn one time.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.