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Umpires Corner

Umpires Corner

Thanks for the questions and keep them coming. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Uploaded Sept 12, 2019
Question:  Afternoon Sir, today’s game we had a man on first base, batter hits line drive down first base line, hits runner while he is standing on the bag. Opposing team claimed runner on first base was out, I maintained he was safe, checked the rule book and I think it says I was right. Looking for your interpretation?   Thank Ya Sir.
Hey, Bill
Thanks for the question.
A runner who is in contact with a base is not out when hit by a batted ball.
(the only exception is if he intentionally tried to get hit.)
The umpire has to decide two things:
1. is it a live ball or a dead ball?
2. is it a fair ball or a foul ball? 
Number one depends upon where the nearest defensive player is standing.
Since in slow pitch, virtually all defenders are behind the base, then the ball would be dead.
The umpire should throw his hands in the air and declare “DEAD BALL.” Then he should award the batter first base.
Runners only advance if forced.
USA SB Rule Supplement #44
Number two depends upon where the ball made contact with the runner. For example, if his/her right leg is in foul territory and the batted ball hits that leg, it is just a foul ball.
Optional reading:
In fast pitch, the closest defender is almost always in FRONT of the base (but it is possible in SP). In this case if a runner on base is hit by a batted ball, the ball is live. The runner is NOT out and may run at his/her own risk.

Question: How many steps can the pitcher take before releasing the ball?                                               Uploaded Aug 22, 2019
When I played, I noticed at least 3 pitchers in our league who violated the pitching rule almost every pitch.
One pitcher took a step backward, then a step forward. This is more than one step and is illegal.
One pitcher took two or three steps before reaching the pitcher’s plate, then released the ball without stopping.
       This is called walking the plate or walking the rubber, and is illegal.
One pitcher would stop on the pitcher’s plate, then take two steps forward before the release. This is more than
      one step and is illegal.
MSCSA rules and USA SB rules are consistent and clear.
The pitcher must come to a complete STOP on the pitcher’s plate, then he may take NO MORE than one step (forward or backward).
If the pitcher chooses to pitch from somewhere behind the pitcher’s plate, he still must adhere to the above rule.
The spot he picks is HIS pitcher’s plate.
USA SB rule 6C, Section 1.C and Section 3.E
MSCSA Rule 6, Section C
I hope this helps.
David Martin
Denton, Texas
42-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

Bill, thanks for the question.                                                                                                                                                                  Updated Aug 1, 2019
It is a good one.
I have been guilty once or twice of forgetting I have a runner, and taking off toward first base when I hit the ball.
Our league uses SSUSA rules with some USA SB rules mixed in.
NEITHER SSUSA nor USA Softball have a rule regarding this because they don’t allow CR from home plate. 
Indeed, I have never seen a CR from home in any league except MSCSA. SPA does not allow it. Maybe You Trip does?
The batter must achieve 1B on his own.
SSUSA specifically addresses this in “Rule 8.4(1) The batter must reach first base without the aid of a courtesy runner.”

It is not mentioned in the USA SB rule book, but it is understood that a CR is only used after the Batter reaches base.
This was sent to us early this year by the USA SB Director of Umpires:
If the batter gets a base on balls, he must touch 1B, before the CR takes over.
If the CR touches 1B before the batter, the batter is called out.
There was no mention of a CR from home.
So, we have to extrapolate our rules to cover this, based on common sense and similar rules.
My suggestion would be: If the batter runs toward 1B simultaneously with his CR and interferes in any way with the catch of the batted ball, the throw of the ball, or the catch by the first baseman, he shall be called out for interference. Contact does not have to be made.
The umpire should declare “Dead Ball. Interference. Batter is out”
If the umpire does not see any interference, then the umpire should give a warning to the offensive coach.

Interference includes impeding, hindering or confusing the defense.
The Board may wish to add this to the rules.

Hope this helps.

The question is “When can a runner leave his base?”                                                                                                         Updated Aug 1, 2019
In baseball, as you know, runners can “lead off.”
But they are in jeopardy of being thrown out by the pitcher if they stray too far.
And bases are 90 feet apart.
When softball was invented, bases were set at only 50 feet.
So the rule makers established the rule that runners may not leave until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.
This was of course, fast pitch softball.
When slow pitch was introduced, the rule was made that a runner may not leave the base until the ball “is hit.”
When SP stealing came into the mix, additional wording was added.
Here is the complete rule: 8.7.R (slow pitch) “The runner is out when he fails to keep contact with the base to which they are entitled until a pitched ball is batted, touches the ground, or reaches home plate.
EFFECT: the ball is dead, ‘No pitch” is declared, and the runner is out.
USA SB rulebook 2019, page 102
Umpires are taught to imagine an invisible plane at the front edge of home plate. This defines “reaches.”
As soon as the pitched ball reaches this plane, the runner may leave their base.
If the runner leaves before that, whether stepping off or running, whether intentional or not, the ball is dead and the runner is out. Letting the runner leave before that would give them an advantage, whether to avoid being put out at the next base or by scoring.
So, the rule is NOT ‘when the ball is hit” but includes other criteria (reaches home plate, hits the ground, etc.) 
In one of my previous responses, I did not include “reaches home plate” because the question was about when the ball was hit. 
I also did not include the phrase “or touches the batter” which is also true, because the pitch would have already “reached home plate,” (in most cases) if it hits the batter. 
If the batter swings and misses, the runner is legal to step off the base, since the ball has reached home plate.
No need to change the rule. And I don’t think the two statements were contradictory. I was just emphasizing different things. I hope this clears it up.
The answer, as always, is more awareness. 
For example, encouraging all the players to read the rules, especially those who serve as umpires. 
Thanks again and let me know if you have further questions about this. 

Hi David,                                                                                                                                                                              Updated July 22, 2019
 
I am the coach of the Richardson Roadrunners.  Last week, we had some “disagreement” between my team and the Mesquite Texans over infield fly rule issues.  It seems this never ends!
 
So, if you can educate me on the following, it would be appreciated.
 
  1. Plate umpire calls infield fly; the ball drops on the ground and due to the runners not hearing the umpire’s call, the runner from second starts to go to third.  The third baseman gets the ball and steps on third saying the runner is out because he is forced.  We argued once the infield fly is called and the batter is out, if the runner tries to advance he must be tagged out as the force is off.  What is correct? Must be tagged. The force has been removed when the umpire declares  “Infield Fly, Batter’s Out.” Now if the ball is caught, and the runner is off base, the ball could be thrown to that base and if the throw beats the runner back, he is out. Technically, this is not a “force” but a “time play.”
  2. While all the above was happening, the runner on first started toward second and after the third baseman stepped on his base he threw to second to get the runner there.  Again, the runner was not tagged and was called out because they said it was a force (same as the above).  What is correct? Must be tagged. Same as above.
  3. Is the rover considered an infielder or outfielder?  If he is playing on the grass between short and second and a popup is hit to him, can the infield fly rule be called? This is an excellent question I have not heard before: is the rover an infielder or an outfielder? We have to go to Rule One: Definitions to help us with the answer: “An infielder is a fielder who defends the area of the field around first, second, third or shortstop areas.”  p. 22 My interpretation of the rule would have to be that if the rover is close enough to the infield that he can catch fly balls that can also be caught by the infielders, then he is an infielder. If he is playing deeper than that , he is an outfielder. Grass and dirt have nothing to do with the infield fly. The criterion is: can the ball be caught with ordinary effort by an infielder? For example, if the ball CAN be caught with ordinary effort by the shortstop, it is an infield fly, even if the ball is caught by the third baseman, the pitcher, the rover or even an outfielder. 
  4. A ball is hit high in the air, the shortstop turns with his back to home plate to try and catch it and it drops to the grass between him and the left center fielder, maybe ten feet behind the dirt part of the infield.  The home plate umpire called infield fly—was that a correct call? It is a judgement call. The umpire should declare an infield fly if the ball can be caught with ORDINARY effort by an infielder. The way you have described the play, it seems the shortstop would have needed EXTRA-ordinary effort to catch that ball.
I presented a power point to the coaches last year on this topic. I would be glad to come in and do it again, concentrating on the IFF.
Or I could send the ppt to Tom who could show it to all the coaches.
Thanks again for the question and keep them coming

CASE PLAY RUN SCORES/DOES NOT SCORE                                                                                                             Updated July 18, 2019
One out in the top of the 7th inning. R1 at 3B, R2 at 2B and R3 at 1B. A ground ball was hit to F5 and he threw to F4 who was coming to 2B in hopes of turning a double play. R2 who was originally on 2B started toward 3B but abruptly changed his mind and returned toward 2B. F4 tagged R2, then stepped on 2B to get the force out on R3 coming from 1B. That made three outs and ended the game. 
 
The offensive coach protested that while the play in question was taking place, R1 from 3B made the tying run and that the run should count since it scored before the final out was recorded. (R3 forced out at 2B)
 
RULING
A run cannot score if the third out is the result of a force out.
In this situation, the bases were loaded. The second out was a tag out and the third out was a force out. (Even if F4 had tagged R3, it would be considered a force out.)
So, it doesn’t matter when the runner from third crossed the plate/scoring line.
 
USA Softball Rule 5.5.B.1 states “No run shall be scored if the third out of the inning is the result of …a runner forced out due to the batter becoming a batter-runner.” p. 55
RELATED PLAY #1
If the bases are NOT loaded: for example, R2 at 2B and R1 at 3B. Ground ball is hit to an infielder who throws to 3B to get R2. If R1 crosses the scoring line before the runner from 2B is tagged, the run would count.
 
RELATED PLAY #2
Two outs. Runner at 2B only. Batter hits what he thinks is a double, but is tagged out on a close play at 2B. Now, it is important for the umpire to be in position to determine which happened first in time: the tag at second base OR the runner from 2B crossing the scoring line. If the runner touches the plate/crosses scoring line before the tag at 2B, the run would count.
 
RELATED PLAY #3
F4 steps on 2B for the force on R3, but is not able to tag R2 who came back to 2B. F4 then tags R2 who is now standing on 2B. R2 is not out because the force was taken off when F4 stepped on 2B. R2 is entitled to the base.

David Martin 7-18-19


CASE PLAY BATTER SWITCHES BOXES                                                                                                                                 Updated June 20, 2019
B1 starts in the left-handed batter’s box, then at some point switches to the right-handed box.
Is this legal?
 
RULING
Rule 7.3.E “The batter shall not step directly in front of the catcher to the other batter’s box while the pitcher (SP) is in position to pitch or anytime thereafter prior to the release of the ball. EFFECT: 1. ball is dead, 2. the batter is out, and 3. runners may not advance.”
The batter MAY switch boxes, if one of the following is true:
1.     He asked for “time” and is granted time
2.     He switched before the pitcher “toes the pitcher’s plate”  (In senior play, where the pitcher can pitch from behind the pitcher’s plate, the umpire will have to decide if the pitcher is “in position to pitch.”)
 
If the pitcher has his foot on the pitcher’s plate (“in position to pitch”) and the batters leaves one box and enters the other one, he is OUT.
Personal note: in my 40 years of umpiring, I had this situation ONE time, and I called the batter out. Much, much more common is the batter who wants to stand outside the box and has to be coaxed, cajoled and threatened to get inside.
 
David Martin 6-20-19
David Martin
Denton, Texas
41-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

CASE PLAY THROWN BALL HITS BAT                                                                                                                                     Updated June 20, 2019
R1 on 2B. B2 hits a base hit to the outfield and discards his bat legally, which rolls into fair territory. F9 throws the ball home in an attempt to put R1 out. The throw strikes the bat causing the ball to carom away from F2 and making it unable to make the play at home.
 
RULING
Rule 8.5.G Exception 3 “If the ball becomes blocked due to offensive equipment NOT involved in the game….   This rule does not apply, since the bat was defensive equipment that WAS involved in the game. 
So there is no interference, no penalty, live ball.

 

David Martin
Denton, Texas
41-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

Question Regarding Fair or Foul                                                                                                                                         Updated May 29, 2019
Question:  Batter has two strikes and hits a foul ball close to the right field foul line, The right fielder with one foot  still in fair territory reaches over the foul line and touches the fly ball but does not make the catch.
The call made was that it was a foul ball and the batter was out as it was a third strike foul.
Was the right call made?
Thanks for the question.
The right call was made!
The placement of the foot or any part of the fielder’s body has no bearing on whether a ball is foul or fair.
Where was the ball in relation to the line? (using the “imaginary plane” idea)
Judging a ball fair or foul AFTER passing first or third base depends on:
1. Where the ball first touched the ground, OR
2. Where the ball was first touched by a fielder.
 
If the batted ball first touched the ground in FAIR territory, OR was first touched in FAIR territory, it does not matter where the ball goes after that. It remains a FAIR ball. 
 
This can be found on P. 21 of the rulebook. “Rule 1: Definitions: Fair Ball, Section F–A fair ball is a legally batted ball that first falls or is first touched on or over fair territory beyond first, second, or third base.”
 
At the risk of giving more information than you want, which I sometimes do (Sorry):
Umpires are taught to give such batted balls “Status.” Ball status is a mechanic the umpire uses to signal the location of a batted ball in flight near a foul line when first touched by a fielder. As soon as the ball is touched, the umpire “gives the ball status” or fair or foul, by giving a quick point fair or foul. Then he will give another signal depending on what happens: “Out,” “Foul Ball,” “No catch,” or “Fair.”
 
The “Imaginary plane” is used by umpires in several cases:
1. When a pitch reaches the front of the plate, runners may leave their base.
2. When a runner is struck by a thrown ball the last half of the way to first, (3-ft. running lane)
3. When a ball is touched close to a foul line, whether before the bags or beyond the bags. 
 
Keep those questions coming!

 

David Martin
 
Denton, Texas
41-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

 


CASE PLAY: INFIELD FLY IS NEGATED                                                                                                          Updated May 17, 2019
PLAY: R1 at 2B and R2 at 1B. With no strikes, B3 hits a fly ball about halfway between the pitcher and catcher. When the ball reaches its highest peak, the umpires announce “Infield Fly. Batter’s out!” F1 and F2 each think the other will field the ball. Neither does, and the ball hits the ground in fair territory and rolls untouched into foul territory. B3 starts walking back to his dugout.
 
RULING: HPU announces “Foul Ball, “ and asks B3 to return to the plate to continue his at bat. The definition of an infield fly includes the fact it must be a FAIR ball. If the batted ball rolls untouched into foul territory it is a foul ball and the out on the batter is negated. (Unless it was the third strike.) Rule one: Definitions- Infield Fly
 
D. Martin 5-15-19
David Martin
Denton, Texas
41-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

MSCSA Question Regarding the Infield Fly                                                                                                              Updated May 2, 2019
Q.  Batter is called out,ball hits the ground,when can the base runners advance? 
Thanks for the question.
A.  Runners may leave their base as soon as the ball is hit. **
The only time they have to “tag up” is when a fly ball is caught.
This includes an infield fly.
On an infield fly:
If it is caught, they must remain on base until the ball is first touched, or go back and “tag up” if they were off base.
If it is not caught, they may leave their base as soon as the ball is hit. (Risky with an infield fly.)
**If a runner leaves his base before the ball is hit (fair or foul), the ball is dead and the runner is out. The umpire should declare “No Pitch! Runner is out!”
By the way, I believe the above rules are true for all levels of baseball and softball, and all organizations.
USA Softball Rule References:
8.3.H     runner leaves base too soon (must re-touch)
8.8.L      runner leaves base too soon (fails to tag up)
8.4.L      Runner may advance with liability to be put out (during an infield fly)
8.7.R     Runner fails to keep contact with base until ball reaches home plate or is hit
8.7.R EFFECT    Runner leads off, (no pitch, ball is dead)
8.6       Runner must return after each pitch. May leave when ball reaches home plate.
Hope this helps.
David Martin

MSCSA Question Regarding Height Of A Foul Ball/Foul Tip                                                             Updated May 1, 2019
Q.  Does a foul ball/foul tip have to be higher than the batter’s head before it can be caught for an out?
A.  The reference  of the “height of the batter’s head” as it relates to a foul ball and foul tip no longer applies.  This change instituted in 2006, allows more opportunity for the catcher to obtain “outs” by catching foul batted balls the same as any other fielder playing closer to home plate.  The definition of a foul ball has not changed.  However a foul tip is now defined as a batted ball that goes sharply and directly from the bat to the catcher’s glove/mitt or hand and is legally caught by the catcher.
REF: 2019 USA Official Rules of Softball. Rules Supplement 22, Page 131

MSCSA Question Regarding Runner Interference                                                                          Updated April 16, 2019                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Q.  C league. Runner going from second to third. Rover fields the ball and looks at the runner going to third and sees the runner is running straight for the base. He throws wide to avoid hitting the runner. The runner is not called out for interference. The player feels the runner obstructed his throw an should be called out. What are the options for the player who feels his throw was obstructed and his play interfered with?
A. The 2019 MSCSA rule:
I believe the A and the B league got rid of this rule. One reason is because of these questions. Seems like when I was playing, we would have a couple of these plays every game.
D. Runner to Second or Third Base: In the Senior Men 65+ Division, at second and third base, the runner must run to the side of the base away from the direction of the incoming ball or the defensive play, unless they are trying to continue on to the next base.
If they “run through” the base and run on the same side of the bag as the incoming ball or the defensive play, they will be called out, unless, in the opinion of the umpires, the runner has to deviate from this course in an effort to avoid contact with the defensive player. 

The rule is pretty clear. In your situation, it seems the runner should have been called out. There is one exception to the rule: unless they have to deviate from their course to avoid contacd with a defensive player. And another would be if the runner arrived at the bag well before the throw, so no interference could be called. A third exception would be if the runner was obstructed by a defensive player and thus arrived late to the bag, or had to devieate his course around the defeneive players.
 
As far as the rover feeling wronged, yes, he should have his coach ask the umpire for a ruling.
David Martin

MSCSA QUESTION REGARDING UMPIRE POSITIONING                                                                                    Updated April 14, 2019
 
Q: What is the correct umpire positioning to make correct calls at first and third base?
 
 
A.   In MSCSA, players are used for umpires. The coach at first is responsible for plays at first. The coach at third is responsible for plays at second and third. The plate umpire has several duties, one of which is to be a second opinion in case the base umpires need help.
The coach’s box is eight feet from the foul line. The box extends 15 feet from the base toward home plate. Inside this box is the worst place a coach/umpire can be to make a close call.
Of the two duties, coaching and umpiring, the umpiring is more important, so the coach/umpire should stand somewhere that will make it easier to see close plays. They must remember they are umpires first and coaches second.
 
Most umpires are taught that the angle is everything. “Get the proper angle.” “Get the best angle.” “Angle over distance.” When you are in the coach’s box, you have a very poor angle to see a close play.
You see major league umpires on tv set up several feet past the bases, then move inside the diamond to make a call from about a 30- 45-degree angle. The USA SB Umpire Manual instructs us to start 18-21 feet down the line, completely in foul territory. When the ball is hit to an infielder, move inside the diamond, keeping the 18-21 foot distance, and no more than a 45 degree angle.
 
So, with that overview, here is my recommendation for MSCSA base umpires.
 
First base and third base umpires: They should NOT stand in the coach’s boxes. Instead, they should stand at least 15 feet toward the outfield past the coach’s box. The coach/umpire at 1B should be far enough toward the outfield, so that they will not impede the runner if he advances to 2B on an overthrow. This is a safer place; farther from the batter and farther from overthrown balls to their base. When the ball is hit to the outfield, the coach/umpires should stay where they are. When the ball is hit in the infield, they should take two or three steps into the field. This will give them a little bit of an angle to see better the four elements: ball, bag, runner and defensive player. They will be able to better see if there is a pulled foot on a force play, or if a swipe tag attempt was successful or not.
Third base coach/umpire: By being further away from home plate and coming inside a little, they will have a much better, unobstructed view of the play at 2B, too.
Home Plate Umpire: I have gone over this with the managers in a power point, but here are the basics.
1.    If there is no chance of a runner coming home on the play, the HPU should take a few steps toward 3B. This gives him a better angle to help the 1B umpire with swipe tag attempts and a possible pulled foot.
2.    If there is a chance of a runner coming home, the HPU’s first priority is determining the runner out or safe on the throw. The best possible place for this is first base line extended. The HPU should quickly move after the ball is hit to this position. His back will be almost against the backstop.
 
In summary:
Coach/umpires on the bases should start much further from home plate, past the coach’s box. When the ball is hit in the infield, they should move 2 or 3 steps into the field.
Opinion by David Martin, April 2019

MSCSA Question Regarding Appeal Plays                                                                                                                                           Updated April 11, 2019
Frank, 
Thanks for the question.
First, the definition of an appeal play:
“A play on a rule violation on which an umpire may not make a decision until requested by a manager or player.”
 
There are 4 appeal plays:
1. batting out of order
2. leaving a base too soon
3. missing a base when advancing
4. Attempting to advance to second base after making the turn at first base.
 
Appeals must be made before the next pitch, legal or illegal. (there are some exceptions, but they are for rare situations, such as an appeal at the end of the game.)
 
A live ball appeal can be made before time is called by a fielder in possession of the ball, by tagging the runner or stepping on the base missed or left too soon.
 
A dead ball appeal can be made as above, but only by an infielder or coach/manager OR by verbally announcing to the umpire what the players are appealing. For example “Blue, I want to appeal the runner missing second base”
 
So, to answer your question, there are two “proper” ways to make an appeal, as explained above. And a coach/manager or a player can make the appeal.
Umpires are taught to not make it too hard on the defense to appeal something. For example, if a runner missed third base and the defensive player runs over and stands on third base with the ball, it is pretty obvious he is “appealing” the missed base and the umpire should make a ruling safe or out.
 
Rule reference:
USA Softball Rule Book 2019 Rules Supplement #1, page 120. The specific rules can be found in Rule 7 for batting out of order and Rule 8 for the others. 
Keep those questions coming.
David Martin

 

MSCSA Rules Question            Updated 8-22-18

Question:

Today a pitcher came into pitch. He started with his foot on the pitcher’s plate. His first step was with his right foot off the pitcher’s plate and then a second step with his left foot before he released the ball. The fact is when he released the pitch he was two steps in front of the pitcher’s plate. So what is the rule on pitching from the plate or in front of the plate. I know you can pitch from behind the pitcher’s plate. What would be the call? I thought he was illegally pitching. He did later change by  standing  behind the pitchers plate and stepping with his right foot on the plate then his left foot in front of the plate before releasing.  I thought that form was ok.

Thanks for the question

Per rule, a pitcher is supposed to come to a complete stop with at least one foot touching the pitcher’s plate.

Then he must deliver the ball simultaneously with the step. Or he can deliver the ball without taking a step. But the rule is clear that only ONE step can be taken before the delivery.

There are many other rules regarding pitching, but this is the one that relates to the step:

SSUSA rule book, page 35, Rule 6.6.E 

USA Softball rule book, p. 74, Rule 6C.3.E

In MSCSA, we allow the pitcher to start up to several feet behind the pitcher’s plate. All other rules are still applicable. For example, after the stop only one step may be taken. 

There are at least two pitchers in the B league who take more than one step, which is technically illegal.

Another pitcher stops, then takes a step back, then a step forward, which is also technically illegal.

The spirit of the rule is to not give an unfair advantage to the pitcher by allowing him to get too close to the plate or to deliver the ball in different ways to try to confuse the batter. 

Routine rule violations in MSCSA that are universally ignored:

  1. Pitching rule about only one step allowed
  2. Batters out of the box before the pitch (every team has some; some teams have many who are not in the box)
  3. Donut-type attachments to bats (no SSUSA rule on this, but USA SB has banned them for over 30 years)
  4. Pitchers taking way too much time to get out to the pitcher’s plate (one minute is the rule)
  5. Pitchers taking way too many warm up pitches (3 warm ups is the rule)
  6. Pitchers who “walk the rubber” meaning they do not take a stop before delivering the ball

Does this mean we want to start enforcing these rules? I don’t know. I don’t think there will be much enthusiasm for enforcing them. But when we get to the tournament and have umpires, there may be some issues.


MSCSA Rules Question           Updated: 8-8-18

Dale Severson with the White Settlement Bearcats.

Question:

A runner on first base two outs. A ground ball hit to the second basement, who fields the ball cleanly an d throws the ball away. The BATTER meanwhile starts to walk to the dugout. He’s about 1/2 way between the baseline & the dugout, he realizes the ball was thrown away and runs to first base, beating the throw from the SHORTSTOP. Is the batter out for being out of the baseline or is he safe, because he beat the throw.

Thanks for the question.

The BR (batter-runner) would only be called out if he entered “the team area” or dugout.

USA SB rule 8.2.D “The BR is out when the BR fails to advance to first base and enters the team area…”

SSUSA rule 8.1 H “No runner may return to touch a missed base or one left illegally once he enters his dugout or bench area.” I couldn’t find one specific to the BR in the SSUSA rule book.

Umpires are taught that a BR or a runner may run anywhere they want on the field. The only exception is when they are being played up (someone is trying to put them out). In that case, they must run directly to the base.

Hope this answers your question


Dale Severson with the White Settlement Bearcats

One more rule clarification.

The 3rd baseman is playing on the grass. A pop fly hits in front of 3rd base in fair territory and spins past the base and hits after the bounce in foul territory. The 3rd baseman did not touch the ball. Is it FAIR or FOUL.

A legally batted ball that bounds over or past first or third base, regardless of where the ball hits after going over the base, it is a fair ball no matter where it goes after that.

USA SB rule 1 Definitions of a Fair ball. p. 20


MSCSA Rules Question      Updated: 8-2-18

QUESTION:  If a runner over-runs third base, under what circumstances would he be called out if he makes contact with the third base coach?

ANSWER:. SSUSA rule 9.2 V “The ball is in play, when, in the umpire’s judgement, a coach touches and physically assists a runner. EFFECT: A delayed dead ball signal will be given and play shall continue. The touched and assisted runner shall be ruled out and all other subsequent play will be ruled upon accordingly.”

USA Softball rule 8.7.E The runner is out when any offensive team member, other than another runner, physically assists a runner while the ball is live. EFFECT: the ball remains live and the runner being assisted is out.”

They key phrase is “physically assists.” 

Examples when the runner would be OUT because there was “physical assistance”: 

  1. Runner over-runs 3B and the coach pushes him back toward 3B.
  2. Runner over-runs 3B, trips or loses his balance and the coach prevents him, intentionally or unintentionally, from falling down.
  3. Runner over-runs 3B, falls down and the coach helps him to his feet
  4. Runner over-runs 3B and the coach grabs his arm and tells him to get back on the base.

Examples of when the runner would NOT be out because there was no ‘Physical Assistance”:

  1. Runner over-runs 3B and there is no play at 3B, and the coach pats the runner on the butt or shoulder.
  2. Runner over-runs 3B and the coach and runner brush against each other.

This rule also applies to a runner who touches 3B then proceeds to home plate. There can be no Physical Assistance from the coach. 

Keep those questions coming. 


MSCSA RULE QUESTION         UPDATED 6-14-18

Any rule on the books about a pitcher taking 1-3 warm up pitches BETWEEN innings?

Jim Thomas

Thanks for the question.

USA SB rule 6.C.8 says “At the beginning of each half inning, the pitcher may take no more than one minute to take no more than 3 warmup pitches.” This is true for the start of the game, also.

Exception includes when the batter is not ready or there is some other delay, the pitcher may continue to warmup.

Technically, the one minute begins when the third out of the previous half-inning is made. So, if the pitcher dawdles coming out, it is possible the umpire will not allow any warmups if the one minute has expired. This is never enforced in our league, but I wish some of our pitchers would speed it up a little.

SSUSA rule book Rule 6.11 (1) has almost exact wording.

Our rule 6C has exact same wording, but says no more than FIVE warm-up pitches. Some of our pitchers need to be reminded that FIVE is the limit.

When I umpire, I am a little lenient on the one minute in the first inning, but very tight on future innings, so as to keep the game moving.

If the pitcher throws a ball overhand to the catcher or any other defensive player, I take that to mean he is ready, and I call for “batter up.”

A mediocre umpire will allow the pitcher to throw as many warmup pitches as he wants, then asks the pitcher “Are you ready?” But that is not how it is supposed to be done

Related: sometimes the minute has expired and I call batter up, the first baseman will complain he hasn’t had time to warm up his infielders. But there is no rule that allows time for infielders to warm up, only the pitcher. So they have to get their warmups in by the time the pitcher gets his.

Keep those questions coming.


MSCSA RULE QUESTION      UPDATED 5-8-17

  1. Our rules say “All plays on all bases are force outs.” Can this be correct?
  2. Technically this is not correct and may have been a result of an attempt by the rule writers to simplify the rule. The purpose of the rule is to emphasize there are no tag outs at second base, third base or home in an attempt to reduce injuries.

FORCE PLAY

The definition of a force out is: “If the runner put out is the batter-runner at first base or any other runner forced to advance because the batter became a BR.” (SSUSA Rule 1.27  USA SB Rule 8.7.G and RS #21)

The term “force”  is used when the runner is not allowed to stay on the base where he is. He is “forced” to advance. When he advances to the next base, he is out or safe depending which thing occurred first in TIME.

TIME PLAY

Another kind of play is a “time play.” This means, to determine out or safe, one must determine which thing occurred “first in time.”  This is a very common determination we make in every game.

All plays at all bases are really “time plays.” This means the umpire must determine which thing happened FIRST in time. Was the ball caught by the fielder on the bag or plate before the runner touched the bag or scoring line? EFFECT: Runner is out.

OR… did the runner touch the bag/scoring line before the fielder on the bag/plate caught the ball? EFFECT: Runner is safe.

TAG PLAY

Another kind of play is a tag play.A runner may be tagged out anywhere when he is off the base with the excepton of the last 20 feet from 3B to the scoring line. Exception: At 2B and 3B, the runner can run through the line without being in jeopardy of being tagged out. However, if he makes any attempt to advance, he can now be tagged.

Other examples of Time Plays (aka “timing” plays):

  1. R1 leaves 1B before the fly ball is caught by F9. F9 throws the ball to F3 standing on 1B as R1 hustles back. Which thing occurred first in TIME?  R1 touching 1B or F3 catching the ball at 1B? This time play determines whether R1 is safe or out.
  2. R1 at 2B. Two outs. B2 hits a base hit to the outfield. B2 tries for 2B but is tagged out. R1 crosses the scoring line. Which occurred first in TIME? The tag of B2 or R1 stepping over the scoring line? If the tag occurred first, the run does not count.

Recommendation: This should be changed in MSCSA rules.

Proposed rule change to be voted on by the coaches:

Rule 7 BASE RUNNING  Delete the sentence “Thus, all plays at all four bases are force plays.”

5-8-18 D. Martin


MSCSA RULES QUESTION

  1. Is it true that as long as the batter has at least one foot in the box, the pitcher can release a pitch?
  2. Incorrect. This is a common misconception. SSUSA and USA SB rules agree. The pitcher may NOT deliver a pitch until the batter is ready to hit. To do so otherwise is called a “Quick Pitch” and is illegal. SSUSA rule 1.56 Quick Pitch reads “This would be before the batter takes his desired position in the batter’s box or while he is still off balance as a result of the previous pitch.” and “EFFECT: the umpire shall call time and allow the batter to get set.” USA SB rule 6.C.7 reads “ EFFECT: illegal pitch,” and thus a ball on the batter if he does not swing.

A related situation would be when the batter takes excessive time to get in the box (more than ten seconds). In this case the umpire may call a strike on the batter. (Both rule books agree.)

Recommendation: A clarification should be added to MSCSA rules in this regard.

Proposed rule clarification to be voted on by the coaches:

“Rule 6C [add] The pitcher may not pitch until the batter is ready or until the umpire instructs him to do so.”

 

5-2-18 D. Martin

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MSCSA Rules Question                       UPDATED 5-2-18

What is the rule regarding the batter’s feet in the box?

  1. Both SSUSA and USA SB rule books agree. Prior to the pitch, the batter must have both feet completely within the confines of the box. This includes the lines. At the time the batter hits the ball, he must have both feet at least partially within the confines of the box. This means he can have some of one or both feet outside the box. If the batter’s feet are not in the box prior to the pitch, the umpire should call time and instruct the batter to step completely in the box. If the batter steps completely out of the box or on home plate and hits the ball fair or foul, the umpire shall declare “Dead ball. Batter’s out.”

Recommendation: A clarification should be added to MSCSA rules in this regard.

Proposed clarification to be voted on by the coaches:

Rule 6E [add] wording above from “Prior to the pitch….”

5-2-18 D. Martin

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MSCSA RULE QUESTION                   UPDATED 5-2-18

  1. If a runner is on base, can he be called out for interference?
  2. No, with one exception. USA SB rule supplement 33 reads “In this case, the runner should not be called out unless the hindrance is intentional.” There is no similar rule in SSUSA.

A fielder must be allowed to field a ball anywhere on the playing field. But a runner entitled to the base he is standing on is not required to vacate that space. He is only required not to intentionally interfere with the playing trying to field the ball.

Recommendation: Clarification needed for our rules.

Proposed clarification to be voted on by coaches:

“Rule 7A [add] A runner in contact with the base cannot be called out for interference unless he intentionally interferes with the defensive player”

David Martin 5-2-18


MSCSA RULE QUESTION                        UPDATED 4-20-18

Question: Can runners advance on an overthrow from catcher to pitcher?

Thanks for the question.

In leagues with stealing, the ball is live as soon as it reaches home plate or is hit.

Thus, a runner may advance at his own risk in your scenario.

However, in leagues that do NOT allow stealing, such as MSCSA, the ball is only live

when it is hit.

So, in your scenario, the runner cannot advance as the ball is not live.

Since the ball is not live, there is no penalty. The runner must return to his base.

Related scenario #1; batter draws a walk. Catcher overthrows to pitcher. Batter-runner thinks the ball is live, attempts to advance to second base. No can do. A base on balls is a ONE base award, even in leagues with stealing. (Any runners may advance in this scenario is leagues with stealing.)

Related scenario #2: Runner steps off/leads off base during a pitch before ball is hit. EFFECT: no pitch, dead ball, runner is out.

This is because the ball is NOT live on a pitch until it is hit. A runner may only advance when the ball is hit in our league.

In summary, in our league, the ball is not live until it is hit. If the runner leaves his base on a pitch, he is out. If he leaves some other time, there is no penalty, but he has to return to his base.

Keep those questions coming.


OBSTRUCTION

SSUSA and USA SB rules agree.

“Obstruction is the act of a fielder

  1. Not in possession of the ball
  2. Not in the act of fielding a ball which impedes the progress of a batter-runner or runner who is legally running the bases.

It is obstruction if a defensive player is blocking the base or base path without the ball and the batter-runner or runner is impeded…Contact is not necessary….”

The ball is live and the batter-runner or runner shall be awarded the base he would had reached had he not been obstructed.

When a runner has to slow down, go around, stop, change course, etc. because of a defensive player, this is obstruction. The runner may make his own base path. The defensive player does not necessarily have to be on a base or even near a base. The Runner must be allowed to run on his own path. The home plate umpire must watch for obstruction and announce “obstruction” as soon as he sees it. The ball is live. If the runner is thrown out at the next base, time should be called and the runner should be awarded that base.

David Martin 4-17-18


MSCSA RULES QUESTION                                       UPDATED 4-20-18
QUESTION: Is it legal for a fielder to stop a batted ball with his foot?
ANSWER: There is no rule against stopping a ball with your foot or any other part of your body. Also there is no rule against stopping a ball with attached equipment (i.e., glove). But, if the equipment is detached, this is illegal. For example if a fielder tosses his glove (“intentionally contacts”) at a batted ball and makes contact with the ball, the ball is still live, but the Batter-runner will be awarded at least 3 bases. (If there is no contact, there is no penalty.) On a thrown ball, the penalty is two bases. On a pitched ball, it is one base.
Detached equipment could be a glove, a cap or a mask.
 
David Martin interpretation 4-20-18
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MSCSA RULES QUESTION                                          UPDATED 4-20-18
QUESTION: Can the catcher “talk” to the batter, and if so, are there any restrictions on what and when he can say it?
ANSWER: There is no rule that specifically covers the catcher talking to the batter. This would be a judgement call by the plate umpire. However, USA SB rule 5C.4.B and SSUSA rule 6.8 (2) read “A fielder shall not…act in a manner to distract the batter. A pitch does not have to be released. Effect: the offending player shall be ejected from the game.” If this occurs in MSCSA, the umpire should warn the catcher (or other defensive player). The umpire may also choose to  talk to the coach of the catcher’s team. One of our teams has a pitcher that frequently talks to the batter, but I don’t believe he crosses the line of distracting the batter.
Examples of what I would allow as an umpire: “Hey, batter. Swing at this next one.” “We need you to make an out this time.” And other fairly typical comments that are pretty harmless and few would take offense. Some would say even these type comments have no place in MSCSA.
Example of what I would NOT allow as an umpire: Any derogatory comments about the batter’s ability, uniform, team, family, etc. Any deliberate attempt to distract the batter when the ball is in flight or when the batter is swinging. Shouting as the batter swings. Attempts to confuse the batter with comments such as “you better swing, you already have two strikes” when he only has one. Saying “time out” or  “your foot is out of the box” or something similar. 
The same is true for the offense trying to distract the defense. “Watch out for that tree!” 
In the spirit of fun, camaraderie and the other goals of MSCSA, very little leeway should be given to trying to distract the other players. I have seen no example of this while playing MSCSA. 
Last, I refer to the Code of Ethics on page 1 of the SSUSA Rule Book which reads, in part “…when playing I will not commit any act that could be considered unsportsmanlike conduct.”
 
David Martin interpretation 4-20-18

 

“Let me know how I can help you achieve your officiating goals.”

David Martin, Denton, Texas

World Baseball Softball Confederation Certified

USA Softball Umpire 38 years

USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite

USA Softball of Texas District 13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch

North Texas Umpire Association Clinician

39 year volunteer Special Olympics

email: sbumpire49@verizon.net