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.
Yours in baseball,