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 â€" 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the 2B in to hit, two things have just happened: 1) the role of the DH is over for that game, and 2) the DH has been withdrawn one time.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 â€" 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 â€" 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 â€" 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 â€" 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:
We will talk about these plays and other situations next week. Keep your ideas, issues, plays coming. They are invaluable.
Have a good one,