From: Texas State Baseball Rules Interpreter
To: TASO Baseball Umpire Membership
Subject: Baseball Weekly Bulletin 17-4
Well, we are close to rounding third and heading for home for the regular 2017 high school baseball season. I trust that overall your season has gone well to this point. Please continue to send in your emails, situations, and questions; they are very helpful. This past week and a half, baseball in Texas and the nation, has slipped into high gear, so we have several things to talk about.
1. PITCHER BEING THE DESIGNATED HITTER FOR HIMSELF â€" There have been several instances this past week where a coach attempted, and even insisted that is was legal, for his pitcher to DH for himself. That is NOT the high school rule. Starting defensive players, by NFHS rule, cannot be the Designated Hitter. One coach convinced the umpiring crew by showing them a NCAA laminated DH card. Another coach showed the umpires a copy of the rule, but what he had was a rulebook from a state that does not play by NFHS rules. Be professional and courteous, but do not allow a coach to use any of his defensive players to DH for themselves or another defensive player.
2. PITCHER "WHITE" EYE BLACK â€" There was a game where the pitcher came out to pitch wearing white eye-black. The opposing coach protested so enthusiastically that he got to watch the balance of the game from the bench. The umpires allowed it but were not sure if that was correct. We have no rule that mandates a specific color or pattern. It can be pencil thin, or cover the entire face. It can be in the shape of batwings and have a saying on them. As long as the shape and words are not unsportsmanlike, profane, meant to intimidate, embarrass an opponent, or used as a form of taunting or baiting, we have no issue. As to color, we have no restriction on the color provided the color and shape do not cause a distraction for or a glare on the batter. As always, that determination is the plate umpire\'s judgment.
3. WHEN LINEUPS BECOME LEGAL â€" The lineups were turned in at the plate conference with #3 and #4 batting in those respective spots in the lineup. In the bottom of the inning, the two players switch (by accident or not) spots in the lineup. The plate umpire noticed it, but neither team did until the bottom of the next inning when the home team became aware when the wrong batter was at the plate. The argument evolved like this: "Mr. Umpire, if you caught it you should have called them out; they should be ejected; the lineup is set after once through the batting order, so it is now legal." Very innovative points but unfortunately all the coach gets for them is some respect for his quick thinking. First, with regard to the batting out of order rule, if a batter is at bat and is batting out of order, either team may bring it up and we simply put the proper batter at bat. If the improper batter gets on base or gets out, only the defense may appeal before the next pitch, illegal pitch, play/attempted play, etc. At no time, with regard to batting out of order, does the plate umpire take action other than to enforce the rule when it is properly brought to his attention. The lineup does not become "set" after the batting order has made it all the way around back to the leadoff batter. The lineup becomes official at the plate conference, when both coaches exchange them and then, the lineups are verified and accepted by the plate umpire. At that time, the lineups are official and any change after must be done in accordance with the substitution rule.
4. INFIELDERS WARMING UP TO PITCH â€" It is becoming popular with coaches, to toss a ball to an infielder (intent is to get the player ready to pitch in the game) while the coach is at the mound having a conference with the pitcher and other players. This is not PERMISSABLE. If we have a new infielder in the game, he most certainly may take some grounders and throws to first. But to have infielders already in the game throw is not allowed. One, the infielder should be warm enough for play, and two, when a player is warming up to pitch, he throws differently and eventually harder than just a player warming up. Before the NFHS ruled on this, there had been "throws" get away and into opposing players etc. with some injuries and a lot of disapproval. This is one of the reasons we have re-entry in the high school game. A coach can take him out for the purpose of getting him ready to pitch and later re-enter him, or have him warm up while the team is on offense. So, bottom line, it is not allowed. We had a coach (wish we had more like him) who wanted to know the rule, call one chapter to ask and they told him it was not allowed, and then he called another chapter he knew who said "no problem," they allowed it all the time.
5. DRONES â€" There was a game recently where a drone glided over the field and settled about twenty feet above the mound. It indeed was rather distracting to all. For both the UIL and TAPPS, drones shall not be used during any scrimmage or game. If a drone is over the field, the game is to be stopped until the drone leaves the area over the field and stands and parking. It has helped in other games with a drone present, to have the Public Address Announcer make an announcement that it is not legal for a drone to be over the field and that the game will not resume until it has left. Please file a game incident report if you are visited by a drone (or UFO for that matter).
6. BRAWL SITUATION â€" After a spectacular catch in the outfield and a monstrous throw to home to tag the advancing runner out for the third out, the team on the first base side comes out to congratulate the outfielder as he comes off the field. As the batter walks back to his dugout he passes the pitcher, shoulders are brushed, and the two commence to "mix it up." All other players turn to watch but stay where they are located. (Great job by the assistant coaches). The pitcher and the batter are ejected from the rest of the contest. The defensive team\'s coach wants all the players on the other team who are outside of the dugout also ejected for being there during a fight. Our rule states a player may not leave the dugout during a live ball for an unauthorized purpose. Provided all that the players were doing was congratulating their own players and team, they have violated no rule as the ball is not in play. When the fight started, they did not leave that position they were in on the field during the altercation. No ejections should be made to the other players.
7. PLAY LISTS WORN BY PLAYERS: This was covered in the 2016 Season and again at our State meeting, but there appears to be some issues with what may and may not be done. Many coaches find benefit with the play lists and accordingly they may be used, but by NFHS Approved Rulings these play lists may only be worn on a player\'s arm or wrist or placed in a pocket. They MAY NOT be worn on the belt. This has been the ruling of the NFHS for several years and has not changed. If a player is wearing a play list on the belt, professionally ask him to wear it on his arm/wrist or put it in his pocket. If he does not comply, ask the coach to so instruct the player. While we do have a rule that says failure by a player to wear proper equipment after being so ordered by the umpire, shall be ejected (1-5-4 penalty). I would hope that the situation could be handled without an ejection.
OUR PLAYS FROM LAST WEEK
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:
Ruling: This is a fair ball. The fielder is using artificial means to induce the ball to become foul. As soon as a fielder blew on the ball, it is judged to be the same as if he had touched it. So, since the ball was on fair ground at the time he blew on it, the ball is fair. The ball stays live and in play.
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.
Ruling: Both situations result in a ground rule double. While in the first play it looks the same as Jose\', it cleared the fence over foul ground, not fair. While the coach argued it hit the fielder in fair, and "yes, coach, that is what made it a fair ball," it became dead while over foul ground. Two bases. In Play two, the ball did not clear the fence in flight. When it hit the fence, unless it rolled up the wood on its own (in which case run not walk from the haunted field), it did not clear the fence in flight. Even though it never touched the ground, hitting the fielder and bouncing off him is what put it out after it had touched the fence. Small, yet big differences. And do expect someone to say, "never heard of that before," when you award only two.
3). With a runner on third and first, the offense attempts a double steal. The batter clearly interferes with the Catcher\'s attempt to throw out the runner stealing second. 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:
Ruling: As you know we have batter interference on this play. The ball is not immediately dead, it is delayed dead to give the defense the opportunity to make the play, if possible. If the play is made, we go on just like the interference did not happen. Otherwise, the ball is dead and the batter is out with all runners returning to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch. The only exception is if the batter interfered, with less than two outs, and the runner was advancing home. In that case, the runner is out, not the batter. Here in our play, the shortstop cuts off the throw so, in essence, the play at second is not made. At that point, the ball is dead and the rest of penalty is invoked. With less than two outs, the runner advancing to home is out, the other runner is returned to first and the batter stays at bat.
The same ruling would be in place if the catcher\'s throw went into center field; no play is now possible. Ball is dead, runner advancing to home is out, the other runner returns and the batter stays at bat.
NEXT WEEK\'S PLAYS
1. The scorekeeper or a fan for the home team informs the plate umpire of (a) an illegal substitute or (b) a player who is batting out of order. What action does the plate umpire take?
2. With a runner on second and first, the batter hits what could be a bases clearing triple.However, the runner from second trips over his shoelaces and falls down two-thirds of the way to third base. The runner from first, right on his teammate\'s tail, stops and picks up his preceding buddy and both go on to score. The stands erupt and the dugout erupts. Wondering which team your protection is rooting for, you watch the coach come to discuss the play.
3. The coach of the team who was on defense in the above play, now has his team on offense in the same game. His runner from third easily tags up on a deep fly ball to right field and comes in to home, but misses home plate. The on-deck batter, who is now near home to help his teammate know if he needs to slide, grabs his buddy and shoves him back to home so he may touch it. Once again, anyone who has a voice uses it. Trying to remember just how far your car really is from the field, you rule:
Have a good one