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 â€" 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.
2) Flipping the Bat â€" 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 â€" 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 â€" 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 â€" 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 â€" 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?
We will talk about these plays and other situations next week. Keep your ideas, issues, plays coming.
Have a good one,