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Tagging-Up

Tagging-Up

Base runners by instinct and tradition are accustomed to tagging-up on fly balls. However, line drives create a different dimension and can catch umpires, coaches and runners by surprise. Take the following hypothetical setting. There is a runner on first base and no outs when the batter hits a line drive to the shortstop for the out. The runner, who was on first base, takes off with the pitch and is between first and second base when the shortstop air mails the throw to first base into dead ball territory. The runner, who is between first and second base, knows that he will be sent to third so he continues to touch second base and reaches third base. The base umpire reinforces the award by barking to the runner, “Go to third base.” When the ball is put back in play, the defensive team alertly...
NFHS and ASA Rules Changes for 2015

NFHS and ASA Rules Changes for 2015

It seems that each year goes by faster than the previous one. While it’s hard to get used to the fact that 2015 is almost upon us, the rules changes adopted by both the National Federation and ASA/USA Softball should be fairly easy for umpires to handle the coming season. Both of these organizations continue to publish rule books but also have e-books available for your phone – for information visit: www.nfhs.org/ebooks https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.asa.umpireerulebook&hl=en https://itunes.apple.com/app/id872809412. The Federation’s most significant changes have to do with batter’s and catcher’s helmets. Both of these items must now have a non-glare finish. A non-glare finish means that the surface can not be mirror like. It’s important to note that this does not preclude...
The Set Position

The Set Position

The activity of the pitcher is one of the most regulated aspects of a baseball game. The rules state how the pitcher must stand, and how he can move both his hands and feet. The rules differ based on the position the pitcher starts from. Depending on how he places his feet, he may be in either the windup or set position or an illegal position. Here are the nuances of the set position. Except where noted, the material applies equally to NFHS, NCAA and pro rules. Although either the windup or set position can be used at any time, the set position is usually used when there is at least one runner on base and there is a possibility of a steal. That translates to lone runners on first or second, and runners on either first and second or first and third. In other runner configurations, only home...
The Option

The Option

Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi took the play, not the penalty in the Yanks’ 3-0 victory over the Cubs on April 16 in the afternoon game of a day-night doubleheader. Sound like football? In the bottom of the fifth, theYanks had Brett Gardner on third with one out when Jacoby Ellsbury tapped a ground ball back to the mound. Ellsbury’s bat made contact with the mitt of Cubs’ catcher John Baker. Plate umpire Jim Reynolds called interference on Baker and properly kept the ball alive. Ellsbury pointed to Baker and momentarily remained in the batter’s box area for a couple of seconds (a normal reaction) before he was tagged-out by Cubs’ pitcher Jason Hammel up the first base line. Meanwhile Gardner wisely broke for home on the crack of the bat and crossed the plate. Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi...
Umpire Myths

Umpire Myths

The only sure thing about umpiring is that someone is likely to disagree with just about anything an umpire does. There are no statistics to cite, but it is highly likely that the majority of coach ejections occur when the umpires were correct. That may simply be because most umpires are more tolerant of protest when they know they did something wrong and are unable to fix it. Nonetheless, there are many misconceptions regarding what the umpires can and cannot change and the rules involving umpire participation in the play. Except where noted, the material applies equally to NFHS, NCAA and pro rules.   Plate umpire decides. Perhaps the biggest myth involving umpires is that the home plate umpire can overrule the other umpires at any time. In reality, the umpire who made a call or ruling...
Why Do We Call Them Foul Lines?

Why Do We Call Them Foul Lines?

It seems that calling fair and foul balls should be one of the easiest duties that an umpire or crew would have. There is a line and all we need to do is point which side of the line the ball is on! Actually, for several reasons we need to understand both the rules and mechanics that apply in making these calls. The definitions of both fair and foul balls are covered in ASA Rule 1 and NFHS Rules 2-20 and 2-25. There are some common misconceptions when considering these rules and we need to be clear on those. It’s also important to remember that the foul lines and foul poles are really improperly named as both are entirely in fair territory. Of course, all of the bases and home plate are in fair territory as well. Did you ever wonder why the plate has five sides? Note that it establishes the...
LET THEM PLAY - Events That Allow Play to Continue - Part IV

LET THEM PLAY - Events That Allow Play to Continue - Part IV

Almost all interference results in an immediate dead ball, but for some acts though, play continues until action ceases – the so-called delayed dead ball. Additionally, there are other events which cause umpires to stop play after action ceases and take action. Umpires must know which acts keep the ball live as well as how to enforce the penalty. There are 14 such acts among the three codes. Acts where the ball is not immediately dead and the umpire must allow play to continue. Here is the last of four installments. Except where noted, the material applies equally to NFHS, NCAA and pro rules. Balk. Under NFHS rules, the ball is always immediately dead when a balk occurs. In the two upper levels of play though, the ball remains live of a pitch or throw follows the balk. If a pitch is batted...
Avoid Lineup Problems – Pay Attention To The Cards

Avoid Lineup Problems – Pay Attention To The Cards

There is an old saying “what’s in the cards?” In the game of softball the answer is that there are plenty of things that can happen with lineup cards – and unfortunately many of them are bad. Umpires can only get themselves in trouble when they don’t pay close attention to the content of the cards and to the substitution rules associated with the game. Let’s review what umpires are required to do in regard to lineups – keep in mind that this is a responsibility of the plate umpire and it is initially spelled out in NFHS Rule 3-1-3 and ASA Rule 4-1-A-1. Lineups must be submitted to the plate umpire at the pregame conference. In the game of softball lineups do not become official until they have been submitted, verified, and accepted or approved by the umpire at this meeting. As softball is...