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NFHS Rule Changes

NFHS Rule Changes

The NFHS Baseball Rules Committee made only two rule changes for the 2016 season and one is announced as a clarification. This month we’ll discuss those changes and the 2016 points of emphasis. We’ll also review the changes which went into effect for 2015. Rule 3‐3‐1q was added and states that a coach, player, substitute, attendant or other bench personnel shall not “have any physical contact, spitting, kicking of dirt or any other physical action directed toward an umpire.” Those actions were virtually universally recognized as actions worthy of ejection and their addition to the rules removes any remaining doubt. In an effort to promote preventive officiating and reduce ejections, umpires are required to issue a formal warning to coaches and record it when restricting a coach...
Working the Plate

Working the Plate

Last month we looked at some of the National Federation Points of Emphasis for the 2016 high school softball season. One of the three POEs is the strike zone. While it is obvious that every umpire is going to be somewhat different in calling balls and strikes we must work to make the strike zone as consistent as possible and in accordance with the written rules. The strike zone is that space over any part of the plate between the batter’s forward armpit and the top of the knees. It’s important to note that this assumes the batter’s natural stance and that any part of the ball touching any part of the strike zone should result in a strike. In the Federation conference call where POEs were covered with state association personnel it was mentioned that the Rules Committee had received...
Safe Havens???

Safe Havens???

Is the base a safe haven for runners when hit by a batted ball? Is a runner always out when struck by a batted ball? Let’s explore these two questions. The Yankees and Nationals met at Nationals Park on May 19. In the top of the fourth inning the Yanks had Brian McCann on third and Chase Headley on second with two outs when Jose Pirela hit a soft roller between home and third. Nats’ third baseman Yunel Escobar made no play on the ball hoping the ball would roll foul. The ball hit the base (fair ball) and though not conclusive, the ball appeared to carom off the uniform leg pants of McCann. Third base umpire Chad Fairchild correctly made no call. One of the broadcasters said he did not think the ball hit McCann and he could have been correct. But he incorrectly said that, “McCann...
A Quirky Rule

A Quirky Rule

The 53­ minute seventh inning of Game Five of the American League Division Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers involved a quirky rule that almost affected the outcome of the game and a wise Ruleball running play that most likely did affect the outcome of the game. It all began in the top of the inning when Rangers’ baserunner Rougned Odor dashed home from third after catcher Russell Martin's casual throw back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez ricocheted off Shin­Soo Choo's bat and onto the field of play. Odor wisely kept running and easily crossed the plate. That gave Texas a 3­2 lead. The ball should have been kept alive and in play because there was no intent on the part of the batter to interfere with the throw. The play is specifically covered in the 2015 Major League...
2015 ASA and NFHS Rule Changes

2015 ASA and NFHS Rule Changes

In November we covered the ASA and NFHS rules changes for 2015. All of these are relatively minimal but as is often the case the Points of Emphasis can be more important to both umpires and the game than the actual rules changes. As we flip the calendar to 2016 let’s take look at the new POEs as these are existing rules that the rules makers have identified as needing attention. For those who have to take an annual NFHS rules test you can count on being asked about these items. The points come from issues brought up from those involved in the game all across the country. For 2016, the NFHS has three emphasis items: Pitching, DP/Flex Education and Strike Zone. While none of these are “repeats” from 2015 every one of them has been included as an emphasis item multiple times in the last...
The Psychology of Balls and Strikes

The Psychology of Balls and Strikes

The odds are phenomenally against any umpire, professional or amateur, making it through an entire game without at least one criticism of a ball/strike call. The strike zone is a natural target for dissension because very few umpires try to call strikes exactly by the rule and of those that do so, only a few are reasonably successful. First we’ll examine the zone, the various forms of protest and their possible validity and then review how to deal with them. The zone. The strike zone is the area over home plate with an upper limit at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants and a lower limit at a line through the bottom of the knee cap. NFHS rules state “the knees” and do not mention the knee cap. The top of the zone translates to somewhere near...
NFHS and ASA Rules Changes for 2016

NFHS and ASA Rules Changes for 2016

It seems that each season goes by faster than the previous one.  While it’s hard to get used to the fact that 2016 is almost upon us, the rules changes adopted by both the National Federation and ASA/USA Softball are again going to be relatively easy for umpires to handle the coming season.  Obviously, both organizations feel that their rules are in great shape as the changes are minimal again this year. The Federation really only has one “major” change and that is a new definition which has been added to Rule 2-57-4.  This update defines a “projected substitute” as an act of entering a substitute without first removing a player from that position in the lineup/batting order.   Under Rule 3-3-3 projected substitutions have not been permitted and the new definition clarifies just what a projected...
Tricky Base Awards

Tricky Base Awards

Runners are commonly awarded two bases from the start of play or “time of pitch” on overthrows into dead ball territory (DBT) from infielders. From the windup position, time of pitch is defined as the moment the pitcher begins the natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter. From the set position, time of pitch is defined as the moment the pitcher begins the natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball after the pitcher has come set with both hands together in front of his body. Example: With a runner on second, the batter hits a ground ball to the shortstop who throws the ball into DBT. The runner on second base scores and the batter-runner is sent to second base because at the time of pitch the runner on second had legally occupied that base and...