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NCAA Rule Changes for 2017

NCAA Rule Changes for 2017

The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee made a variety of changes and editorial revisions for the 2017 season. Here they are in the approximate order of significance. Collisions. In the interest of safety, the collision rule (8-7) has been revised. When a runner is attempting to score, there are restrictions on both the runner and the catcher which are designed to prevent an avoidable collision. A runner may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision. The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner...
Type B Obstruction

Type B Obstruction

In recent columns I have focused on the subject of how poor visual skills leads to a variety of rules infractions such as passing the runner, interference, obstruction etc. In my previous column, I covered obstruction plays when there is a play being directly made on the runner such as a runner being obstructed during a rundown or when the batter-runner is obstructed before reaching first base. Playing under Pro and NCAA rules, these are known as Type A obstruction plays. Unless there is a thrown ball in flight before the obstruction is called, the ball is dead immediately and the runner is awarded the next base after the last base he legally touched. Playing under NFHS rules, the ball is always a delayed dead ball and the runner is guaranteed at least one base from the point of the infraction....
2017 Points of Emphasis

2017 Points of Emphasis

Last month we looked at the ASA and NFHS rules changes for 2017. Although there are a few changes to each code the new items are relatively minor in nature. 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 2017 let’s take look at the new POEs which 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 2017, the NFHS has three emphasis items: Pitching, DP/Flex Education (this time called DP/Flex Simplified) and Uniforms. The first two of these are “repeats” from last year...
Awarding the Cycle - Part II

Awarding the Cycle - Part II

Hitting for the cycle is anomaly. On August 14, 2015 in a game against the Colorado Rockies, Matt Kemp became the first player in San Diego Padres’ history to accomplish the feat. All MLB teams have now had a player do it as least once. Last month, we began an examination of the acts by which umpires could award a cycle by rule by discussing awards of first base. Here are the ways two, three and four bases could be awarded to a batter. Two bases. There are two ways for a batter to get a two-base award and first is somewhat common – the erroneously named “ground rule double.” The award is in the rules and the ground rules are not a factor (NFHS 8-3-3c; NCAA 8-3o1; pro 5.05a6-8/6.09e-g, 5.06b4B/7.05f). The batter is awarded two bases is when his fair batted ball bounces and passes over, through...
NFHS and USA Softball Rules Changes for 2016

NFHS and USA Softball 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 2017 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.   While there are a few more rules changes this year the new items are not in the “major” category and indications are that the rules makers of both organizations believe that their games are in good shape. The most significant NFHS changes relate to equipment and uniform changes. Umpires (and likely coaches and players as well) will most certainly welcome the change to Rule 3-2-15 which states that equipment to be inspected by the umpires, including all bats and helmets, shall be placed in a single location...
Awarding Bases

Awarding Bases

“Always know where the ball is,” is a basic tenet for umpires. Unfortunately, concentration of the ball can lead to neglect or lack of awareness of the overall play. In several of my columns I have noted the lack of proper visual skills on the part of runners and infielders. Failure to observe a teammate or an opponent in the immediate vicinity often results in interference and obstruction plays. As a result of a couple of plays that took place in the 2016 season, you can add umpires to the list. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-0 in St. Louis on April 14. In the third inning, the Cards’ Randal Grichuk hit a shot to deep center off Wily Peralta that went off the glove and over the wall of leaping Brewers’ center fielder Keon Broxton for a two-run homer. However, Brandon...
The Infield Fly

The Infield Fly

The Infield Fly rule has multiple layers that can be further complicated when interference occurs in the same play. The Red Sox and Blue Jays played in Toronto on Sept. 9. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Jays had Jose Bautista on second and Troy Tulowitzki on first with one out when Dioner Navarro hit a pop fly several feet in fair territory near first base. It was a classic Infield Fly rule situation. As Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez was tracking the ball, “Tulo” returned to first and collided with Ramirez while the ball was in the air. First base ump James Hoye called interference on Tulowitzki and he was called out. But inexplicably, the Infield Fly rule was never invoked and Navarro was allowed to stay at first base. If Tulowitzki was the only runner on base, that would...
Awarding the Cycle

Awarding the Cycle

Just about every baseball fan knows what hitting for the cycle means: the accomplishment of one batter hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game. While getting four hits in a game is a significant accomplishment, the cycle is more of a conversational oddity than a statistic of excellence. It is though, a feat that is very rare. At the end of the 2015 season roughly 210,000 MLB games had been played, giving the 18 starters 3,780,000 opportunities to hit for cycle. It’s been done 306 times (.008%) and is as rare as a no-hitter. No records are kept of awards that would be equivalent to a cycle and it is highly doubtful it has ever occurred and is not likely to ever occur, but it is interesting to understand how umpires would award a cycle by rule. Of course, the player...