Southern California High School Baseball | Baseball Resource.com
Custom Search
Currently Online:
5 Users
0 Members
Home › Ask the Umpire!

Ask the Umpire!
by Dan Ignosci

Dan IgnosciThis forum will be no longer used until we have someone to replace the "Ask the Umpire" section. Please use the archive to see if it can answer any of your questions.

Ask the Umpire - Updated 7/28/2003
Question:
1. On an appeal play (e.g., failure of a runner to tag up; a runner missing a base), under what conditions can an infielder simply step on the base and appeal directly to the umpire? Under what conditions must the ball be returned to the pitcher, who goes to the set position and then throws to the base where the appeal is to be made? Is the determining factor whether or not the ball is dead? 2. If, in the latter case, the pitcher balks in the process of throwing to the base, can the appeal still be made (after any runners are moved up one base)? 3. Here's my father's response to the fair pole/foul pole issue from before: "The foul pole is called the foul pole because it is an extension of the foul line. If you want to change the foul pole to the fair pole, then you'd have to change the foul line to the fair line."
Answer:
The only time a pitcher is forced to return to the rubber is if time has been called following a play. To make the ball live again, the umpire must have a pitcher on the rubber and batter in the box. All live ball situations allow the fielder to step on a bag and appeal. High school (NFHS) clouded up things by adding rules in 2002 allowing dead and live ball appeals by coaches under certain conditions. It is tough for the pitcher to balk in the process of actually throwing to a base because the stop requirement is not required to pick off. I believe if a balk were to occur, the appeal still could be made. My preference would be to make the "fair line and pole" change. Thanks to your dad for the history lesson!
Question:
A batter given first base on catchers interference. Is it an at bat. Is batter given credit for hit or just an error on catcher.
Answer:
Per rule 10.13 (f) charge the catcher with an error and an at bat to batter.

Question:
A batter's pant leg is touched by a pitched ball after the ball hits in front of the plate in the dirt, then strikes the batter's pant leg. What ruling would occur?

Answer:
The ball is still live after it hits the ground and the uniform is considered part of the body. If a batter is hit in the pant leg after the ball hits the ground award the batter first due to being hit by pitch. Being hit only on the pant leg is tough one to see...even tougher to hear!
Question:
A couple of similar yet interesting scenerios, both hypothetical based on a real incident. Play: One out, R1 and R2, tie game, bottom of the ninth. On a fielder's choice R1 is forced at second leaving runners on first and third with two outs. The forced runner thought that he was safe at second and went unnoticed briefly by the umpires. He takes a normal lead at second when the pitcher notices he's too far off and attempts a pickoff (he hadn't yet toed the rubber), a rundown ensues and R3 breaks for home and the ball is thrown away, enabling R3 to score the winning run. The defensive team argues interference because they were confused, but the umpires rule no interference based on MLB rule 7.09 (f) stating: If a batter or runner continues to advance after being put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders. Hence, their argument was that since the forced runner didn't directly interfere with the play on R3, no interference was called and that the initial action which started this chain of events occured because the defense erred in not knowing that the runner was putout. Did the umpires make the correct ruling? If so assume that the pitcher had toed the rubber and attempted the pickoff at second from the rubber, would that action constitute a balk for throwing to an unoccupied bag and thus allow the winning run to score?
Answer:
This is what umpires call a "third world" play where you have to be at the field to get a true feel for what happened, especially to be able to clearly define what "went unnoticed briefly" was. My belief is the umpire(s) are primarily responsible for clearing second base after an out. Umpires are trained to look back at any runners called out or safe on the first throw immediately after a continuation play such as a double play. As I read your description this it was a long enough pause, as indicated by R1 leading off from second, that the umpire could have stopped all action following the confused forced out at second. Based upon your description, I would have put runners at first and third and let the next batter decide the fate of the game fate. The rule I would have cited is OBR 9.01(c)...Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules.
Question:
A runner was attempting to score from second base on a base hit to left field. The catcher blocked the plate before he received the ball. The baserunner slide into home plate & was a foot short. The catcher recieved the ball 1-2 sec. thereafter, and put the tag down on the runner & was called out. The umpire stated that 'that the runner should have run through the catcher without the ball. I preceded to mention that would be malicious contact & would supersede obstruction. What's your opinion?
Answer:
There are several different interpretations of the obstruction rule in amateur baseball currently. High school obstruction is significantly different from the college rule. As an umpire it is often difficult to instantly remember which level you are working when a play explodes at the plate, especially as umpires work different levels of baseball on different days. That being said, at the high school level the catcher is allowed to block the plate while he is in the act of fielding a thrown ball. In the act of fielding is loosely interpreted as when the ball thrown from the outfield enters the infield dirt area. At the college level starting the 2002 season, a the catcher can not block the plate until he has the ball in his possession. As I read your description of the play it appears the call was right.
Question:
Runner starting at 3rd base gets caught in a rundown on a ball hit back to the pitcher, how is the baseline now determined for him so as to judge if he runs out of it to avoid a tag? Is it the line between the bags or does he make his own baseline at the point the rundown begins? Does the baseline evolve as the rundown continues or is set the minute the rundown begins until the play is over?
Answer:
The baseline evolves as the runner continues creating paths to a base during the rundown. As far as calling a runner for being out of the baseline an umpire generally uses a step and a fully extended reach to gauge what three feet is.
Question:
Is the black part of the plate actually part of the strike zone? How about on a force at home? If the catcher has his foot on the black part is he considered to be in contact with the plate?
Answer:
Technically the black is not part of the plate, but for all intents and purposes it is. On a pitched ball, if it grazed the black some portion of the ball probably touched the white so umpires tend to strike it. The same theory applies to a fielder who attempts to touch the plate.
Question:
A batter is hit on the hand with the hand still on the bat, but he makes no attempt to swing at the pitch and is clearly trying to avoid being hit by the pitch. Is the batter awarded first base or does he have a strike called against him? Also what is the call if the ball hits both the hand and the bat at the same time?
Answer:
After being hit on the hand, the batter is awarded first base if there is an attempt to avoid the pitch and no swing by the batter. The longtime myth is the hands are part of the bat. This is not true. If a pitched ball hits the hands and bat at the same time the batter should be awarded first base.
Question:
Isn't there a situation where the runner that started at second is standing on third while the guy that started on third is in a pickle between 3rd and home...then tagging the lag runner first because he does not deserve third until the runner ahead has earned home...or something like that??? sorry for the lack of my lay-man clarity but I saw a catcher in a AAA game make an unassisted double play like this last year!
Answer:
I am not aware of a situation where two players can be tagged out simultaneously while standing on any base. What frequently happens when two runners are on the bag at the same time is the fielder initially tags the lead runner who started at third, the umpire says safe but amongst the craziness the runner still walks off the bag, the trailing runner quickly tries to retreat to second (after the runner from third is tagged) and is tagged off the base (he's out) then the runner from third is tagged out while off the bag for the double play. All of this usually occurs within a few feet of the the bag. Hopefully this helps!

[Top]


If you're interested in advertising with Baseball Resource, click here.