July 2009 Plays and Clarifications

July 31, 2009, 12:31 p.m. (ET)

July 2009 Plays and Clarifications

Preparing for Heat and Humidity

It is National Championship time and we all know the heat is up and it is very hot in places where our National Championships are held. Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are the end result of the body’s fluids being depleted and subsequently the heat-regulating mechanism of the body breaks down. To guard against these extreme conditions, drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Fluids, as in water, should be consumed on a regular basis prior to and during the Tournament you are working.

In related matters, wearing a cotton T-shirt under your chest protector helps absorb your sweat, keeping it off your body. Porous nylon tights or thermal long johns help keep the sweat on your legs where it can evaporate and cool you as well as prevent irritation from your shin guards. Sunscreen should be applied before you begin to work as it makes you feel a bit cooler, while protecting you from sunburn and possible skin cancer. Sunglasses, once an “umpire curse”, will cut down on glare which will protect your eyes and reduce the possibility of fatigue.

Remember to eat properly before your game. Lack of food can lead to muscle cramps.

Between innings, stand on the grass instead of the dirt, it has proven to be cooler there. Get out of the sun when it is possible and continue to drink plenty of fluids. Help your fellow umpires whenever possible by making sure they have water when they need it.

Most importantly, be aware that this can happen to anyone, in good shape or bad, young or old, and prepare accordingly!

Mechanics

Reminder for National Championships

The ball/strike count should be given when requested, after a delay in the normal flow of the game or when the next pitch could cause a status change.

With National Championship play beginning in July, umpires are reminded that Adult Slow Pitch batters, excluding Senior’s, begin each at bat with a one ball and one strike count. Therefore, umpires are urged to give the count after the first pitch to each batter.

Giving the count after the first pitch will eliminate any confusion over the correct ball/strike count. Example: A first pitch that is a swinging or called strike changes the count to one ball and two strikes. The next pitch now becomes very important to the batter’s status.

3 Umpire System Communication

At the 2009 Advanced Fast Pitch Camp held at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City a question was brought up dealing with verbal communication while in the 3 umpire system. It was emphasized that umpire to umpire verbal communication is an absolute necessity. The instructors reminded the umpires to communicate everything they can while in the 3 umpire system as it is critical in getting the umpire rotation or non rotation correct. Verbal communication when an umpire goes out on a fly ball or trapped ball should be handled by saying “going or 2 man”, or by reminding an umpire to rotate when they need to is always helpful. The question of “Why communicate when no one goes out?” came up. Again, a verbal communication of “3 man” or “all inside” reminds all umpires of their inside responsibilities. Verbal communication between umpires cannot be over stressed.

Also mentioned was the fact that this communication was not in our umpire manual. . Some things that are not in the manual are considered “common sense” when you, as we say, umpire a game. Our manual does address umpire to umpire communications in the 2 man system. Better umpires communicate verbally as a habit. It helps emphasize the “team approach” to umpiring. You cannot over communicate. Players talk to each other during play, why can’t umpires?

Plays at the Plate and Tag Missed

It has been brought to our attention that the mechanic we use when a runner misses home plate and the catcher misses the tag has been moved to the rule supplement section of the manual. It will reappear in next year’s manual under mechanics. It is a mechanic that we teach and use.

The correct mechanic should be as follows: When runner misses home plate and the catcher misses the tag; the umpire should hesitate. If no tag is made, then the umpire should call the runner safe as they are presumed to have touched the base until properly appealed. If an appeal is made by tagging the runner or home plate before the runner returns to touch home plate, the umpire should honor the appeal.

Rule Questions

We have been asked some questions about the DP /Flex and the results of when the Flex bats in the line-up for someone other than the DP. Our rules cover this under an illegal batter and always results in a disqualification.

Play: This is a Fast Pitch game and the Team batting last gives a properly filled out line-up to the Plate Umpire, with the DP batting in the 7TH position and the Flex correctly listed in the 10TH position. In the bottom of the 4TH inning with one out, the 9TH batter, (B9), comes up and flies out for the second out of the inning. The next batter comes to the plate and grounds out to the Shortstop for the third out of the inning. Before the defense leaves the field, the opposing coach tells the Plate Umpire that the person who just batted was the Flex. The Plate Umpire confirms that the Flex just batted. What will be the result of the coach’s inquiry to the Umpire?

Ruling: When the FLEX batted in the 1st position in the batting order, (the DP is batting in the 7th position), they batted “for someone other than the original DP”. This makes the FLEX an ILLEGAL BATTER according to Rule 4, Section 6F[2]. The Flex is then disqualified and the offending team must put a substitute in for the FLEX or simply activate the DP on defense for the FLEX and drop down to 9 players on the Line-up card. Rule 4, Section 6F[2] ILLEGAL BATTER (Fast Pitch). Placing the “FLEX” player in one of the first nine positions in the batting order for someone other than the original DP. EFFECT: Section F[2-4] The illegal Player is disqualified and replaced with a legal substitute. All other provisions of Rule 4, Section 6 A-C [1-9]apply.

We recently received some questions about what bases should be awarded to runners who have missed a base and the ball goes into dead ball territory. Other organizations have specific rules about going back to touch bases that have been missed after the ball is dead. Our rules allow, by umpire mechanic and rule, to let runners finish their base running responsibilities which can allow runners to return to touch a base missed or left too soon after a ball enters dead ball territory.

Play 1: With one out, B2 hits a fly ball to right field which F9 scoops up and throws to F3. The ball is off the mark and enters the 1B dugout. B2 is beyond 1B on the way to 2B when the ball left F9’s hand but missed 1B when passing it. The base umpire calls a “dead ball” and tells B2 “You are awarded third base.” B2 continues to 2B, touches it and is half way to 3B when the coach yells to B2 to go back and touch 1B. B2 retreats, touching 2B then continues to 1B and touches it. B2 then turns around and touches 2B and then 3B. The defensive team appeals that B2 missed 1B and that B2 can not go back and touch it during the dead ball. What is the ruling? RULING: Because B2 advanced and touched 2B which was an awarded base, B2 may not legally return to touch 1B. The appeal is upheld and B2 is out for missing 1B. (Rule 8, Section 5G)

Play 2: With no outs and R1 on 2B, B2 hits a line drive to F7. R1 is off on the hit and headed toward 3B when F7 misses the sinking line drive and knocks the ball forward on the ground in front of him. While running in and trying to scoop up the ball, F7 kicks the ball into the 3B dugout. When the ball entered the 3B dugout, R1 is two steps from 3B and B2 is not yet to 1B. Which bases should R1 and B2 be awarded? RULING: R1 is awarded home and B2 is awarded 2B. The ball being kicked into dead ball territory would be treated the same as if F7 threw the ball into dead ball territory. Each runner would be awarded two bases from the time the ball left F7’s foot. (Rule 8, Section 5G)

A question arose on the issue of the award and the mechanic used when a player throws their glove at a batted ball while in the air and contacts the ball. After the detached glove contacts the ball the ball is caught by another player before hitting the ground.

Play A batted ball is out of reach of F8 who throws their glove at the ball while in the air and their glove contacts the ball and deflects the ball which F9 dives and catches.

Ruling: When a fielder intentionally contacts or catches a fair batted, a thrown, or a pitched ball with any part of the uniform or equipment detached from its proper place. Effect: Delayed dead ball and the batter and runners are entitled to three bases from the time of pitch on a batted ball. It is a delayed dead ball because runners can get more than three bases if possible. Once the ball is now caught the ball becomes dead and you must award the three bases to each runner and batter-runner from the last base touched at the time of the pitch.