July 2010 Plays and Clarifications

July 31, 2010, 12:34 p.m. (ET)

July 2010 Plays and Clarifications

As the ASA Championship Season begins, it is a good time to update you on rules and mechanics as they apply to ASA Softball. It is time for all umpires to review the umpire rule book and umpire manual. If you are chosen to umpire a National Championship remember to stay focused, stay hydrated, and have a great time. You should appreciate the opportunity to represent your Local Association, your region, your territory and all of ASA. Remember, you are one of the best trained and prepared umpires in the country.   This is one of the reasons why you have been selected to represent ASA in your National Championship.  Good Luck and Good Umpiring.

This month’s Plays and Clarifications address several items having to do with rules and mechanics. They are as follows:

Rule 3
Equipment:
A question was raised about uniform numbers.  “Is 0 and 00 the same uniform number and would they be allowed as legal numbers on the same team?” Rule 3 Section 6D states that “an Arabic whole number (0-99) of contrasting color or outlined in contrasting, at least six inches high and must be worn and visible on the back of all uniform shirts. No players on the team may wear identical numbers…” This rule was changed in 2006 and the wording that 1 and 01 and 3 and 03 were examples of the same number was removed. This allows for more numbers for players to wear. However,1 and 01, as well as 3 and 03 are examples of different numbers, and can be worn by members of the same team during the game. This should clarify what numbers are not considered to be the same.

Rule 6
The ASA Council has passed an emergency playing rule change as per the ASA code.  Playing Rule 6 Section 3 H (Slow Pitch):  The ball must be delivered with perceptible arc and reach a height of at least 6 feet from the ground, while not exceeding a maximum height of 10 feet from the ground. This rule will now have an exception that Senior Slow pitch will play by the old rule of … and reach a height of at least 6 feet from the ground, while not exceeding a maximum height of 12 feet from the ground. 

Rule 7
Batting:
Play: B2 a slap hitter, is hit by a pitched ball while out in front of the batter’s box. In a) that B2 ducks to try to avoid being hit but is still struck in the head and b) B2 is hit before having the time to avoid being hit by the pitch.
Ruling: In a) If in the umpire’s judgment the batter made an attempt to get out of the way, the umpire should award the batter 1B.  In b) since the batter made no attempt to get out of the way of the pitch this would be a dead ball and keep the batter up to bat.

ASA rules apply to a hit batter in three ways. Rule 7 Section 4H and M applies if the batter swung or prevented the ball from entering the strike zone. This would be a dead ball strike, Rule 8 Section 1F: When a pitched ball not swung at nor called a strike touches any part of the batter’s person including the hands or clothing. EFFECT: Dead Ball the batter is entitled to first base without liability to be put out. EXCEPTION: If no attempt is made to avoid being hit, the batter will not be awarded 1B unless it is ball four.

ASA has always said that a pitch can fool a batter and they may not have time get out of the way. Umpires should use the thought process of the ball does not belong in the box and the benefit of doubt is given to the batter. When the batter is in front of the batter’s box the reaction time is decreased and they could be hit with the ball before they have time to react and get out of the way. In this case the umpire should use a similar thought process that the batter does not belong in front of the box and if the reaction time is reduced, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the pitcher.

So apply the rule and use common sense when determining when a batter makes an attempt to keep from getting hit, while in the box does not have time to make an attempt or while in the front of the box makes no attempt to keep from being hit. Keep in mind, it will always be a dead ball and a batter will either be awarded 1B or stay at bat with a ball added to the count.

Rule 8 Section 4F
Runners are entitled to advance with liability to be put out:
Play: (Slow Pitch with Stealing) B3 receives ball four and the pitch gets away from the pitcher with a) no runners on base and b) R2 on 2B. Can B3 continue to 2B as the ball is live?
Ruling: In a) The batter is not allowed to continue to 2B with nobody on base. In this case, Slow Pitch with stealing, the rule was intended to allow base runners to steal on a ball not caught by the catcher.  It was not designed to allow a batter-runner to advance to 2B. In a), the batter runner is required to stop at 1B unless the catcher’s return throw was not to the pitcher. In b), R2 is allowed to run until the ball is in the pitcher’s possession and all play has apparently been completed. The batter-runner is required to stop at 1B unless a play is made on another runner on base. Rule 8 Section 4F [1- 4].

Rule 8 Section 5F
Runners are entitled to advance with liability to be put out:
Play: With no outs, R1 on 1B and B2 hits a long fly ball to F8. R1 rounds 2B, sees the ball caught  by F8 and begins to return to 1B. The ball is released while R1 is between 2B and 3B. The ball goes out of play while the R1 is between 1B and 2B. What is he correct award for the umpire to apply?
Ruling: Once the ball enters dead ball territory the umpire should first allow the runner to complete their base running responsibilities. The umpire should hesitate to see if the runner is going to retouch 1B. Then the umpire should call dead ball and award two bases from the time of the release of the ball, not the time the ball goes out of play. This means that even though the runner was going back to tag up, the release of the ball happened when the runner was between 2B and 3B.  Therefore, the runner would be awarded two (2) bases from the time of the throw. Rule 8 Section 5G

Rule 8 Section 5F
Runners are entitled to advance with liability to be put out:
Play: With no outs, R1 on 1B and B2 hits a long fly ball to F8. R1 rounds 2B, sees F8 catch the ball and begins to return to 1B. The ball is released while the R1 is between 1B and 2B, and goes into dead ball territory. The umpire allows the R1 to complete their base running responsibilities and then awards the R1 3B. R1hears “2 base award” and does not tag up.  Instead R1 immediately proceeds to 2B and then 3B. After touching 2B the runner realizes that they forgot to tag up at 1B.  They return and retouch 1B and proceed again to 2B and then 3B. As R1 reaches 3B, the defense appeals that R1 did not legally retouch 1B as they had touched the awarded 2B prior to retouching 1B.
Ruling: R1 would be ruled out for retouching 1B after touching the next awarded base. Our rule states that once a base runner advances to the next awarded base, the runner can no longer return to touch any base missed or any base left too soon. So as soon as the award was declared and the runner touched 2B they could not legally return to touch 1B. Rule 8 Section 5G EFFECT

Mechanics:
A question concerning the voice and volume difference used to call balls and strikes has been asked. Some umpires contend that both calls should sound the same while other umpires say there should definitely be a difference in volume and inflection. The ASA Umpire Mechanics: An Animated Instructional DVD is very clear that there should be difference in a strike call and a ball call. The DVD points out that a strike call should be elongated and made briskly and loudly. The DVD also points out that a ball call should be short and crisp. You should use volume to indicate closeness of the pitch. Both strike and ball calls should be made in the down position and the hammer for the strike call should be made in the up position. So the definitive answer to the question is that the two calls should be made differently.

ASA Exam

Many of you have sent emails regarding questions about correct answers not matching up with questions on the answer sheet. It was discovered that the exam on the web was a different revision than the one that went to print. Even though this was caught early, some of you had already printed the test from the web and submitted your answers to your Local Association This caused some confusion but we were able to find and correct the issue. The correct test has been on the web since 02-09-10. We apologize for the inconvenience. If you are taking the test posted on the web, be sure to take the test posted after 02-02-10. Thank You!