A common item for discussion among umpires is game management. The discussion centers around ways umpires can achieve a game without issues. Sometimes the discussion leaves out an important detail … “Game Control”. Game Control can be described as taking charge of an unusual situation before the situation results in chaos. A good tool for game control and game management is often referred to as “preventive umpiring”. In fact, if umpires use preventive umpiring techniques then game control and game management would become easier. Therefore, good “Game Control” leads to good “Game Management”.
Umpires should not use the term game control as a tool for an umpire to be involved every situation occurring on the ball field. Game control should seldom, if never, be noticed: Example, if we have a batter-runner who starts to run to 1B thinking ball four has been awarded; the umpire should call “time” and bring the batter back to the plate. The same holds true with runners on 1B and 2B and the batter takes off for 1B thinking it is ball four causing runners to advance. To eliminate confusion for both the offense and the defense, the umpire should call “time.” An umpire with good game control who gives a loud “time” can prevent the chaos before it gets a chance to start.
We get input from umpires around the country as to what game control should be. One idea comes from one of our best Men’s Fast Pitch umpires, Jack Floyd. Jack says “Respect for the game and how it is played contributes to how well an umpire manages and controls a game.” Respect for the game and how it is supposed to be played starts by being a “student of the game” and it lends itself to the umpire’s ability to control a game that might otherwise get out of control. It is important for umpires not to interject themselves personally into the game. Success in game control is handling every situation without anyone knowing you were there. Developing these skills gives everyone a sense of consistency and fairness in how the game was managed.
Another important part of Game Control is “credibility and integrity”. These attributes are earned by an umpire every game. Teams, coaches, fans and even fellow umpires will see an umpire who can command and demonstrate their knowledge of the game as having credibility. Integrity comes from consistency; consistency in your calls as well as consistency in your approach to situations on the field. Teams and coaches learn quickly what umpires will or will not accept in the game you are working.
Confidence is also a vital part of umpiring that an umpire will not find in the rule book. This confidence gained thru rule knowledge, observations of other umpires, clinics, camps and on-field training will allow the umpire to deal with situations that do not normally occur. The umpire must grasp the idea that if they cannot control themselves, then they cannot control the situation. They must remain in control to create control.
If the umpire looses control of themselves then they may just as well walk off the field as they have lost their ability to control the game.
As you can see knowing when to step up and control a situation is not always easy. Learning how and when to control a game comes as a result of hard work honing one’s skills as an umpire. The umpire should realize that they are only as good as their last game, and they should never be satisfied with their past performance on the field.
It is impossible for anyone to describe all the situations in which an umpire can use good game control techniques. However, an umpire that realizes that the game is for the players and if they do not play we do not get to umpire. We, the umpires, are there to insure that the game is played fairly under the ASA rules. If we see something unusual developing, we should read the situation, and, if an umpire needs to take control before chaos begins, do so. You will be a better umpire for it.
A special thank you goes out to fellow umpires Jack Floyd, Don Alexander, John Wright and Bill Silves for their input on this subject. Many, if not all of these thoughts, come from their umpire experiences in either quotes or input.
Rawlings Batting Helmet
During the Equipment Testing and Certification Committee meeting on June 1, 2012; Rawlings Sporting Goods Company asked ASA to review the Cool Flow helmet with the snap fit face mask. After reviewing the helmet, it was determined that this helmet and facemask design met the intent of ASA Rule 3, Section 5E: OFFENSE: All adult fast pitch, modified pitch and all Junior Olympic offensive players, including the on-deck batter, and Junior Olympic players acting as coaches in the coach’s box, must properly wear double ear flap NOCSAE approved batting helmets. All Junior Olympic batting helmets shall be equipped with chin straps. All Junior Olympic Fast Pitch batting helmets shall be equipped with a securely fastened NOCSAE approved face mask/guard. Batting helmets that are broken, cracked, dented, or that have been illegally altered are prohibited from use.
The question was, “Is the face mask securely fastened?" The answer is “yes.” Based on the discussions, the Rawlings Cool Flow Batting Helmet with the snap fit face mask is approved for use in ASA Championship Play. Make sure the top clip is installed facing forward and both the maskand the helmet must have the NOCSAE Certification approval on them. Please note the NOCSAE approval on the mask is on the inside of the mask. The model numbers are: PL1, PL1W, PLDLX, UBH, CFBH, CFBHM, CFEX, CFMAT, and CFHL
Senior Pitching Box
Rule 6, Section 1B (Slow Pitch) (Seniors) The pitcher may take a position from the front edge of the pitcher’s plate to six feet behind the pitcher’s plate within the 24 inch width of the pitcher’s plate with both feet firmly on the ground. EFFECT: Delayed Dead Ball, illegal pitch ruled. Some have interpreted this to mean that the pitcher has to have both feet within the 24” pitcher’s plate. In all other Slow Pitch we allow the pitcher to have one foot on the pitcher’s plate and the other on, behind or to the side of the pitcher’s plate but not within the 24” pitcher’s plate. The same is true about the Senior pitching box, one foot in and the other foot in, on the line or outside the 24’ wide box. The emphasis here is both feet on the ground.
Senior Bat Rule
The Equipment Testing and Certification committee has approved the following definition of a senior bat that meets Rule 3, Section 1 Exception:
All bats used in ASA play for the Senior Divisions must be Official Softball Bats certified by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and / or marked BPF 1.21 or less. Bats must have their original paint markings for complete identification. These bats must still meet all other provisions of Rule 3, Section 1 and pass all bat inspections performed by the National Championship Finals Tournament Official. The Miken Ultra is not allowed (the Miken Ultra II is allowed).
Plays and Rulings
Play: JO Fast pitch: In the top of the eighth inning. The offensive coach asks the umpires what they are supposed to do. The umpires tell the coach to place the batter due to bat last in this inning on second base and proceed with their normal lineup. B9 is scheduled to bat, but the team misunderstands the umpire and puts B9 on second base as R1 to begin the tie-breaker. B1 comes to bat and hits a ball between F7 and F8. R1 scores and B1 is thrown out at 2B. After calling time, the defensive coach appeals that the wrong runner was on 2B and the wrong batter just hit.
Ruling: B9 is out for batting out of order. There is no penalty for putting the wrong runner on base. However R1’s run does not count. B1 out stands, B8 is placed on 2B with two outs and B2 is the batter. Rule 7, Section 2D  EFFECT [a, b] and EXCEPTION
Play: Team A has ten players listed on the line-up card in a game of JO Fast Pitch. The DP is batting in the 4th spot for the pitcher listed in the 10 spot (FLEX) on the line-up card. In the 4th inning the DP gets a single to LF. The coach of team “A” calls time and puts the pitcher in to run for the DP. After one pitch the coach asks for time and now wants to put in a courtesy runner for the pitcher. Is this legal?
Ruling: This is not legal and should not be allowed. The courtesy runner is not permitted to run as a courtesy runner for the Designated Player (DP) if the DP is batting for the pitcher or the catcher. In this case the DP is who earned their way on base, not the pitcher, so no Courtesy Runner would be allowed. Rule 8, Section 10