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May 29, 2015
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To be fair, my father would've done the same thing, or worse, if one of my sisters came home with one of those things in their nose...

Yeah, but if your father ripped it out, that's his problem. I'm sorry, but just what was this guy thinking?

Yesterday I had my first (noticed) no-jewelry sighting of a softball player. I asked how she was able to play with no jewelry on? Seems like everybody raided grandma's jewelry chest and put everything on. The girl laughed ... and then when she came back out the next inning, she said, "I couldn't help looking when I went back into the dugout. I never noticed how much they were wearing! The centerfielder has SIX piercings up her ear!" 🤣 🤷‍♂️

I did have to make a player remove jewelry this week ... A pitcher had three rings ON HER PITCHING hand. Jewelry is legal, but you still can't have anything on that hand.
 
Feb 25, 2018
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I guess the rules forum is the best place to post this. It is for coaches and officials, but it always provides insight into what bees are in their bonnets for next year ...

First section asks about satisfaction with the 2022-23 rules changes (I'm going to abbreviate these, Yes/No answers):

1.) Removing the number of color restrictions on a glove
2.) Clarifying the ball's status (fair/foul) is determined at the point of interference
3.) Removing language prohibiting the wearing of jewelry
4.) Allowing all runs to score on a walk-off homerun
5.) Clarifying when a batter-runner is out if there is interference on an initial play

Second section asks "Have you seen any of these things this year?" (Never, Rarely, Frequently, Almost always)
1.) Infielders wearing head/face protection
2.) Questions about drying agents transferring to the ball
3.) Players using smartwatches for communication outside the dugout
4.) Umpires unsure of malicious contact versus interference
5.) Players wearing a wristband with playbook/playcard attached to their belt instead of their arm or wrist

Third section on topics for 2023-24; Would you favor ... (Yes/No answers)
1.) Permitting bat sensors
2.) Permitting leaping
3.) Allowing one way electronic communication from the coach to infielders
4.) Requiring wristbands with playcards to be worn on the wrist (not allowing them on the belt)

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Malicious contact is a rule and call that I think needs some attention.
Especially since it cancels obstruction. Yes, sometimes the throw pulls the defender into the path of the runner and it’s just a train wreck, but I think the call isn’t called enough.
 
May 29, 2015
3,851
113
Malicious contact is a rule and call that I think needs some attention.
Especially since it cancels obstruction. Yes, sometimes the throw pulls the defender into the path of the runner and it’s just a train wreck, but I think the call isn’t called enough.

OBR (Official Baseball Rules, aka the MLB rulebook) contains a provision for the throw pulling the catcher into the runners path ... it just makes things stickier.

I can understand why NFHS or any youth code does NOT try to mirror that: the priority of youth codes should be safety. Coaches may not like it, but we need to be teaching kids NOT to go after that ball if it is going to put them in harm's way. Move up and cut the ball off sooner or drop back, but don't go into that path. Treat it like the street ... the car is always going to win, so don't chase the ball out there.

The key aspects I look at for MC are: "Could the runner reasonably have done something to avoid the collision? Did the runner do something to force the collision?" Treat it like driving: If somebody runs a red light, you don't gun it and try to crash into them. You are still going to attempt to avoid the accident (I hope). You may not be successful, but you have to show you tried.

Some people might ask, "Why is the penalty on the runner for MC if the fielder is the one who got in the way?" The runner is coming in with eyes on the fielder -- not saying they are watching the fielder, but that their line of sight is there. The fielder is looking away watching the ball, not necessarily at the runner. It is no different than safety rules in football that disallow crushing a "defenseless" receiver who is going for a ball. The onus is on the person who has the perspective and should have situational knowledge to avoid.

So what would you like to see @BlaineAB ? I'm not disagreeing at all, just trying to figure out what we can do to make it clearer.
 
Feb 25, 2018
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What to do? Excellent question.
I’m guessing that some umpires don’t call it as it could be a combination of “contact is part of the sport” and “I’m not making a call that will eject a player” (and maybe her coach).

Personally, I think out and ejection is the proper penalty. The powers that be made the penalty for an illegal pitch less punitive and I would argue that hasn’t led to more illegal pitches being called when they should be.

Maybe more education on what is and isn’t MC? At least for the umpires that want to improve their skills and game management.

Take a look at this play:



A bit grainy, but the short stop does move laterally away from 2nd base when she sees the pitcher throw to 1st base. Base runner blows her up. Plate umpire called obstruction and awarded 3rd base. I have MC, as while the base runner was moving fast, nothing about her actions show evasive or protective movements; she looks like a football defense back lighting up a receiver.
 
Jan 22, 2011
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I did have to make a player remove jewelry this week ... A pitcher had three rings ON HER PITCHING hand. Jewelry is legal, but you still can't have anything on that hand.
Interesting. Because I'm married, my fastpitch pitching career as a southpaw is over before it started?
 
May 29, 2015
3,851
113
What to do? Excellent question.
I’m guessing that some umpires don’t call it as it could be a combination of “contact is part of the sport” and “I’m not making a call that will eject a player” (and maybe her coach).

Personally, I think out and ejection is the proper penalty. The powers that be made the penalty for an illegal pitch less punitive and I would argue that hasn’t led to more illegal pitches being called when they should be.

Maybe more education on what is and isn’t MC? At least for the umpires that want to improve their skills and game management.

Excellent points all around. I think that is what they are driving at: do we need a more precise definition or better examples of what to look for so that malicious contact will be called properly?

Yes, lessening the penalty for an illegal pitch was a HUGE mistake. I was told they thought it would get more umpires to call it (not sure if that is true about their logic), but it has actually made it worse. Why bother calling it, upsetting people, and then have to try to explain it ... all for the penalty of just a ball (which the pitch probably was anyway)? I don't agree with that logic, but I can understand it. If umpires weren't doing the job, train them better and give them the tools to better understand. You don't just say "to heck with it" and throw it out.

As for the video, I can't see enough to say one way or the other. IMO, it is possible to still have "that's nothing" when a runner does not slow down or make a move to avoid. There are times the runner just won't see it coming (even if they should). What I look for is recognition that the impact is coming and the runner bracing to force through it (not reacting to protect herself). Not an easy thing to describe, but you know it when you see it.
 
May 29, 2015
3,851
113
Interesting. Because I'm married, my fastpitch pitching career as a southpaw is over before it started?

Men's fastpitch? There are no pitching rules that anybody follows there anyway. 🤷‍♂️

Ultimately it comes down to two things: is it distracting and could it damage the ball? If neither of those things are true in the umpire's judgment, then you are fine.

For NFHS ... IMO, it is better to take care of it proactively than to wait to see if it becomes an issue.
 
Jan 22, 2011
1,621
113
Men's fastpitch? There are no pitching rules that anybody follows there anyway. 🤷‍♂️

Ultimately it comes down to two things: is it distracting and could it damage the ball? If neither of those things are true in the umpire's judgment, then you are fine.

For NFHS ... IMO, it is better to take care of it proactively than to wait to see if it becomes an issue.
Sorry, forgot the /sarcasm. Trying to take a quick snooze before umpiring a game this evening.
 

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