That’s a fou…er fair ball

Check out this funky spin:

As long as the ball has not crossed first or third base, or if a fly ball has not landed beyond first and third base, it is neither fair or foul until the ball is touched or comes to rest. This ball starts five feet foul and then comes back fair.

It is not touched until fair so this is a fair ball. Nice job by the umpires to wait until there is a call to be made. Oftentimes, you will see umpires just stare at an obvious foul ball and not do anything until it is touched (if at all).

This is an umpire who has mistakenly called foul too early in his past. Good work by the crew on this call.

Fair/foul is covered on page 37 of RuleGraphics.

Timing, timing, timing

Check out this play. (Again, sorry for link but MLB has not allowed embedding of this yet).

This is a great example of the umpires using correct timing. Amateur umpires have a tendency to call a ball foul as soon as it heads that way.

This is incorrect as before the ball reaches first or third base, fair/foul is determined by where the ball settles or is touched. Most people know this rule. By the way, home plate is in fair territory.

If ever at a game and you see an umpire waiting to call foul on an obvious foul ball – well that is an ump who had a ball once hit a rock (or like in this instance spin) and become fair again.

Assuming the umpire did not use good timing and yelled “FOUL”, right away, what happens?

Again, it depends on the code.

In high school baseball, if an umpire mistakenly calls foul and the ball hits the ground – foul ball. Sorry about your luck offense.

In college a ball that flies past first or third and is called wrong can be reversed. Other calls cannot – so this play would be a foul.

In professional baseball – you use the reaction of the players to help determine if it can be reversed. On this play, if the runner continued running, it would probably be called fair.

Confused. Well a simple way to avoid this is not to call the ball fair or foul until you are absolutely sure.

Fair/Foul Ball is covered on page 37 of RuleGraphics.


Play blowing up

If I had this play, I think I would have to vomit before making the call. This is a high school play.

NFHS rule 2-22-3 states obstruction happens when

The fielder without possession of the ball denies access to the base the runner is attempting to achieve.

In this video, the catcher was clearly in the runner’s path without possession of the ball. In pro ball, the fielder can be in the path as he is fielding a throw. An argument could be made that this would not be obstruction under that definition – but this is a high school game. This is clear obstruction.

The runner slides into the catcher and then the catcher reaches out, catches the ball, and tags him.

The penalty for obstruction is the umpire placing runners where he/she feels they would obtained minus the obstruction. In high school, there is a minimum one base reward.

The penalty is pretty clear in this case – the runner gets home.

I like how the official consulted with his partner to make sure the call was right. I also like how they controlled the field as they had their conference. Also, I love how the base umpire did not throw his partner under the bus when the coach came to argue the final ruling. He clearly is telling him to go to the calling official.

One minor thing that would have saved the umpire some grief was the original call of out. He does signal out and then immediately signal the obstruction and award. If he would have just signaled the award first, there would have been less confusion.

The fans can be heard arguing “but you called him out”. Of course this does not matter in the final outcome, but it would saved some grief.

Lastly, I loved the umpire’s timing on this. He was very calm, poised and got the call right in the end.

In professional baseball, this could be Type A obstruction. This is covered on page 63 of RuleGraphics.

Leapin’ Lizards (or Waves)

Here is a play that is making the rounds on social media. It is another example of the importance of knowing the rules of the level you are working.

On the base hit to right field, the throw from the outfield looks to have the runner dead to rights. Out of desperation, the runner jumps over the catcher avoiding the tag. He scurries back to the plate and scores a run.

In college and the pros (and by extension of pros, most youth organizations), this play is legal. But, in high school, this runner would be out.

According to high school rule 8.4.2 (b)(2) a runner can only leap over a fielder if they are completely on the ground. The catcher was not on the ground in this play. Also of note, a runner can never dive over a fielder (even if they are on the ground). The ball stays alive in these instances unless interference is called.

One more thing from this video. Look at how cool and collected the home plate umpire is. He keeps his position at point of plate as the play is developing. He moves to third base line extended to get a great angle. He sees the missed tag and missed touch of home and makes no call. He finally calls safe when the runner gets the plate. Great job all around on a very odd play.

Slides are not formally covered in RuleGraphics since it covered Professional Baseball. One day we hope to put out versions for other rule sets.




Crazy Play At the Plate

Realize that without anything on the line this would be a crazy play.  Add to it that this was the bottom of extra innings and if the run scored, it would have ended the game and this becomes about the craziest play ever.

What really impresses me about this play is the calm of the umpire.  I would like to think I would be that calm, but then again, I like to think the Cubs will be competitive each season (although this year they will).

First, he gets in position to see if there was an initial tag.  He calmly makes no call letting everyone know he has no tag and no touch.  Then he swings around to get a look at the next tag attempt.

He then moves a player out of his way to get in position for the final tag play.  Oh, and on that tag play he waits a split second to make sure the player had control of the ball.  Excellent timing all the way around.

Some folks on message boards have wondered about getting an out for running out of baseline.  While the runner does move backwards, I don’t think he ever gets more than 3 feet out of his basepath while a tag is being attempted.  Baseline and basepath are covered on page 52 of RuleGraphics.

Good umpiring all around.