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Guest Curt

High School Hybrid Stance

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Guest Curt

Quick question:

I know that in High School, the hybrid stance is illegal and I also know that it does not become illegal until the pitcher actually makes a move that commits him to pitch (merely standing on the rubber in hybrid stance does not constitute a violation.) My question relates to a pickoff move. If the pitcher is standing on the rubber in a hybrid stance and then attempts to pick off a runner, is this a balk or is it fine since he didn't pitch the ball?

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2014 NFHS Baseball Rules Interpretations

SITUATION 5: The pitcher places his pivot foot on the pitching plate with the toe of the pivot foot in front of a line through the front edge of the plate and the heel of his pivot foot behind the back edge. His non-pivot foot is in front of the line extending through the front edge of the pitching plate. The pitcher attempted to pick-off the runner at second base. RULING: This is an illegal pitching position. When the pitcher moved in his pick-off attempt, he made an illegal pitch and a balk would be enforced. (6-1-2 Penalty)

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9 hours ago, Senor Azul said:

When the pitcher moved in his pick-off attempt, he made an illegal pitch and a balk would be enforced.

Ugh. That's a stupid reason.

An illegal pitch is a pitch, which is "a live ball delivered to the batter." Picking to 2B can't be an illegal pitch. If it's illegal, it can't be because it's an illegal pitch.

FED wants to make this illegal to prevent F1 from getting any benefit from the hybrid position. He can't pick from the windup, so any uncertainty about his position gives him an advantage. I can get behind the substance of the ruling for that reason.

But there's  no good basis in the rules for this prohibition, especially as FED allows F1 in the hybrid to disengage legally to fix his position. The same sentence of 6-1-3 that could plausibly make picking from the hybrid a balk ("during the set...") allows F1 to both pick and disengage. They'd need to rewrite that to get this right.

 

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10 hours ago, Guest Curt said:

I know that in High School, the hybrid stance is illegal and I also know that it does not become illegal until the pitcher actually makes a move that commits him to pitch (merely standing on the rubber in hybrid stance does not constitute a violation.) My question relates to a pickoff move. If the pitcher is standing on the rubber in a hybrid stance and then attempts to pick off a runner, is this a balk or is it fine since he didn't pitch the ball?

Emphasis (bold) mine. 

And this is precisely why our state (of Arizona) is uber-proactive about "fixing it" ad nauseam. If there are no runners on, and F1 is in the hybrid, don't let him pitch. Fix it.

If there is a runner aboard off a dead ball (HBP, single or walk w/ Time requested by BR, etc.), and F1 assumes the hybrid stance, don't make the ball Live (yet). Fix it.

If there is a runner aboard and the ball remains Live, and F1 assumes the hybrid stance (for the 1st time), call "Time" and Fix it. Even if you have to send the F2 out under the guise of changing the ball, be proactive and Fix it.

Because, later on in the game, during Live ball, if F1 assumes the hybrid stance, realizes (or remembers) he can't, and (legally) rectifies it so as to assume a legal stance, are we not to allow him to do so?

As I've said before, lying in wait to "pounce" on a F1 and "nail him" for a balk or an illegal pitch call is not good umpiring or game management. 

14 minutes ago, maven said:

But there's  no good basis in the rules for this prohibition, especially as FED allows F1 in the hybrid to disengage legally to fix his position. The same sentence of 6-1-3 that could plausibly make picking from the hybrid a balk ("during the set...") allows F1 to both pick and disengage. They'd need to rewrite that to get this right.

Yeah, they got their wording wrong... or at least, not quite right for what they intended.

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1 hour ago, maven said:

An illegal pitch is a pitch, which is "a live ball delivered to the batter." Picking to 2B can't be an illegal pitch. If it's illegal, it can't be because it's an illegal pitch...

But there's  no good basis in the rules for this prohibition, especially as FED allows F1 in the hybrid to disengage legally to fix his position. The same sentence of 6-1-3 that could plausibly make picking from the hybrid a balk ("during the set...") allows F1 to both pick and disengage. They'd need to rewrite that to get this right.

 

NFHS 2-18-1 states, "An illegal pitch is an illegal act committed by the pitcher with no runner on base, which results in a ball being awarded the batter. When an illegal pitch occurs with a runner, or runners, on base, it is ruled a balk."  

The only legal act an in-contact pitcher can do from the hybrid position is legally disengage.   

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1 hour ago, Cav said:

NFHS 2-18-1 states, "An illegal pitch is an illegal act committed by the pitcher with no runner on base, which results in a ball being awarded the batter. When an illegal pitch occurs with a runner, or runners, on base, it is ruled a balk." 

But that doesn't help: an illegal pitch is ONE kind of illegal act, but there are others.

It does not follow from this definition that ALL illegal acts committed by F1 are illegal pitches, or else when he walks over and punches R1 in the face we'd have to rule it a balk.

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Is the pitcher really gaining any advantage in the hybrid? A lot of umpire associations here in FL have gone nuts over this... Its a ridiculous rule in my opinion.

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48 minutes ago, smckin said:

Is the pitcher really gaining any advantage in the hybrid? A lot of umpire associations here in FL have gone nuts over this... Its a ridiculous rule in my opinion.

The pitcher gains an advantage by disguising which pitching position he is using. The advantage comes in the fact that you have to stop if you are in the set, and you don't if in the windup. This allows F1 to deceive both the batter and any runners as to when the pitch is about to commence, giving an unfair advantage to himself and the defense. Runners don't know if F1 can make a move to a base, nor if he has to stop before delivering the pitch, so they have to stay closer to the base. Likewise, hitters don't know when the pitch is coming. These are the reasons we have established, legal pitching positions, and the hybrid does not conform to either - thus, rightly illegal.

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1 hour ago, smckin said:

Is the pitcher really gaining any advantage in the hybrid? A lot of umpire associations here in FL have gone nuts over this... Its a ridiculous rule in my opinion.

Yes.

Imagine being a base runner trying to get a jump and seeing F1's feet in the hybrid. You can't tell what his next move is going to be, so how can you time your jump? If he's clearly in the windup, you'll know. If he's clearly in the stretch, you'll know. But this in between hybrid stance completely disguises what his next move has to be.

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Maybe I don't understand the pitching rules enough, but from the way I understand the set, the pitcher must have the pivot foot in contact with or directly in front of and parallel to pitcher's plate. IMO, anything else is the windup. No need to define or clarify anything else. Just my .02.

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8 minutes ago, txump81 said:

IMO, anything else is the windup.

That's not correct for HS rules (and it's not a matter of opinion). Your profile says TX: do you play FED baseball there (IIRC, TX plays NCAA football rules)? If so, you need to know 6-1-2, which defines the windup.

Each position has its own definition, and it is possible to be in neither. The most common version of that is the hybrid.

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That's not correct for HS rules (and it's not a matter of opinion). Your profile says TX: do you play FED baseball there (IIRC, TX plays NCAA football rules)? If so, you need to know 6-1-2, which defines the windup.
Each position has its own definition, and it is possible to be in neither. The most common version of that is the hybrid.
Yes, by the rulebook there are two definitions and both have their distinct dos and don'ts. The hybrid falls in neither and is illegal.

My point being with the clearly defined set(pivot foot parallel), what advantage does the pitcher have in the hybrid. If his foot is not parallel, then he is in windup. More of a theory/why did FED think this was so important/why can't we use the same rules at all levels discussion.

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1 hour ago, ElkOil said:

Yes.

Imagine being a base runner trying to get a jump and seeing F1's feet in the hybrid. You can't tell what his next move is going to be, so how can you time your jump? If he's clearly in the windup, you'll know. If he's clearly in the stretch, you'll know. But this in between hybrid stance completely disguises what his next move has to be.

A pitcher in the code that does allow a hybrid or sideways position, OBR,  does not disguise what his next move will be due to differences in his address to the rubber, runner configuration and other tells. OBR did recognize a problem with David Price and requires a completely sideways pitcher to state his stance with runners on. I understand FED has to accomodate a lower level of player and umpire understanding but you should aspire to know how to call an OBR game and not claim that a normal, in OBR, hybrid stance would not let you know what is going to happen next. 

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42 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

A pitcher in the code that does allow a hybrid or sideways position, OBR,  does not disguise what his next move will be due to differences in his address to the rubber, runner configuration and other tells. OBR did recognize a problem with David Price and requires a completely sideways pitcher to state his stance with runners on. I understand FED has to accomodate a lower level of player and umpire understanding but you should aspire to know how to call an OBR game and not claim that a normal, in OBR, hybrid stance would not let you know what is going to happen next. 

Certainly calling it and being a runner who is trying to anticipate are two different things. I do FED and OBR games. This isn't a problem for me, personally, but there are umpires for whom this is an issue. Usually, and disappointingly, it's just ignored.

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Remember, in FED, from the windup position, a pitcher can only pitch or step off, he cannot attempt a pickoff, without stepping off the rubber.

If he is in the set/stretch, he can step off, pickoff, or pitch.

In the hybrid, he would have to step off before he initiates any movement to pickoff or pitch. If he initiates a pickoff or pitch, he has committed a balk.

STRIKES AND OUTS!!!

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3 hours ago, txump81 said:

My point being with the clearly defined set(pivot foot parallel), what advantage does the pitcher have in the hybrid. If his foot is not parallel, then he is in windup. More of a theory/why did FED think this was so important/why can't we use the same rules at all levels discussion.
 

That would be one way to write the rules.  It's not, however, the way the rules are written.  And, since this is (I understand) a POE (again), it's going to get a lot of "press", at least early in the season.

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11 hours ago, MadMax said:

Emphasis (bold) mine. 

And this is precisely why our state (of Arizona) is uber-proactive about "fixing it" ad nauseam. If there are no runners on, and F1 is in the hybrid, don't let him pitch. Fix it.

If there is a runner aboard off a dead ball (HBP, single or walk w/ Time requested by BR, etc.), and F1 assumes the hybrid stance, don't make the ball Live (yet). Fix it.

If there is a runner aboard and the ball remains Live, and F1 assumes the hybrid stance (for the 1st time), call "Time" and Fix it. Even if you have to send the F2 out under the guise of changing the ball, be proactive and Fix it.

Because, later on in the game, during Live ball, if F1 assumes the hybrid stance, realizes (or remembers) he can't, and (legally) rectifies it so as to assume a legal stance, are we not to allow him to do so?

As I've said before, lying in wait to "pounce" on a F1 and "nail him" for a balk or an illegal pitch call is not good umpiring or game management. 

Yeah, they got their wording wrong... or at least, not quite right for what they intended.

Excellent post, and I love the way AZ is instructing you to handle this.  We are doing the same here in SoCal.  On the bolded above, not only SHOULD we not put the ball into play, but by rule, we CAN'T:

5-1-4:  After a dead ball, the ball becomes live when it is held by the pitcher in a legal pitching position, provided the pitcher has engaged the pitcher’s plate, the batter and the catcher are in their respective boxes, and the umpire calls “Play” and gives the appropriate signal.

The pitcher must be in a legal pitching position for the ball to be put into play.  If he's in the hybrid, then use your best judgment on how to correct it before putting the ball into play.

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10 minutes ago, grayhawk said:

Excellent post, and I love the way AZ is instructing you to handle this.  We are doing the same here in SoCal.  On the bolded above, not only SHOULD we not put the ball into play, but by rule, we CAN'T:

5-1-4:  After a dead ball, the ball becomes live when it is held by the pitcher in a legal pitching position, provided the pitcher has engaged the pitcher’s plate, the batter and the catcher are in their respective boxes, and the umpire calls “Play” and gives the appropriate signal.

The pitcher must be in a legal pitching position for the ball to be put into play.  If he's in the hybrid, then use your best judgment on how to correct it before putting the ball into play.

You all are going to great lengths to deal with a stupid rule and apparently the prevalence of pitchers who like a little or a lot of stagger to their foot position and an angled torso. Why correct the pitcher?  Although there is a way most hybrid pitchers can take the rubber and have a legal FED foot position. Why not ask the offense if they have any doubt about whether this guy is going to windup. Rhetorical question.

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4 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

You all are going to great lengths to deal with a stupid rule and apparently the prevalence of pitchers who like a little or a lot of stagger to their foot position and an angled torso. Why correct the pitcher?  Although there is a way most hybrid pitchers can take the rubber and have a legal FED foot position. Why not ask the offense if they have any doubt about whether this guy is going to windup. Rhetorical question.

I am assuming that only your second question was rhetorical.  So to your first question (bolded above):  I correct him so that a smart opposing coach can't use the rules against me when I don't correct him (or when I don't balk him with R3).  Yes, I had a smart coach do this very thing (with R3 only) in a very big varsity game 2 years ago (winner goes to playoffs, loser doesn't).  I was able to manage my way out of the situation with no ejections, but it was a pain in the ass.  This was a 3 man game and I was UIC, so it fell on my shoulders.

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6 minutes ago, grayhawk said:

I am assuming that only your second question was rhetorical.  So to your first question (bolded above):  I correct him so that a smart opposing coach can't use the rules against me when I don't correct him (or when I don't balk him with R3).  Yes, I had a smart coach do this very thing (with R3 only) in a very big varsity game 2 years ago (winner goes to playoffs, loser doesn't).  I was able to manage my way out of the situation with no ejections, but it was a pain in the ass.  This was a 3 man game and I was UIC, so it fell on my shoulders.

That coach would probably be pissed if you corrected early and denied him a cheap balked in run later. 

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6 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

That coach would probably be pissed if you corrected early and denied him a cheap balked in run later. 

I have never had an opposing coach utter one word when I or my partner(s) have corrected this during warm ups.

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2 hours ago, grayhawk said:

I have never had an opposing coach utter one word when I or my partner(s) have corrected this during warm ups.

I'm just ranting about the lengths we are going to for a stupid rule. NCAA included. Umpires now have to coach and instruct. Both FED and NCAA rules are straightfoward and clear, although overthought to protect simple umpires. In spite of the the clear requirements of the rules, no matter my or anyone elses opinion of those rules,  pitchers still show up on FED and NCAA mounds not complying. Because they and their coaches can not envision an umpire and/or runner not knowing that they are in the windup or in the set when it is obvious. The tail is wagging the dog.

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47 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

That coach would probably be pissed if you corrected early and denied him a cheap balked in run later. 

Us being proactive about it, in the manner I described, has had the opposite effect (at least in my experience here in Arizona). It signifies to coaches that this crew of umpires knows how to recognize the hybrid, or other illegal stances, and will not be lax in at least addressing it.

The coach would rather have an umpire fix it, proactively, without penalty (or correlating benefit to him) than have it blindside him in the 6th or 7th inning, and an umpire crew who “lets it slide” and his R3 gets picked.

... or worse, he ends up getting warned, restricted, or dumped for arguing or complaining about a balk not being called.

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Guest R. Duke

FWIW:  The hybrid is legal in Michigan,  but only as THE SET position per the MHSAA.

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I have called four hybrid illegal pitches so far this high school season.  (We're just past the halfway mark of the regular season in SC.)  They all involved pitchers who worked from the windup (with no runners on base) with their free foot well in front of the pitcher's plate.  Seeing if the free foot is on or even with the front edge of the pitcher's plate can be very hard to see in a 2-man crew with no runners on base.  [It is pretty easy to see when the base umpire is standing in the proper "C" position, however.]  I tell all of my umpires to give the benefit of the doubt to the pitcher with no runners on base, but to absolutely call it when it is painfully obvious.  

I have not had an argument, yet.  On two of them, the coaches asked me to explain the rule to them.  After I did so, they didn't argue at all; they just turned around and told their pitcher what to fix.  In explaining the rule, I even told them that this was a point of emphasis this year.  On the other two, after making the call, the head coach immediately yelled at his pitcher (to paraphrase), "I've been telling you that all season!"

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FWIW:  The hybrid is legal in Michigan,  but only as THE SET position per the MHSAA.


Does Michigan use NFHS rules?

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