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Guest Brian Ump

Coach interference?

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Guest Brian Ump

Bases loaded ground ball to short the SS overthrows first baseman.  Runner from 3rd scores.  Runner from 2nd touches 3rd and starts running home.  First baseman picks up ball and is about to throw home but stops because first base coach is in the way of potential throw.  Coach made no effort to get out of way.  I call runner from 2nd out because first base coach hindered the first baseman from throwing ball home.  Was this the right call?

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Sounds fine to me. If he had the opportunity to move and willfully stood there, knowing he was in the way, that's intentional in my book. Now if he didn't have time to move or reasonably tried to do so, different story. But as you described it, good call.

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I would use OBR 6.01(b) to address that.

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The players, coaches or any member of a team at bat shall vacate any space (including both dugouts or bullpens) needed by a fielder who is attempting to field a batted or thrown ball. ... If a member of the team at bat (other than a runner) hinders a fielder’s attempt to field a thrown ball, the ball is dead, the runner on whom the play is being made shall be declared out and all runners return to the last legally occupied base at the time of the interference.

Note that the standard is pretty strict in the rule: the coach "shall vacate," not merely attempt to do so; and it's INT if the team member "hinders a fielder." I don't know whether Wendelstedt has an interp on this provision, but lately he has started to strongly favor the defense in such plays: for example, on a D3K if the batter "clearly hinders" F2, he's guilty of INT, regardless of intent (interpreting 6.01(a)(1)).

We would kill it immediately, score R3, call R2 out for the coach's INT, and (if there were fewer than 2 outs) return R1 to 2B and the BR to 1B. The OP doesn't mention all of that, but it sounds as if he got it right.

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18 minutes ago, maven said:

I would use OBR 6.01(b) to address that.

Note that the standard is pretty strict in the rule: the coach "shall vacate," not merely attempt to do so; and it's INT if the team member "hinders a fielder." I don't know whether Wendelstedt has an interp on this provision, but lately he has started to strongly favor the defense in such plays: for example, on a D3K if the batter "clearly hinders" F2, he's guilty of INT, regardless of intent (interpreting 6.01(a)(1)).

We would kill it immediately, score R3, call R2 out for the coach's INT, and (if there were fewer than 2 outs) return R1 to 2B and the BR to 1B. The OP doesn't mention all of that, but it sounds as if he got it right.

That is colored a bit by the comment and case play in 6.01(d), though, where it states that if you think the coach did all he could do to avoid interfering, no call should be made. But I would agree that the onus is on the coach to actually attempt to avoid, 

(from 2018 OBR) PLAY: Batter hits ball to shortstop, who fields ball but throws wild past first baseman. The coach at first base, to avoid being hit by the ball, falls to the ground and the first baseman on his way to retrieve the wild thrown ball, runs into the coach. The batter-runner finally ends up on third base. Whether the umpire should call interference on the part of the coach is up to the judgment of the umpire and if the umpire felt that the coach did all he could to avoid interfering with the play, no interference need be called. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the coach was attempting to make it appear that he was trying not to interfere, the umpire should rule interference.

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2 hours ago, scrounge said:

That is colored a bit by the comment and case play in 6.01(d), though, where it states that if you think the coach did all he could do to avoid interfering, no call should be made. But I would agree that the onus is on the coach to actually attempt to avoid, 

(from 2018 OBR) PLAY: Batter hits ball to shortstop, who fields ball but throws wild past first baseman. The coach at first base, to avoid being hit by the ball, falls to the ground and the first baseman on his way to retrieve the wild thrown ball, runs into the coach. The batter-runner finally ends up on third base. Whether the umpire should call interference on the part of the coach is up to the judgment of the umpire and if the umpire felt that the coach did all he could to avoid interfering with the play, no interference need be called. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the coach was attempting to make it appear that he was trying not to interfere, the umpire should rule interference.

I wonder whether that rule is apt: 6.01(d) specifically excludes base coaches. (And this point in turn makes me wonder about the placement of the play you cite right after 6.01(d). But moving on....)

I also wonder whether that case play is apt: in the OBR case play, the coach is dodging the ball, and the bar for that is trying to get out of the way. As long as he is making a bona fide attempt to do so, he's good.

In the OP, the coach is (not) dodging the fielder, which is substantially easier. I'd still wager (soon to be legally) that the bar is lower for this kind of INT, and that the pro expectation is that even unintentional hindrance with the fielder is INT.

For completeness, the governing FED rule is 3-2-3, the relevant provisions of which are:

Quote

...nor shall the base coach or members of the team at bat fail to vacate any area needed by a fielder in his attempt to put out a batter or runner.

If a thrown live ball unintentionally touches a base coach in foul territory, or a pitched or thrown ball touches an umpire, the ball is live and in play. If the coach is judged by the umpire to have interfered intentionally with the thrown ball, or interferes in fair territory, the interference penalty is invoked.

We could, if we wished, read a similar distinction into FED. The first provision above concerns hindering a fielder: there, even unintentional hindrance is INT (he shall not "fail to vacate" the area needed by the fielder). The second provision concerns contact with the ball: there, unintentional contact is nothing.

As I think about it, this distinction is starting to make sense. That's sometimes a bad sign....

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It turns out that your rule citation was a valid one, Mr. scrounge. The 2018 MiLBUM agrees with you that the applicable rule to this question is OBR 6.01(d). Its section 6.12 on page 90 (titled Interference by Person Authorized to Be on Playing Field) includes the following play and text:

Play 2:  A thrown ball to the plate from the fight fielder accidentally strikes the first base coach. Ruling 2:  Interference by person authorized to be on the playing field unless in the umpire’s judgment coach hindered the fielder’s attempt to field the thrown ball, in which case the ball is dead and the runner, in the umpire’s judgment, on whom the play was being made shall be declared out and all other runners shall return to the last legally occupied base at the time of interference.

“When judging interference by a member of the team at bat who is not in the game but who is authorized to be on the field (e.g., players in the bullpen, on the field, base coaches, etc.), the fielder would have to be, in the judgment of the umpire, in position to field the batted ball or thrown ball when the member of the offensive team interferes.”

By the way, the same text can be found in the 2014 PBUC manual but it was all underlined which means, I think, that it was new material then.

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I'm confused. Do we have a consensus? If a coach unintentionally interferes with a fielder (not the ball) chasing down an overthrow, is he out under NF rule 3-2-3?

 

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Mr. jjskitours, the reason I revived this thread is that I thought it needed more discussion. The OP did not specify which rule set was used in his game and so most of the replies were about OBR. In fact, a ruling for FED was not mentioned until Mr. maven’s second response dated May 29. And now you are asking about FED ruling.

I think FED differs from OBR/NCAA but I cannot find any case plays similar to the OP or interpretations. That’s because OBR/NCAA requires coaches to be on the field and the rule (3-2-1) in FED is a coach MAY be stationed in each box. Mr. maven may very well be right that the rule 3-2-3 is definitive and under FED the coach’s interference would cause an out to be called. But it is different in OBR—here’s what the Jaksa/Roder manual says about coach’s interference--

From the 2017 Jaksa/Roder manual concerning interference by a base coach (a person not only authorized to be on the field but required to be on the field by rule in OBR and NCAA):

“It is interference if a base coach…

Blatantly and avoidably hinders a fielder’s try to field a fair or catchable batted ball or thrown ball. A coach must try to avoid a fielder trying to field. If he tries to avoid, but contacts a fielder, it is not interference. In most cases, a coach who does not try to avoid contact with a fielder will have interfered.

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21 hours ago, Senor Azul said:

Blatantly and avoidably hinders a fielder’s try to field a fair or catchable batted ball or thrown ball. A coach must try to avoid a fielder trying to field. If he tries to avoid, but contacts a fielder, it is not interference. In most cases, a coach who does not try to avoid contact with a fielder will have interfered

But this was not a thrown ball - not in the OP anyway.  F3 did not throw because coach was in the way.

Based on the rule/interp wording alone, in both FED and OBR, are we not entering the same territory as RLI?   There was no thrown ball to catch, so no fielder catching/fielding/receiving a thrown ball was interfered with.

On 1/6/2019 at 10:28 AM, jjskitours said:

I'm confused. Do we have a consensus? If a coach unintentionally interferes with a fielder (not the ball) chasing down an overthrow, is he out under NF rule 3-2-3?

 

I too am confused.  A consensus on what?  How the OP should be ruled, or how an OBR case play would be ruled in FED?  The OP doesn't mention this scenario, only the OBR case play does.

 

On 5/29/2018 at 10:24 AM, maven said:

I also wonder whether that case play is apt: in the OBR case play, the coach is dodging the ball, and the bar for that is trying to get out of the way. As long as he is making a bona fide attempt to do so, he's good.

In the OP, the coach is (not) dodging the fielder, which is substantially easier. I'd still wager (soon to be legally) that the bar is lower for this kind of INT, and that the pro expectation is that even unintentional hindrance with the fielder is INT.

I'm reading something very different - maybe I haven't had my coffee yet.

In the OBR case play I'm reading that the coach is (not) dodging the fielder - the coach falls to the ground to (successfully) avoid the overthrown ball, and then (likely unintentionally) interferes with the fielder going to get the overthrown ball.  In the OP, the coach is (not) dodging a potential throw - whether he did it intentionally, or simply wasn't paying attention (negligence vs intent) is unclear, and may not matter.

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I’m really trying to get a clear ruling for Fed when a coach clearly attempts to avoid a fielder chasing an overthrow. However, he in fact does “hinder” the fielder either by direct contact or maybe by simply forcing the fielder to alter his route to the ball. Does 3-2-3 make it INT no matter how hard the coach attempts to avoid the fielder. After all the defense made an errant throw and of course no matter what there would still be umpires judgement as to whether there would still be any play on the runner, a ball 50-60 ft away vs 20-30 ft. 

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3 hours ago, jjskitours said:

I’m really trying to get a clear ruling for Fed when a coach clearly attempts to avoid a fielder chasing an overthrow. However, he in fact does “hinder” the fielder either by direct contact or maybe by simply forcing the fielder to alter his route to the ball. Does 3-2-3 make it INT no matter how hard the coach attempts to avoid the fielder. After all the defense made an errant throw and of course no matter what there would still be umpires judgement as to whether there would still be any play on the runner, a ball 50-60 ft away vs 20-30 ft. 

Well, if @Senor Azulcan't find a FED case play, it probably doesn't exist, so, going by the strict wording of the rule would be the safe position.

Frankly, use the OBR case play as your guide and let someone protest it.

The OBR rule and the FED rule language are very similar - "fail to vacate" specifically.   Yet, OBR has a case play that broadens that terminology to allow for judgment on the coach's effort.   Despite the difference in OBR requiring coaches on the field, and FED not, I think the same common sense would/could/should apply to both.

 

That the defense made the overthrow doesn't really matter - the rule, I believe, applies to both thrown and batted balls.

 

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There is surprisingly little written about base coach interference. I did find an analysis by Gil Imber of Close Call Sports titled Defining Base Coach Interference—It Had to be St Louis--

https://www.closecallsports.com/2016/05/defining-base-coach-interference-it-had.html

For OBR rulings the takeaway from his article is this—“If the interference is intentional, it is to be called. If unintentional AND the coach did all he could to avoid it, it is not a violation.”

As I stated before, I cannot find anything other than the applicable rule in FED (3-2-3). After a long search it dawned on me that the BRD did not have an entry that shows (and according to Mr. maven I have mad skills using the BRD) that FED differs from the OBR rule and case play given at the end of OBR rule 6.01(d) Comment. Does that mean that FED agrees with the OBR interpretation of base coach interference? No, not necessarily, but it has me thinking that it does even though there is nothing else to support that. I realize that it is not dispositive. I now think that FED looks at this question the same way as OBR.

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