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Runner Interference ?

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Guest NJ Coach

10U. Batter hits high pop up between home and first very close to the baseline, and runs hard to first seeing F3 running toward him but not seeing the ball high over his head.  The first baseman drifts a wee bit to the runner's right near foul territory, so the runner looks to avoid contact and runs left in fair ground  toward 1b.    Due to misjudging the ball, F3 suddenly veers at the last minute into fair territory and collides with the runner who took that path to avoid the fielder's initial path to the ball.  

I expect you will all rule "interference" despite the runner's effort to avoid contact....but even if the fielder's sudden change of direction causing contact was intentional and purposefully deceptive ?  Say he didn't want to risk dropping the ball so he collided on purpose ?  Still interference ?  Or does deception nullify that ?

 

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The same question could be asked about a routine ground ball to F6.   F6 sees R2 moving towards third, so he simply steps forward (or backward) into R2 to get the INT call.

Even if there is a case play that denies protection to the fielder in this case, an umpire is going to have to be incredibly sure that it was done on purpose - even if, by rule, an umpire can make this call, I'm not sure how often he would.

And then, if you are waiving interference because the fielder intended it, does it become OBS?

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Guest NJ Coach

That's what I'm asking you...

on a steal of home on a passed ball, if the batter has time to see the play unfolding he must move out of the way or be called for interference. in my question, the BR really doesn't have the opportunity to avoid when the F3 moves erratically and suddenly in his path.

maybe a 'no call' is best ?

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1 hour ago, Guest NJ Coach said:

10U. Batter hits high pop up between home and first very close to the baseline, and runs hard to first seeing F3 running toward him but not seeing the ball high over his head.  The first baseman drifts a wee bit to the runner's right near foul territory, so the runner looks to avoid contact and runs left in fair ground  toward 1b.    Due to misjudging the ball, F3 suddenly veers at the last minute into fair territory and collides with the runner who took that path to avoid the fielder's initial path to the ball.  

I expect you will all rule "interference" despite the runner's effort to avoid contact....but even if the fielder's sudden change of direction causing contact was intentional and purposefully deceptive ?  Say he didn't want to risk dropping the ball so he collided on purpose ?  Still interference ?  Or does deception nullify that ?

 

It's INT.  The runner has an ABSOLUTE obligation to avoid the protected fielder attempting to field the batted ball.

 

Here's a similar FED case play -- but it applies to all codes.

8.4.2 SITUATION T: With two outs and R3 on second base, B4 hits a pop fly to F6. While moving
underneath the ball, F6 enters R3's basepath. As R3 starts to go around F6, the wind blows the ball
beyond F6. F6 backs up suddenly into the runner and, as a result, drops the ball. RULING: R3 is guilty of
interference. F6 is entitled to an unhindered opportunity to field the ball.

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1 hour ago, Guest NJ Coach said:

That's what I'm asking you...

on a steal of home on a passed ball, if the batter has time to see the play unfolding he must move out of the way or be called for interference. in my question, the BR really doesn't have the opportunity to avoid when the F3 moves erratically and suddenly in his path.

maybe a 'no call' is best ?

In the first part of your original post, and your question here, the fielder is protected no matter the intent of the runner, or any degree of realistic chance to avoid the fielder.  If the fielder does something really erratic, unexpected and unpredictable in playing a batted ball, even if it gives the runner no chance to avoid contact, it's too bad.   The fielder's right to play a batted ball is virtually absolute.

What I don't know, to your hypothetical half of the OP, is if the fielder is protected by his own intent to collide with the runner.   I don't think there's any specific provision in the rules to deal with a fielder who intentionally collides with a runner, for the purposes of getting an INT call.  And even if there were, I don't know if an ump would ever be sure enough to make the call.

However, the language, in OBR anyway, speaks of a runner who hinders a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball - one could argue that a fielder who intentionally moves into the runner is not attempting to play the ball, is no longer protected, and is now guilty of OBS.   But, again, that would be really difficult to judge.

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3 hours ago, Guest NJ Coach said:

I expect you will all rule "interference" despite the runner's effort to avoid contact....but even if the fielder's sudden change of direction causing contact was intentional and purposefully deceptive ?  Say he didn't want to risk dropping the ball so he collided on purpose ?  Still interference ?  Or does deception nullify that ?

Yes. Doesn't matter. Yes. No.

This is easy, black-letter rule, no ESP, magical intuition, or judgment required: it's INT every time.

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Guest Nick

This situation can be very difficult for young players and parents to understand. In one of our games F4 charging a ground ball crosses in front of R1’s eventual path. Just as R1 is running behind F4 the ball skips up causing F4 to take a step back and into R1. Note F4 collided with R1 and there was nothing R1 could do to avoid. I polled several of my umpire friends on this and they were unanimous. To quote Maven, “it’s INT everytime.” Or as one umpire said to me, “sometimes bad things happen to good people.”

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13 hours ago, Guest Nick said:

Or as one umpire said to me, “sometimes bad things happen to good people.”

Well, it's not like the kid got cancer or something.

If you need a teaching concept, you could compare this to a fielder getting a bad hop. It's a funny game.

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13 hours ago, Guest Nick said:

there was nothing R1 could do to avoid.

This is incorrect.  He can slow down.  He can stop.  He can go back.  He can run more than 1 step away from the fielder (because while he's obligated to avoid the fielder, he's not obligated to stay on or near the direct line between the bases, and he's not at risk of being "out of the base path" until the fielder has the ball and attempts a tag).  He has lots of options.

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