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rzanew

"Fielder's Balk" -- Correcting partner's rule interpretation

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Recently worked a 12U game with a completely new partner.  This is regional rec-league post-season game with umpires from different leagues, played using USSSA ruleset (OBR based).  Never worked with this person before.

I am BU and he is at the plate.  R1, R3, outs don't matter.  RHP; F5 is straddling the bag holding the runner at third.  I had noticed that F5 has one foot in foul territory, but disregard it; trying to not be OOO, and waiting for OHC to say something (based on recommendations in other threads posted here).

RHP comes set and starts his motion to deliver to the plate, and the PU comes up yelling "Balk!".  He continues to describe it as a "fielder's balk" since F5 is not fully in fair territory.  Awards R3 home, and R1 to second.

I motioned to have a conference with him, where I tried to explain that there is no such thing as a "fielder's balk" and that is the wrong call.  After a brief conversation, he essentially said he is sticking with the call and not changing it.  DHC eventually comes out and asks PU about the call, and is satisfied by the description and goes back to the dugout.  

 

When your partner makes an obvious incorrect ruling, what do you do?  

Did I overstep by discussing with him on the field?  Alternatively, should I be more assertive in getting the call corrected?  If the DHC won't say the word "protest", do we just eat this call and discuss post-game?  

 

I've had this happen a couple of times this season.  How far do I go to ensure we get the play right? (including seeking to overturn partner's rule interpretation errors)

 

 

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I'm guessing other umpires will disagree, but I agree with what you did.  I wouldn't question a balk call, but once your heard the explanation I think it's appropriate to meet and give him your knowledge.  Sticking with or changing  the call is up to him.  MLB umpire Dan Bellino told our class at TUS to NEVER let a rules misinterpretation stand...whether the manager knew he was getting screwed or not.  It makes the whole crew look bad when you screw up a rules interpretation.

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22 minutes ago, johnpatrick said:

MLB umpire Dan Bellino told our class at TUS to NEVER let a rules misinterpretation stand...whether the manager knew he was getting screwed or not.  It makes the whole crew look bad when you screw up a rules interpretation.

Good advice in theory, but it doesn't always work in practice, especially at the 12U level with umpires who never met before, etc.  In practice, one of the umpires is going to have to acquiesce -- and it's likely to be the PU who ends up taking this since s/he is usually the UIC on the game.

And, sure, in this game, the OP was correct.  But, we've all been, or will be, in similar situations where the umpire bringing the information has the rule wrong.  And, short of lookini git up on the field (and that is an option -- except I'd go to the dugout or something), the best course is to decide and get the game going again.

The best you can do is bring it up during the game (as you did) and try to get the correct information to the umpire after the game.  "Let's agree to lok this up after the game -- one of us is going to learn something.
 

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41 minutes ago, rzanew said:

DHC eventually comes out and asks PU about the call, and is satisfied by the description and goes back to the dugout.  

Salesman by trade?

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28 minutes ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

Salesman by trade?

Not likely.  DHC likely didn't know the rule, either.  And just accepted PU's explanation.

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What would be the correct thing to do? Ignore it or call time and move F5 in? 

I thought you couldn't put the ball in play unless everyone was in fair territory except the usuals. 

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20 minutes ago, Mister B said:

What would be the correct thing to do? Ignore it or call time and move F5 in? 

I thought you couldn't put the ball in play unless everyone was in fair territory except the usuals. 

Ignore it unless someone says something.

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2 hours ago, grayhawk said:

Ignore it unless someone says something...

...and then enforce it thoroughly for both teams.

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1 minute ago, maven said:

...and then enforce it thoroughly for both teams.

Yup - just like coaches out of the coaches boxes.

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3 hours ago, grayhawk said:

Ignore it unless someone says something.

Especially don't go digging for boogers.

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4 hours ago, Mister B said:

I thought you couldn't put the ball in play unless everyone was in fair territory except the usuals. 

I don't see in the OP that the ball was put in play with someone in foul territory.  There was a pitch, but that's different.

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14 hours ago, maven said:

...and then enforce it thoroughly for both teams.

While I know this is what we're supposed to do....say nothing unless a coach brings it up, then enforce it for both teams for the rest of the game... I hate it because as officials by not saying anything until its brought to our attention makes us look like we're missing it or not paying attention,  and/or we're letting the coaches tell us what to do, at least that's the way it might appear in a game.  Why can't we just enforce it when we see it?

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2 hours ago, Mudder said:

While I know this is what we're supposed to do....say nothing unless a coach brings it up, then enforce it for both teams for the rest of the game... I hate it because as officials by not saying anything until its brought to our attention makes us look like we're missing it or not paying attention,  and/or we're letting the coaches tell us what to do, at least that's the way it might appear in a game.  Why can't we just enforce it when we see it?

What happens when we miss something a little more important when we have spent the game enforcing small infractions that have no real impact on the game?

I think we come across as over officious and draconian when we pick every last booger... it creates a hostile environment fairly quickly. 

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On 6/5/2018 at 1:54 PM, rzanew said:

He continues to describe it as a "fielder's balk" since F5 is not fully in fair territory.  Awards R3 home, and R1 to second.

Here’s the problem with this – there is no such thing as a “fielder’s balk”. The only thing that refers to this topic is the “At time of pitch, there shall be eight fielders standing within fair territory...” (I’m paraphrasing). You can read this once, twice, or a thousand times, you will not find a penalty! 

In fact, the only fielder – non-pitcher – that can be called for a balk is the catcher if he positions himself, at TOP, outside of his box.

With that said, it is crucial that umpires like @rzanew get this corrected because this is not a judgement; this is a rule (or absence thereof), and the team has grounds for a Protest... which they will win once the Book is cracked open. Contextually, I can agree with most others here, that it being 12U, it’s not the end of the world, and the best course of action is to get back to the game at hand. However, in professional baseball, if an umpire crew gets this wrong, it’s grounds for termination. It really is – you succeed as an umpire team, you fail as an umpire team.

On 6/5/2018 at 2:33 PM, noumpere said:

But, we've all been, or will be, in similar situations where the umpire bringing the information has the rule wrong. 

And this happening within a Fed game, @Jimurray, is where I have the greatest issue or gripe with the NFHS Rules – it diefies the PU, creating a stratification between PU and BU. Granted, the vast majority of PUs and BUs have an equalitarian, working relationship, but there have been more than a few who have abused this “empowerment”.

On 6/5/2018 at 2:33 PM, noumpere said:

The best you can do is bring it up during the game (as you did) and try to get the correct information to the umpire after the game.  “Let's agree to look this up after the game -- one of us is going to learn something.”

I’m all for what Noumpere advises, because we can’t have this kind of ignorance perpetuating.

On 6/5/2018 at 3:13 PM, Mister B said:

What would be the correct thing to do? Ignore it or call time and move F5 in?

Why even call time? Between pitches, “Hey Third (or First)! Need you to step inside the chalk!... yeah, both feet... good!”

It’s that simple. And if a base coach points it out, just remind the fielder of where he needs to be. Again, there isn’t a penalty to assess.

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2 hours ago, MadMax said:

I on't n't mpowerment problem with this – there is no such thing as a “fielder’s balk”. The only thing that refers to this topic is the “At time of pitch, there shall be eight fielders standing within fair territory...” (I’m paraphrasing). You can read this once, twice, or a thousand times, you will not find a penalty! 

You can find a penalty in some poorly indented Triumph editions of the past. Trained umpires would discount that penalty.

In fact, the only fielder – non-pitcher – that can be called for a balk is the catcher if he positions himself, at TOP, outside of his box.

The balk, by rule, is on the pitcher for releasing the ball when the catcher is out of the box during an IBB. Interps allow him to go there at TOP. Wendelstedt has advice on when you would really need to call it and it would be rare for any umpire to join that club.

With that said, it is crucial that umpires like @rzanew get this corrected because this is not a judgement; this is a rule (or absence thereof), and the team has grounds for a Protest... which they will win once the Book is cracked open. Contextually, I can agree with most others here, that it being 12U, it’s not the end of the world, and the best course of action is to get back to the game at hand. However, in professional baseball, if an umpire crew gets this wrong, it’s grounds for termination. It really is – you succeed as an umpire team, you fail as an umpire team.

And this happening within a Fed game, @Jimurray, is where I have the greatest issue or gripe with the NFHS Rules – it diefies the PU, creating a stratification between PU and BU. Granted, the vast majority of PUs and BUs have an equalitarian, working relationship, but there have been more than a few who have abused this “empowerment”.

The OP is OBR but I guess you are referring to some overempowerment in your neck of the woods. It doesn't exist in mine and in parsing the different codes umpire rule chapter I don't see a difference. And I still think you could have done more to correct the foul fly to a HR:)

I’m all for what Noumpere advises, because we can’t have this kind of ignorance perpetuating.

Why even call time? Between pitches, “Hey Third (or First)! Need you to step inside the chalk!... yeah, both feet... good!”

It’s that simple. And if a base coach points it out, just remind the fielder of where he needs to be. Again, there isn’t a penalty to assess.

 

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OP was for OBR, but just a note re rule differences (from my dated - 2015 - BRD):

Fed: A fielder need have only one foot touching fair territory - which seems to imply even that one foot need need not be entirely in).  Penalty, if both feet are out: illegal pitch (ball/balk).

NCAA: Same except BRD states "in" fair territory - which probably means same as above. Penalty: none, unless play benefits defense in which case play is nullified.

OBR: All must be in fair territory.  Penalty: Pretty much same as NCAA.

Interestingly, most of the examples cited in BRD are for F7/F9 sneaking in/around to make some kind of play.

 

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I'm not saying to ignore rules, but, I've got a whole lot more things to worry about than where a defensive player's feet are.  And, if I do see it, can't we just use a little preventive umpiring?  How many of us have asked a catcher or an infielder to call time and tell the pitcher to come set?  That's what I mean by preventive umpiring.

 

Just saying....

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@Jimurray, I think what Max is referrng to is in the FED book, it says that the PU is also UIC. And some times you find that "choice" partner that takes the phrase "In Charge" a bit to seriously.

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11 hours ago, BT_Blue said:

@Jimurray, I think what Max is referrng to is in the FED book, it says that the PU is also UIC. And some times you find that "choice" partner that takes the phrase "In Charge" a bit to seriously.

I think NCAA also calls the PU the UIC. OBR implies that the UIC also is the PU if you read into it. But MLB and, I guess, MiLB appoint crew chiefs who, aside from other things,  take over one or two points that the rulebook gives to the PU/UIC such as game suspensions or rule issues. So who belongs to an association that appoints crew chiefs and delineates their duties? 

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1 hour ago, udbrky said:

I thought one foot in = in fair territory.

For Fed, yes. The OP is set in USSSA, which is based in OBR.

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On ‎6‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 1:10 PM, Jimurray said:

I think NCAA also calls the PU the UIC. OBR implies that the UIC also is the PU if you read into it. But MLB and, I guess, MiLB appoint crew chiefs who, aside from other things,  take over one or two points that the rulebook gives to the PU/UIC such as game suspensions or rule issues. So who belongs to an association that appoints crew chiefs and delineates their duties? 

The college group I work for doesn't have set CCs but has told us that who ever is listed first on the arbiter is the CC for the weekend and should be the point man for all communication with the school and crew for arrangements. 

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1 hour ago, JSam21 said:

The college group I work for doesn't have set CCs but has told us that who ever is listed first on the arbiter is the CC for the weekend and should be the point man for all communication with the school and crew for arrangements. 

What responsibilties do they give the CC during the game that belong to the PU/UIC.

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I can only speak about OBR but for those rules there must be all players in fair territory except the catcher at the time of putting the ball in play . At the time of pitch the players can be anywhere (in theory). There is a difference.

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22 minutes ago, Ump29 said:

I can only speak about OBR but for those rules there must be all players in fair territory except the catcher at the time of putting the ball in play . At the time of pitch the players can be anywhere (in theory). There is a difference.

This might be an MLB legend and we did not find any proof but A fielder was in the bathroom and nobody noticed between innings. A HR was negated. But I guess you have to put the ball in play every inning and they did it with eight on the field. I’m not sure why you need to put a ball that was never dead back in play. 

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