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Guest CoachDave

Defensive conference

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Guest CoachDave

First inning, and pitcher begins warm-up. After 3 throws, his coach comes out to talk to his pitcher. I got the umpire's attention and said that that was their first defensive conference. He said no it wasn't. I asked why and he said that the ball was never put in play, no action was stopped, no charged defensive conference. I have looked up the rules and do not see why he ruled this way.

Was the umpire right or was I ? Can you please cite the rule to cover this situation. Thanks in advance. 

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From the 2016 BRD (section 150, p. 114):  FED:  The coach may stand with his pitcher at the mound between half-innings. If his presence creates a delay:  PENALTY:  The umpire may charge a conference.

Before the game the starting pitcher may have eight warmup throws within one minute, timed from the first throw. (6-2-2c Exception)

NFHS Case Book Play 3.4.1 Situation H:  Between innings the coach of Team A walks from the third base coach’s box to the pitcher’s mound and proceeds to visit with F1. Ruling:  F1 has one minute in which to complete his warmup throws. At that point, the coach should leave the field. The umpire should not allow play to begin until the coach is off the field. The umpire may assess the coach a charged conference if he delays leaving the field. (6-2-2c Exception)

 

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For OBR: the starting pitcher has one minute to throw eight warm-ups.

Official Interpretation:  Wendelstedt:  If a manager goes out during warm-ups to see a pitcher who was already listed in the lineup in a previous inning, that would be a trip.

Play:  After Home switches sides in the third inning, Coach Home goes to the mound, standing with his pitcher Bubba while he warms up. Bubba also pitched the second inning. Ruling:  In FED/NCAA, that is not a conference. In OBR, it is a trip to the mound.

Note:  If Bubba was a new pitcher, it would not be a trip in OBR.

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2018 Official USSSA Baseball Rules found at

http://www.usssa.com/docs/2019/2019BaseballRuleBook.pdf

FOREWORD

Playing rules not specifically covered herein, shall be governed by The Official MLB Rules of Baseball – National League. If any conflict in rules between these Official USSSA Baseball National By-laws & Rules and The Official MLB Rules of Baseball – National League, these Official USSSA Baseball National By-laws & Rules shall govern. In the event of any conflict in language between any printed version of these Official USSSA Baseball National By-laws & Rules and the usssabaseball.org online version, the usssabaseball.org online version shall govern.

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Yet another instance, though not a huge one, where I think FED is superior to OBR for youth baseball. These aren't professionals, it's entirely appropriate for the coach to be there to teach, as long as it doesn't delay anything. Charging a trip here is unnecessary (NOTE: I am NOT advocating not charging a trip if it's required by rule, as it seems to be in this situation with USSSA, I'm talking about an opinion on the rule itself).

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If this was the top of the first I'd question if the game has even begun.

For timed games, does the game start at first pitch, first warm-up pitch, or when the plate conference ends?

 

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We have to understand the context here, @beerguy55. This is a USSSA 14U game, and while I would tend to agree with you, and the sentiment of, “It's only a 14U non-HS-sanctioned game, what difference does it really make?”, there is a precedent and protocol to follow.

First, USSSA makes a big stink about doing OBR (modified to their suit) and tracking pitch/inning counts and score. So, within that, according to OBR, it’s an official game underway upon acceptance of the lineup card(s) by the Umpire. Thus, as soon as the plate meeting is over, it’s an official game, under OBR.

Second, USSSA (at least out here in AZ) makes a point of the Umpire maintaining a uniform, standardized card keeping track of start time, score, substitutes, and innings pitched. These innings pitched determines pitching eligibility of a player later in the day or the tournament, so it’s been reinforced to us (umpires) to track and report it accurately. Some teams, outmatched by a particular pitcher, reshape their strategy and pin their hopes on the assurance that that pitcher can only go 1, or 2, or 3 more innings, and they are keen to any slip-ups by an opposing coach that would force or prompt the removal of that pitcher early.

I’ve had to impose a forfeit because a now-ineligible pitcher (on innings pitched) went back out to the mound and got four pitches deep into his warmups, and the opposing coaching staff insisted on summoning a TD because it “violated the rules”. Yeah, silly, I know, but the TD directed me to.

In other tournaments, with any other name on the awning (Perfect Game, Southwest Wood Bat, ShowCase Baseball, etc), we’re much less stringent about this, because at the end of the day, it’s less about the score and more about getting the kids reps and experience and keeping them “safe” (in playing health). If I have a coach lingering around, or heading out to the mound, I might inquire as to what’s up, or kindly and casually remind him that he doesn’t need to be out there. It might be a case of a control-freak coach, or it might be a case of the coach noticing something in warmups that may be an onset injury. It would certainly help to know that, as I certainly would not want that youngster pitching if his arm is about to go, or he’s got a bleeding blister on his finger.

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When does the game start?  The answer is in the rules:

 

5.01 Starting the Game (“Play Ball!”)
(a) At the time set for beginning the game the players of the home
team shall take their defensive positions, the first batter of the
visiting team shall take his position in the batter’s box, the
umpire-in-chief shall call “Play,” and the game shall start. 

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