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Question about enforcement

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I know this topic is covered year in and out but I had a partner questioning me about the "hybrid" stance for pitchers in FED rule.  I explained to him what I knew but we had a disagreement about what and how to enforce this.  What are the ruling/case I can look for and thanks for your time and help.

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Are you asking about when to enforce it?

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FED allows 2 legal pitching stances, the windup:

img22.png.e43d4d1fb804bbd194905279f21b3bad.png

and the set:

img24.png.f4c80b10a98470055ec727968ee57404.png

This year's rule change makes this slide WRONG:

nfhs-pitching-regulations-set-position11-l.jpg.7bba457f6fdb3b08147861b02578c0fc.jpg

The stances on the bottom are both now LEGAL versions of the set starting in 2019.

The "hybrid" position is still illegal, as it fails to satisfy the requirements of either the windup (front/free foot is NOT even with the front of the rubber) or the set (pivot foot is NOT parallel to the rubber).

img26.png.0c5c40e52f431df56f102c141fc57937.png

Here's how we teach enforcement of the rule prohibiting the hybrid position:

  1. If we see it in warmups: fix it. Tell the coach, who will assert confidently that the hybrid position is now legal. That's not the rule change, as the slide above shows. Game management requires doing what we can to make F1 legal, though ultimate responsibility for that is his.
  2. If F1 throws the first pitch of the game that way, call it. This is an illegal pitch, for which the penalty with no runners is a dead-ball and ball to the batter (the pitch cannot legally be hit or put in play). The ball becomes dead at the time of pitch, which is the first motion that commits F1 to pitch to the batter (usually a "rocker step"). Kill it at that point, step out and say "That's an illegal pitch!", and award a ball to the batter.
  3. Repeat step 2 as needed!
  4. If F1 starts to pitch from the hybrid later in the game, call it then. With runners on, the penalty is a (dead-ball) balk, enforced once again from the time of pitch.

The rules are 6-1-2 and 6-1-3, and their associated case plays (6.1.2 and 6.1.3) are useful. 6.1.3A is the only new case play, and it covers the 2019 rule change. For reasons that escape me, FED has excluded the term 'hybrid' from its baseball rule and case books.

I don't know whether all that is more or less than the OP was requesting, but I figured it was a good time to put it all in one place.

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Has anyone had the experience where, when asked about this, your partner will tell you he prefers to fix it during warmups. But then when you ask him "what about during a game" , you get ambiguous answers back, like "well, I can't see his free foot's position from the plate" or "From A, I can't really see it" and so forth. Then if I press, he'll say "don't we have bigger issues?"  Or, "sure I call it" but then during the game he doesn't call it?

There's  a reluctance to enforce this as written, and the IP perhaps is experiencing that. There's also a reluctance to say "I'm not enforcing it," hence the ambiguous answers.

It would all be solved if FED would simply allow a HS pitcher to step and throw to a base from the windup. OBR pitchers don't do it anyhow, so the whole thing is a waste of time and bandwidth.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Vumpire said:

Has anyone had the experience where, when asked about this, your partner will tell you he prefers to fix it during warmups. But then when you ask him "what about during a game" , you get ambiguous answers back, like "well, I can't see his free foot's position from the plate" or "From A, I can't really see it" and so forth. Then if I press, he'll say "don't we have bigger issues?"  Or, "sure I call it" but then during the game he doesn't call it?

Of course. My state has been quite clear that they want this rule enforced. I can see his feet fine as PU: if it's not obviously hybrid, then it's legal. Not that difficult (though I suspect it's not a real assertion of difficulty, but rather as you suggest a hedge to avoid enforcing a rule).

15 hours ago, Vumpire said:

It would all be solved if FED would simply allow a HS pitcher to step and throw to a base from the windup. OBR pitchers don't do it anyhow, so the whole thing is a waste of time and bandwidth.

Disagree with both. HS pitchers use the hybrid because their favorite pro pitcher uses it. They use it only where they would use a windup, including situations with runners who won't steal (R3 only, bases loaded, etc.), and they won't pick from it (many think it's illegal to pick from the windup in any code, because they've never seen it done).

Many OBR pitchers use the hybrid (unless I'm misreading "OBR pitchers don't do it"). We've seen many clips of it here.

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On 4/5/2019 at 3:03 PM, Vumpire said:

It would all be solved if FED would simply allow a HS pitcher to step and throw to a base from the windup. OBR pitchers don't do it anyhow, so the whole thing is a waste of time and bandwidth.

The Hybrid has nothing to with being able to pick off from the windup. It has everything to do with minimizing the amount of movement to get to the pivot point to throw a pitch. Just go look at videos or David Price or when Tim Lincicome was still in the league.

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What is the proper mechanic for this? 

Is there ever a time when the base guy can call the illegal pitch or the balk on this? 

Crew effort or just the plate guy? 

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2 hours ago, BT_Blue said:

The Hybrid has nothing to with being able to pick off from the windup. It has everything to do with minimizing the amount of movement to get to the pivot point to throw a pitch. Just go look at videos or David Price or when Tim Lincicome was still in the league.

Or look at many other OBR sideways or hybrid pitchers. But we have umpires at all levels that don’t want to work that hard pre pitch. NCAA just acquiesced to them this year. Even MLB umps don’t want to deal with what was pretty obvious when David Price pitched sideways. 

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3 minutes ago, johnnyg08 said:

What is the proper mechanic for this? 

Is there ever a time when the base guy can call the illegal pitch or the balk on this? 

Crew effort or just the plate guy? 

I've called it from "A"..... "TIME" That's an illegal pitch" 

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1 hour ago, Richvee said:

I've called it from "A"..... "TIME" That's an illegal pitch" 

#metoo

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14 hours ago, maven said:

Of course. My state has been quite clear that they want this rule enforced....

And as such, at least in the central OH region, I really don't see it much at all anymore.

I did see it today in warmups with a kid though. I came out and mentioned it to him before the game, he gave me an attitude and said "Well, I've been doing it all year". Mind you, we're in week 2 right now, so....yea. Anyway, his coach saw the kerfuffle and came out and asked what he said. I explained, he thanked me, he corrected it.
 

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1 hour ago, Richvee said:

I've called it from "A"..... "TIME" That's an illegal pitch" 

I’m not singling you out, Rich.

Why does it ever come to this? So many of our umpire ranks are missing this point of protocol – we (as PU) cannot make a ball Live when F1 is in an illegal stance! How’s that? Well, what are the three components we need? (In reverse order:) the batter in the box, ready to bat, the catcher down in his crouch, ready to give signs and/or catch, and... the pitcher, with a ball, engaged to the pitcher’s plate in a legal stance, ready to take signs / pitch. Are we supposed to play “Gotcha!”, and think that’s good game management?

Umpires also need to understand (and apply) that they are a team of equals. There is nothing prohibiting a BU from fixing an issue in accordance to the Rules. And this is a Rules thang.

Fix it early, fix it often, fix it anyhow. But remember, calling “Balk!” or “Illegal Pitch!” is not “fixing” it.

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10 hours ago, MadMax said:

I’m not singling you out, Rich.

Why does it ever come to this? So many of our umpire ranks are missing this point of protocol – we (as PU) cannot make a ball Live when F1 is in an illegal stance! How’s that? Well, what are the three components we need? (In reverse order:) the batter in the box, ready to bat, the catcher down in his crouch, ready to give signs and/or catch, and... the pitcher, with a ball, engaged to the pitcher’s plate in a legal stance, ready to take signs / pitch. Are we supposed to play “Gotcha!”, and think that’s good game management?

Umpires also need to understand (and apply) that they are a team of equals. There is nothing prohibiting a BU from fixing an issue in accordance to the Rules. And this is a Rules thang.

Fix it early, fix it often, fix it anyhow. But remember, calling “Balk!” or “Illegal Pitch!” is not “fixing” it.

I agree with much of what you said, but keep in mind that the pitcher engages the rubber most of the time when the ball is still live.  It is, however, perfectly reasonable to inform the pitcher that he must be in a legal stance before putting the ball into play.

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@MadMax... Are you presuming that U1 did not already make an attempt to fix it?

When I was U1, know I have

  • told F1 to fix it
  • told F3 to tell F1 to fix it
  • told F1 and when DHC asked what I said, I told him too 

And F1 still went back to the hybrid. At least three times they did it with R3 for a balk.

Should I not call it? If the ball is live and F1 chooses to engage the rubber and start his motion using an illegal position it's my responsibility to correct him? How much should I do to keep F1 from stepping on his own d&%k?

Suppose the ball is live and F1 engages the rubber in a hybrid with R3. If I suggest that F1 fix his positioning, am I giving his team an edge? Am I taking away from the offense because F1 is breaking the rules? How do you think the OHC will react when he realizes I just gave his opponents a break?

So many times I read hear that we enforce the rules and that we are not coaches. I respectfully disagree that we should fix it before an illegal pitch or balk is committed by a recalcitrant F1. It seem that once those who ignore my warnings are actually called on it, they finally make the adjustment.

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20 hours ago, MadMax said:

I’m not singling you out, Rich.

Why does it ever come to this? So many of our umpire ranks are missing this point of protocol – we (as PU) cannot make a ball Live when F1 is in an illegal stance! How’s that? Well, what are the three components we need? (In reverse order:) the batter in the box, ready to bat, the catcher down in his crouch, ready to give signs and/or catch, and... the pitcher, with a ball, engaged to the pitcher’s plate in a legal stance, ready to take signs / pitch. Are we supposed to play “Gotcha!”, and think that’s good game management?

Umpires also need to understand (and apply) that they are a team of equals. There is nothing prohibiting a BU from fixing an issue in accordance to the Rules. And this is a Rules thang.

Fix it early, fix it often, fix it anyhow. But remember, calling “Balk!” or “Illegal Pitch!” is not “fixing” it.

@Kevin_K has done an excellent job of summing up when I’ve called this from the bases. Here’s one specific episode. 

F1 winding up,  testing the limits of “heel of the free foot touching the  line through the front edge of the rubber.”  Inching more forward pitch by pitch. I get F3 to tell him watch that. F1 corrects it. He’s close all game..... give or take, his fred foot is within a couple inches of the front of the rubber.  I can always live with that. 

Fast forward to R3, one out. F1 now sets up free foot well in front of the rubber, brings his hands together, and takes a rocker step with his free foot stepping to the 1b side. “Balk”.  F1 looks at me smirks. He knew exactly what he was trying to get away with. 

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23 hours ago, johnnyg08 said:

What is the proper mechanic for this? 

Is there ever a time when the base guy can call the illegal pitch or the balk on this? 

Crew effort or just the plate guy? 

I did it this weekend from A... thought it looked weird, slid up the line a little bit saw his non pivot foot was clearly in front of the plate, as soon as he started his motion, “Time! That’s an illegal pitch!”

 

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21 hours ago, MadMax said:

I’m not singling you out, Rich.

Why does it ever come to this? So many of our umpire ranks are missing this point of protocol – we (as PU) cannot make a ball Live when F1 is in an illegal stance! How’s that? Well, what are the three components we need? (In reverse order:) the batter in the box, ready to bat, the catcher down in his crouch, ready to give signs and/or catch, and... the pitcher, with a ball, engaged to the pitcher’s plate in a legal stance, ready to take signs / pitch. Are we supposed to play “Gotcha!”, and think that’s good game management?

Umpires also need to understand (and apply) that they are a team of equals. There is nothing prohibiting a BU from fixing an issue in accordance to the Rules. And this is a Rules thang.

Fix it early, fix it often, fix it anyhow. But remember, calling “Balk!” or “Illegal Pitch!” is not “fixing” it.

Now... here is my counterpoint to what you’ve said. This isn’t a new rule for anyone. At this point, it is on the coaches to have corrected this in the pre-season. I have seen a lot of kids not even take “pitches” as their warm up so there is no way to really correct it before. 

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I haven't read about anybody enforcing this to the absolute letter of the rule. 

With that in mind, what guidelines are umpires using to determine compliance? 

From what I've been seeing if the position of the pivot foot is parallel to the pitcher's plate, it makes it very difficult to for the free foot to be any more than an inch or two from being in front of the rubber. 

Does that satisfy the requirements? Or do we absolutely NEED to make sure part of the free foot breaks the plane of the rubber? 

 

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It's a lot easier to see from A (or, for that matter, D if you happen to be able to work 3-man). If the free foot is close enough I can't tell from where I happen to be, I say "that's a windup" (in my head) and take it from there. If I can definitely tell, I call it.

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22 hours ago, johnnyg08 said:

I haven't read about anybody enforcing this to the absolute letter of the rule. 

With that in mind, what guidelines are umpires using to determine compliance? 

From what I've been seeing if the position of the pivot foot is parallel to the pitcher's plate, it makes it very difficult to for the free foot to be any more than an inch or two from being in front of the rubber. 

Does that satisfy the requirements? Or do we absolutely NEED to make sure part of the free foot breaks the plane of the rubber? 

 

Everyone is aware of the rule now. I've seen very good compliance this year through my first 16 games. Every pitcher has been starting  feet parallel to each other perpendicular to the rubber. Maybe the free foot a little more forward of the pivot, but still next to the pivot. My criteria is when the free foot is clearly completely in front of the pivot foot. That's when I'll try to correct, then enforce.   (of course if his pivot foot  is behind the rubber with the toe touching the back edge, he's got some added leeway. The free foot can be in front of the pivot with the heel touching the front edge.)

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Context, context, context.

First:

1 hour ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

MadMax said: "... catcher down in his crouch".

:question1:

Why confused? There is absolutely no way I'm making a ball Live in that F1's possession until I have a F2 behind the plate (and in front of me), in a crouch, ready to give signs or catch. Or, barring that – such as to make an appeal or perform an Intentional Walk, and thus, standing – answering the question "Are you ready to go?" in the affirmative.

Second:
 

On 4/5/2019 at 3:03 PM, Vumpire said:

There's  a reluctance to enforce this as written, and the IP perhaps is experiencing that. There's also a reluctance to say "I'm not enforcing it," hence the ambiguous answers.

I'm not saying that we/you/I should not enforce it. Quite the contrary. And you, @Vumpire, are likely pointing towards those umpires who don't want to be "that guy" (the hardass, or the bad cop), or may be shaky in their game management and/or rules knowledge (not that they don't know it, they don't know how to explain and/or defend it when confronted). Instead, I'm advocating for understanding the context first and foremost, and work from there. Is this a Freshman or JV game? If it is, that F1 likely doesn't know any better. And if the PU did (mistakenly, naively, or ignorantly) make the ball Live while F1 is in the egregious, illegal Hybrid stance, and the F1 pitches before you, the BU, notices... well, you've got 3 outcomes – a Ball (+ to the batter) anyway, a Strike, or a hit ball put into play. And really, with the bases empty, does the Hybrid stance give any advantage to the F1 over the batter? No. So, now that we're between pitches, fix it!

Granted, if the kid's already been "warned" (in whatever shape or form), and then, in the 6th inning, with a R3 on third, and with the ball still Live, engages in (and acts from) the Hybrid... then his stupidity, no matter how absent-mindedly or intentionally, deserves the penalty. I'm not arguing with @Richvee and @Kevin_K on that point. But again, if I'm a PU, and I'm in that same situation as 6th inning, with a R3, and I'm lookin' back at a F1 in the hybrid stance, you better believe that I'm calling "Time" and directing him to fix it. That's the form of game management I subscribe to.

22 hours ago, johnnyg08 said:

I haven't read about anybody enforcing this to the absolute letter of the rule.

I'm not saying that we should ignore or waive enforcement. Here in AZ, at least in the PHX region, we've been directed to "Fix it, Fix it, Fix it" and at every available opportunity. All I'm advocating for here is don't be that "Ha! Gotcha, you stupid kid!" umpire. 

The big challenge we all (umpires and baseball participants) have here are these kids are playing under 2 different rulesets, sometimes within 24 hours. Pete the Pitcher might start for his HS team, but also be the ace horse for his Academy / Club team. Perfect Game will roll into town, and Pete will pitch 3 innings in front of some serious talent scouts and recruiters who want to see him pitch in the most effective way possible. Of course Pete is going to use the Hybrid stance (if he knows it), because, as @BT_Blue noted, the MLB pitcher he models his skills after uses it, or more likely, his pitching coach / tutor is a former MLB guy. Then, maybe as little as 24 hours later, Pete will be on the mound for his HS team, in a HS game, working under Fed rules. You can recognize these kids because when they have runners R3 and R1, they don't even consider feinting to 3B (without disengagement), then picking to 1B because their training has been honing them for baseball on the College and Professional stages.

On 4/6/2019 at 8:05 PM, Jimurray said:

But we have umpires at all levels that don’t want to work that hard pre pitch. NCAA just acquiesced to them this year. Even MLB umps don’t want to deal with what was pretty obvious when David Price pitched sideways.

It's not because umpires are lazy. It's because F1's don't extremely rarely if ever pick to 3B. F5's don't hold R3's on, and R3's don't take tempting leads off 3B, because F2's are way too good at blocking and/or snapping off a backpick. F1's don't extremely rarely spike curveballs at 59 feet, nowhere near as often as HS F1's do. So, a R3 is going to take a more liberal lead in the hopes of stealing home on a ball that gets away. This just doesn't happen in the Big Leagues. When I was first in a MLB-instructor -led 3-man camp, I initially positioned myself 5-6 feet off 3B when I had R3, mirroring what I would do as U1 with R1. The IU (Instructing Umpire) chastised me in front of the class, saying, "Why are you _there_?" "To read and be ready for a pickoff attempt." "Heck no! When's the last time you saw them hold on a runner at third base?!"

Context, context, context.

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We are constantly reminding our members to enforce these rules from the beginning.

A problem that we have experienced here is that the stance rules are not enforced during the regular season.  Then when League/District/State playoffs begin and the illegal pitch/balk is called, coaches immediately breakout the "He has been doing it that way all year and no one ever called it."

As has been noted on the forums for other circumstances, by not enforcing it at the time, you are leaving a mess for the next guy and it may be when the game stakes are high.

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1 hour ago, MadMax said:

in a crouch

in a crouch is not a requirement.  In position to receive the pitch is (in the catchers box, mask on, facing the pitcher)..............they crouch because that's where the strike zone is.

No confusion here, but thanks for asking.

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The formerly illegal set position with the pivot foot "hanging" of the rubber was the one I admittedly refused to enforce, specifically for the reason they changed it.  Every single mound varies to one degree or another (even to the point umpires in our state have pointed out the illegal heights they are reaching with potentially dangerous slopes).  If ever asked, I cited field conditions (usually the massive hole opening up in front of the rubber) for the reason I was allowing it.  

As far as the windup, address it before if you can and with the HC if it continues.  If it's obvious, call it.  If it's in doubt, refer to the HC that somebody is going to nail them for it whether they've been doing it all year or not.

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