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HeyBlueLA

Obstruction: Rule and Mechanics Question

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In FED, runner R1 on first, no outs. Batter Runner (BR) hits a clean single down right field line. U1 rotates towards third. Between 1st and 2nd, the second baseman obstructs R1. U2 identifies obstruction, points and says "that's obstruction." Despite the obstruction, R1 rounds second and heads for third. The throw from the right fielder, just beats R1 and the third baseman applies the tag to the R1 before he reaches the bag. At the same time, the BR, seeing the throw going to third, rounds first and heads for second. The third baseman, after applying the tag, throws to the second baseman who tags BR out. In the judgment of U2, R1 would have attained third base safely if not for the obstruction.

Questions: Assuming U1 heard the obstruction call by U2, what does U1 do when he sees the tag applied to R1 at third? What does U2 do?

Seems like a tough one as U1 does not know -- in the moment -- whether, in U2's judgment, R1 would have attained third but for the obstruction. Even if he does (or, in his own judgment, believes R1 should be awarded third), should he kill the play when the tag is applied? In FED it is a DDB. Is the play over or is the play continuing given the BR attempt to take second? If U1 kills the play (by calling time instead of an out), isn't he taking a play away from the defense? If he does kill it, where do they place the BR (since there is no throw to second on which to make a call). If U1 calls R1 out, then does he go get him and place him on third after the play at second?

To make matters worse, what if there were two outs when the play began? If U1 signals an out at third (that is later reversed because of the obstruction), the call has taken away the defense's opportunity to erase the BR at second for the third out.

By the way, my association had a lively discussion on this tonight and the consensus seemed to be that U1 should kill the play when the tag is applied to R1 (although it is really U2 who should kills it but it isn't his call) and then place the BR where, in their judgment, he would have gotten to in the absence of the obstruction on R1. However, is that tag "the end of playing action" as defined in Rule 22-1? Or is the end of playing action when the out is made on the BR at second?

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Here is the applicable NFHS rule 2-22-1:

SECTION 22 OBSTRUCTION AND FAKE TAG

ART. 1 . . . Obstruction is an act (intentional or unintentional, as well as physical or verbal) by a fielder, any member of the defensive team or its team personnel that hinders a runner or changes the pattern of play as in 5-1-3 and 8-3-2; or when a catcher or fielder hinders a batter as in 5-1-2b, 8-1-1e, 8-3-1c and 8-3-2. When obstruction occurs, the ball becomes dead at the end of playing action and the umpire has authority to determine which base or bases shall be awarded the runners according to the rule violated (Exceptions 8-4-2c, 8-4-2d).

Under Federation rules, obstruction is always a delayed dead ball. That means the ball becomes dead only after all runners have gone as far as possible so that the defense can record outs or commit errors. Case book plays 8.3.2a and d will answer your questions.

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PU (or U1 in your example) can just say something like "Stay there" to R1 -- and then get together with Bu (U2) to discuss any award.

 

It's much the same as a steal / check swing on a 3-2 count and a tag at second.

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5 hours ago, HeyBlueLA said:

By the way, my association had a lively discussion on this tonight and the consensus seemed to be that U1 should kill the play when the tag is applied to R1 (although it is really U2 who should kills it but it isn't his call) and then place the BR where, in their judgment, he would have gotten to in the absence of the obstruction on R1. However, is that tag "the end of playing action" as defined in Rule 22-1? Or is the end of playing action when the out is made on the BR at second?

The consensus is incorrect. The ball remains live in FED until the end of playing action. The end of playing action occurs when runners stop running and the defense has no more opportunities to retire a runner (not including appeals).

In this play, if U1/PU calls R1 out, no big deal. The OBS will protect him into 3B, which can be rectified with a quick conference between umpires. Even if he goes to the dugout thinking he's out, we'll bring him back and award 3B. The fact that U1/PU does not know (a) that R1 was obstructed, or (b) that U2/BU will award him 3B, we can sort that out later. Again: it's not imperative that other umpires get this call right in real time.

U2/BU will need to assess whether the BR was hindered by the OBS on R1. If not, then his out at 2B stands: if that's the third out, then the half inning is over, and the award to R1 is moot. If he was hindered—which seems highly unlikely in this play as I envision it, and it would need to be REALLY obvious to rule this way—then we could award him 2B.

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@HeyBlueLA: I am just posting to second what Maven said.  Your "consensus" is confusing OBR with FED rules.  

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Thanks for the help. Senor Azul, this situation is not covered by the case plays you mention as they do not have an element of an apparent out made to a runner. Noumpere, I have never heard the mechanic you suggest and believe that are only two choice are "out" or "time" as we have to call something.

Maven (and lawump), I appreciate your input and think you have this one correct. Because there is still a play possible for the defense, we would seem to have to provide an "out" call at third base. Also, practically, there is no way for U1 (PU) to know whether U1(BU) would protect the runner into third. I still have an issue with this if, for example, there were two outs when the ball was hit. Hearing the "out" call at third (for an apparent third out), the third baseman would not attempt a throw to second. So, the out call (which will later be reversed because of the obstruction) has prevented the defense from getting a third out on the play. I suppose we are going to have to just live with this one since, of course, it was the defense that committed the obstruction in the first place.

Finally, senor azul, do you have a reference you can provide me for the underlined portion of your statement " Under Federation rules, obstruction is always a delayed dead ball. That means the ball becomes dead only after all runners have gone as far as possible so that the defense can record outs or commit errors. ''''

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14 minutes ago, HeyBlueLA said:

Noumpere, I have never heard the mechanic you suggest and believe that are only two choice are "out" or "time" as we have to call something.

You're welcome.  IT's always a good day when we can learn something new.

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3 hours ago, HeyBlueLA said:

I suppose we are going to have to just live with this one since, of course, it was the defense that committed the obstruction in the first place.

Exactly right: if they don't want that risk, don't obstruct runners. (I would never say that to the coach, BTW.)

The other point to make is: when the ball goes to 3B, heads-up BR's always take 2B, usually without a play. It's no gross unfairness to allow the BR to "fill in" behind the obstructed runner.

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I guess I'm not convinced that if we're protecting to 3B with the possibility of continuous action that we call him "out" at 3B then bring him back.

I'll have to double check the FED mechanic on this but if it mimics type 2 or type b obstruction, we'd kill it at the time of the "out" at 3B, "Time, that's obstruction, third base" and place other runners as appropriate. 

If during a rundown, using Type B mechanics R3 is obstructed, but not tagged "out" and now they play on another runner and tag him out or he's safe at 2B, that's a different scenario than what the OP is referring. 

Thoughts?  

 

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·        From the FED definition (rule 2-22-1):  When obstruction occurs, the ball becomes dead at the end of playing action…

·        Obstruction appears in the delayed dead ball table in rule 5 as item number 4 with no conditions or qualifiers

·        FED rule 5-1-2b—it is a delayed dead ball when a catcher or any fielder obstructs a batter or runner…

·        FED rule 5-1-3—The ball becomes dead when time is taken to make an award when a catcher or any fielder obstructs a runner…

·        See FED case book plays 8.3.2 A and D. Play D follows (I have italicized the relevant part):

FED 8.3.2 SITUATION D:  With one out, R2 and R1. B4 hits ground ball directly to F1 who throws to F5 for the force on R2 at third. F5 then throws to F3 in time to put out B4. F6 holds R2, preventing him from advancing to third. RULING:  The umpire will call obstruction when it occurs, and then call time after runners have advanced as far as possible, which in this situation would probably be second for R1. R2 will then be awarded third. Because of the obstruction of F6, the out at first stands. B4’s out stands. B4 was not affected by the obstruction. B5 will come to bat with two outs and R2 is on third and R1 is on second base.

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