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“45 degree rule”


Guest Michael  Atkinson

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Guest Michael  Atkinson

Hello guys. First time to post on this forum. I found umpire empire while going through YouTube videos on mechanics. Im 24 years old have been umpiring since I was 15 years old. I umpire baseball for a USSSA company based out of central Arkansas that attracts some of the best ball around. I am blessed with my college schedule this semester to be able to do highschool ball. The reason for my post is the “45° rule” you hear everyone talking about when it comes to balks. No where in the mlb rule book or case book does it say anything about 45°. Now in the highschool rule book it refers to it in the case book but not the rule book so I will try to stay away from referring to highschool play. As far as mlb/usssa goes, every pitching coach anywhere preaches to lefties to flirt around the 45° area. To me as the rule book states to DIRECTLY step towards the bag you are throwing to when coming off the mound, 45° is not anywhere close to directly. I’ve talked to many college experienced umpires and they say that you use it as a reference point but how can you use 45° as a reference point to a rule that says DIRECTLY. By the definition of directly it says “without changing direction or stopping.” 45 ° is not just changing a direction but is going “halfway” in the opposite direction. I enjoyed umpire empires video of busting baseball rule myths but I believe his rules that he busted were very very basic and most who actually know the game know those rules. As a baseball rules enthusiast I am curious to why 45° is a common reference point. It’s almost to me the same as the old time saying “ball beat him there he’s out” 

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The usual interp of "directly" is "more toward the base than anywhere else," hence the 45-degree line you reference.

This call is the toughest to make at any level and is one of those "you know it when you see it" type of situations. I wouldn't nit-pick a 44-degree step, but you can tell when F1 took a step more toward the plate than 1B.

Welcome to umpiring! I'd suggest you set up an account and join us more.

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Guest Michael  Atkinson

I agree yawetag, that the usual interpretation of directly is more towards a bag than another. But that usual interpretation is mostly found in baseball. But I hardly believe that if someone told you to walk directly down this line that you would walk half way in the opposite direction before going to the place you were told to walk to.  20 years ago if the ball had beat the runner it didn’t matter (for the most part) if the fielder tagged him in time on a close play, the explanation that was given was “the ball beat him there”. It doesn’t work like anymore. Me personally I abide by the unwritten rule of 45° because it causes a lot less arguing and  bickering but I do not believe that is what the rule says. I think eventually we as umpires need to either start calling a balk if they don’t go directly to first or the rule needs to be re written to accommodate 45°

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31 minutes ago, Guest Michael Atkinson said:

I agree yawetag, that the usual interpretation of directly is more towards a bag than another. But that usual interpretation is mostly found in baseball. But I hardly believe that if someone told you to walk directly down this line that you would walk half way in the opposite direction before going to the place you were told to walk to.  20 years ago if the ball had beat the runner it didn’t matter (for the most part) if the fielder tagged him in time on a close play, the explanation that was given was “the ball beat him there”. It doesn’t work like anymore. Me personally I abide by the unwritten rule of 45° because it causes a lot less arguing and  bickering but I do not believe that is what the rule says. I think eventually we as umpires need to either start calling a balk if they don’t go directly to first or the rule needs to be re written to accommodate 45°

It's not an unwritten rule in NCAA: 

"9-1-a-6) The pitcher must step directly and gain ground toward a base in an
attempt to pick off a runner. “Directly” is interpreted to mean within a
45-degree angle measuring from the pivot foot toward the base the pitcher
is throwing to or feinting a throw."

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According to the book The Official Rules of Baseball Illustrated by David Nemec, the rule requiring a pitcher to step toward a base before throwing was instituted in 1899. “Prior to then pitchers had been free to do just about as they wished in trying to hold runners close to their base, including suddenly snapping a throw to a base while looking elsewhere.”

It’s not an unwritten rule in FED either—it’s covered in case book play 6.2.4 Situation B:

With R1 on first, F1 attempts a pickoff while stepping at an angle but to the home plate side. RULING:  Balk. To comply with the requirement to “step directly toward,” F1 must step to the first-base side of a 45-degree angle between center of pitcher’s plate and between home and first base. (6-2-4b)

For OBR the point is not covered in the rules but there is the following from Jim Evans--

OBR:  Authoritative Opinion:  Evans:  “For practical enforcement purposes, stepping directly means stepping within 45° of a direct, straight line to the base. In other words, the pitcher is not stepping more toward a different base than the one to which he is throwing.” (JEA/8:32)

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1 hour ago, Guest Michael Atkinson said:

I agree yawetag, that the usual interpretation of directly is more towards a bag than another. But that usual interpretation is mostly found in baseball. But I hardly believe that if someone told you to walk directly down this line that you would walk half way in the opposite direction before going to the place you were told to walk to.  20 years ago if the ball had beat the runner it didn’t matter (for the most part) if the fielder tagged him in time on a close play, the explanation that was given was “the ball beat him there”. It doesn’t work like anymore. Me personally I abide by the unwritten rule of 45° because it causes a lot less arguing and  bickering but I do not believe that is what the rule says. I think eventually we as umpires need to either start calling a balk if they don’t go directly to first or the rule needs to be re written to accommodate 45°

The rule (likely) won't be re-written.  No one in MLB has a problem with how it's generally interpreted (some might have some issues with the judgment of the step for some pitchers), and they are the ones who write the rules for THAT LEVEL (the other levels just "borrow" the rules).

 

And, the more you do this, the more you will realize that the rules don't always say exactly what they mean or mean exactly what they say.  That's part of what makes it so much an art.

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1. For a LHP to throw to 1B, he has to turn/cock his left shoulder to make that throw ... and his foot is within the mythical 45 degrees.  Some lefties are better than others at delaying their commitment to HP or 1B . But you can tell by his left shoulder if he's throwing to 1B.  I don't touch this move. 

2. When LHP intends to deliver a pitch at time-of-pitch (TOP), but then decides late to throw to 1B (often instigated by R1 breaking on first movement), F1 may balk. To be able to make that throw (without falling on his arse), his non-pivot foot clearly steps more toward HP than 1B. I hope to be all over those. 

That's all I can do with my limited umpire skills. And OHC can pound sand when LHP does (1).    

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3 hours ago, Jimurray said:

It's not an unwritten rule in NCAA: 

"9-1-a-6) The pitcher must step directly and gain ground toward a base in an
attempt to pick off a runner. “Directly” is interpreted to mean within a
45-degree angle measuring from the pivot foot toward the base the pitcher
is throwing to or feinting a throw."

Thanks, you beat me to it. I was going to post it too. 

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4 hours ago, Guest Michael Atkinson said:

I hardly believe that if someone told you to walk directly down this line that you would walk half way in the opposite direction before going to the place you were told to walk to.

If I were asked to walk a certain distance down a line and turn around, I think the 45-degree spot is the least of my worries.

You're comparing apples to oranges here. We aren't asking someone to walk down a line, we're asking someone to make a step "toward" a base, which has been interpreted, both by rules and general consensus, to be a 45-degree line.

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8 minutes ago, yawetag said:

If I were asked to walk a certain distance down a line and turn around, I think the 45-degree spot is the least of my worries.

You're comparing apples to oranges here. We aren't asking someone to walk down a line, we're asking someone to make a step "toward" a base, which has been interpreted, both by rules and general consensus, to be a 45-degree line.

And he's either stepping towards home of first base.  Hence the 45° point.  Watch out guys.  I've had a chromebook for 4 years and this is the first time I've been able to figure out how to insert a degree symbol.

 

 

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