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RBIbaseball

LL Majors Softball rule/situation

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To preface, this happened in my 4th game I've ever umpired as I am brand new to the business. I have always been a student of the game and have been studying rules and umpire mechanics more closely since I'm putting myself out there. I'm 32yr old if that's relevant.

Game 1 - Majors LL softball: R1 and R2, 1 out, dropped 3rd strike situation with the ball traveling to the backstop. BR takes off down 1st base line and everyone is yelling "Go, Go, Go". PU signals strike with no other verbal signal and stands there looking at the play as she starts to pitter patter a few feet toward first base following the runner slightly. I was already moving in position to make a call at 3B if there is one to be had on the passed ball. As it was unfolding I was a little confused for a second as I thought I had been caught off guard and messed something up (dropped 3rd strike was not in my pre-play thoughts with 1B occupied). The BR beat the catcher's throw down to 1B and the PU signaled safe. R2 advanced home safely and R1 advanced to 3B with no play. The ball went back to the pitcher in the circle at the end of the play.

By now I have processed that the PU failed to realize or was unaware of the first base being occupied rule. There were about 5 seconds (as in I had time to intervene but I didn't) after the pitcher reset in the circle before the defensive coach asked for time and both coaches approached the home plate ump. I immediately ran up to home plate to assist my PU. I got there as the coach had finished asking a question that I only heard the tail end of about "but they had a runner on first". PU looked at both coaches and I could tell she was lost, so then she looked at me a bit desperately and I took over the conversation from there. 

I told both coaches that "the BR was out on the strike out and that the dropped third strike was not in play because 1B was occupied with less than 2 outs". Both coaches seemed to be satisfied and the BR was told by her coach that she was out and returned to the dug out. As I was jogging back into position I hear the PU tell the current R3 to return to 1B and that the runner who scored need to return to 2B, as I turned around I saw the defensive coach still had the PU's ear as I had left the meeting. The offensive coach was now looking at me with her hands up like "WTF" as she was walking back toward home plate to talk to PU. The PU was again looking directly at me for help.

I immediately stepped in before another meeting occurred and announced (from my current position in the infield) toward the defensive coach "Coach, it was a live ball. The runner stays at 3B and the run scores. The fact that your girls threw down to first to get a runner that was already out is not the offenses fault. The play was still live and the runners had the right to advance." The offensive coach was of course happy with that, and the defensive coach seemed content. Then the offensive coach threw yet another wrench into the situation "but my R1 was stealing so...", which I assume he was trying to say that 1B was no longer occupied and he thought the BR was indeed alive with a dropped 3rd strike. Although to be honest I wasn't sure when she left, I responded very confidently that "R1 did not steal until she saw the past ball, she wasn't going coach on the pitch coach". He said "but they both were stealing". Again I said, "Coach she didn't start going until after the strike out". (This last part I don't know if that is the actual rule as I just pulled that out of my butt from what I remember playing ball. It is possible that the coach wasn't even addressing that but she stopped her argument). Everyone returned to their dugouts and we lived happily ever after.

Questions:

1. Was my ruling correct?

2. Should I have jumped in to correct the situation right when the play was over, said something during the play to clarify that the BR was out, or waited a few seconds for the coach to question it like I did? What if the coach just let it go all together, then what?

3. The second go around, was it appropriate for me to announce the ruling from the infield, or should I have let us all come back together and explained it at the plate just between the umps and coaches?

4. If both R1 and R2 were committed to stealing from the pitch release, BR could legally advance on a dropped third strike because 1B would no longer be occupied, correct? (again, not sure on this one as it was a rule I thought I remembered growing up)?

5. Does the fact that the PU went along with the play and signaled safe give the defense any ammunition to say they were confused by the umpire and that R1/R2 should have to return to their original bases? Or perhaps only be awarded 1 base each on the passed ball, as that is all they would have gotten without the confusion?

 

All advice is appreciated. Thanks for reading.

-Joe

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I *thinik* this part of softball is the same as baseball, so:

The ball remains live.  PU *can* help out by yelling "Batter is out" but no other "assistance" should be given.  First base is still occupied -- it's at the time of pitch that matters, not whether R1 is stealing (nor, in baseball, whether R1 reached second before the ball was released or anything -- practically, this can't hap[pen in softball)

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1. Correct, but for the wrong reasons (see #4)

2. Assuming you're the base umpire, I would have made an out call when the batter got to first base. (I'm not sure why the PU signaled safe at the throw down to first---isn't that your call?) I would point toward home, signal out, and say something like "Batter's out---dropped third not in effect". It's primarily the plate umpire's call, but I would clarify that the runner was out to prevent more craziness in case of more throws around the infield. 

3. Probably better to confer with your partner, but it seems like the first conference hadn't totally broken up. Doesn't sound like you did anything wrong, IMO.

4. This is not correct. First base is considered occupied regardless of a steal attempt (unless, in baseball, the runner starts for second while the pitcher is set, and makes it before the pitching motion starts). 

5. "Does it give them any ammunition?" Yes, but I'm not convinced. It'd be one thing if your partner somehow caused the craziness (maybe an emphatic "Strike---no catch! No catch!" call on a ball in the dirt that stayed in front of the catcher?). But I see a passed ball and kids reacting because they're not sure of the rules.

As noumpere said, the PU should've been ready with an emphatic---maybe even repeated, given the age level---"Batter's out!" call. S/he wasn't. You did a good job, given the circumstances. 

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1. Yes...mostly sort of. 

2. This was an incorrect application of the rules (rather than a botched judgment) - even if the coach doesn't say anything you need to be correcting it...what you really don't want is to someone realize the mistakes a couple of pitches later.   Be proactive and transparent - it's better game management.

4. No.   First base was occupied at Time of Pitch.  In softball, runner can't leave until ball leaves the pitcher's hand.  The runner was on first when the ball left the pitcher's hand..doesn't matter if the runner leaves before or after the ball reaches the plate.

5. The defense is required to know the dropped third strike rule and to know in this situation the batter is already out.  Yes, it helps if the ump repeats "the batter is out", but the fact is the batter IS out regardless of what the umpire does or says.   As long as the defense knows it was strike three they're on their own.

Why did PU go down the line and then make the call at first - I'm pretty sure this is your call even though you're located behind the shortstop?   

 

 

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Thanks for the replies. That all makes sense. I'm not sure why the PU tried to make a call at first base, but being on the other side of the infield, I didn't think it was appropriate to call "Out" as she was signaling safe... I mean for the first half of the play I was confused and not sure how to intervene. Next time in a situation with a lackluster PU I will probably just announce the batter out as they go to run (if only to help out the PU from confusing anything). In a situation where something gets messed up like this, at the very least I'll try to step in directly after the play ends and sort it out, regardless of a coach asking.

This PU does not take her job very seriously to say the least.

The next game I worked with her, the same PU called a stealing runner out (minor league baseball) for leaving early. I didn't correct it as I was not 100% sure, only about 99%, lol. Both coaches accepted the ruling. I went to her after the inning and let her know that I was quite confident that when a runner leaves early they are just returned to the base after the play. Her response was something along the lines of, "You might be right, but this late into the season they should know better, so they're out in my book." She also made multiple comments to the parents and the scorekeeper about the time limit and how she wants to time the end in the inning so everyone can get out of there sooner... But, the league has a hard time getting umpires, so.. ya.

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4 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

4. No.   First base was occupied at Time of Pitch.  In softball, runner can't leave until ball leaves the pitcher's hand.  The runner was on first when the ball left the pitcher's hand..doesn't matter if the runner leaves before or after the ball reaches the plate.

 

So, in baseball, if the runner commits to a steal prior to release of the pitch, the base is no longer occupied, correct?  If so, that's what I was thinking of from playing baseball when I was younger. If not, I guess just a myth that was stuck in my head.

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3 minutes ago, RBIbaseball said:

So, in baseball, if the runner commits to a steal prior to release of the pitch, the base is no longer occupied, correct?  If so, that's what I was thinking of from playing baseball when I was younger. If not, I guess just a myth that was stuck in my head.

No

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@RBIbaseball, see @noumpere's response above. (He is very smart.)

If your runner attains 2nd prior to time of pitch, then 1st is unoccupied.  Time of pitch = first movement of pitching delivery.  *Otherwise*, 1st is still "occupied" for the purposes of uncaught 3rd strike.

I may be wrong, but the only time I've seen a reference to "release of pitch" is as softball distinction relating to when runners can leave their bases (LL majors softball, and above).

Likelihood of runner attaining second before first movement is very low in OBR games (i.e. leadoffs possible), and pretty much impossible in majors LL and lower with closed bases (no leadoffs).

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27 minutes ago, RBIbaseball said:

...

The next game I worked with her, the same PU called a stealing runner out (minor league baseball) for leaving early.

...

You were correct, in LL baseball there are penalties for leaving early, but an out is not one of them.

In LL softball, yes you get an out if a runner leaves early.

So she was probably confusing the two rule books.

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33 minutes ago, RBIbaseball said:

The next game I worked with her, the same PU called a stealing runner out (minor league baseball) for leaving early. I didn't correct it as I was not 100% sure, only about 99%, lol

I can see this with inexperienced umpires going back and forth between LL softball and LL baseball.  Softball = out.  Baseball = return.

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1 hour ago, ousafe said:

You were correct, in LL baseball there are penalties for leaving early, but an out is not one of them.

In LL softball, yes you get an out if a runner leaves early.

So she was probably confusing the two rule books.

 

1 hour ago, beerguy55 said:

I can see this with inexperienced umpires going back and forth between LL softball and LL baseball.  Softball = out.  Baseball = return.

Understandable. I was more annoyed with her attitude about it. The fact she got it wrong is whatever, I can look past that.

 

@ousafe Thanks. I'll remove that stealing/unoccupied myth from my brain now... not sure where that came about for me.

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First ... welcome to the ranks!

 

I may be repeating some of this, but as a softball umpire ...

 

1. Was my ruling correct?  Yes, but not for the reason you gave.  First base was occupied at the time of the pitch.  It doesn’t matter what the runner was or was not trying to do following the release of the pitch.

2. Should I have jumped in to correct the situation right when the play was over, said something during the play to clarify that the BR was out, or waited a few seconds for the coach to question it like I did? What if the coach just let it go all together, then what?  Generally it is said that you should not interject yourself into your partner’s call unless you are asked.  But in a situation like this, I would say it is appropriate to call time after the play ends and before the coaches come out.  Have a conference with your partner.  You cannot change the call, but you should provide information to help your partner make the correction (if necessary).

During the play — each organization has its own mechanics and I can’t attest to Little League’s.  This is a situation that probably isn’t covered in most mechanics anyway.  Personally, if I am on the bases in this situation I will make a verbal “The batter is out!” (though nobody ever hears it in the commotion).  From there, I do not look at the retired batter-runner.  I only follow my runners and the play.  If a play is made on the retired batter-runner, there is no signal to be given because she was not out or safe at first base.  I may continue with my verbal “The batter is out!” calls, depending on the situation.  I am NOT giving any signal that may make it look like a play on the retired batter-runner was legitimate.  

As the plate umpire I am VERY loud with my “The batter is out!” assertion and making sure people are hearing it.  Again, I am not making any signal on any “play” at first base though.  (PU shouldn’t be doing that anyway!)

You were correct on your interpretation that it is “too bad” if the defense makes a play.  They are expected to know the situation.

3. The second go around, was it appropriate for me to announce the ruling from the infield, or should I have let us all come back together and explained it at the plate just between the umps and coaches?

Proper mechanic would be to get back together as a group.  Do not yell, lecture, announce anything other than out/safe from across the field; anything else should be a conversation.  On the other hand, depending on “the temperature of the room”, making a “public announcement” may have been good preventative officiating to help the crowd sort out what happened.  Personally, I would have just gotten everybody back together and let the coaches explain it later.

4. If both R1 and R2 were committed to stealing from the pitch release, BR could legally advance on a dropped third strike because 1B would no longer be occupied, correct? (again, not sure on this one as it was a rule I thought I remembered growing up)?

No.  In softball it is time of pitch.  Baseball may be different.

5. Does the fact that the PU went along with the play and signaled safe give the defense any ammunition to say they were confused by the umpire and that R1/R2 should have to return to their original bases? Or perhaps only be awarded 1 base each on the passed ball, as that is all they would have gotten without the confusion?

No.  This is a correctable umpire error.  The only correction though is removing the runner from first base and recording the out.  Anything past that is on the defense for not making a play during a live ball.  Let’s say the first baseman had thrown home and gotten a runner out at the plate.  Would you send the runners back?  No.  So why would you do anything different because the defense chose not to continue play?

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