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Guest Coach Bill

Obstruction

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Guest Coach Bill

So I was just having this discussion with a coaching friend of mine this week watching Mike Trout obstructed on a single to left by the third baseman about 5 steps in front of the bag. The coach didn't send him and I thought he missed the free base. I asked what happens if he's obstructed closer to second base. Sure enough, as seems to always happen, my question happened in my 50+ baseball league yesterday while I was coaching third. Batter rips a ball in the right center gap (this is 50+ league the outfielders are slow and the batter still runs pretty well). As he is rounding second the shortstop obstructs him and both the home plate and base ump give the obstruction sign. Third base is never in question - even after the obstruction. If he is not obstructed I would have definitely had him rounding the base at a minimum and reading. I see the sign go up and I'm telling the runner to go. In the middle of the play - the umps say out loud - no he gets third. Granted it's only a small chance I send him, but now no way. But I'm telling him to run and they were saying he only gets third. He didn't run - so I know I don't get home - but what's the right call if he does run? Like I say - third was never in question. Even after he touched third after a serious obstruction that made him completely stop, the ball was in the outfield beyond where the second baseman plays.

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1 hour ago, Guest Coach Bill said:

So I was just having this discussion with a coaching friend of mine this week watching Mike Trout obstructed on a single to left by the third baseman about 5 steps in front of the bag. The coach didn't send him and I thought he missed the free base. I asked what happens if he's obstructed closer to second base. Sure enough, as seems to always happen, my question happened in my 50+ baseball league yesterday while I was coaching third. Batter rips a ball in the right center gap (this is 50+ league the outfielders are slow and the batter still runs pretty well). As he is rounding second the shortstop obstructs him and both the home plate and base ump give the obstruction sign. Third base is never in question - even after the obstruction. If he is not obstructed I would have definitely had him rounding the base at a minimum and reading. I see the sign go up and I'm telling the runner to go. In the middle of the play - the umps say out loud - no he gets third. Granted it's only a small chance I send him, but now no way. But I'm telling him to run and they were saying he only gets third. He didn't run - so I know I don't get home - but what's the right call if he does run? Like I say - third was never in question. Even after he touched third after a serious obstruction that made him completely stop, the ball was in the outfield beyond where the second baseman plays.

This should not happen.  When the obstruction occurs, point and verbalize, "that's obstruction!" and allow the play to continue.  When the play is over, you then apply your judgment as to where the runner should be placed.  NEVER EVER verbalize runner placement while the play is live.

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Umpire judgement call. Depending on the severity of the obstruction the runner may only be protected to third or could be protected all the way to home.

You said without the obstruction you would have him rounding third and reading, sounds like he should only have been protected to third.  If you had said without the obstruction you would have sent him home then he probably would have been protected all the way home.  Again, umpires judgement as to where the runner would have ended up without the obstruction.

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I'm assuming the umpire(s) pointed at F6 and verbalized "that's obstruction".  That said, I've never heard an umpire announce which base the runner is protected to (no he gets third)!  That should not be done.

In Type A, you call Time and award the appropriate base.  In Type B you wait till play is completed and then place the runner(s).

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Guest Coach Bill

So can you send the runner without fear? Or if you send him, can they say - no we were only giving him third base? I guess that's my bigger question. I knew they shouldn't call it out, I was just wondering.

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Guest Coach Bill

Let me clarify some more. That obstruction didn't stop him from taking third by any means. It stopped him from possibly going home. I might not have sent him out of risk/reward, but the obstruction only affected his ability to go home. Third was never in question. Would an umpire ever tell call the runner safe and return him to third if he was out trying to go home. I mean he still would have probably been 2/3 of the way home before the ball would have arrived. 

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17 minutes ago, Guest Coach Bill said:

So can you send the runner without fear?

No. "Rule 6.01(h)(2) Comment: Under Rule 6.01(h)(2), when the ball is not dead on obstruction and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire’s judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call."

 

8 minutes ago, Guest Coach Bill said:

Would an umpire ever tell call the runner safe and return him to third if he was out trying to go home.

No.

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If you send the runner home and he is tagged out then it's up to the umpire's judgement.  He could call him safe saying he would have scored it not obstructed or he could call him out saying he would have been out if not obstructed.

If the play at home is close the obstruction probably caused the out and the runner would probably be ruled safe.  If the runner was "out by a mile" he's probably going to be called out.

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36 minutes ago, Guest Coach Bill said:

So can you send the runner without fear? Or if you send him, can they say - no we were only giving him third base? I guess that's my bigger question. I knew they shouldn't call it out, I was just wondering.

The runner can not be sent home without jeopardy of being tagged out at home. 

23 minutes ago, Guest Coach Bill said:

Let me clarify some more. That obstruction didn't stop him from taking third by any means. It stopped him from possibly going home. I might not have sent him out of risk/reward, but the obstruction only affected his ability to go home. Third was never in question. Would an umpire ever tell call the runner safe and return him to third if he was out trying to go home. I mean he still would have probably been 2/3 of the way home before the ball would have arrived. 

The umpire might think that the runner's progress was impeded by a step or two. If he is thrown out at HP by 5 steps or more, then the out stands. And there is no returning him to 3B in that scenario. 

Few coaches don't understand why their obstructed runner can be called out (or act like they don't). It will take all of the umpire(s) game  management skills to survive this call. Most likely, though, the game becomes a $#!+show henceforward. 

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Guest Coach Bill

Thanks - it was definitely impeded more than a step or two but I read the rule and get it. I was pretty sure that if it obstruction without a dead ball that he could be called out if you advanced too far. They did help me with my judgment to stop him, but I wondered what to do if they hadn't. Seems like a good defensive strategy to have your defense intentionally obstruct more than a base ahead on a ball in the gap I guess. First baseman obstructing batter on a potential triple. Shortstop on runner at second who might get home. 

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37 minutes ago, Guest Coach Bill said:

Seems like a good defensive strategy to have your defense intentionally obstruct more than a base ahead on a ball in the gap I guess. First baseman obstructing batter on a potential triple. Shortstop on runner at second who might get home.  

On the contrary, the penalty for OBS is designed precisely to negate this possible advantage. All runners affected by the act of OBS are awarded bases that they would have attained without the OBS.

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42 minutes ago, Guest Coach Bill said:

Seems like a good defensive strategy to have your defense intentionally obstruct more than a base ahead on a ball in the gap I guess.

If I judge the obstruction intentional, my award is likely to be quite generous.

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3 hours ago, LRZ said:

If I judge the obstruction intentional, my award is likely to be quite generous.

There's no provision in the rules for that.

FED allows us to penalize such action under 3-3-1f(4). The penalty is normally a team warning followed by ejecting the next offender. With a written warning, the player would be restricted; an egregious act (if not MC) could warrant ejection (but if that egregious, I'd probably just go with MC for the EJ and OBS for the act).

I'll let others speak about how to handle intentional OBS in other codes.

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I don't work Fed, first of all, so I don't have those options; all my games are governed by OBR, with local modifications.

Second, I don't mean a frivolous or fraudulent award. I meant if I deem the obstruction intentional, I would, in exercising my judgment, give the runner all the benefit of the doubt (a phrase you are fond of) in judging where I think he would have gotten to without the obstruction.

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On 6/30/2019 at 8:00 AM, Tborze said:

I'm curious as to, what obstruction sign?

You point at the location of the play and call “obstruction!”

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the clarification @spark2212.  But, there is no sign (signal) for obstruction. 

I was thinking of the old DDB signal. 

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On 6/30/2019 at 12:15 PM, maven said:

On the contrary, the penalty for OBS is designed precisely to negate this possible advantage. All runners affected by the act of OBS are awarded bases that they would have attained without the OBS.

But there's no real risk to the defense is there?   If OBS gets called the runner gets the base they would have got anyway, if OBS is missed, the runner probably gets out.   Seems to me all reward no risk.   Or am I missing something in how the rule is administered?

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28 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

But there's no real risk to the defense is there?   If OBS gets called the runner gets the base they would have got anyway, if OBS is missed, the runner probably gets out.   Seems to me all reward no risk.   Or am I missing something in how the rule is administered?

If they throw the ball away, the runner gets the chance to advance even more than they would have been awarded.

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1 hour ago, yawetag said:

If they throw the ball away, the runner gets the chance to advance even more than they would have been awarded.

I'm not talking about that...I'll give you an example.

R1 attempts to advance to third on a single to RF.   F6 obstructs as R1 rounds second/passes F6.  R1 tagged out at third.

1. Ump sees it - R1 awarded third base, which he would have achieved without the obstruction

2. Ump misses it - R1 out

Seems to be very little risk in obstructing a runner who would otherwise reach third safely.

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20 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

I'm not talking about that...I'll give you an example.

R1 advances to third on a single.   F6 obstructs as he rounds second/passes F6.  R1 tagged out at third.

1. Ump sees it - R1 awarded third base, which he would have achieved without the obstruction

2. Ump misses it - R1 out

Seems to be very little risk in obstructing a runner who would otherwise reach third safely.

It strikes me as rather unlikely that the obstruction would go unnoticed by the umpires (especially in upper levels of play where there are multiple base umps).

Also, you run the risk that a runner who wasn’t actually planning to advance (and was instead simply trying to force a throw) gets a free base.

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1 hour ago, spark2212 said:

It strikes me as rather unlikely that the obstruction would go unnoticed by the umpires (especially in upper levels of play where there are multiple base umps).

Also, you run the risk that a runner who wasn’t actually planning to advance (and was instead simply trying to force a throw) gets a free base.

In my experience OBS gets missed by amateur umps at least as often as it gets caught, whether its subtle or not...even in two ump systems - the fact is, the majority of the time two ump systems are for seeing two different parts of the play, not for two umpires to watch the same things (though from time to time they do converge), so you're still dependent on an umpire to see it and judge it.  You have a mix of umps that don't see it because they're not looking at that particular part of the field (through simple mistake or other priorities)...and then the umpire may just conclude it wasn't obstruction for whatever reason, including (but not only) the fact that many inexperienced umpires (and coaches and players) still believe contact is required to get OBS.

The risk you mention is very low - a savvy infielder knows the runner is going by what the third base coach is doing/saying, not necessarily by a feint of the runner.  It will happen from time to time, but not enough to overcome the plus side.

 

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7 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

In my experience OBS gets missed by amateur umps at least as often as it gets caught, whether its subtle or not...even in two ump systems - the fact is, the majority of the time two ump systems are for seeing two different parts of the play, not for two umpires to watch the same things (though from time to time they do converge), so you're still dependent on an umpire to see it and judge it.  You have a mix of umps that don't see it because they're not looking at that particular part of the field (through simple mistake or other priorities)...and then the umpire may just conclude it wasn't obstruction for whatever reason, including (but not only) the fact that many inexperienced umpires (and coaches and players) still believe contact is required to get OBS.

The risk you mention is very low - a savvy infielder knows the runner is going by what the third base coach is doing/saying, not necessarily by a feint of the runner.  It will happen from time to time, but not enough to overcome the plus side.

 

I think you make a valid point.  It's why a governing principle should be to give the benefit of the doubt to the offense on such plays.  Keep in mind that umpires share information about teams with each other and within an association, and we know the teams that try to pull this kind of crap.  So we'll be looking for it in your games if you choose to coach players to obstruct.

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31 minutes ago, grayhawk said:

I think you make a valid point.  It's why a governing principle should be to give the benefit of the doubt to the offense on such plays.  Keep in mind that umpires share information about teams with each other and within an association, and we know the teams that try to pull this kind of crap.  So we'll be looking for it in your games if you choose to coach players to obstruct.

Again: if we suspect that the OBS is intentional, we have additional tools for addressing unsporting behavior beyond merely penalizing the OBS.

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