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Guest Carl

Obstruction?

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Guest Carl

Little League Rules.  I was the Offense's manager.  R1 and R2, no out.  Batter grounds weakly to SS/3B hole.  Both fielders converge on the ball near the edge of the infield grass but the SS beats the 3B to the ball.  R2 runs behind the SS but finds the 3B in front of him, trying to retreat (backwards, still facing the SS) to the 3B bag.  He is running faster than the 3B is retreating so he slows up and tries to go around him by going toward the infield grass.  Meanwhile the SS flips the ball to the 3B and the 3B beats the runner to the bag for a force.

I asked the umpire for an obstruction call.  He did not grant it citing a "train wreck".  I only know "train wreck" as an unofficial term for when a thrown ball, runner and fielder come together.  I thought on a batted ball only one fielder is protected from interference (in my case the SS) and all other fielders are required to give way to the runner or be guilty of obstruction.  I understand the 3B did not intentionally get in the way, he was just reacting to the play as it unfolded and it just got in the way.  But I don't think intent is required for obstruction. And also, sometimes you "just can't disappear", but that is also irrelevant.

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As described, sounds like obstruction. 

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So, what happened when you Protested?

When you Protest two good things can happen:

1) if there is more than one ump the umps get together to discuss the call and they hopefully get it right.

2) if the ump(s) get it wrong hopefully the Protest Committee gets it right and the umpire(s) "learn" the correct ruling.  Of course, if the umpires were correct then you "learn" something!

Nothing wrong with Protesting!

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At the Coach's Meeting I always told the coach's "Gentlemen, you are not protesting enough". I hear over and over that "well, they're not going to change the call, what's the point?" Here's the point: When you protest, no matter how it comes out, someone is going to learn something. Sometimes it's you, and sometimes it's the Umpires. It may happen again with the same Umpires, and, if they've learned, they get the call right, ok?

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I agree with Larry, this sounds like type 1 OBS. The ball is dead, runners are awarded their advance base.

It IS possible to have a "train wreck," which the OP correctly describes as happening on a thrown ball. It occurs when a runner not liable for INT and a fielder not liable for OBS collide. A train wreck is less likely in FED and LL, which do not protect a fielder in the act of fielding a thrown ball from liability for OBS. 

On a batted ball, however, train wrecks cannot occur: contact or hindrance are always either OBS/INT (with tangle/untangle the only exception). Only 1 fielder is "protected" from liability for OBS. In this play, it was initially unclear which fielder, F5 or F6, would be protected, but it seems that ultimately F6 would be. Because F5 hindered the runner (contact not necessary), he would be guilty of OBS.

A protest of this ruling should have succeeded. 

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From the 2019 Little League Rules Instruction Manual (Rule 2.00—Definition of Terms)—and following are comments from Little League umpire instructors, i.e., what’s being taught to LL umpires.

OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball, impedes the progress of any runner…

INSTRUCTOR’S COMMENTS:

It is quite simple now for the umpires to rule on obstruction…if the defense does not have the ball and impedes the progress of any runner it shall be called obstruction. It makes no difference if the defense is fielding a thrown ball or waiting for the ball, if the defensive player does not have the ball in his/her possession it is obstruction if they impede the progress of any runner.

Runners are entitled to the entire base/plate without having to alter their path or slide to achieve the base or plate. If a fielder blocks ANY PART of the base or plate without possession of the ball and the runner is hindered, forced to slide or alter his/her path because of the fielder’s position, the runner has been obstructed.

  Most actions related to obstruction concern who has the right-of-way. The defense has the right to the baseline on a batted ball or when he/she already has the ball in his/her possession. The offense has the right to the baseline in all other occasions, including on a thrown ball.

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Guest Carl

Thank you for the responses.  When I gave up the conversation, it crossed my mind to protest but due to Covid shortening our season to 8 games, we are doing a couple of things  differently this season to encourage participation.  CBO, free substitution and the end of season championship tournament with random seeding (losing or winning has no effect on our seeding).  I did consider suggesting to him that he investigate the rule after the game, but thought that would be disrespectful and over the line.  My impression is that he is an ump who takes it seriously, so I don't think I needed to say it anyway.   

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When more than one fielder is attempting to make a play on the ball, the umpire must judge right away which one is the "protected" fielder.  This means, that if the runner and THAT fielder get tangled, he may rule Interference.  Therefore, once the ump has determined who is protected, that means any other fielder might be Obstructing.  

In your case, the SS would be the protected fielder, and therefore F5 is vulnerable for an OBS call if he gets tangled up with the runner.  This is all lacking anything intentional by the runner to interfere with any part of the play.

Sounds to me like F5 got in the way, and it would be called OBS.

Just wanted to have you understand the term "protected" vs. "Non protected" fielder.

Mike

Las Vegas

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18 hours ago, Vegas_Ump said:

When more than one fielder is attempting to make a play on the ball, the umpire must judge right away which one is the "protected" fielder.  This means, that if the runner and THAT fielder get tangled, he may rule Interference.  Therefore, once the ump has determined who is protected, that means any other fielder might be Obstructing.  

Although the general claim that the umpire must identify the one protected fielder is correct, that determination can change as play develops. The determination of who is protected is not once and for always.

And if a fielder loses his protection, then he must "disappear," or be liable for OBS.

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3 hours ago, maven said:

Although the general claim that the umpire must identify the one protected fielder, that determination can change as play develops. The determination of who is protected is not once and for always.

And if a fielder loses his protection, then he must "disappear," or be liable for OBS.

Absolutely!  Good point!

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Isn't obstruction/interference a judgement call?   Can you really protest based on that?   I thought you could only protest based upon rules interpretation.

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39 minutes ago, BLarson said:

Isn't obstruction/interference a judgement call?   Can you really protest based on that?   I thought you could only protest based upon rules interpretation.

It is a judgment call, but the OP suggests that the umpire recognized the runner was impeded and used an improper application/misapplication/lack of application of a rule to justify the call/noncall.

A collision between a runner and a fielder may be many things, but train wreck is not one of them that falls within the rules with a very limited list of exceptions. This is not one of them.

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On 7/13/2020 at 1:42 PM, BLarson said:

Isn't obstruction/interference a judgement call?   Can you really protest based on that?   I thought you could only protest based upon rules interpretation.

You can use incorrect rule application to come to a wrong (or even right) judgment.   This is why it's sometimes reasonable to ask an umpire to explain their judgment.  Force play to second base, looks like runner is out by a step...did the ump call the runner safe because he judged the runner beat the ball (judgment) or because the runner wasn't tagged (also judgment, but paired with an incorrect application of a rule)?

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20 hours ago, BLarson said:

Isn't obstruction/interference a judgement call?   Can you really protest based on that?   I thought you could only protest based upon rules interpretation.

Every call includes both rule application and judgment. In this instance, the judgment part of the call was correct: the umpire saw the collision and judged that the fielder hindered the runner.

But his rule application was incorrect: he seems to have thought that this hindrance did not constitute OBS, perhaps because the contact was not intentional. That application reflects an incorrect understanding of the rule and is liable to protest.

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Ok...when I read the OP, the umpire didn't call anything...so if he doesn't call it (based upon his judgement) you can't protest it.   I guess that's what i was getting at.

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30 minutes ago, BLarson said:

Ok...when I read the OP, the umpire didn't call anything...so if he doesn't call it (based upon his judgement) you can't protest it.   I guess that's what i was getting at.

He said it wasn't obstruction because it was a "train wreck" which implies the old "everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing" OR, simply implied "it's OK for F5 to impede R2 in this scenario" - that is not supported by the rules, and that is protestable....the judgment can't be protested, his reason for arriving at said judgment can be.

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1 hour ago, BLarson said:

Ok...when I read the OP, the umpire didn't call anything...so if he doesn't call it (based upon his judgement) you can't protest it.   I guess that's what i was getting at.

Ask why he didn't call it. It may really be a rules issue.

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Guest Carl

Carl:  Dan, I saw the 3B get in my runner's way there.  I think you have an obstruction call.

Dan:  I saw that but we just had three players converging on the same area at the same time.  Just a train wreck.

Carl:  I think you have to give me the obstruction there.   You can only protect one fielder and since the SS got the ball, I assume he is protected.  The 3B is not protected so he can't be in my runner's way.

Dan:  No.  Just a train wreck.

Carl:  OK, Thanks.

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19 minutes ago, Guest Carl said:

Carl:  Dan, I saw the 3B get in my runner's way there.  I think you have an obstruction call.

Dan:  I saw that but we just had three players converging on the same area at the same time.  Just a train wreck.

Carl:  I think you have to give me the obstruction there.   You can only protect one fielder and since the SS got the ball, I assume he is protected.  The 3B is not protected so he can't be in my runner's way.

Dan:  No.  Just a train wreck.

Carl:  OK, Thanks.

Protest.

 

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