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Throwing at runner = defensive malicious contact?


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I was reading a discussion on Facebook about a situation where a 10U shortstop had thrown the ball at a baserunner who was not sliding in a potential double play situation in order to draw an interference call. The discussion was from the point of view of the shortstop's coach (maybe dad) who characterized it as smart baseball.

Regardless of the details of the situation (I think the coach was probably wrong), could you call MC against defense for throwing intentionally at a player? Should you?

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Throwing intentionally at a runner or throwing through a runner in the way?  Those are two different things.

In fed this is s safety issue and the RUNNER must slide or clear himself out of the way or the throw. In this situation this would not be malicious as he is trying to make a play, in fact it would be two outs.

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1 hour ago, Guest guest said:

I was reading a discussion on Facebook about a situation where a 10U shortstop had thrown the ball at a baserunner who was not sliding in a potential double play situation in order to draw an interference call. The discussion was from the point of view of the shortstop's coach (maybe dad) who characterized it as smart baseball.

Regardless of the details of the situation (I think the coach was probably wrong), could you call MC against defense for throwing intentionally at a player? Should you?

Runners are not required to slide (unless there's a local rule), but they may not interfere. Set aside FPSR for the moment (I'll circle back), as most summer ball is OBR games.

Three kinds of INT can be relevant on this kind of play:

  • INT with a fielder: we'd call this regardless of intent on hindrance by a runner of the protected fielder until he makes his first play. Probably not relevant here, as F6 is up with the ball and presumably stepped on 2B, retiring R1.
  • INT with the ball: this must be intentional, as when a runner reaches or reroutes to get in the way. But I'm not calling this if I see F6 deliberately line up the runner to peg him; live ball, play on.
  • INT by a retired runner: lower bar here, retired runners must peel off (or slide) to try to avoid hindering the defense. Again, if F6 is lining up a runner who's peeling off, he won't get this call from me.

For FPSR games, of course, much the same applies, with added restrictions on the direction and extent of the slide, as well as popping up. 

All that said, any coach or parent who encourages intentionally pegging an opponent should be banned for at least a season, as this is despicable. If I detected that, I'd dump the coach and tell the kid not to do it.

I might call MC above a certain level, but for 10U they can't really throw hard enough to do much damage. It's also rather more difficult to tell if it's intentional at that level, unless coach is saying something like, "Great, Brendyn, just like we practiced!" Or maybe the fielder just short arms it right at the runner. But I'd definitely at least have a conversation with the kid and issue a team warning, such that further instances would result in ejection.

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In the scenario, probably not NFHS for 10u ball.

In any scenario, would you use judgment to say, "this kid is not actually trying to make a play, he's just trying to get an interference call" based on factors such as the angle of the throw or whether he had any chance of making the play? Or always give the benefit of the doubt to the defense? It was clear from the coach's comments in the discussion that the kid had been coached to throw at the player to get the call.

I feel like coaches are often looking for an interference call to give them an out in a situation where their defense had no hope of making the play anyway.

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9 minutes ago, Guest guest said:

In any scenario, would you use judgment to say, "this kid is not actually trying to make a play, he's just trying to get an interference call" based on factors such as the angle of the throw or whether he had any chance of making the play? Or always give the benefit of the doubt to the defense? It was clear from the coach's comments in the discussion that the kid had been coached to throw at the player to get the call.

As Maven said above...any kid that is taught to throw at a kid should be removed from coaching.  I would never give the benefit to a kid that I actually thought was intentionally throwing to create interference, nor would I expect to see that. I hope that 10u ball doesn't have coaches like this but it would not surprise me.  

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45 minutes ago, Guest guest said:

In any scenario, would you use judgment to say, "this kid is not actually trying to make a play, he's just trying to get an interference call" based on factors such as the angle of the throw or whether he had any chance of making the play? Or always give the benefit of the doubt to the defense? It was clear from the coach's comments in the discussion that the kid had been coached to throw at the player to get the call.

Your basic surmise is correct: we're going to have to take all available evidence into account before ruling. Yes, the defense has a bit of benefit of the doubt, but I'm not really calling INT unless I see something that I can sell. The defense did, after all, get an out; they're angling for two, which is rarer (esp. for 10U).

I should also have said earlier: the bar's going to drop (make an INT call easier) for a retired runner who goes into 2B standing and makes no effort to avoid the play. But we could have both: dumb/inexperienced runners AND fielders (as well as asshat coaches).

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Guys, as a middle infielder back in the day we were all taught to throw through the runner as a way of protecting ourselves. Just like the sanctioned collisions we used to see at the plate, the decision has been made to make things safer. Now I require the base runner to avoid interfering with a MI attempting to complete a DP and I don't allow a MI to deliberately throw at a base runner. Otherwise we return to the situation where I had spike marks on my shins all season and multiple runners took relay throws in the chest.

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1 hour ago, KenBAZ said:

Guys, as a middle infielder back in the day we were all taught to throw through the runner as a way of protecting ourselves. Just like the sanctioned collisions we used to see at the plate, the decision has been made to make things safer. Now I require the base runner to avoid interfering with a MI attempting to complete a DP and I don't allow a MI to deliberately throw at a base runner. Otherwise we return to the situation where I had spike marks on my shins all season and multiple runners took relay throws in the chest.

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I'm throwing straight to 1B. If R1 is in the way it's on him.

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As stated by @Rich Ives and @KenBAZ I see nothing wrong with teaching your F6 to through straight to first base...R1 will get out of the way...that's how I was taught, and that's how I taught my players.   R1 is making a choice.   Hitting him on purpose...bad.  Simply throwing to first using the straightest line...their job.  A little tougher in practice, and most players will either not throw at all, or make a very bad throw trying to avoid the runner...and then it's a crapshoot whether the INT call comes.   

Some of the things players do can become a learned behavior - players and coaches will do what they need to do to "sell" the call they should be getting anyway.  You think soccer flopping manifested itself all on its own...or do you think players learned what they needed to do to get the referee to do something?   

Hockey has had the dilemma for years - guy takes a slap shot from the blue line, and there are guys in between him and the net...and others intentionally putting themselves there to stop the shot from getting through...nobody's trying to hit anyone, but you have to "almost" not care if it does hit anyone.   And, from time to time, you will see a pro hold up when someone's face is on the ice feet in front of him...because we are after all human.

 

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1 hour ago, beerguy55 said:

And, from time to time, you will see a pro hold up when someone's face is on the ice feet in front of him...because we are after all human.

 

I'd call that good sportsmanship.   At some point, it is just a game and no goal, or run, or touchdown is worth harming a defenseless human being. 

As for this post in general, I was a 2B/SS until Varsity when I played some CF too, and while we were taught to throw straight to 2B - it isn't really that simple. Maybe I thought too much or something, but no way I'm lighting up another kid with my hardest throw just because he didn't peel off.  Now, I would throw it in his general direction but off target enough so that I could make it clear to anyone watching I had to adjust my throw due to the runner being in the way.   There may have been other times where I did throw towards the runner, but not hard enough to do lasting damage but it sent the message I intended.

I think this one you have to be there or see the video.  It's so hard to judge intention off a post.

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So, just to be clear:  there's a not-insignificant set of us here okay with teaching nine year olds to throw baseballs at other kids?  I mean, we've all seen 10U ball before, right?  Where half the players *might* know what the F*#K they're doing HALF the time, and there's a general sense of obliviousness in the air? 

Take my question however you like, and how you feel about the issue is up to you.  I'm just stripping it down to what it is, without the "well, that's on the runner" or "I got hurt by A Bad Person once, so imma hurt back" or whatever else got thrown in there. 

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10 minutes ago, HokieUmp said:

So, just to be clear:  there's a not-insignificant set of us here okay with teaching nine year olds to throw baseballs at other kids?  I mean, we've all seen 10U ball before, right?  Where half the players *might* know what the F*#K they're doing HALF the time, and there's a general sense of obliviousness in the air? 

Take my question however you like, and how you feel about the issue is up to you.  I'm just stripping it down to what it is, without the "well, that's on the runner" or "I got hurt by A Bad Person once, so imma hurt back" or whatever else got thrown in there. 

They aren't throwing at the runner. They are throwing to 1B just as they are entitled to do.

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30 minutes ago, Rich Ives said:

They aren't throwing at the runner. They are throwing to 1B just as they are entitled to do.

Whatever you need to get through the day, man.  My second paragraph stands as written.

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9 hours ago, HokieUmp said:

So, just to be clear:  there's a not-insignificant set of us here okay with teaching nine year olds to throw baseballs at other kids?  I mean, we've all seen 10U ball before, right?  Where half the players *might* know what the F*#K they're doing HALF the time, and there's a general sense of obliviousness in the air? 

Take my question however you like, and how you feel about the issue is up to you.  I'm just stripping it down to what it is, without the "well, that's on the runner" or "I got hurt by A Bad Person once, so imma hurt back" or whatever else got thrown in there. 

They throw at runners (or are coached to "throw to the base, wherever the runner is," which kids naturally will understand as an adult's permission to throw at an opponent) in part because too few umpires impose the proper penalties for INT. Those penalties are designed in part to eliminate the need for such unsporting behavior.

I don't perceive this as a huge problem—most runners peel off just fine—so I don't get too bent out of shape over it. If we umpires got our act together it would help.

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I don't perceive this as a huge problem—most runners peel off just fine—so I don't get too bent out of shape over it. If we umpires got our act together it would help.

This is the point I was trying to make earlier in this thread. Because the rules are different for baserunners, middle infielder no longer have to take measures to protect themselves that are dangerous. We as umpires have to enforce the rules we have to ensure safety. I cringe when I hear coaches say, "You've got to break up the double play". I want to add, "as long as you slide directly to the bag, don't pop up or peel off to the side the fielder is going to".

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There I was......

I was playing youth ball as a catcher (a LONG time ago).  The other team had a guy who deliberately threw the bat back at the catcher.....me!  He hit a nubber in front of the plate, clocked me pretty good with the bat, and that knocked me flat.  The Plate Ump ruled him out for INT.  (I think this ruling would stand up under any rule book.)

Later is the game, we had this guy up again with an 0-2 count. (My team had a substantial lead.)   I told the pitcher to send one down main street, and I was going to drop it.  Strike three!  U3K!  Off he goes!  I picked up the ball and threw a bullet that hit him in the nape of the neck!  Whoops!  Too bad!  Safe at first......with a headache!

Payback is heavy duty!  But if a fielder is making a play, and if a runner (retired or not) is in the way, he is asking for a Spaulding McMuffin!  Learning how to correctly play the game is on the coach!  At the 10U level, anything else is asking for trouble!

Mike

Las Vegas

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10 hours ago, Rich Ives said:

Did you ever play the game?  Get real here.

I did play the game, yes.  Were YOU ever ten years old, or did you just emerge, crusty and obstinate, from the spring waters of upstate New York?

Kids have plenty of time to turn into dicks.  Don't speed up the process.

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On 8/6/2020 at 7:27 AM, maven said:

They throw at runners (or are coached to "throw to the base, wherever the runner is," which kids naturally will understand as an adult's permission to throw at an opponent) i

Nope.

I've coached a couple hundred kids this way...not a single one of them has hit R1...EVER.  Amazing what happens when kids are just taught the fundamentals.   My players don't get benched for an intent to injure, they get kicked off the team.  Teach them the fundamentals of the throw from second to first, practicing without runners.   Then teach them the concept of the "hospital zone" and what they need to do, as fielders, if they want to keep their ankles.   And teach them how to properly run the bases.  After that, everything happens the way it's supposed to happen.  And nobody gets it in their head it's OK to hit the runner on purpose.   In my experience, that only happens if they are  explicitly taught to do so.

On 8/6/2020 at 5:59 PM, HokieUmp said:

Kids have plenty of time to turn into dicks.  Don't speed up the process.

Teach them how to throw and field properly, they don't have to turn into dicks.   And that means teaching them to throw to first and to assume the runner will get out of the way - if they learn to be tentative and hesitant about this throw at ten years old, they may never get over that - and will get into bad fundamental habits that will stick with them for years, if not forever.  Runners get into the "good" habit of peeling off, or sliding early, if they KNOW F6 is throwing straight to first base...it's when nobody knows who's going to do what is when you get into trouble.

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11 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

Teach them how to throw and field properly, they don't have to turn into dicks.   And that means teaching them to throw to first and to assume the runner will get out of the way - if they learn to be tentative and hesitant about this throw at ten years old, they may never get over that - and will get into bad fundamental habits that will stick with them for years, if not forever.  Runners get into the "good" habit of peeling off, or sliding early, if they KNOW F6 is throwing straight to first base...it's when nobody knows who's going to do what is when you get into trouble.

All I can say is:  I wish more coaches in that age bracket would then be like you and Rich, if you guys really do like you say online.  Because even if I'm not supposed to "rabbit ears" when I'm out there, I'm not deaf, either, and I can hear what "coaches" tell their players.  The things/positions I'm talking about are not uncommon out here in the wild.

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