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2021 NFHS COVID Baseball Modifications (from OHSAA 3/11/21)


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This post is for information only.  Please do not start another argument over IF this is necessary or not.  We all have our opinions, but I'm sure no one wants to hear mine either.

Interesting things for umpires in red font.

I just received these from the Ohio High School Athletic Association this afternoon:

2021 Baseball Rules Modifications and Rules Recommendations and General Requirements and General Recommendations (3-11-21)

With the support from the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the rules modifications and rules recommendations and general requirements and general recommendations outlined in this document are meant to decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel and allowing for appropriate protective equipment.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list and there might be additional steps in each school, city and state to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Even when taking all precautions, there will still be risk of transmitting illnesses. Everyone should stay vigilant about the health of members of their teams. Lastly, the situation with COVID-19 is rapidly changing. These considerations may quickly become outdated. Please keep up with the latest from the CDC and other health officials in your area. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Visit the Ohio Health Director’s Second Amended Sports Order https://bit.ly/2RWa1jh and these two documents
• Health Department’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports:
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Youth-Collegiate-Amateur-Club-Pro-Sports.pdf
• Health Department’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports venues:
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Sports-Venues.pdf
for further requirements and recommendations that apply to all sports, including baseball, and includes mandatory requirements for youth, collegiate, amateur, club and professional sports. Please know that some of the requirements and recommendations in this sport-specific document duplicate state guidance. Baseball rules modifications and general requirements must be adhered to and followed. Baseball rules recommendations and general recommendations are optional and not required but are permitted and strongly encouraged.

Note: Some baseball facilities are privately-owned. Be sure non-school facility administrators know and follow these policies and procedures prior to practices or contests.

 

 

2021 NFHS RULE MODIFICATIONS


Baseballs
• Any ball that comes into contact with bodily fluids must be replaced or disinfected.
• All balls must meet NFHS (NFHS and NOCSAE authentication marks required) and OHSAA requirements and must be new or in good condition.

Player Equipment
• Personal items such as towels, facial coverings and water bottles shall not be shared.
• If equipment such as helmets and bats must be shared, proper sanitization must be performed between users.
• Player/team equipment shall be sanitized before and after each practice or game.

Face Shields
• Per guidance from the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, plastic shields covering the entire face (unless integrated into the face mask and attached to a helmet) shall not be allowed during contests.
• Use of these items during practices increases the risk of unintended injury to the person wearing the shield and their teammates.

Pregame Conference
• Attendees are limited to the head coach from each team plus the umpires.
Coaches shall stay outside the width of the batter’s box at home plate, maintaining six feet of distance between each person.
• Everyone attending this meeting must wear a face covering.


Substitutions
• Verbal exchanges shall occur six feet from the coach or substitute to the plate umpire and from the plate umpire to the opposing team’s coach.


Bench and Field Conduct
• The number of individuals in the dugout is dependent on the size of dugout.
• Players and coaches must maintain six feet of social distance.
NFHS rules allow for dugouts/designated warm up areas to be extended to provide for social distancing. If needed, these areas shall be clearly marked and located beyond the end of the dugout furthest from home plate.
• Players are not permitted to leave the dugout area to congratulate players scoring or after home runs.
• Players and all team personnel shall follow the “no touch” rule – refraining from high fives, handshakes and other physical contact with teammates, opposing players, coaches, umpires and fans. A “tip of the cap” can be used following the game in lieu of the handshake line.

Charged Conferences
• Coaches holding defensive conferences must stay on the home plate side of the pitcher’s circle and the player(s) must be on the opposite side of the pitcher’s circle maintaining the six feet distance.
• Only one coach is permitted during the conference.
• When a coach visits the pitcher, all other players shall stay outside the pitching circle.
• Team huddles without physical distancing are prohibited.

Exchange of Lineup Cards
• Lineups shall be handed to the umpire, and the umpire will verbally approve or ask any questions about the lineup.

 

Infractions by the Pitcher
• If the pitcher puts his/her hands to their mouth off the mound and touches the ball, “Time” is called, a new ball is inserted and the pitcher much sanitize their hands before throwing the next pitch.

• A pitcher using a resin bag shall take that item to the dugout with him/her at the end of each half inning.
 

REQUIREMENTS
 

General Requirements
• People (players, coaches, officials, spectators, etc.) feeling sick or that have been exposed to someone sick, should not attend or participate in competitions or practices. For CDC COVID-19 symptom guidance, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
• All participants and spectators shall practice at least six feet social distancing and wear face coverings at all times except when eating/drinking or on the field of play.
• Host facilities shall communicate with spectators “know before you go” before each event.
• Anyone attending a practice or game – players, coaches, officials, trainers, cheerleaders, volunteers, staff, spectators, etc. – must conduct a symptom assessment before each practice or contest, and anyone experiencing symptoms must stay home (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptomstesting/symptoms.html).
o Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms should isolate themselves per CDC’s guidance and contact their healthcare provider (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html).
o Individuals with confirmed COVID-19 or who have symptoms should follow CDC’s guidance for when they can be around others again (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/endhome-isolation.html).
o Individuals exposed to a person with COVID-19 must complete their quarantine before attending a practice or game.
o Any player, spectator, coach, or umpire who is under a modified quarantine due to an in-school exposure must not attend practice or competition until the completion of quarantine.

Consistent with state guidance, schools/teams regarding “Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Cases:
o Immediately isolate, and seek medical care for, any individual who becomes ill or develops symptoms.
o Contact the local health department about suspected COVID-19 cases or exposure.
o The affected person should seek COVID-19 testing as soon as possible. Teams, schools, and clubs should work with parents to ensure they have access to testing through their healthcare providers or direct them to testing options.
o Coaches/administrators must work with the local health department to identify individuals who were potentially exposed to help facilitate contact tracing. This includes, but is not limited to, athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, parents and other support personnel.
o A team or school must notify all athletes and parents/guardians associated with the affected team regarding a positive test. Athletes and families must be reminded of proper daily health screening protocols.
o If the affected individual participated in competitive play, the team is responsible for notifying any opponents played between the date of the positive test and two days prior to the onset of symptoms. If the teams or schools in different counties, the health departments in each county should be notified to help facilitate effective contact tracing.
o An athlete who tests positive for COVID-19, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, must not return to sport activities until the athlete has completed a medical exam and documentation is provided that clears the individual to return to play. The documented medical exam must specifically include an assessment of the cardiac/heart risk of high-intensity exercise due to the potential of myocarditis occurring in COVID-19 patients. More information on this issue can be found at https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2020/07/13/13/37/returning-to-play-aftercoronavirus-infection.
o Follow protocol for cleaning and disinfecting if a COVID-19 case is identified at the venue.
o Players, coaches, officials or other individuals who had close contact (within six feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes), or who had direct physical contact with the person (e.g., who were coughed on or sneezed on by the infected person), must self-quarantine.
o CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days and recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances [the] reduced burden [of quarantine] against a small possibility of spreading the virus [beyond 10 days]. CDC recognizes that reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to quarantine by reducing the time they cannot play sports. Close contacts who remain asymptomatic may consider the following to consider stopping quarantine:
• After day 10 without testing.
• After day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later).

After stopping quarantine, close contacts should:

• Watch for symptoms until day 14 after exposure.
• If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your local public health authority or healthcare provider.
o Youth who are not required to quarantine due to exposure occurring in a classroom setting under school-based exposure guidance are permitted to participate in outdoor sports activities as long as they remain symptom-free and follow applicable sports guidance.
o If the identity of all persons in close contact with an infected individual cannot be readily determined or if the coaches, players or their parents/guardians or administration of the team do not effectively cooperate with the local health department contact tracing process, then the local health department may require the entire team, including coaches, to self-quarantine for 14 days following exposure.
Individuals may return to play afterward if they have not had any COVID-19 symptoms.
o Your local health department shall determine if modifications to quarantines are appropriate.
o Individuals must maintain a minimum of six feet of social distancing, including athletes when not on the field of play.
o Facial coverings are required under the Sports Order. At minimum facial coverings should be cloth/fabric and cover an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin.
o CDC does not discourage gaiters, but recommends that gaiters should have two layers, or fold it to make two layers https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-facecoverings.html.
 

 

Requirements for Coaches
• For out-of-state travel, follow the COVID-19 guidance of the state and local public health jurisdiction to which the team is traveling. Also be aware of Ohio’s Travel Advisories (https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/families-and-individuals/COVID-19-Travel-Advisory/COVID-19-Travel-Advisory).
• Coaches and other personnel must wear face masks at all times, including when arriving and departing the facility and during active play.
o Under the state’s Sports Order, at minimum facial coverings (masks) should be cloth/fabric and cover an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin.
• Sanitize equipment as often as time permits.
• Coaches who wish to discuss a rule or a ruling on the field must maintain at least six feet of physical distance from the umpire.
• Base coaches must stay six feet from all runners at all times.
• Do not shake hands or fist bump other officials, players or coaches.
 

Requirements for Players
• Conduct daily symptom assessments before each practice or contest.
• No congregating before or after practices or games is permitted.
• Do not share equipment, towels, facial coverings, water bottles, other drinks or food. If equipment must be shared, proper sanitation must be performed between users.
• All players must sanitize their hands should their gloves be removed before and after warm-ups and at period breaks.
• All those on the bench shall observe social distancing of six feet.
• Facial coverings are required under the Sports Order for student-athletes not participating in the contest, and/or players in the dugout/bench area when not playing defense. At minimum, facial coverings should be cloth/fabric and cover an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin.
• Do not shake hands or fist bump other officials, players or coaches.
 

Requirements for Facility Hosts
• Inform the local health district when events are scheduled and establish a plan to handle those persons who fail a symptom assessment or temperature check or exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
• Limit bench and/or sideline personnel to participants, coaches, medical staff and game-day staff.
• If possible, provide designated space (locker room, classroom, etc.) for officials’ pregame and post-game activities. If the designated space cannot accommodate six-foot social distancing of all officials, then a separate space should be provided where officials can observe six-foot social distancing and be removed from spectator/team interaction.
• Clearly review prior to the contest mandates, best practices and school/host facility policies with visiting team administrators and/or coaches and officials as they relate to, but are not limited to, parking; entrances and exits; medical care; spectators; ticketing; locker  rooms/showers; athletic training rooms and restrooms; water; towels; equipment, and shelters in the event there is inclement weather.
• Seating must be in groups of no more than four people who know one another, although up to six members of the same household may be seated together.
• Each seating group must be separated from the next group by at least six feet in each direction.
• In fixed seating, seating groups must be assigned in staggered rows to prevent contact between groups.
• General admission (e.g., lawns, standing room, in-fields) is allowable only to the extent six feet of distance between groups of patrons can be clearly marked and strictly maintained.
• High touch areas (railings, restrooms, athletic training rooms, locker rooms, etc.) must be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
• Hand sanitizer must be readily available throughout the venue.
• Designate a Compliance Officer who is responsible for compliance with the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order.
• Follow Responsible RestartOhio Guidance for Restaurants for concession stands:
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Restaurants-and-Bars.pdf
 

Requirements for Spectators
• Conduct daily symptom assessments before each contest.
• No congregating before or after practices or games is permitted.
• Six-feet social distancing must be maintained between individuals/family groups.
• Facial coverings are required unless exceptions can be met as listed in Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order.
 

Requirements for Umpires
• Facial coverings must be worn at all times with the exception of active officiating or warm up.
Take your temperature prior to attending your competition. If temperature is above 100.4 or you do not feel well, notify your contracted school immediately.
• No congregating before or after games is permitted.
• Six-feet social distancing required during pre- and post-game conferences and during stoppage of play during contests.
• The plate umpire calling balls and strikes shall allow adequate distance behind the catcher while still being able to perform his or her duty.
• Do not shake hands or fist bump other officials, players or coaches.

 

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS


Recommendations for Coaches
• Communicate your guidelines in a clear manner to students and parents prior to events with reminders as appropriate.
• Consider conducting practices in “pods” of same students, always training and rotating together in practice to ensure more limited exposure if someone develops an infection.
• Keep accurate records of those athletes and staff who attend each practice and contests in case contact tracing is needed.
• At a minimum, before and after every practice or contest, sanitize equipment as often as time permits with an EPA approved sanitizer for emerging pathogens.
• Consider limiting contests against only teams in your local area or, if out-of-state, against teams located in counties that are contiguous to Ohio.
• Should not share clipboards, whiteboards, dry erase boards or any other equipment used for coaching purposes.
• It is recommended that each team have an equipment handler to remove bats and helmets from the field of play. This person may wear gloves and/or sanitize equipment after use.
• Consider limiting day-of roster to 22 dressed players.
 

Recommendations for Players
• Athletes should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well.
• Arrive at the facility dressed in partial or full uniform and plan to leave the facility in partial or full uniform.
• Consider making each student responsible for their own supplies and ensure distancing of equipment to avoid cross contamination.
• Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout.
• If equipment must be shared, proper sanitation must be administered between users.
• Cloth face coverings/masks are permitted during active play if an individual prefers to wear one. Cloth face coverings/masks are not required while engaged in active play. State and local requirements for face coverings are to be followed when not actively engaged in play.
o If worn on the field, face coverings may be of any number of colors, but not distracting.
o Gaiters are permitted as face coverings. If a gaiter is worn, it should have two layers, or fold it to make two layers, per CDC’s recommendation.
• Bring your own water bottle.
• It is recommended that sunflower seeds, gum and similar products be prohibited in the confines of the field.
 

Recommendations for Umpires
Arrive at the facility dressed in partial or full uniform and plan to leave the facility in partial or full uniform.
• Bring personal hand sanitizer. Wash hands frequently.
• Do not share equipment.
• Follow social distancing guidelines. Consider six feet minimum distance when talking to others (players,
coaches, other officials).
• Cloth face coverings/masks/shields are permitted, if an individual prefers to wear one.
• Gloves are permissible.

 

Recommendations for Parents
(A family’s role in maintaining safety guidelines for themselves and others):
• Make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in
practice and competition (if there is doubt stay home).
• Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them.
• Disinfect your student’s personal equipment after each game or practice.
• Educate yourself on the risks and benefits of athletic participation in the time of COVID and ensure you and your athlete are aware of the guidance surrounding athletic events.
 

Recommendations for Facility Hosts
• If applicable, stagger the entry of all participants, coaches, officials, student game-day auxiliary groups and spectators to adhere to six-foot social distancing.
• Consider multiple points of entry to help ensure there is six-foot social distancing.
• Use contact-less payments where possible.
• Limit press box/official scorers area to essential personnel only and demonstrate social distancing as much as possible.
• Appoint an individual(s) who is responsible for assisting the host facility manager(s) in logging all incidents and action plans when mandates have not been followed and/or incidents occur; logging recommendations for improving the host facilities’ game-day strategies, and creating reports on said items that were logged.
 

Exchange of Lineups:
• Beside the requirements listed previously regarding lineup cards for the umpire, it is recommended that lineups be exchanged team-to-team and teams-to-scorekeeper being shared via photo or text.
 

OHSAA Postseason Note
Potential options may be considered regarding all levels of OHSAA Tournament games/format depending upon the status of COVID-19.
 

A Note on Public Health Issues
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio Governor, Ohio General Assembly, Ohio Department of Health and/or the local health district will offer guidance as to whether to close a school or university due to a public health issue. Local decisions can also be made by the local health authority or each board of education/governing board.
 

Helpful Links
These resources are provided to guide operations during this Covid-19 pandemic.
• Ohio Department of Health – Coronavirus (COVID-19):
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/responsible-restart-ohio/
• Centers for Disease Control – Coronavirus (COVID-19):
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• National Athletic Trainers Association – Coronavirus (COVID-19):
https://www.nata.org/practice-patient-care/health-issues/covid-19-coronavirus
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Emergency Preparedness and Response:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/planning/
• Ohio Department of Health:
https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/home/

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  • wolfe_man changed the title to 2021 NFHS COVID Baseball Modifications (from OHSAA 3/11/21)
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You REALLY want to think about "weird" regarding handling baseballs. The state is "allowing us" to use tongs if we so choose to handle baseballs! 

After the success of their mask shield, Force 3 is going to be producing a belt-hook, ball-tong combo.

I had baseballs in my ball bag last night.  Our state did away with baseball modifications and returned to normal.  Home team provides 3 and we play.  I could have allowed them to handle the baseballs

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Thanks for posting this, @wolfe_man.

My association has stated repeatedly over the last 12 months that we (umpires) are not the COVID police. The travel leagues have all been told to have a COVID coach at the ballpark for each team to monitor their own team's adherence to protocols. I've been making a point at the plate conference of having the managers each identify their COVID coaches. More than anything just to gauge their awareness. I'm really just looking to avoid a blank stare when asking a manager who their COVID coach is. So far, the only issues I've had are at fields where the field is not fully enclosed or there's no room outside the fence for the players to separate and so, players are congregating outside the dugout on the field.

That's a no-brainer even pre-COVID because it's a safety issue to have players outside the dugout like that. I also had one team very early last summer who set up all their folding chairs and tents, etc. inside the fence in foul territory because their side of the field was up against a treeline.

But, since this was a scenario specifically addressed in our protocols, I had them move everything outside the fence almost all the way down by the foul pole. Coach and parents weren't happy but, they understood and complied.

We're about a month away from high school baseball and we're still tuning things. I hope like with travel, umpires are also not the COVID police. Perhaps athletic directors can be called upon to monitor and enforce COVID protocols?

~Dawg

 

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March 9, 2021   Bulletin 21-2                                

As stated in the state meeting the 2021 Rules Modifications are subject to adjustment at any time prior to or during the season.

Our first adjustment is the elimination of the modification concerning baseballs. This modification has been eliminated in its entirety. 

What does this mean?

  •  We will return to the standard rule and related procedures for handling game balls. 
  • The home team will provide the game balls.

     

As a reminder, the following items are not officially approved by the ODH, but we anticipate these being approved once the guidelines are provided:

 

Infractions by the Pitcher

        If the pitcher puts his/her hands to their mouth and touches the ball, “Times” is called, a new ball is inserted, and the pitcher must sanitize their hands before throwing the next pitch.

        A pitcher using a rosin bag shall take the item to the dugout with them at the end of each half inning, 

        The plate umpire calling balls and strikes shall allow adequate distance behind the catcher while still being able to perform his or her duty.

        Umpire cloth facial coverings are recommended but not required while on the field during play.  If worn they shall be of one color, not distracting and have no designs. 

        Prior to and after the game umpires shall wear a face covering. 

        Umpires may wear disposable gloves and masks.

        Facial coverings are generally not required between innings – a properly positioned umpire will not be near anyone else.

        Umpires should put on their facial covering if having a conversation with any person.

        The catcher and batter shall be at a six-foot distance when the umpire is dusting the plate.   

        Base umpires shall maintain six feet from any player when in a starting/initial position. 

 

Examples of Items That Are NOT  Umpire Responsibilities

        Sanitizing Equipment or supervising this activity

        Face Coverings in Dugout

        Distancing in Charged Conferences or other player activity

        Enforcing the “No Touch Rule” )

        We don’t call a runner out for a high five or a coach being too close.

        Coaches and schools are responsible to ensure these safety regulations are followed.

        Work Together – coaches and schools are responsible to ensure regulations are followed.

        Our goal is to not attach penalties for what has been changed – remind players and coaches of new requirements.

        If an issue persists, use the special report to notify the school administration and OHSAA.

 

Other Questions

When does the umpire have to wear a mask?  

        To and from the field plus during any situation where you must have a conversation with any person at any close distance.

Can players cover their mouth with their glove while talking to others?

        Yes, we can’t cover and police every possible situation.  A coach could deal with this.

 Can a player wearing a gaiter lower it and wear around her neck?

        Yes, there is no rule to prohibit this and we want to make it as easy as possible for a player to both put on a face covering and remove it as needed.

 

I will keep you posted on any changes to the COVID protocols.  We need to do everything in our power to make sure that we have a baseball season.  All I can ask is that we do our part to make sure we have a safe season and hope we can get back to pre-Covid baseball in the near future.

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Used the "not handling baseballs" thing today in a tournament for the first time this year.  It felt strange to have empty ball bags. But also seemed to work out really well.

Also made sure to request that tge catchers and batters wear their masks during their AB. I got some sideways looks. But everyone complied. Asking them to wear it properly (i.e. covering both mouth and nose) was not a battle I chose to wage.

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7 hours ago, BT_Blue said:

Used the "not handling baseballs" thing today in a tournament for the first time this year.  It felt strange to have empty ball bags. But also seemed to work out really well.

Also made sure to request that tge catchers and batters wear their masks during their AB. I got some sideways looks. But everyone complied. Asking them to wear it properly (i.e. covering both mouth and nose) was not a battle I chose to wage.

I'm glad you said that, because our group (the guys who work under a certain assignor) CANNOT touch baseballs and I thought that would be a nightmare, but ...maybe not ........glad to hear it.  What I am hearing so far, and I'm happy about is that Michigan is requiring face masks for the umpires ...   OFFICIAL word has not been sent yet...

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9 hours ago, Thunderheads said:

I'm glad you said that, because our group (the guys who work under a certain assignor) CANNOT touch baseballs and I thought that would be a nightmare, but ...maybe not ........glad to hear it.  What I am hearing so far, and I'm happy about is that Michigan is requiring face masks for the umpires ...   OFFICIAL word has not been sent yet...

Washington (and I'm sure Oregon) are requiring masks for officials. As well as, I know for a fact, the state is monitoring the football live streams for compliance from school personnel in wearing masks.

As for not touching baseballs. Its clunky that is 100% fact. But not totally horrible. 

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6 hours ago, BT_Blue said:

You REALLY want to think about "weird" regarding handling baseballs. The state is "allowing us" to use tongs if we so choose to handle baseballs! 

I had baseballs in my ball bag last night.  Our state did away with baseball modifications and returned to normal.  Home team provides 3 and we play.  I could have allowed them to handle the baseballs, but chose to keep them myself.

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If we are not handling baseballs and the teams are throwing them in, how are we supposed to ensure that every baseball has the NOCSAE and NFHS stamps and are fit for play? This is a requirement, not a suggestion. Fact is, we don't know what the hell the team is throwing in.

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16 minutes ago, grayhawk said:

If we are not handling baseballs and the teams are throwing them in, how are we supposed to ensure that every baseball has the NOCSAE and NFHS stamps and are fit for play? This is a requirement, not a suggestion. Fact is, we don't know what the hell the team is throwing in.

Part of why I held them... but again, our state did away with the baseball modified rules.  I understand that to mean we are not requiring NFHS, NOCSAE and OHSAA on our baseballs again this year. 

Last night's JV game was played with NFHS stamped Diamond junk-balls.

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11 hours ago, grayhawk said:

If we are not handling baseballs and the teams are throwing them in, how are we supposed to ensure that every baseball has the NOCSAE and NFHS stamps and are fit for play? This is a requirement, not a suggestion. Fact is, we don't know what the hell the team is throwing in.

 

10 hours ago, wolfe_man said:

Part of why I held them... but again, our state did away with the baseball modified rules.  I understand that to mean we are not requiring NFHS, NOCSAE and OHSAA on our baseballs again this year. 

Last night's JV game was played with NFHS stamped Diamond junk-balls.

Washington has pretty much done the same thing. This season only, umpires are NOT to handle baseballs. And we are NOT to check for the stamps. It was part of the agreement, I imagine, WIAA and WOA made with the state for the ability to return to play.

Like I said... it is a bit clunky. Especially if the person (or persons) in charge of the baseballs is asleep at the wheel. But also it is spring in the PNW. Baseballs get tossed to the dugouts all the time because they get soaked and need to be dried.

The one that will give me a nervous twitch between the eyes is F1 rubbing a baseball against his pant leg to dry it off. It is a strange quirk of this area (I have seen players from all three Pacific NW states do this). But because I don't have full control over the baseballs this year. I dont feel I can try and switch it out quickly like I normally do. So I'll just have to let it pass. Unless someone tells me to do otherwise (and no one seems to have... so there...).

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On 3/16/2021 at 6:51 AM, wolfe_man said:

had baseballs in my ball bag last night.  Our state did away with baseball modifications and returned to normal.  Home team provides 3 and we play.  I could have allowed them to handle the baseballs, but chose to keep them myself.

We are business as usual here in Alabama, other than face coverings when talking to coaches.

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50 minutes ago, aaluck said:

We are business as usual here in Alabama, other than face coverings when talking to coaches.

Yes, we had the face coverings also.

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On 3/16/2021 at 1:34 AM, BT_Blue said:

You REALLY want to think about "weird" regarding handling baseballs. The state is "allowing us" to use tongs if we so choose to handle baseballs! 

So does the PU have the tongs in his ball bag, on an S hook attached to his belt, or in his back pocket next to his plate brush?

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22 minutes ago, Kevin_K said:

So does the PU have the tongs in his ball bag, on an S hook attached to his belt, or in his back pocket next to his plate brush?

And what size tongs do you have to use?  Grill-sized or corn-on-the-cob sized? :fuel:

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1 hour ago, Kevin_K said:

So does the PU have the tongs in his ball bag, on an S hook attached to his belt, or in his back pocket next to his plate brush?

After the success of their mask shield, Force 3 is going to be producing a belt-hook, ball-tong combo.

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On 3/15/2021 at 10:34 PM, BT_Blue said:

You REALLY want to think about "weird" regarding handling baseballs. The state is "allowing us" to use tongs if we so choose to handle baseballs! 

Oh stop it.  Right now.  Thongs to handle baseballs.:wacko:

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On 3/12/2021 at 12:44 PM, wolfe_man said:

This post is for information only.  Please do not start another argument over IF this is necessary or not.  We all have our opinions, but I'm sure no one wants to hear mine either.

Interesting things for umpires in red font.

I just received these from the Ohio High School Athletic Association this afternoon:

2021 Baseball Rules Modifications and Rules Recommendations and General Requirements and General Recommendations (3-11-21)

With the support from the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the rules modifications and rules recommendations and general requirements and general recommendations outlined in this document are meant to decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel and allowing for appropriate protective equipment.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list and there might be additional steps in each school, city and state to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Even when taking all precautions, there will still be risk of transmitting illnesses. Everyone should stay vigilant about the health of members of their teams. Lastly, the situation with COVID-19 is rapidly changing. These considerations may quickly become outdated. Please keep up with the latest from the CDC and other health officials in your area. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Visit the Ohio Health Director’s Second Amended Sports Order https://bit.ly/2RWa1jh and these two documents
• Health Department’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports:
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Youth-Collegiate-Amateur-Club-Pro-Sports.pdf
• Health Department’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports venues:
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Sports-Venues.pdf
for further requirements and recommendations that apply to all sports, including baseball, and includes mandatory requirements for youth, collegiate, amateur, club and professional sports. Please know that some of the requirements and recommendations in this sport-specific document duplicate state guidance. Baseball rules modifications and general requirements must be adhered to and followed. Baseball rules recommendations and general recommendations are optional and not required but are permitted and strongly encouraged.

Note: Some baseball facilities are privately-owned. Be sure non-school facility administrators know and follow these policies and procedures prior to practices or contests.

 

 

2021 NFHS RULE MODIFICATIONS


Baseballs
• Any ball that comes into contact with bodily fluids must be replaced or disinfected.
• All balls must meet NFHS (NFHS and NOCSAE authentication marks required) and OHSAA requirements and must be new or in good condition.

Player Equipment
• Personal items such as towels, facial coverings and water bottles shall not be shared.
• If equipment such as helmets and bats must be shared, proper sanitization must be performed between users.
• Player/team equipment shall be sanitized before and after each practice or game.

Face Shields
• Per guidance from the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, plastic shields covering the entire face (unless integrated into the face mask and attached to a helmet) shall not be allowed during contests.
• Use of these items during practices increases the risk of unintended injury to the person wearing the shield and their teammates.

Pregame Conference
• Attendees are limited to the head coach from each team plus the umpires.
Coaches shall stay outside the width of the batter’s box at home plate, maintaining six feet of distance between each person.
• Everyone attending this meeting must wear a face covering.


Substitutions
• Verbal exchanges shall occur six feet from the coach or substitute to the plate umpire and from the plate umpire to the opposing team’s coach.


Bench and Field Conduct
• The number of individuals in the dugout is dependent on the size of dugout.
• Players and coaches must maintain six feet of social distance.
NFHS rules allow for dugouts/designated warm up areas to be extended to provide for social distancing. If needed, these areas shall be clearly marked and located beyond the end of the dugout furthest from home plate.
• Players are not permitted to leave the dugout area to congratulate players scoring or after home runs.
• Players and all team personnel shall follow the “no touch” rule – refraining from high fives, handshakes and other physical contact with teammates, opposing players, coaches, umpires and fans. A “tip of the cap” can be used following the game in lieu of the handshake line.

Charged Conferences
• Coaches holding defensive conferences must stay on the home plate side of the pitcher’s circle and the player(s) must be on the opposite side of the pitcher’s circle maintaining the six feet distance.
• Only one coach is permitted during the conference.
• When a coach visits the pitcher, all other players shall stay outside the pitching circle.
• Team huddles without physical distancing are prohibited.

Exchange of Lineup Cards
• Lineups shall be handed to the umpire, and the umpire will verbally approve or ask any questions about the lineup.

 

Infractions by the Pitcher
• If the pitcher puts his/her hands to their mouth off the mound and touches the ball, “Time” is called, a new ball is inserted and the pitcher much sanitize their hands before throwing the next pitch.

• A pitcher using a resin bag shall take that item to the dugout with him/her at the end of each half inning.
 

REQUIREMENTS
 

General Requirements
• People (players, coaches, officials, spectators, etc.) feeling sick or that have been exposed to someone sick, should not attend or participate in competitions or practices. For CDC COVID-19 symptom guidance, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
• All participants and spectators shall practice at least six feet social distancing and wear face coverings at all times except when eating/drinking or on the field of play.
• Host facilities shall communicate with spectators “know before you go” before each event.
• Anyone attending a practice or game – players, coaches, officials, trainers, cheerleaders, volunteers, staff, spectators, etc. – must conduct a symptom assessment before each practice or contest, and anyone experiencing symptoms must stay home (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptomstesting/symptoms.html).
o Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms should isolate themselves per CDC’s guidance and contact their healthcare provider (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html).
o Individuals with confirmed COVID-19 or who have symptoms should follow CDC’s guidance for when they can be around others again (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/endhome-isolation.html).
o Individuals exposed to a person with COVID-19 must complete their quarantine before attending a practice or game.
o Any player, spectator, coach, or umpire who is under a modified quarantine due to an in-school exposure must not attend practice or competition until the completion of quarantine.

Consistent with state guidance, schools/teams regarding “Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Cases:
o Immediately isolate, and seek medical care for, any individual who becomes ill or develops symptoms.
o Contact the local health department about suspected COVID-19 cases or exposure.
o The affected person should seek COVID-19 testing as soon as possible. Teams, schools, and clubs should work with parents to ensure they have access to testing through their healthcare providers or direct them to testing options.
o Coaches/administrators must work with the local health department to identify individuals who were potentially exposed to help facilitate contact tracing. This includes, but is not limited to, athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, parents and other support personnel.
o A team or school must notify all athletes and parents/guardians associated with the affected team regarding a positive test. Athletes and families must be reminded of proper daily health screening protocols.
o If the affected individual participated in competitive play, the team is responsible for notifying any opponents played between the date of the positive test and two days prior to the onset of symptoms. If the teams or schools in different counties, the health departments in each county should be notified to help facilitate effective contact tracing.
o An athlete who tests positive for COVID-19, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, must not return to sport activities until the athlete has completed a medical exam and documentation is provided that clears the individual to return to play. The documented medical exam must specifically include an assessment of the cardiac/heart risk of high-intensity exercise due to the potential of myocarditis occurring in COVID-19 patients. More information on this issue can be found at https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2020/07/13/13/37/returning-to-play-aftercoronavirus-infection.
o Follow protocol for cleaning and disinfecting if a COVID-19 case is identified at the venue.
o Players, coaches, officials or other individuals who had close contact (within six feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes), or who had direct physical contact with the person (e.g., who were coughed on or sneezed on by the infected person), must self-quarantine.
o CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days and recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances [the] reduced burden [of quarantine] against a small possibility of spreading the virus [beyond 10 days]. CDC recognizes that reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to quarantine by reducing the time they cannot play sports. Close contacts who remain asymptomatic may consider the following to consider stopping quarantine:
• After day 10 without testing.
• After day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later).

After stopping quarantine, close contacts should:

• Watch for symptoms until day 14 after exposure.
• If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your local public health authority or healthcare provider.
o Youth who are not required to quarantine due to exposure occurring in a classroom setting under school-based exposure guidance are permitted to participate in outdoor sports activities as long as they remain symptom-free and follow applicable sports guidance.
o If the identity of all persons in close contact with an infected individual cannot be readily determined or if the coaches, players or their parents/guardians or administration of the team do not effectively cooperate with the local health department contact tracing process, then the local health department may require the entire team, including coaches, to self-quarantine for 14 days following exposure.
Individuals may return to play afterward if they have not had any COVID-19 symptoms.
o Your local health department shall determine if modifications to quarantines are appropriate.
o Individuals must maintain a minimum of six feet of social distancing, including athletes when not on the field of play.
o Facial coverings are required under the Sports Order. At minimum facial coverings should be cloth/fabric and cover an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin.
o CDC does not discourage gaiters, but recommends that gaiters should have two layers, or fold it to make two layers https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-facecoverings.html.
 

 

Requirements for Coaches
• For out-of-state travel, follow the COVID-19 guidance of the state and local public health jurisdiction to which the team is traveling. Also be aware of Ohio’s Travel Advisories (https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/families-and-individuals/COVID-19-Travel-Advisory/COVID-19-Travel-Advisory).
• Coaches and other personnel must wear face masks at all times, including when arriving and departing the facility and during active play.
o Under the state’s Sports Order, at minimum facial coverings (masks) should be cloth/fabric and cover an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin.
• Sanitize equipment as often as time permits.
• Coaches who wish to discuss a rule or a ruling on the field must maintain at least six feet of physical distance from the umpire.
• Base coaches must stay six feet from all runners at all times.
• Do not shake hands or fist bump other officials, players or coaches.
 

Requirements for Players
• Conduct daily symptom assessments before each practice or contest.
• No congregating before or after practices or games is permitted.
• Do not share equipment, towels, facial coverings, water bottles, other drinks or food. If equipment must be shared, proper sanitation must be performed between users.
• All players must sanitize their hands should their gloves be removed before and after warm-ups and at period breaks.
• All those on the bench shall observe social distancing of six feet.
• Facial coverings are required under the Sports Order for student-athletes not participating in the contest, and/or players in the dugout/bench area when not playing defense. At minimum, facial coverings should be cloth/fabric and cover an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin.
• Do not shake hands or fist bump other officials, players or coaches.
 

Requirements for Facility Hosts
• Inform the local health district when events are scheduled and establish a plan to handle those persons who fail a symptom assessment or temperature check or exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
• Limit bench and/or sideline personnel to participants, coaches, medical staff and game-day staff.
• If possible, provide designated space (locker room, classroom, etc.) for officials’ pregame and post-game activities. If the designated space cannot accommodate six-foot social distancing of all officials, then a separate space should be provided where officials can observe six-foot social distancing and be removed from spectator/team interaction.
• Clearly review prior to the contest mandates, best practices and school/host facility policies with visiting team administrators and/or coaches and officials as they relate to, but are not limited to, parking; entrances and exits; medical care; spectators; ticketing; locker  rooms/showers; athletic training rooms and restrooms; water; towels; equipment, and shelters in the event there is inclement weather.
• Seating must be in groups of no more than four people who know one another, although up to six members of the same household may be seated together.
• Each seating group must be separated from the next group by at least six feet in each direction.
• In fixed seating, seating groups must be assigned in staggered rows to prevent contact between groups.
• General admission (e.g., lawns, standing room, in-fields) is allowable only to the extent six feet of distance between groups of patrons can be clearly marked and strictly maintained.
• High touch areas (railings, restrooms, athletic training rooms, locker rooms, etc.) must be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
• Hand sanitizer must be readily available throughout the venue.
• Designate a Compliance Officer who is responsible for compliance with the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order.
• Follow Responsible RestartOhio Guidance for Restaurants for concession stands:
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Restaurants-and-Bars.pdf
 

Requirements for Spectators
• Conduct daily symptom assessments before each contest.
• No congregating before or after practices or games is permitted.
• Six-feet social distancing must be maintained between individuals/family groups.
• Facial coverings are required unless exceptions can be met as listed in Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order.
 

Requirements for Umpires
• Facial coverings must be worn at all times with the exception of active officiating or warm up.
Take your temperature prior to attending your competition. If temperature is above 100.4 or you do not feel well, notify your contracted school immediately.
• No congregating before or after games is permitted.
• Six-feet social distancing required during pre- and post-game conferences and during stoppage of play during contests.
• The plate umpire calling balls and strikes shall allow adequate distance behind the catcher while still being able to perform his or her duty.
• Do not shake hands or fist bump other officials, players or coaches.

 

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS


Recommendations for Coaches
• Communicate your guidelines in a clear manner to students and parents prior to events with reminders as appropriate.
• Consider conducting practices in “pods” of same students, always training and rotating together in practice to ensure more limited exposure if someone develops an infection.
• Keep accurate records of those athletes and staff who attend each practice and contests in case contact tracing is needed.
• At a minimum, before and after every practice or contest, sanitize equipment as often as time permits with an EPA approved sanitizer for emerging pathogens.
• Consider limiting contests against only teams in your local area or, if out-of-state, against teams located in counties that are contiguous to Ohio.
• Should not share clipboards, whiteboards, dry erase boards or any other equipment used for coaching purposes.
• It is recommended that each team have an equipment handler to remove bats and helmets from the field of play. This person may wear gloves and/or sanitize equipment after use.
• Consider limiting day-of roster to 22 dressed players.
 

Recommendations for Players
• Athletes should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well.
• Arrive at the facility dressed in partial or full uniform and plan to leave the facility in partial or full uniform.
• Consider making each student responsible for their own supplies and ensure distancing of equipment to avoid cross contamination.
• Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout.
• If equipment must be shared, proper sanitation must be administered between users.
• Cloth face coverings/masks are permitted during active play if an individual prefers to wear one. Cloth face coverings/masks are not required while engaged in active play. State and local requirements for face coverings are to be followed when not actively engaged in play.
o If worn on the field, face coverings may be of any number of colors, but not distracting.
o Gaiters are permitted as face coverings. If a gaiter is worn, it should have two layers, or fold it to make two layers, per CDC’s recommendation.
• Bring your own water bottle.
• It is recommended that sunflower seeds, gum and similar products be prohibited in the confines of the field.
 

Recommendations for Umpires
Arrive at the facility dressed in partial or full uniform and plan to leave the facility in partial or full uniform.
• Bring personal hand sanitizer. Wash hands frequently.
• Do not share equipment.
• Follow social distancing guidelines. Consider six feet minimum distance when talking to others (players,
coaches, other officials).
• Cloth face coverings/masks/shields are permitted, if an individual prefers to wear one.
• Gloves are permissible.

 

Recommendations for Parents
(A family’s role in maintaining safety guidelines for themselves and others):
• Make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in
practice and competition (if there is doubt stay home).
• Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them.
• Disinfect your student’s personal equipment after each game or practice.
• Educate yourself on the risks and benefits of athletic participation in the time of COVID and ensure you and your athlete are aware of the guidance surrounding athletic events.
 

Recommendations for Facility Hosts
• If applicable, stagger the entry of all participants, coaches, officials, student game-day auxiliary groups and spectators to adhere to six-foot social distancing.
• Consider multiple points of entry to help ensure there is six-foot social distancing.
• Use contact-less payments where possible.
• Limit press box/official scorers area to essential personnel only and demonstrate social distancing as much as possible.
• Appoint an individual(s) who is responsible for assisting the host facility manager(s) in logging all incidents and action plans when mandates have not been followed and/or incidents occur; logging recommendations for improving the host facilities’ game-day strategies, and creating reports on said items that were logged.
 

Exchange of Lineups:
• Beside the requirements listed previously regarding lineup cards for the umpire, it is recommended that lineups be exchanged team-to-team and teams-to-scorekeeper being shared via photo or text.
 

OHSAA Postseason Note
Potential options may be considered regarding all levels of OHSAA Tournament games/format depending upon the status of COVID-19.
 

A Note on Public Health Issues
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio Governor, Ohio General Assembly, Ohio Department of Health and/or the local health district will offer guidance as to whether to close a school or university due to a public health issue. Local decisions can also be made by the local health authority or each board of education/governing board.
 

Helpful Links
These resources are provided to guide operations during this Covid-19 pandemic.
• Ohio Department of Health – Coronavirus (COVID-19):
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/responsible-restart-ohio/
• Centers for Disease Control – Coronavirus (COVID-19):
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• National Athletic Trainers Association – Coronavirus (COVID-19):
https://www.nata.org/practice-patient-care/health-issues/covid-19-coronavirus
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Emergency Preparedness and Response:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/planning/
• Ohio Department of Health:
https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/home/

This is extremely helpful.  Thanks.

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9 hours ago, Kevin_K said:

So does the PU have the tongs in his ball bag, on an S hook attached to his belt, or in his back pocket next to his plate brush?

I figured it would be on one of those retractable key chain things that janitors and security guards use.

9 hours ago, wolfe_man said:

And what size tongs do you have to use?  Grill-sized or corn-on-the-cob sized? :fuel:

Oh... you KNOW when I head this I pictured my rubber coated kitchen tongs. But every time I think about it now. It is giant grill sized ones!

2 hours ago, umpstu said:

Thongs to handle baseballs.:wacko:

Wow... this escalated quickly! 

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15 hours ago, umpstu said:

Oh stop it.  Right now.  Thongs to handle baseballs.:wacko:

I .... ah .... don't know that I want to work a game with you, 'Stu.  My already active imagination is going friggin' INSANE right now.

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On 3/18/2021 at 1:09 PM, wolfe_man said:

And what size tongs do you have to use?  Grill-sized or corn-on-the-cob sized? :fuel:

As long as you only click them three times before use, use whatever size and style works for you.

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On 3/18/2021 at 5:49 PM, umpstu said:

Thongs to handle baseballs.

Thongs ???? 

Balls and thongs do not belong in the same sentence. 

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