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Catcher's Interference?


Jay R.

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Weird play in U10 Fall Ball. I was on the bases supervising an 11-year-old calling balls and strikes. Rule set is a weird local set; let's use OBR for purposes of the question.

With a 3-0 count and no one on base, the next pitch was high and outside, but not dramatically so. The catcher popped up and caught it; if I had to guess, he probably caught it somewhere between the back of the plate and the back of the batter's box. I saw the batter start to swing but pull back.

My partner made no call initially (it's his first season), then when coaches asked what the call was, he motioned me in and said, "The catcher got in the way." We discussed it and ruled it ball four, with a note to the defensive coach about the catcher's positioning (which he agreed with). 

Can you get CI on this play, as described? Obviously contact between the batter and catcher gets an interference call, but OBR seems to be vague about what constitutes it otherwise. Any guidance for this, in OBR or any other ruleset.

 

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OBR: 5.05(b)(3)

"The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when: The catcher or any fielder interferes with him."

Definitions of Terms:

"Defensive interference is an act by a fielder that hinders or prevents a batter from hitting a pitch"

Therefore, if by his actions, the catcher deprives the batter of the opportunity to hit a pitch, it is by rule and definition catcher's interference. 

FED case play gives a little more:

8.1.1 Situation F: "F2 may not catch the ball before it has passed home plate"

Matt

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10 hours ago, Jay R. said:

With a 3-0 count and no one on base, the next pitch was high and outside, but not dramatically so.

That's all you need right there. Ball 4. What would calling CI here add, other than an annoyed coach?

CI/CO is called when the batter hits F2's mitt, or on a play at the plate where F2 moves in front of the plate to take the pitch (he's allowed to move if F1 disengages first and throws home).

Hitting the mitt is sometimes hard to get if it's small; if B hits F2's hand through the back of the mitt, it's hard to miss. Like all forms of INT, we want to get the obvious ones, and only those.

Don't be a pioneer. 

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11 hours ago, Jay R. said:

With a 3-0 count and no one on base, the next pitch was high and outside, but not dramatically so. The catcher popped up and caught it; if I had to guess, he probably caught it somewhere between the back of the plate and the back of the batter's box. I saw the batter start to swing but pull back.

Can you get CI on this play, as described? 

Why would you want to...the batter's getting his base anyway?

But let's go to a 1-0 count.  You really want to call CI, for interfering with the batter's theoretical ability to hit a pitch that was out of the strike zone?  Batters start and stop their swing virtually every pitch.

Yes, sure, CI doesn't need to have a swing, and certainly doesn't need to have a strike to deprive said opportunity to hit said pitch, but even if you can defend yourself in the strictest terms of the rulebook, you've opened up a can of SH*# and sprinkled it with vomit.

Keep CI to the obvious and you'll like your job a lot more.

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I'll submit this for consideration:

In 10U, don't hesitate at all to call CI/CO. If the catcher is frequently working close to the plate.

Eager catchers will then have to learn learn to not step forward or reach forward because they're actually getting called on it. Also we don't need a 10 year old catcher actually getting hit by a swinging bat.

It seems 10U can be the hardest level in officiate in a sense because the young players do all sorts of weird stuff. But in my league the umpires help the players (within reason) learn to play baseball. It's a community thing.

I had a catcher in June almost diving forward to trap low pitches because he was tired of them bouncing wildly off the area of the plate. so he was being proactive and trying to control the ball, but sometimes he was getting his helmet near the strike zone. This is when they have to learn to stay back, even if the pitcher is making their job very hard, mostly bouncing pitches around the plate.

 

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Thanks for the answers. To be clear, were I behind the plate, I almost certainly would have just called it a ball, and (given the setting) reminded the catcher to let it come to him. And yeah, the 3-0 count renders it moot.

I guess the crux of my question is whether CI requires a swing (obviously the most common) or a squeeze play/steal of home, or if jumping around near the zone can be enough to get a call. I wanted to tell my partner to make him swing (as @maven suggests), but I had @Toggy's same thoughts that to do so might be begging for an injury, given the age and lack of experience. Does a rulebook or interpretation support my partner's instinct for CI?

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22 minutes ago, Jay R. said:

I wanted to tell my partner to make him swing (as @maven suggests), but I had @Toggy's same thoughts that to do so might be begging for an injury, given the age and lack of experience. Does a rulebook or interpretation support my partner's instinct for CI?

You don't need a swing, and you certainly don't want to tell a coach "the batter didn't swing", any more than you want to tell a coach that the runner didn't touch the fielder, or the catcher's throw to first base didn't hit the runner.   You don't want to suggest any action that increases a chance for injury before you need to make a call.  This is why soccer and basketball players flop.

But you still want it to be obvious.  If it's obvious that the catcher is jumping onto or in front of the plate to catch the pitch, call it.  If it's obvious the batter wanted to swing, but didn't because the catcher was in the way, call it. 

If you have to think about it or discuss it or contemplate it or guess or use the word "probably", it's not obvious.

Don't nitpick and don't look for it.  Use the rule book to solve problems, not create them.

There's an opportunity, especially at this level, to let the coach know his catcher is getting close to the plate, and is putting himself in danger.  You're not warning them that a CI call is coming...you're warning him his catcher is going to get hurt.  That tends to be received in a more positive manner.

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1 hour ago, beerguy55 said:

You don't need a swing, and you certainly don't want to tell a coach "the batter didn't swing", any more than you want to tell a coach that the runner didn't touch the fielder, or the catcher's throw to first base didn't hit the runner.   You don't want to suggest any action that increases a chance for injury before you need to make a call.  This is why soccer and basketball players flop.

But you still want it to be obvious.  If it's obvious that the catcher is jumping onto or in front of the plate to catch the pitch, call it.  If it's obvious the batter wanted to swing, but didn't because the catcher was in the way, call it. 

If you have to think about it or discuss it or contemplate it or guess or use the word "probably", it's not obvious.

Don't nitpick and don't look for it.  Use the rule book to solve problems, not create them.

There's an opportunity, especially at this level, to let the coach know his catcher is getting close to the plate, and is putting himself in danger.  You're not warning them that a CI call is coming...you're warning him his catcher is going to get hurt.  That tends to be received in a more positive manner.

You don't need a swing in the usual CI sit of squeeze or steal. But NCAA had to put out a video interp reenforcing that a swing is not required because in years past there had been some CI no calls that were CI. I believe OBR does not require a swing but does require a batter in the box. So there would be no CI if the batter bailed out to allow R3 to score. 

There also might be an OBR interp for a pitchout. The catcher can catch the pitchout as far forward as the foul line without it being CI.

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There is no such interpretation in any of the three major rule sets. The following text is from the 2021 Minor League Baseball Umpire Manual (p. 105):

A batter is entitled to first base if the catcher interferes after the pitcher releases the pitch; or steps on, or in front of home plate (or anywhere in fair territory to secure a pitch) without possession of the ball preventing the batter an opportunity to swing.

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2 minutes ago, Senor Azul said:

There is no such interpretation in any of the three major rule sets. The following text is from the 2021 Minor League Baseball Umpire Manual (p. 105):

A batter is entitled to first base if the catcher interferes after the pitcher releases the pitch; or steps on, or in front of home plate (or anywhere in fair territory to secure a pitch) without possession of the ball preventing the batter an opportunity to swing.

Would common sense not dictate that if a batter abandons the batter's box, on a steal play for example, that they have relinquished their opportunity to swing?

 

2 hours ago, Jimurray said:

There also might be an OBR interp for a pitchout. The catcher can catch the pitchout as far forward as the foul line without it being CI.

I'd be careful of that one.  PItchouts (even ones still outside the strike zone) have been hit over the fence.  Under the same guidance as above, you don't want to force a team to swing to cause CI.

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12 minutes ago, Senor Azul said:

There is no such interpretation in any of the three major rule sets. The following text is from the 2021 Minor League Baseball Umpire Manual (p. 105):

A batter is entitled to first base if the catcher interferes after the pitcher releases the pitch; or steps on, or in front of home plate (or anywhere in fair territory to secure a pitch) without possession of the ball preventing the batter an opportunity to swing.

Which such interp are you referring to? 

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I was referring to your assertion about pitchouts. And, of course, a batter can give up his right to the pitch. We have established that fact several times before.

We are not forcing a batter to swing at a pitchout. As long as he is in a legal batting stance he has the absolute right to the pitch and no fielder can take that away from him.

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52 minutes ago, Senor Azul said:

I was referring to your assertion about pitchouts. And, of course, a batter can give up his right to the pitch. We have established that fact several times before.

We are not forcing a batter to swing at a pitchout. As long as he is in a legal batting stance he has the absolute right to the pitch and no fielder can take that away from him.

Doesn't your MiLB interp reference fair territory. Is it possible that interp came about as a result of a play where the pitchout was up the line and the batter reached to protect his runner. I can't remember the call on that play but somehow the foul line made it's way into that thread a long time ago.

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15 hours ago, Jimurray said:

Doesn't your MiLB interp reference fair territory. Is it possible that interp came about as a result of a play where the pitchout was up the line and the batter reached to protect his runner. I can't remember the call on that play but somehow the foul line made it's way into that thread a long time ago.

Is it possible you may be thinking of an interp on a balk?

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18 hours ago, Jimurray said:

Doesn't your MiLB interp reference fair territory. Is it possible that interp came about as a result of a play where the pitchout was up the line and the batter reached to protect his runner. I can't remember the call on that play but somehow the foul line made it's way into that thread a long time ago.

I would assume your pitchout condition isn't about what the catcher is allowed, but what he's not allowed.  Not that it's always OK in foul territory...but that it's never OK in fair territory.

If the catcher is receiving the pitch anywhere in fair territory he's going to be held to a higher standard, and higher liability of CI...namely, if the batter's in the box there's an opportunity to swing, and CI will be called, even on a pitchout in the other box.   We've seen what some batters will do on pitchouts in hit'n'run scenarios.

If the catcher's in foul territory then a little more judgment is needed, and you want a higher level of obviousness; but CI can still be called, even on a pitchout.

That makes the most sense to my little brain.

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4 hours ago, Tborze said:

Is it possible you may be thinking of an interp on a balk?

No, I'm thinking of a long ago thread about CI/Pitchout where @Senor Azul quoted J-R. I'm hazily paraphrasing, quotes are not firm: "It's CI if the catcher reaches on or over HP or into fair territory."

His MiLBUM cite and the J-R cite make me think that the foul line might be a factor in judging the catcher's action in a pitchout.

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7 hours ago, Jimurray said:

His MiLBUM cite and the J-R cite make me think that the foul line might be a factor in judging the catcher's action in a pitchout.

 

On 10/2/2023 at 8:52 PM, Jay R. said:

Weird play in U10 Fall Ball.

 

 

🤐

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22 hours ago, Jimurray said:

No, I'm thinking of a long ago thread about CI/Pitchout where @Senor Azul quoted J-R. I'm hazily paraphrasing, quotes are not firm: "It's CI if the catcher reaches on or over HP or into fair territory."

His MiLBUM cite and the J-R cite make me think that the foul line might be a factor in judging the catcher's action in a pitchout.

https://www.google.com/url?client=internal-element-cse&cx=partner-pub-2064801920729129:7491051059&q=https://umpire-empire.com/topic/69640-was-this-catchers-interference-dont-think-ive-seen-a-play-like-this-before/&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwj4j9mqjt-BAxV-F1kFHY88CpYQFnoECAEQAg&usg=AOvVaw26xUjWs-uyGSpQqcOyPktq

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On 10/3/2023 at 8:47 AM, Toggy said:

I'll submit this for consideration:

In 10U, don't hesitate at all to call CI/CO. If the catcher is frequently working close to the plate.

Eager catchers will then have to learn learn to not step forward or reach forward because they're actually getting called on it. Also we don't need a 10 year old catcher actually getting hit by a swinging bat.

It seems 10U can be the hardest level in officiate in a sense because the young players do all sorts of weird stuff. But in my league the umpires help the players (within reason) learn to play baseball. It's a community thing.

I had a catcher in June almost diving forward to trap low pitches because he was tired of them bouncing wildly off the area of the plate. so he was being proactive and trying to control the ball, but sometimes he was getting his helmet near the strike zone. This is when they have to learn to stay back, even if the pitcher is making their job very hard, mostly bouncing pitches around the plate.

To be clear I don't mean that I want to just call CI over and over on a catcher. Working with the coach and catcher for 1 minute can stop it from happening after just one CI call.

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Of course this needs to be contextual. On 60-90 (full) baseball, I’m not saying much of anything to a F2 about CI, potential or otherwise. 

Little ‘uns? Likely… but that’s because there is the occasional (eh, rare) parent behind the backstop who is aghast that the batter hit the catcher, but the catcher is the one penalized! 

On 10/6/2023 at 11:22 AM, Toggy said:

Working with the coach and catcher for 2 minutes can stop it from happening after just one CI call.

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On 10/6/2023 at 9:22 AM, Toggy said:

To be clear I don't mean that I want to just call CI over and over on a catcher. Working with the coach and catcher for 1 minute can stop it from happening after just one CI call.

Exactly!   10 and under?  They are just beginning to learn the game.  First, there is really nothing to penalize here since the first thing that happened was ball four.  Second, as Toggy says, it's a perfect time to give a little information to the catcher for future reference.  

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