Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Life on the Field - 2012 Top Baseball / Softball Rules Myths

That's a lot of myths. No wonder folks are so confused. - CS 

Top Baseball/Softball Rules Myths, 2012 Edition
I'm a little slow getting this out this year. I've fallen to the dark side and have been coaching this spring.  However, I've been recently asked to do a summer rec ball umpire's clinic for volunteers, and figured I better go ahead and update the list.

This is mostly from the E-teamz "40 Rules Myths" article from years ago, but has been modified by adding a few addtional myths that seem to keep floating around my area. Both baseball and softball is included in the same list as umpires in this area are expected to do both. 

Critique and corrections are welcome.

PLEASE REMEMBER that these are MYTHS and therefore all FALSE unless otherwise noted by high school or local league rules.

The Batter

#1 The hands are part of the bat. FALSE. The hands are part of the batter. The rules state that a touch of any kind is contact with any part of the person or body. The hands are not exempt from this rule. If a batter is hit in the hands by a pitch, he/she will be allowed to go to first base provided that he/she did not swing, the pitch wasn't in the strike zone, and he/she made an attempt to get out of the way of the pitch. If the batter does swing at the pitch and is hit in the hand, the pitch is ruled a dead-ball strike, not a foul ball.

#2 If the batter breaks his/her wrists when swinging, it is a strike. FALSE. It is a strike if, in the umpire's judgment, the batter attempted to hit the ball. Wrist motion has no bearing in this decision.

#3 The batter cannot be called out for interference if he/she is in the batter's box. FALSE. If the batter has reasonable time to vacate the batter's box, he/she must do so or risk interference being called.

#4 The batter may not switch batter's boxes after two strikes. FALSE. The only time the batter may not switch batter's boxes is when the pitcher is in position ready to pitch.

#5 The batter who batted out of order is person declared out. FALSE. The proper batter is the one called out. Any hit or advance made by the batter or runners due to the hit, walk, error, or other reason is nullified. The next batter is the one who followed the batter who was called out.

#6 The batter may never run to first base on an uncaught third strike if first base is occupied at the time of pitch. FALSE. If there are two outs, the batter may run even if first base is occupied.

#7 The batter may not run to first base if the catcher cleanly catches a pitch for strike three that hits the ground first. FALSE. A catch is defined in part as, "The act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a live ball in flight." A ball that bounces or hits the ground is no longer in flight.

#8 The batter is out if he/she starts for the dugout before going to first after an uncaught third strike. FALSE. In leagues using professional baseball rules, the batter is declared out once he/she leaves the dirt area surrounding home plate. In high school rules, the batter is not declared out until he/she enters the dugout, the next pitch is thrown, or the inning ended because all infielders left the diamond.

#9 If the batter does not pull the bat back while in the bunting position, it is an automatic strike. FALSE in baseball, but TRUE in softball. A strike is defined in part as, "A legal pitch that is attempted to be hit by the batter and is missed." In baseball, merely holding the bat in the bunting position is not to be interpreted as the batter attempted to hit the ball, but in softball, holding the bat in the strike zone is to be interpreted as a bunt attempt.

#10 The batter is out if a bunted ball bounces back up and hits the bat while the batter is holding the bat. FALSE. If the batter is still in the batter's box when this happens, it is ruled a foul ball.

#11 The batter is out if his/her foot touches the plate. FALSE. In leagues using professional baseball rules, but TRUE in high school rules. In leagues using professional baseball rules, a batter is called out only if the batter's foot is entirely outside the batter's box and is touching the ground outside the box when he/she contacts the pitch with the bat. He/She is not out if he/she does not contact the pitch with the bat. There is no statement about touching the plate. The toe could be on the plate and the heel could be touching the line of the box, which means the foot is not entirely outside the box. In leagues using high school rules, a batter would be declared out if his/her foot is touching the plate, but again, contact must be made with the pitch by the bat or otherwise no call would be made.

#12 A pitch that bounces to the plate cannot be hit. FALSE in baseball and fast pitch softball, but this is TRUE in slow pitch softball.

#13 The batter does not get first base if hit by a pitch after it bounces. FALSE. No such rule exists. The pitch hitting the ground means nothing.

#14 The ball is dead on a foul tip. FALSE. The term "foul tip" is often misused. The definition of foul tip is, "A batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's hands and is legally caught." If the ball is not caught, it is a foul ball and the play is dead. However, a foul tip remains a live ball just like a swinging strike.
#15 The batter is out when he/she throws the bat. FALSE. In professional baseball rules, there is no specific mention of throwing a bat, although leagues using this rule set usually have supplemental rules in regards to this. In many amateur leagues (including high school), the rule is to warn the offending batter after playing action concludes, then eject the next offender from the same team. If the act is judged to be intentional, then the batter may be ejected without warning. In any case, the batter is not declared out. If the thrown bat interferes with the defense in making a play, then the batter may be called out, but the out would be for the interference, not for throwing the bat.

Running to First

#16 The batter-runner must turn to his/her right after over-running first base. FALSE. The batter may turn in either direction and not be in jeopardy of being tagged out unless, in the umpire's judgment, attempts to advance to second base.

#17 The batter may not overrun first base when he/she gets a base-on-balls without liability to be put out. FALSE in professional rules baseball and all softball codes, but TRUE in high school baseball.

#18 The batter-runner is always out if he/she runs outside the running lane after a bunted ball. FALSE. The batter is declared out only if he/she is outside the running lane and interferes with the defense fielding the ball or receiving a throw at first base.
Base Running

#19 A runner is out if he slaps hands or high-fives other players after a homerun is hit over the fence. FALSE. A runner is only out if a player (who is not a runner) or coach physically assists a player in running the bases. A high-five or any other congratulatory gesture is not considered a physical assist.

#20 Tie goes to the runner. FALSE in reality, even if it may be true in theory. The rules states that a runner is out if he/she or the base he/she is forced be touched before he/she reaches such a base. Literally translating that rule, it can be argued that if the defense and the runner reach the base simultaneously, then runner is safe since the defense did not reach the base before the runner. Thus, the often misquoted rule, "Tie goes to the runner" is brought up. In reality, though, it is impossible to judge a true tie, and an umpire should determine if the runner beat the defense or if the defense beat the runner.

#21 The runner gets the base he/she is going to plus one on a ball thrown out-of-play. FALSE. The "1+1" myth that is often quoted does not exist in the rules. The runner is awarded two bases from time of pitch if the ball thrown out of play is the first play made on the infield. If the throw is the second or subsequent play made from the infield or is any throw from the outfield, then the runner is awarded two bases from the last base the runner occupied from the time of throw. This means, for example, if a runner is returning to first base to tag up on a caught fly ball and the fielder throws the ball out of play, the runner would be awarded third base.

#22 Anytime a coach touches a runner, the runner is out. FALSE. Again, the runner must be physically assisted with his/her base running to be declared out.

#23 Runners may never run the bases in reverse order. FALSE. In some cases, the runner is required to run the bases in reverse order, such as when he/she must tag up on a particularly long fly ball that is caught. The only time the runner is declared out is when he/she is doing something to deliberately confuse the defense or is making a travesty of the game.

#24 If the runner doesn't slide on a close play, he/she is out. FALSE in most written rule sets including high school rules. The runner only needs to seek to avoid contact, and if he/she can do so without sliding, then that is allowed. Contact between the runner and the defense can still occur and no call may be made. However, if a runner is judged by the umpire to have maliciously contacted a defensive player, that runner can be called out and ejected from the game. Some local leagues do have special slide rules for some age groups, but again, these rules are not written in either professional baseball or high school rules books.

#25 The runner is safe when hit by a batted ball while touching a base. FALSE in baseball, but TRUE in softball. In baseball, the runner is declared out if struck by a batted ball at any time unless it is first touched by a fielder or has passed an infielder (not including the pitcher) and no other infielder has a chance of fielding the ball. If the runner is hit by a batted ball while on base during an infield fly situation as determined by the infield fly rule, then he/she is not out, but if he/she is off a base and this occurs, then both the runner and the batter are out. In softball, the runner is allowed to remain on base and will not be declared out if struck by a batted ball. However, in all codes, if the runner intentionally interferes in any way for any reason, he/she will be declared out. 

#26 A runner is out if he runs out of the baseline to avoid a fielder who is fielding a batted ball. FALSE. The runner is required to avoid a fielder who is fielding a batted ball. If he/she does not avoid a fielder who is fielding a batted ball, he/she will be declared out. The runner is only ruled out for being out of the baseline when he/she is trying to avoid being tagged. The runner's baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely. The baseline is not defined as a straight line between two consecutive bases as some people assume.

#27 It is always okay for a runner to contact a fielder who is standing in the baseline. FALSE. As stated above, the runner is required to avoid a fielder who is fielding a batted ball. The baseline does not belong to the runner. If the fielder is not fielding a batter ball and contact occurs between he/she and the runner or if the runner has to alter his/her path, then defensive interference (obstruction) is called.

#28 Runners may not advance when an infield fly is called. FALSE. An infield fly ball as determined by the infield fly rule is a live ball, and runners may advance after tagging up when the ball is caught. They may also advance without tagging up if the ball is
not caught.

#29 Two runners may never touch the same base at the same time. FALSE, however one of them is in jeopardy of being put out. If a runner is forced to advance to the next base, the lead runner is out if tagged. If the lead runner is not forced, then the trail runner is out if tagged.

Fair/Foul, Foul Tips, and Others

#30 If a batted ball hits the plate, it's a foul ball. FALSE. Home plate is in fair territory just as all the other bases. A batted ball that hits first or third base is a fair ball, and home plate is no different.

#31 If a player's feet are in fair territory when the ball is touched, it is a fair ball. FALSE. It is the position of the ball that determines whether it is fair or foul. If a fielder has his feet in fair territory but reaches over the foul line and touches the ball in foul territory, then it would be a foul ball.

#32 A runner may not steal on a foul tip. FALSE. As previously stated in the section entitled, "The Batter", the ball is live on a foul tip. Runners may steal because the ball is live.

#33 If a fielder holds a fly ball for two seconds, it is a catch. FALSE. A catch is determined when a fielder has complete control of the ball in his/her hand or glove. Time is not a factor in an umpire's judgment in determining a catch.

#34 If a fielder catches a fly ball and then falls over the outfield fence, it is a homerun. FALSE. This is an out. However, if a fielder enters dead ball territory with the ball, all runners will be awarded on base unless the catch was the third out.

#35 The ball is dead anytime the ball hits an umpire. FALSE. A thrown ball that hits an umpire is live unless the ball becomes lodged in the umpires uniform or equipment. A batted ball that hits an umpire is dead unless the ball was deflected off a defensive player or has passed a defensive player other than the pitcher. Umpire's interference may also be called if the umpire interferes with a catcher's throw.

#36 The home plate umpire can overrule the other umpires at anytime. FALSE. No umpire (including the home plate umpire or umpire-in-chief) has the authority to set aside or question decisions made by another umpire within the limits of the respective duties as outlined in the rules. An umpire may request help from another umpire in a decision, but ultimately it is the requesting umpire who will make the final decision.

#37 It is always a force out when a runner is called out for not tagging up on a fly ball. FALSE. Failing to retouch is not a force. If a runner is called out for the third out on appeal for not retouching (tagging up), any preceding runs score unless the appeal is made before the runners cross the plate.

#38 An appeal on a runner who misses a base cannot be a force out. FALSE. A runner who missed a base they were forced to and is properly appealed for the third out can nullify any runs the would have scored.

#39 No run can score when a runner is called out for the third out for not tagging up. FALSE. If a runner is called out for the third out on appeal for not retouching (tagging up), any preceding runs score unless the appeal is made before they cross the plate.

#40 You must tag the base with your foot on a force out or appeal. FALSE. Any portion of the fielder's body or glove may be used to touch the base. Even if the fielder has the ball in his/her hand and touches the base with his/her empty glove, an out would still be recorded. In high schools rules, the defense may also make an appeal on a runner during a dead ball. Any defensive player or coach can to this by requesting time and asking the umpire to appeal the infraction. In any case, an appeal must be made before the next pitch or play.

#41 The ball must always be returned to the pitcher before an appeal can be made. FALSE. Appeals may either be made at anytime during a live ball by touching a base that a runner failed to tag up on a fly ball or for missing a base. In high school rules, the dead ball appeal procedure described above could also apply.


#42 The ball is always immediately dead on a balk. FALSE in professional baseball and softball, but TRUE in high school baseball. In high school baseball, the ball is immediately dead, and all runners will advance one base. If the ball is pitched and the batter hits it, play does not continue. In professional baseball, a balk is a delayed dead ball, and the batter may hit the pitch. If he/she does and all runners and the batter advance successfully to the next base, then the balk is ignored. If they do not, then play is stopped, the runners advance one base from their position at the time of the pitch and the batter is returned to the plate to continue his at-bat with the previous ball and strikes count. In softball, the term "balk" is replaced with the term "illegal pitch". In softball, an illegal pitch is still a delayed dead ball and the batter may attempt to hit the pitch. In softball, after play ends, the batting team may elect to either take the illegal pitch penalty and have the batter return to the plate to continue his/her at-bat, or they may take the result of the play.

#43 With no runners on base, it is a ball if the pitcher starts his windup and then stops. FALSE in professional baseball, but TRUE in high school baseball and softball. In professional baseball, this is just a no-pitch. 

#44 The pitcher must come to a set position before a pick-off throw. FALSE. The pitcher must come set only before pitching to the batter. This is a baseball rule only as pickoffs are not used in softball.

#45 The pitcher must step off the rubber before a pick-off throw. FALSE. The pitcher may remain in contact with the rubber during a pick-off. This is a baseball rule only as pickoffs are not used in softball.

#46 The pitcher's foot must remain in contact with the rubber until the release of the ball. FALSE. Coaches teaching the proper technique encourage pushing off the rubber during the pitch. In softball, the pivot foot (the one doing the pushing) must drag and remain in contact with the ground.

#47 In softball, the pitcher must release the ball after the first time it passes the hip toward the plate. FALSE. By rule, the pitcher is not allowed to make more than one and one-half revolutions on a pitch, but starting behind the hip, wind milling, and releasing the ball is not one and one-half revolutions.

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Giants Top Minor League Prospects

  • 1. Tyler Beede 6-4, 215 RHP from Vanderbilt projects as top of the rotation starter when he works out his command/control issues. When he misses, he misses by a bunch.
  • 2. Chris Shaw 6-3. 230 1B Lefty power bat, limited defensively to 1B, Matt Adams comp?
  • 3. Bryan Reynolds 6-2, 210 OF Switch hitter with average speed and polished hitting approach. Fits Giants mold of high-floor, low-ceiling prospects.
  • 4. Stephen Duggar 6-1, 170 CF Another toolsy, under-achieving OF in the Gary Brown mold, hoping for better results.
  • 5. Sandro Fabian 6-0, 180 OF Dominican signee from 2014, shows some pop in his bat. Below average arm and lack of speed should push him towards LF.
  • 6. Aramis Garcia 6-2, 220 C from Florida INTL projects as a good bat behind the dish with enough defensive skill to play there long-term
  • 7. Heliot Ramos 6-2, 185 OF Potential high-ceiling player the Giants have been looking for. Great bat speed, early returns were impressive.
  • 8. Garrett Williams 6-1, 205 LHP Former Oklahoma standout, Giants prototype, low-ceiling, high-floor prospect.
  • 9. Heath Quinn 6-2, 190 OF Strong hitter, makes contact with improving approach at the plate. Returns from hamate bone injury.
  • 10. Seth Corry 6-2 195 LHP Highly regard HS pick. Was mentioned as possible chip in high profile trades.
  • 11. Jacob Gonzalez 6-3, 190 3B Good pedigree, impressive bat for HS prospect.
  • 12. C.J. Hinojosa 5-10, 175 SS Scrappy IF prospect in the mold of Kelby Tomlinson, just gets it done.
  • 13. Shaun Anderson 6-4, 225 RHP Large frame, 3.36 K/BB rate. Can start or relieve
  • 14. Garett Cave 6-4, 200 RHP He misses a lot of bats and at times, the plate. 13 K/9 an 5 B/9. Wild thing.

2018 MLB Draft - Top National HS Players

  • 1. Ethan Hankins 6-6, 215 RHP Forsyth Central HS (GA) Mi 90's FB tops at 96-98, plus breaking ball. Vanderbilt commit.
  • 2. Kumar Rocker 6-5, 250 RHP North Oconee HS (GA) Heavy 98 FB, sharp mid 90's slider. Vanderbilt commit.
  • 3. Matthew Liberatore 6-5, 200 LHP Mountain Ridge HS (AZ) High 3/4 arm slot, 91-93 FB tops at 95, with good feel for pitching. Arizona commit.
  • 4. Slade Cecconi 6-4, 195 RHP Trinity Prep HS (FL) High 90's FB tops at 97, with mid 80's breaking ball. Miami commit.
  • 5. Carter Stewart 6-6, 200 RHP Eau Galle HS (FL) Highest spin rate breaking ball in draft. Mississippi State commit.
  • 6. Luke Bartnicki 6-3, 210 LHP Walton HS (GA) Low 90's FB with command, workable slider. Georgia Tech commit.

2018 Top MLB College Draft Prospects

  • 1. Brady Singer 6-5, 200 RHP Florida Sergio Romo-esque slider from whippy low 3/4 arm slot. Mid 90's FB, sharp slider and change-up. 3.4 K/BB rate.
  • 2. Casey Mize 6-3, 210 RHP Auburn Forearm issues, 96 FB with split/slider mix, 6.2 K/BB ratio.
  • 3. Logan Gilbert 6-6, 205 RHP Stetson Loose arm action, 3 pitch mix, 93-96 FB 3.2 K/BB.
  • 4. Ryan Rollison 6-3, 200 LHP Mississippi Smooth delivery from 3/4 arm slot, 89-93 FB tops at 94/95. Late 1st, early 2nd rounder. 2.8 K/BB rate.
  • 5. Shane McClanahan 6-1, 175 LHP South Florida Thin build, 3/4 arm slot, tall and fall delivery. 93/96 FB range. 3.0 K/BB rate.

2018 Top MLB HS Draft Prospects in Tampa Bay Area

  • 1. Connor Scott 6-4, 180 OF Plant HS (FL) Florida commit.