2020 Umpiring Memo #4

TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts

FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit

RE: 2020 Umpiring Memo #4

The first two weeks of the regular season have been complete. Our teams have had a number of games under their belts and are about to begin league play. It is safe to say that intensity will jack up just a bit during ballgames. Every pitch matters in ballgames and our focus needs to be there from start to finish. Our student-athletes and coaches are competitors and please realize that baseball can be an emotional game. Professionalism goes a long way on both ends of the spectrum and I know our teams and officials will exhibit that. A few important notes.

De-Certified Bats:Per the CIF State office, the 33-Inch Louisville Slugger Meta Composite Bat has been added to the decertified bat list. This bat is no longer compliant by rule (4-1-3b and 7-1-4a) and shall not be used during a game.

Terminating a Game:When a situation arises where a game could be potentially terminated for items such as darkness, weather, lower level 2 1/2 hour time limit or lower level run rule, umpire(s) should bring both coaches together and discuss that any of the above things could possibly end the game as well as the scenarios involved. We want our staffs to understand that these items could come into play and do not want a decision made by an umpire without consulting with his partner(s) (if he has one) and notifying both teams of the situation.

No-Stop Balks:We want quality judgments made regarding a pitcher’s ability to come to a complete and discernible stop. Do not knit-pick the borderline actions and call the obvious “rolling through.”If you think you saw it, then you probably did not. See what you call, not call what you see.

Plays at Home Plate:As we have talked about in the off-season and shown on video, we do not want to let the runner get between us and the catcher when ruling on this. We want to start at the point of the plate and work off the catcher’s inside hip. Too many times umpires commit to either the 1st base line extended or the 3rd base line extended without reading where the play is going.

Focus:As we talked about above, every pitch matters. Regardless if the count is 3-0 or if it is a game ending play, each pitch could have a potential consequence. Grabbing that 2-0 pitch below the hollow of the knee can change the course of an at-bat. There’s a big difference between hitting up 3-0, than with a count of 2-1. A few weeks back, video evidence showed a great defensive play by an infielder and an out was called at first base when the runner beat the throw by two steps. We’ve all been there before, take a deep breath and find your focal point. Remember, nothing is automatic and we got to be dialed in for each pitch and one pitch at a time.

The key to an endured period of success is mental toughness and self-evaluation. The very best officials in our industry are able to withstand the distractions and be at their peak performance every game. They evaluate their positioning and mechanics rather than looking to validate a call being made. They get back up each and every time they get knocked down.

Make your next game your best one.

Best Regards,

Chris Maher

Instructional Chairman

2020 Umpiring Memo #3

TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts
FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit
RE: 2020 Umpiring Memo #3

On Saturday, several of our member institutions will embark on the journey known as the 2020 Regular Season. Others will begin shortly after and all the hours of conditioning, practicing and team-building will come to fruition. The quest for a CIF Southern Section Baseball Championship will be a challenge for all, but remember our student-athletes and coaches are competitors. Please keep that in mind and above all, each one of us has an obligation to be professional. It is not only about what decision is made, but about how the decision was made and how we went about it.

Between Games of A Doubleheader: A friendly reminder that when a double-header is scheduled (2 games between the same 2 teams), the umpires need to bring both head coaches together between games to agree upon a start time for the second game as well as a time for when the plate meeting will happen. For example, a 1:35pm start time with a 1:30pm plate meeting. It is now the obligation of the umpiring crew to meet the agreed upon time frame. Please remember that these time frames are set around the starting pitcher’s warm up time and his ability to “get hot.”

NOCSAE Stamp on Baseballs: Per the CIF State office, as long as the baseball has the words “NOCSAE/SEI,” the baseball is compliant by NFHS rule. It does not need to have the exact logo in the NFHS Baseball Rule Book or other NFHS Publications.

On-Deck Hitters (3-3-1i): Only two “bat swingers” may be permitted. This could be two on-deck hitters between innings or a pitching change as well as the hitter and the on-deck hitter when the ball is live. This provision goes for players in live-ball territory or a situation where the dugout is extended. We do not want excess players with bats in the extended dugout area as this creates a safety issue for defensive players who could potentially enter that portion of dead-ball territory.

Wind-Up Position (6-1-2): A pitcher’s free (non-pivot) foot shall be in any position on or behind a line extending through the front edge of the rubber (pitcher’s plate). If this criteria is not met, he is in the set position and must conform to the guidelines of Rule 6-1-3 (i.e. going to the set position without interruption and in one continuous motion, Complete and discernible stop, etc.). Do not let this become an issue late in the game, correct it early.

Pitcher Re-Planting His Pivot Foot(6-1-1, 6-1-2, 6-1-3):The pitcher, in his delivery, pushes completely off the pitcher’s plate and while in the air and in front of the pitcher’s plate, throws the pitch. RULING: This is an illegal pitch. A pitcher who leaps from the pitching plate (rather than pushing away from it) is no longer in contact with the pitcher’s plate and has delivered an illegal pitch.

Pitchers Wearing Play Cards:Many of you have seen offensive players or other defensive players wear play card wristbands. A pitcher may also wear this provided it is on his glove-side arm or his belt and does not contain any distracting items (i.e. excessive amount of white). If an umpire deems this to be distracting, feel free to color in the logo with a magic marker or sharpie first before going any further. This is an avenue we can use without having to tell a pitcher to take it off.

As we have talked about in our meetings, we expect communication between our umpires and coaches. Anticipate the play being made, not the call. Let’s exercise slow, professional decisions and do things to help make the game right.

Good Luck,
Chris Maher
Instructional Chairman
Ic@socalofficials.org

LB Unit Umpiring Memo #2

Long Beach Unit Baseball Memo #2

 

TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts

FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit

RE: 2020 Umpiring Memo #2

In the months leading up to the start of the season, our coaches participate in myriad of conferences and clinics to improve their craft, renew fellowship and create new relationships that go a long way in developing their student athletes. One of the largest conventions hosted by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) took place in Nashville several weeks ago where thousands of coaches from various levels of play convened. Meanwhile, many of our umpires participated in clinics with other officials from various associations in Southern California and in some cases, various levels of play nationwide. What we are seeing with these opportunities are instances where coaches and officials are “breaking bread” with each other in order to improve the game and the relationships we have. The days of the proverbial “walls” between coaching staffs as well as that between umpire associations, conferences and units are being broken down. While there is still improvement to be made, it is a step in the right direction. A few thoughts to ring in the new year………

Artificial Noisemakers:We had several instances last year where noisemakers (i.e. bullhorns, sirens etc.) were discovered during our contests. These items are prohibited by the CIF-SS in all contests (CIF-SS Blue Book, 1523). If this becomes an issue in your game, please direct such concern to the Home Team’s head coach who will then direct it to Game Administration. Umpires, please do not go into the stands to address such conduct yourself without following the above protocol.

Lineup Cards: A lineup card becomes official after they have been exchanged, verified and then accepted by the plate umpire during the plate meeting (1-1-2). Any such change that occurs after that will be treated as a substitution and all other rules pertaining to it. Coaches make sure that you give the plate umpire the correct lineup card and that it is also the same one that the opposing head coach receives. Umpires please make sure you read over the lineup and be able to distinguish which offensive lineup option each team is using.

Hidden Ball Trick: If a pitcher is on or astride the rubber or positions himself five feet from the rubber without the baseball, it is a balk. (6-2-5)

Dead-Ball Appeal:A coach or any defensive player (with or without the baseball) may make a verbal appeal on a runner missing a base or leaving a base too soon on a caught fly ball. This is only possible once all runners have completed their advancement and time has been called. Please note that runners shall also be given an opportunity to complete their base-running duties if the ball has gone out of play. (8-2-6c).

Game Ending Appeal:If a situation arises where there may be an appeal by the defense on the last play of the game, the appeal must be made while an umpire is still in the field of play. (8-2-6j)

DH Card:I’ve attached a DH card on my website http://www.strongbeachumpiring.com that should be a reference regarding the NFHS DH Rule. The plate umpire shall carry this during games.

Strike Zone: As always, this is an area where can improve on. There were instances of umpires consistently calling pitches on the chalk line a strike whereas others who were having difficulty with pitches at the midpoint of the chest and the hollow of the knee.  Now is a great time to go out and service our programs during the winter season while refining your plate work. You should be able track the catcher’s glove the entire time. Remember, “On the rubber, set, call it”

We are nearly two weeks away from first pitch. Everyone is working diligently to make this a successful campaign. How have we been contributing to the group effort? What can we do to get better? The ball is in our court.

Best Regards,

Chris Maher

Instructional Chairman

2020 Umpiring Memo #1

TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts

FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit

RE: 2020 Umpiring Memo #1

I would like to welcome everyone to the start of the 2020 CIF Baseball Season. It has been my pleasure to back in my instructional and supervisory role again with our umpiring staff as well as being of service to our member institutions. I would also like to give a warm welcome to our new administrators and head coaches for the 2020 season as these bulletins establish a line of communication between all of us. We are about two months away from the first pitch being thrown and we have some important updates for the regular season.

The Designated Hitter (3-1-4b):There is now a 3rd lineup option a team may have offensively. A player may now hold two positions in a lineup, that of a position in the field as well as that of the designated hitter (i.e. P/DH, 2B/DH, RF/DH, etc.). This new provision is often referred to as a “9-man Lineup w/DH” and a team may allow the defensive player/designated hitter to remain in the game as the DH if he is replaced defensively while now moving to a 10-man lineup.

Where this change becomes important deals with when the DH is banged during the course of a game. If a team begins the game with a “9-man Lineup w/DH,” they will lose the DH when the following occurs:

  • A substitute or former substitute for the defensive role subsequently participates in an offensive role.
  • The starting defensive player/DH is substituted for either as a hitter or runner.

Below are a few situations that illustrate this change and usage.

    • Team A lists Hampton as a P/DH in the 5 spot in the lineup. In the 6th inning, Jimenez replaces Hampton as the pitcher.
      • Ruling: Legal and no loss of the DH. Team A continues as they have gone from a 9-man lineup w/DH to a 10-man Lineup.
    • Team A lists Hampton as a P/DH in the 5 spot in the lineup. In the 6th inning, Pierre bats for Hampton.
      • Ruling: Legal, but Team A has terminated the DH because Pierre participated in an offensive role. However, Hampton may still re-enter in that position.
    • Team A lists Andrews as a CF/DH in the 1 spot of the lineup. In the 4th inning, Richardson substitutes as the center fielder.
      • Ruling: Legal. The role of a defensive player has been substituted. No Loss of DH and Team A is now in a 10-man lineup.
    • Team A lists Andrews as a CF/DH in the 1 spot of the lineup. In the 4th inning, Richardson substitutes as the center fielder. In the 7th inning, Andrews re-enters defensively in centerfield.
      • Ruling: Legal. Andrews is entitled to one re-entry on defense since he was a starter. The DH remains intact because Richardson never participated in an offensive role. Team A started with a 9-man lineup w/DH, moved to a 10-man lineup and compressed back to a 9-man lineup w/DH.
    • Team A lists Andrews as a CF/DH in the 1 spot of the lineup. In the 4th inning, Richardson substitutes as the center fielder and later comes to bat in the 5th inning.
      • Ruling: Team A has terminated its use of the DH because Richardson has participated in an offensive role. Andrews may still re-enter in that spot since he was a starter.
  • Keep in mind, that a team may still begin the game with a 10-man lineup or a 9-man lineup without a DH. All prior rules in 3-1-4a still apply only if a team begins the game with a 10-man lineup.

Lodged Balls in a Fielders Glove (8-3-3c):A fair-batted ball that lodges in a fielder glove is now an exception to 8-3-3c and no longer carries a two-base award from time of pitch. An example of this play now being legal is the infamous Jon Lester toss of the glove to first base several years ago.

Fielders Warming Up as a Pitcher During a Charged Conference (3-4-1):A team cannot have a fielder, who is in the game, throw a baseball for the purpose of warming up as a pitcher during a defensive conference or a pitching change. If the team desires to warm up a player in the game to prepare him to pitch, it would need to take him out of the game to warm up and then later re-enter him under the substitution rule.

Coaches at The Mound During Pitching Changes (3-4-1):There will be no charged conference if a head coach or non-playing representative stays at the mound while a substitute pitcher is warming up following a pitching change. We will not charge this team with a defensive conference provided that the coach has left when the new pitcher has completed his warmup pitches and has not delayed the game.

Coaches/Administrative Evaluation Form: This year, I am developing a more user-friendly coaches evaluation form. If you would like access to this, please reach out to me and I can forward you the link to it. Your feedback helps in our training, observation and development of our umpiring staff.

I will be making my rounds to various institutions this off-season. If by chance you would like me to speak to your teams, coaching staffs or administration, please reach out to me at the below address and I will be glad to be of service to you.

Best Regards,

Chris Maher

Instructional Chairman,

Ic@socalofficials.org