Instructional Memo #2

Long Beach Unit Baseball Memo #2

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

FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit

RE: Instructional Memo #2

I hope everyone had a healthy holiday season and now we are less than a month away from the first pitch being thrown. During that same time, many of our teams have been preparing for a 25-30 game regular season as well as a winter baseball schedule. These players have been on the field and in the weight room for countless hours to become part of the best team they can possibly be. The staffs at our institutions spend even more time developing programs so their student-athletes can succeed. Preparation also applies to our officials who have been participating in meetings, classroom breakouts, training videos and preparing to take a rules exam. What we can take away from all of this is that everybody involved in sports is doing something to stay ready for their respective season. How have we taken action to improve our craft?

A few notes to think about as we move forward…..

  • Extension of the dugouts: We understand there are a few of our institutions that have extended their dugout towards home plate. This is technically not legal by rule (1-2-4), but some of these extensions are made of concrete or other hard surface that cannot be corrected. More importantly, these can be perilous areas for players and we do not want them on it. We understand that there is nothing we can do to make it compliant by rule, but the best way to handle this is to keep this as dead ball territory and ask the teams to keep their players out of these areas as it could lead to potential safety issues.
  • When a batter may leave the batters box (7-3-1 Exception): Pace of play is a critical element of our game today and it is one thing we must be aware of. As a matter of fact, nobody (players, coaches and even officials) wants a game without flow. We must understand that a batter must keep a foot in the box at all times with the following exceptions:
      • When he swings at a pitch
      • Batter forced out of the box by a pitch (i.e. pitch up and in causing batter to get out of the way)
      • Batter attempts a bunt
      • Pitcher or catcher feints a play or attempts a play at any base (i.e. fake to 3rd, spaghetti move to 2nd, catcher back picks to 1st)
      • Pitcher leaves the dirt area of the mound after receiving the ball
      • A member of either team requests and is granted “Time”
      • Catcher leaves his box to adjust his equipment or give defensive signals
      • Catcher does not catch the pitched ball
    • Although these are all situations when the batter may leave the batters box, he is not liberated or protected from interfering with the catcher’s fielding or throwing in any of the above the situations. He is still subject to rule (7-4-5a-d)
  • Charged Conferences: A conference involves a team’s coach or non-playing representative (2-10). A team has three (3) defensive conferences during a seven-inning game(3-4-1) and only one (1) offensive conference per inning (3-4-2). These conferences are not cumulative and do not carry over into extra innings, however each team receives one (1) defensive conference per inning during extra innings (3-4-1). If after the third defensive conference or extra conference in extra innings, the pitcher shall be removed from the game. Contrary to other rules of baseball, a team is not required in high school baseball to remove a pitcher when a team has made a second visit to the same pitcher in the same inning. When one team is having one of it’s charged conferences, the other team may also get together without penalty provided they do not delay the game (3-4-5).
  • Fake Tags and “Deke” moves : The game has very much evolved and players have gotten very creative in ways of gaining an advantage or in some ways, putting an opponent at a disadvantage. When balls are hit into the gaps in obvious extra base situations, you have probably seen a fielder attempt a fake tag on an advancing runner or simulate a throw to another base in order to create hesitation by that same runner. These acts are not legal because they hinder a runner by slowing him down which may cause him not to achieve base(s) (2-22-2). As a matter of fact, these are also unsportsmanlike acts that really have no place in our game today. We need to be alert for these acts and the effects it has on the pattern of play. 

Video is becoming a huge part of our game today. We as officials must embrace that and use it as an opportunity to better our craft. Our training videos have yielded positive results so far and we hope that can translate to the field. It is my pleasure to be of service to all of you.

Best Regards,

Chris Maher

Instructional Chairman

(714) 292-6345

Ic@socalofficials.org

LB Unit Instructional Memo 2

2019 Instructional Memo #1

TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts
FROM: Chris Maher, Director of Field Observation and Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit
RE: Welcome to the 2019 Baseball Season
We are a little over two months away from the 2019 Baseball season and its extremely hard to believe considering we had just crowned new CIF Baseball champions last June. Many of you are aware that there is a new start date for baseball that is two weeks earlier than that of last season. That being said, it is time to get you caught up on what is new in high school baseball.

  • New Rules for 2019
    (1-3-1) Modified that baseballs meet NOCSAE standards Effective January 1, 2020
    The NFHS Rules Committee believed that baseballs ought to have a consistent standard of durability and playability.
    There are high schools that have varying levels of baseball inventory and has therefore pushed the utilization of this policy back to January 1, 2020
    However, all baseballs are STILL required to have the NFHS authentication. Umpires have been instructed to discard any baseball that fails to have such marking.
    – (6-1-3) Pivot Foot Requirement Removed
    A pitcher no longer has to have his entire pivot in contact with the pitcher’s plate or simply referred to as the “rubber.” (i.e. right foot for right-handed pitcher, left foot for left-handed pitcher)
    Many of our high school fields made it increasingly difficult for pitchers to satisfy the rule previously and made it even harder for umpires to enforce such rule.
    The pitcher still needs to have “some” of that foot touching the rubber to be considered legal.
    This change is not the same as the requirements of the “non-pivot” foot which determine whether the pitcher is in the “windup” or “set” (stretch) position.

 

  • Points of Emphasis
    Sportsmanship
    – High school sports are an “extension of the classroom” and it is very important that we understand this in our dealings with each other. Actions by a coach, official or an administrator that would be impermissible in an academic environment are strictly prohibited here in athletic environments as well.
  • National Anthem Stand-off A growing concern in the baseball community within the last few seasons are standoffs between opposing teams following the playing of The Star Spangled Banner. These actions have been designed to intimidate the opposition and draw undue attention. They are not consistent with the values of an educational-based athletic setting that our schools participate in. Umpires have been instructed to work with players and coaches to immediately send potential offending players back into the dugout following the National Anthem. Offending players and teams could be subject to verbal warnings, written warnings/restrictions to the dugout and/or an ejection for major offenders (3-3-1f Penalty) We appreciate staffs that have discouraged this behavior and hope that we continue to address standoffs should there be concerns.
  • Bench Jockeying: We understand that the nature of athletics is competitive and therefore emotional. There will be cheering during ballgames and we encourage that as long as it stays within that team. It becomes a problem when chants or noises (both natural or artificial) become  disconcerting to a pitcher in position to pitch, a batter preparing to hit or a fielder in position to field the baseball. Why might one do this? To simply distract the opposition and put an opponent at a distinct disadvantage in an unsportsmanlike manner. It is a fine line between what is considered a spontaneous reaction and professional behavior versus what is considered unsporting and derogatory.
  • Equipment
    Before every game, our umpires are required by rule to certify with both head coaches that their teams are properly equipped and are only using legal equipment (4-1-3b). It was mentioned above that baseballs needed to have the NFHS authentication mark or would be discarded. In the event there are no baseballs that meet such specifications, then the game will be stopped and the home team will have a minimum of 30 minutes to supply proper baseballs to the plate umpire. If no baseballs are provided at that time, the game maybe forfeited. Our most important goal is to get the game in and we understand for some institutions it is a burden, but playing with equipment that is not legal presents potential liability concerns should an incident arise. Memo to umpires: Do NOT rush to a forfeit!!
  • Base running
    An integral element of our game today is baserunning. Many sports have different statuses of players that can score, but in baseball only a base runner can score and to that extent there are greater responsibilities. A base runner must legally touch all bases in the correct order regardless if the ball is live or dead or if the bases were awarded or not. This includes a base runner immediately retouching a base after he/she may have missed a base or may have left early.
  • A common debate is when a base runner is considered “out of the baseline.” Let me remind you that a baserunner establishes his baseline directly between his position and the base he is going to, however a runner may be called out if he runs more than 3 feet from that base line to avoid a tag or to hinder a fielder (8-4-2a-1,2). The key here is that there must be a tag attempt for such element of the rule to be met and umpires have been instructed that a guideline for 3 feet is “a step and a reach.”
  • There is no “must slide” rule in high school, however a base runner must slide legally (one leg and one buttock on the ground, 2-32-1) if he chooses to do so. The following are examples of illegal slides pursuant to Rule (2-33-2)
    • Execution of a rolling block or cross body slide as well as a pop-up slide into the fielder.
    • A baserunner’s raised leg is higher than the knee of a fielder in a standing position. This is simply referred to as contact occurring above the knee.
    • Contact by a baserunner with a fielder that is beyond the base and alters the play (Exception Home Plate)
    • The slashing or kicking of a fielder
    • Willful and deliberate attempts by a runner to injure a fielder
    • A baserunner not sliding directly into a base on a force play
      Exception: there is no violation if a runner deviates from his position and does not slide directly into a base in order to avoid making contact with a fielder or altering a play (8-4-2b)

During the course of the season, various plays and situations will arise that we will interpret and address with the goal of keeping all of us engaged and informed about the game of baseball. I encourage you to submit any plays, pictures and videos of interest to me because we are all in this together and that is to be committed to the goal of “Improved Umpiring.” It is my pleasure to be of service to you.
Best Regards,
Chris Maher
Instructional Chairman
Long Beach Unit
(714) 292-6345
Ic@socalofficials.org

LB Unit Instructional Memo 1