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--Please take a moment to look through these scenarios for common missconceptions and myths about the little league rule and thier penalty applicatons. If you would like to see something in here, please send me a brief message about the rule and what you would like clarified for yourself or might be helpful for others. Thank you, 

Jason Fackler

CHLL UIC

fack54@cox.net

520-429-3746

 

Out of the Baseline

Beliefs:

  • The base line is defined as a straight line between the bases (with 3 feet allowed to either side)
  • Runners are automatically out if they run out of the base line
  • The base line belongs to the runners. If there’s a collision with a fielder and the runner is on the line, it is and the runner is awarded the next base. 

Realities:

  1. The base line is defined as a straight line from the runner to the base he is going to at the time a tag attempt is made. If a runner really wants to, he can run past first base all the way to the foul pole, and then head towards second base. If a fielder the tries to tag him, the base line would be defined as a straight line between the RF foul pole and second base.
  2. A runner is only out for running out of the base line if he is trying to avoid being tagged. For example, on a regular double it is common for the batter-runner to take a wide turn at first base. He is nowhere close to the base line, but is not doing anything wrong. There is also a seldom used trick play (at lower levels), where a with runners on 1st and 3rd, the runner on 1st base takes his lead up the right field line, instead of towards 2nd base, trying to draw a throw from the pitcher. If he’s far enough down the line, it is very hard to get him out without giving up the run scoring from 3rd base. This may look weird, but it is perfectly legal.
  3. The base line belongs to the runner if the ball isn’t there. If a fielder is daydreaming on the base line and a runner runs into him, then it’s certainly obstruction. However, the runner not only should, but MUST get out of the base line if a fielder is trying to field the ball there. Otherwise, the runner (not the fielder!) will get called for interference and be out. Take a look at the interference rule below. Nowhere does it say ‘unless the fielder is on the base line’. 

Reference:
Definition 2.00 INTERFERENCE (a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play.
 
Rule 7.08 - Any runner is out when—
(a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A 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;
(b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball; Rule 7.08(b) Comment: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not.
(f)He is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance.
 
Rule 7.09 - It is interference by a batter or a runner when -
(j) the runner fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball, provided that if two or more fielders attempt to field a batted ball, and the runner comes in contact with one or more of them, the umpire shall determine which fielder is entitled to the benefit of this rule, and shall not declare the runner out for coming in contact with a fielder other than the one the umpire determines to be entitled to field such a ball;
 
PENALTY FOR INTERFERENCE: The runner is out and the ball is dead.


Infield Fly Rule

Beliefs:

  • Infield Fly can only be in the infield
  • The ball is dead when an Infield Fly Rule is called by the umpire 

Situation:
The rule applies only when there are fewer than two outs, and there is a force play at third base (i.e., when there are runners at first and second base, or the bases are loaded).[1] In these situations, if a fair fly ball is in play, and in the umpire's judgment it is catchable by an infielder with ordinary effort, the umpire shall call "infield fly" (or more often, "infield fly, batter's out"); the batter will be out[2] regardless of whether the ball is actually caught in flight. Umpires typically raise the right arm straight up, index finger pointing up, to signal the rule is in effect.
 
If "infield fly" is called and the fly ball is caught, it is treated exactly as an ordinary fly ball; the batter is out, there is no force, and the runners must tag up. On the other hand, if "infield fly" is called and the ball lands fair without being caught, the batter is still out, and there is still no force, but the runners are not required to tag up. In either case, the ball is live, and the runners may advance on the play, at their own peril.
 
An infield fly may be declared by any umpire on the field.
 
"Umpire's judgement" -The infield fly rule is a judgment call, as the rule states that "The judgment of the umpire must govern" and "is in no sense to be considered an appeal play". The rule also states that "Infield Fly" shall be declared immediately upon an umpire's determination that a batted ball has become an infield fly based on the criteria described above and is solely based on the umpire's discretion. Since different umpires may have different definitions of what constitutes "ordinary effort," the rule may be applied differently depending on the umpire and game conditions.

“Catchable by an infielder" - Any fair fly ball that could be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort is covered by the rule, whether or not it's in the infield, and whether or not an infielder catches it, or even attempts to catch it. For example, if an infielder retreats to the outfield in an effort to catch a fly ball, the infield fly rule may be invoked because the ball could have been caught by the infielder. Similarly, infield fly may also be called if an outfielder runs into the infield to catch a fly ball, if it could have been caught by an infielder with ordinary effort. It may be helpful to think of it as the "infielder fly rule." Specifically, the rule states an infield fly call should be determined by "whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder, —not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire's judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder."

"Ordinary effort" - Ordinary effort given all circumstances must exist for the infield fly rule to be invoked. Thus, weather, wind, lighting, positioning of the defense, and the abilities of the players involved in the play must be taken into account. An infield fly in a major league game, thus, might not be so in a junior high school game due to the ability of the players involved.

Foul balls - If the fly ball is near the foul lines, the umpire is to declare "infield fly, if fair." If the ball is not caught and ends up foul (including if it lands fair and then rolls foul before passing first or third base without being touched by a fielder), the infield fly call is canceled, and the play is treated as an ordinary foul ball. In contrast, if the ball lands foul and then rolls fair before passing first or third base without being touched, the infield fly takes effect and the batter is out.
 


Drop Third Strike 

Situation: 

  • With less than 2 outs and a runner on first base, there is no DTS. The ball is always live.
  • With less than 2 outs, and no runner on first base, there is always a DTS situation. Once again the ball is always live. 
  • With 2 outs there is always a DTS. Once again the ball is always live. Also, a DTS creates a force play if the base-runners are forced by the batter. Therefore if the bases are loaded all the catcher must do is grab the ball and step on home plate before the runner from third reaches home.
Here is a recent situation.  Bases loaded with 1 out and the third strike was dropped.  Because first base was occupied, it was not a DTS situation.  The umpire called " Strike 3 the batter is out" since it was not a DTS situation. The batter ran to first anyway and the other base-runners advanced towards the next base. The base-runner from third stopped about 10 feet short of home (he was confused by all the different people yelling for him to go or head back to third). As the base-runner from second went into third, the catcher threw the ball to third base and the base-runner was tagged before he made it to the base. That was the third out and the base-runner from third did not score.

In all of these situations, the base-runners are free to run at their own risk, whether planned or in confusion. 
Player Chatter

Beliefs:
  • Player chatter is no longer allowed in Little League 

Realities:
There is no Little League rule that specifically bans player chatter.  When player chatter becomes “unsportsmanlike” (rule 4.06), that is when an umpire can decide to issue a warning.  This is a judgment call and is not arguable. 
 
Reference:
Rule 4.06 - No manager, coach or player, shall at any time, whether from the bench or the playing field or elsewhere -
(1) incite, or try to incite, by word or sign, a demonstration by spectators;
(2) use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, manager, coach, an umpire, or spectators.;
(3) make any move calculated to cause the pitcher to commit an illegal pitch


Substitution & Mandatory Play Rules

For baseball and softball divisions without a continuous batting order, substitutions and mandatory play requirements can be a little confusing.  Here is a good resource to help understand it a little better:

http://www.eteamz.com/baseball/rules/obr/library/rule.cfm/Substitution%20and%20Re-entry/

For our AAA Minors divisions and below, with inning run limits, if a player played the entire half inning that is shortened because of the run rule, he/she is credited with 3 outs for the purpose of fulfilling the mandatory play. If he/she enters after the innig has started, the player will only get credit for the outs actually made while they are on the field.

 

One thing not noted in this resource is the notes in Regulation IV (i). The board of Directors can choose to not punish the offending manager if the game is shortened for any reason. Not playing the home half of the final inning is not considered a shortened game. If it ends due to weather, time limit, run rule or injury/ejection will not let a team field 9 players, it is considered a shortened game.

 

Note 2 also says that the penalty for the player cannot be reduced or waived. Therefore, any player not meeting mandatory play in a shortened game must start the teams next physically played game. Those players must play any previous requirement that was not met, plus the requirements for the current game before being removed.

 

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 Obstruction

 

 

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Substitution

All players must play 6 defensive outs and get 1 at bat as was stated in the Mandatory Play section above. As far as substitutions go, I will focus on the regular season rules here. If you would like to know about the postsesaon rules, please contact me and I'll be more than happy to share, but for now, it might get confusing if I post them too close together.

Starters that are on the official line up at the start of the game can re-enter the game one time after they have been removed. Substitutes that have entered the game cannot be reinserted once removed. Therefore, to meet mandatory play a starter does not have to play 6 consecutive outs, but the substitute does.

The starter can re-enter in any spot in the lineup, not just his/her original spot, as long as the substitue has met his/her mandatory play. Even if you sub for the 6 hitter and then want to insert the starter into the 9 spot, that sub in the 6 spot must meet mandatory play before the starter is eligible to return. 

Please be mindful of your Mandatory Play and Substitution rules. We've had a lot of issues with this the last couple years. If there is any confusion, please let me know so we can get it cleared up before the season starts and we can avoid any penalties.

 

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Foul Tip vs Foul Ball

The definition of a foul tip is a ball that contacts the bat and goes driectly to the catchers glove or hand and is secured before it touches the ground. Any contact of the glove or hand is all that is necessary. If it then goes off the chest/mask before touching the ground it is a foul tip. If it contacts the chest or mask before the glove we have a foul ball. 

The main reason for knowing the difference is, a foul tip is a live ball, where a foul ball is dead. This means that any runner trying to advance on a foul tip can do so at thier own risk. On a foul ball all runners must return to thier legal base at the time of the pitch.

 

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WHEN A RUNNER CAN ADVANCE OR NOT

BASEBALL: A baserunner can advance anytime the ball is live at his/her own risk. There is a misconception out there that there is a time that the baserunner is not allowed to leave his/her base. This is false. There are certain situations where a penalty can be imposed for laeving early, but they are never restricted to the base at all times. If the pitcher has the ball on the pitchers plate (not just the dirt mound) and the catcher is in the cathers' box ready to receive a pitch. To clarify ready to receive a pitch: the catcher must have their helmet and glove on and be facing the pitcher. They cannot be facing the dugout or umpire, have their glove or helmet off. Those do not constitute being ready to recieve a pitch. The baserunner is still free to advance at thier own risk. If all those conditions are met and the runner reaches the next base safely, time would then be called and they would all be returned to thier previous bases. If the runner is out out, the out stands and all other runners would return to thier original bases. Rule 7.13 has all the scenariors for these situations. Any questions please contact me for clarification.

 

SOFTBALL: For the softball side, things are a little easier. If the pitcher has the ball in the circle, all baserunners have about 3 seconds to make a choice, advance or stay out. If they do not chose to advance or return to the previous base after that time, they are out. If the pitcher is on the mound and a baserunner leaves the base before the ball leaves the pitchers hand in the Seniior, Junior and LIttle LEague division, she is out and the ball is immediately dead. No pitch can be counted if thrown. All other runners stay at the base they occupied at the time of the infraction. For the Minors division, if they leave the base before the ball crosse the plate, the same penalty applies. 7.08 has the penalties for these violations. Any questions, please contact me for clarification.