Thread: Charged Visit?
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Old Wed Sep 27, 2000, 10:36pm
Jim Porter Jim Porter is offline
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Re: Please supply better reference

Originally posted by Alan G

I have a book called "Make the Right Call", but I can't find the section "American League Umpires Rules and Regulations" which you referred to. In my book, trips to the mound are discussed on pp 156-9. Nevertheless, the quote you provide does not support (or weaken) your interpretation. Also, this is the first time I have heard anyone use "Make the Right Call" as an authoritative reference. But even in my copy, it's clear that there are no exceptions (except in the case of injury to the pitcher).

Anyway, what rule IS it that helps speed up the game? Isn't it the rule that forces a manager to remove a pitcher on the second trip? There is no rule that says, "No trip will be counted when the manager talks to his pitcher after the offense or umpire calls time, unless the offense or umpire is ready to continue and the conversation with the pitcher continues."

Play: Pitcher is struggling to get outs. Batter hits a double and slides hard into second. He appears to be injured, time is called, and the offensive coach goes out to tend to his player. During the time out, the defensive coach goes out to the mound to settle down his pitcher. Defensive coach returns to the bench, after which the coach of the offense returns to his bench.

If I understand your point of view, that's not a trip. I don't agree with that.


Make the Right Call is simply a big Official Baseball Rules, with casebook comments in gray, and added comments from American League Umpires Rules and Regulations as well as Instructions to National League Umpires (when they differ or add information.) If you read the introduction to the book, it explains all of this.

So if you look under 8.06, and then look under American League, you will find the quote I have provided.

"This rule was adopted by the clubs to speed up games and managers should abide by the spirit of the rule."

How you can say that this does not support "my" interpretation (remember, it isn't my interpretation, it is Little League's) is beyond me. The spirit and intent of a rule, specifically why it was adopted to the professional code, is absolutely key to administering the rules of baseball. I cannot stress that enough. It is absolutely key to administering the rules.

So, if the rule is there to "speed up" the game, and such a conference in youth leagues wouldn't have any effect whatsoever on how quickly the game is played, I have no problem with it. And neither does Little League.

In the play you created, I have no idea why you have such a problem with Little League's interpretation (and my opinion.) No, I wouldn't charge a conference. The rule is there to speed up the game, not to limit the number of times a coach can settle down a player, or to limit strategic meetings, or anything else you can dream up. It's there to speed up games.

I wrote the following piece last winter, when Little League and Andy Konyar were taking quite a beating over this interpretation. It helped to convince many people that LL's interpretation was the right one for youth leagues. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

There can be little doubt that the rules limiting manager and player-manager trips to the pitcher were instituted for one reason: to speed up the game. According to Amercian League Umpires Rules and Regulations, "This rule was adopted by the clubs to speed up games and managers should abide by the spirit of the rule." Indeed other interpretive manuals agree, therefore we can easily dismiss the idea that any tactical or strategic purposes exist for limiting pitcher and manager visits. Quite the contrary, for player-coaches ARE allowed to have multiple visits with a pitcher as long as they do not abuse such privilege.

Jim Evans's Annotated:
While playing he will be treated as a player until such time he is considered to have abused the privilege. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the privilege is abused, the playing coach and his manager will be advised that any future visits to the mound will be charged as trips."

NAPBL Manual:
While playing, a player-coach will be treated as a player until he is con-sidered to have abused the privilege. If; in the judgment of the umpire, the privilege is abused, the player-coach and his manager will be advised that any future visits to the mound will be charged as trips."

"A player-coach is considered to be a player unless he abuses his privilege, whereupon he, too, shall be subject to the above limitations."

All of the other provisions and instructions regarding this rule are all pointed toward avoiding a delay in the game. From the rule requiring a manager to remain in the circle in order not to be charged for another visit to an in-coming pitcher, to the instruction allowing managers to change their mind about the visit until they reach the foul line - all instructions and rules point toward the obvious answer that 8.06 is only in the book to speed up the game.

Limitations are ONLY put on managers and player-managers and ONLY in an effort to discourage delay. If tactical or strategic reasons for these limitations existed, player-coaches would also be included in the limitation. They clearly are not. This is compelling evidence that delay is the only objective to OBR Rule 8.06.

Where most people get sidetracked on the issue of the spirit of the charged visits rule is when considering a visit to an injured or ill pitcher. In such cases we are instructed to accompany the manager to assure that the injury visit is legitimate and that strategy is not discussed. The only reason that "strategy" is a part of this instruction is to ensure that the game has not been needlessly delayed. As the OBR casebook comments clearly explain, "Any attempt to evade or circumvent this rule by the manager or coach...shall constitute a trip to the mound." If the manager goes to the mound for the sole purpose of checking on an injured pitcher, that needs to be the only purpose for the visit. Otherwise, managers could circumvent the spirit of the rule and continue to delay the game without restriction.

Rule 8.06 was adopted in 1967 which gives us even more insight into the spirit with which and reasons why 8.06 was adopted by the rules committee. It was during this time period that professional baseball on television was becoming big business. This had tremendous influence in the necessity to adopt 8.06. Long, dragged out contests make for boring television. By limiting the number of times managers could visit the mound, television viewers would not have to be subjected to the boring delaying tactics that were being employed by MLB's managers.

The construct of MLB parks was also a factor in adopting 8.06. With the propensity of MLB managers to slowly saunter to the mound, sometimes they take what seems like a television eternity to finally reach their destination. Almost all MLB parks have their dugouts situated a full 60 feet from the baseline and sometimes much more. This makes the distance to the pitcher's mound 90 feet from the dugout. Managers make the most out of this 90 feet. Think about how slowly YOU can walk from home to first base.

So why, when LL has added rules to specifically speed up the games, would they allow a defensive trip during an offensive time-out without charging the conference?

That answer is multi-layered.

1. LL games are not geared toward a television audience.

2. LL has limited offensive time-outs to one per inning. So the most that this could happen is once every inning.

3. The LL interpretation requires that no extra time be used by the defense during the offense's time out and thus no delay in the game would take place. If there was a delay then that WOULD be considered a charged defensive conference. The spirit of the rule is preserved.

4. LL requires managers to meet with their pitchers at the foul line. This is only a recommended 25 feet - a far cry from the MLB 90 feet. At some LL fields, in fact most in my area, this distance is closer still.

5. LL games are only 6 innings long.

6. LL's purpose is far different from any other baseball league in the world. The main purpose is centered around teaching children teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play. The baseball game is not central to the program (vital, but not central.) It is LL's goal, and hope, that any manager who does use such a free visit would do so for the benefit of that child and to meet the goals of the LL program.

There are those who argue that the rules are clear. I have learned in 18 years of umpiring that no rules are clear. The issue is over the words, "come out to visit". The LL interpretation of those words, especially "to visit", is only when the time-out is not initiated by the offense. If a time-out is initiated by the offense and the defense comes out, it is NOT considered a "visit". It is only considered a "visit" if the defense delays the game beyond the offensive time-out.

This idea of interpreting simple everyday words into "baseball language" is not unusual, like this unique LL definition of "visit". In fact there is an entire section of the OBR which deals with just definitions of words, some of these definitions alter the very meaning of those words themselves.

There are other examples in the rules where interpretation seems to contradict the rules themselves. For example when a batter is hit by a foul ball while his foot or any part of his person is in the fair portion of the batter's box. Due to fairness we consider this a foul ball. By the letter of the rule the batter should be out. No one could possibly propose calling out a batter who gets hit by a foul ball while in the box despite the fact that the rules say we sometimes must.

Interpretation has allowed us to relax rules such as the coaching box when the letter of the rules are quite clear.

The LL rulebook tells us that, "any umpire's decision which involves final." It even goes on to specifically name balls and strikes as an example. Now how many of you honor a request from the defense for a checked-swing appeal when you've called the pitch a ball? Ah! But the rules are quite clear that this is not allowed.

Jaksa/Roder has lists of inarticulate, contradictory and ambiguous rules which require interpretation in order for anyone to make sense out of them. This just confirms the idea that interpretation is required for calling baseball. The rulebook itself is not enough.

Another common argument has been, "That's not the way other leagues do it." So what? To each his own, the grass is always many other cliches could I come up with that illustrate through ancestral wisdom that this is no argument whatsoever? Why even Leave it to Beaver had at least 25 episodes devoted to this concept alone.

We are now left with one, and only one, reason for charging defensive conferences during offensive time-outs - tradition. Sometimes tradition is as good a reason as any for holding onto rules or regulations in a game so rich with history as baseball is.

But when such a tradition makes little logical sense, does not violate the spirit of the rule in question, contains factors that do not apply to the field or level in which you are playing, contradicts the goals of the league and makes no difference in the balance between teams or the advantage/disadvantage concept, then I submit it is time to let go of the tradition and allow good common sense to prevail.

Andy Konyar agrees, Eastern Region agrees, according to Hayes Davis Western Region has agreed all along, I agree, - we all agree. We have strong supporting evidence that I have provided above - historical evidence, material evidence and even the wisdom of the Cleavers. This is why we feel the way we do.

I hope you can at least see our side of the story. You can certainly disagree, that is your business, but don't use such words as "stupid" to describe someone whose opinion is based on so much historical evidence and common sense. This is not an interpetation made off the cuff - that idea is absurd. The idea that this interpretation was made hastily is short-sighted to say the least. It was not. And everything I have just taken an hour to compile proves that is true.

Jim Porter
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