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Old Sun Sep 11, 2005, 02:54am
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Hello all!

There has been a pretty lively debate taking place on the McGriff's message board regarding verbal obstruction.

The issue being debated is whether or not middle infielders yelling "Back,Back" convincing a runner to dive back to the bag and altering the course of the play is to be called verbal obstruction.

As I have said before, this past season was my first working FED games, so I am still diligently trying to learn all of the NFHS nuances regarding their many different rules interpretations. I want to be certain that if faced with this, I will call or not call it by what the existing standard is for the experienced members of this forum.

I did send an e-mail to Kyle McNeely of the ABUA to see what he thought. After I received his reply, I posted it at McGriffs and still, there appears to be a huge debate over whether or not it should be called.

This was Mr. McNeely's reply:
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____________

Tim, thanks for the question. Hope your spring and summer seasons have gone well. Pretty much wound down here.

I am not surprised that there exists a high level of debate on this. Obstruction as a topic, for some reason, tends to be on a national basis, misunderstood and misapplied.

As you are well aware, Rule 2-22-2 tells us that obstruction can verbal and physical, intentional and unintentional. An additional key phrase in that definition deals with obstruction being an act that hinders a runner or changes the pattern of play. This means that the obstruction did something; caused something else to happen.

So, in reality we do not handle verbal obstruction any differently than we would a physical act. If it hindered a runner or changed the "pattern of play" we would enforce the penalty. What is and is not obstruction then lies with the umpire. That is the basis of your discussion.

We know that many times, on the batter-runner rounding first following a base hit single to the outfield, he may run into the first baseman who is standing on the base or near it in the basepath. Most of the time, that is not obstruction as the batter-runner was not going to second anyway, he was just rounding first and going to return there. But, let's say the ball gets through the outfielder or the outfielder kicks it around, then the same act now might be obstruction as it did hinder the runner or changed the play. Before it did nothing, now it had an impact. Same act, but one is obstruction and one is not.

So, applying this train of thought to the verbal act in question, we have 2 approved rulings which provide some guidance.

The first one is from 1993:

PLAY: With R1 on second, F5 yells, "Back! Back!" R1 thinks the instructions have come from his third base coach. R1 (a) does not return or (b) is thrown out at home on B2'••••• after first starting back to second. R1's coach claims F5 should be called for obstruction because he hindered R1. F5's coach contends that this is just part of baseball. RULING: Anytime a fielder hinders a runner, obstruction should be called. In (a), because R1 was not hindered, there is no obstruction. In (b), had R1 not attempted to return, he may not have been put out at the plate. Therefore, F5 is guilty of obstruction.

The second approved ruling is from 1997:

PLAY: With R1 on second base, F6 yells "back, back, back!" as F1 starts his pitch. R1 returns to second base, thinking he was following the commands of his base coach. B2 (a) does not hit the ball, or (b) hits the ball.
RULING: In (a) and (b), verbal obstruction shall be called. The umpire shall award R1 the base he would have reached (a minimum of one base), had there not been obstruction.

In a way, both are saying the same thing, and the same thing on any obstruction. If the act hindered or changed the play, obstruction should be called. The 1993 ruling is obvious, but to some the 1997 ruling might be debatable.

What is being said here, is in both cases, the runner went back to second when he ordinarily would not have, hence the pattern of play was changed (as well as some safety factor bearing on it as well). Had the runner not gone back, the mere fact the defensive player said "back, back" would not have been obstruction. When it influenced the runner it became obstruction. In truth, in the past, even when a runner went back to second (nothing else happened) I have simply told the defensive player to stop as next time I will rule obstruction. If they do it again, I rule it. Certainly, if something happened I would rule obstruction.

This is a kinda of long winded response, and I hope it helps. Let me know if I didn't clear the debate up.

Kyle
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ________________________

If you don't mind, could you let me know what you guy's think about it?

Thank's,

Tim.
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Old Mon Sep 12, 2005, 05:26am
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Suggestion - keep the McGruff stuff on the Mcgruff site! We are here because we don't deal with Mcgruff!
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Old Mon Sep 12, 2005, 06:48am
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Quote:
Originally posted by ozzy6900
Suggestion - keep the McGruff stuff on the Mcgruff site! We are here because we don't deal with Mcgruff!
Ozzy,

Suggestion:

If you don't care to respond to a question that I ask, fine.
I will just consider that you have nothing of real value to add.

But, don't tell me what to post or where to post it!!

I have heard others complain that there are too many remedial or "third world" questions being asked on this and other boards. I ask a valid question on an issue, and you still complain.

Once again you show me the true meaning of anal retention!

Tim.
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Old Mon Sep 12, 2005, 10:44am
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Quote:
Originally posted by BigUmp56
Quote:
Originally posted by ozzy6900
Suggestion - keep the McGruff stuff on the Mcgruff site! We are here because we don't deal with Mcgruff!
Ozzy,

Suggestion:

If you don't care to respond to a question that I ask, fine.
I will just consider that you have nothing of real value to add.

But, don't tell me what to post or where to post it!!

I have heard others complain that there are too many remedial or "third world" questions being asked on this and other boards. I ask a valid question on an issue, and you still complain.

Once again you show me the true meaning of anal retention!

Tim.
I was just trying to tell you that we came here years ago to get away from McGruff's. So pardon me for trying to convey that to you. Enjoy, Richard Cranium!
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old Mon Sep 12, 2005, 02:17pm
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Not too much more to discuss on this Tim, a good source with documented cases, equals a solid answer.

If there are those on that other board that can't deal with that, then maybe you understand why we don't spend any time there.

Never accept the rulings of anyone on this or any forum without validating it yourself. Get the books and check it out.

Yes there are differences and ambiguities, but Fed is definitely stricter in dealing with verbal obstruction, than the other codes.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old Mon Sep 12, 2005, 03:14pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by ozzy6900
[/B]
I was just trying to tell you that we came here years ago to get away from McGruff's.

Enjoy, Richard Cranium! [/B][/QUOTE]Ah yes, let's get away from McGriffs. And then call someone a dickhead. And all that in the same paragraph.

You brought McGriffs with you.

Funny to read though.
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Old Mon Sep 12, 2005, 06:01pm
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jurassic Referee
Quote:
Ah yes, let's get away from McGriffs. And then call someone a dickhead. And all that in the same paragraph.

You brought McGriffs with you.

Funny to read though.
Gee, JR, you might want to read the previous post where "Once again you show me the true meaning of anal retention!" was addressed to me. I simply stated a fact that all of you have been telling posters for years. So then this person gets on my case and I am not allowed to say anything?

You know, It's been a long season and I think it's time for a rest. I'm out of here!

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Old Mon Sep 12, 2005, 06:19pm
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by ozzy6900
Quote:
Originally posted by Jurassic Referee
Quote:
Ah yes, let's get away from McGriffs. And then call someone a dickhead. And all that in the same paragraph.

You brought McGriffs with you.

Funny to read though.
Gee, JR, you might want to read the previous post where "Once again you show me the true meaning of anal retention!" was addressed to me. I simply stated a fact that all of you have been telling posters for years. So then this person gets on my case and I am not allowed to say anything?
Just thought it was kinda......funny.

You are certainly allowed to say anything that you want to. Just ignore me.

Btw, the basketball and football forums over on McGriffs aren't too bad these days. There actually have been some good discussions lately. The baseball forum? Well.....it's kinda......funny.
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Old Tue Sep 13, 2005, 01:32am
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Big ump the response is a good one. Like stated before if someone gives you rule/case examples from a legit source then take it as that reguardless of what some 3rd world "ump" thinks, especially some of those on McGriffs.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old Tue Sep 13, 2005, 07:50am
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Talking

The interpretations you are encountering are that it "could" be obstruction and the bottom line advice you are receiving is that this is a judgment call. Problem is that you have to "see" the violation in order to call it. Where would a BU be and concentrationg on when this "back-back" scenario happens?
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Old Tue Sep 13, 2005, 09:02am
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Quote:
Originally posted by umpyre007
The interpretations you are encountering are that it "could" be obstruction and the bottom line advice you are receiving is that this is a judgment call. Problem is that you have to "see" the violation in order to call it. Where would a BU be and concentrationg on when this "back-back" scenario happens?
No, the interpretations stated that it WAS obstruction, if the player reacted to the verbal "back-back." No judgement involved.

This usually happens at second, which means the BU should be in the "C" position, facing home and concentrating on being ready to react to the ball being hit, watching the pitcher for a possible balk, listening for "back-back" , watching for a checked swing and other things. Now, will you always actually see if the runner reacts to the verbal comments? No. But as already has been said, give the defense a warning and talk to your partner so that both of you are aware of a potential obstruction situation.

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Old Tue Sep 13, 2005, 02:14pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrUmpire
Quote:
Originally posted by jicecone
Quote:
Originally posted by umpyre007
The interpretations you are encountering are that it "could" be obstruction and the bottom line advice you are receiving is that this is a judgment call. Problem is that you have to "see" the violation in order to call it. Where would a BU be and concentrationg on when this "back-back" scenario happens?
No, the interpretations stated that it WAS obstruction, if the player reacted to the verbal "back-back." No judgement involved.

I would disagree. Someone has to judge if an action by the player was a reaction to the verbal. I think that should be the umpire.

Not every move by a runner, even a move back to the bag, is necessarily a reaction to the verbal. The runner may be thinking that the pitcher is about to try to pick him off, and goes back to the back. Judgment is definitely involved.
Please be an official and not so wishy washy about everything. We can make a decision about something and enforce it or stand out on the field thinking about every excuse under the sun why we shouldn't call something.

IF THE PLAYER REACTED TO THE VERBAL "Back-Back" THERE IS NO JUDGEMENT INVOLVED. OBSTRUCTION. No, What-ifs, no maybes, no, it could of been. Just Obstruction. Your trying to analyze something to death here.

Wonder if the runner dies on the way back and it is Sunday afternoon and his mother is at the game and the coach was really thinking about yelling back anyway,,,,yady yady, yada.........!
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Old Tue Sep 13, 2005, 05:16pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrUmpire
Quote:
Originally posted by jicecone
Quote:
Originally posted by MrUmpire
Quote:
Originally posted by jicecone
Quote:
Originally posted by umpyre007
The interpretations you are encountering are that it "could" be obstruction and the bottom line advice you are receiving is that this is a judgment call. Problem is that you have to "see" the violation in order to call it. Where would a BU be and concentrationg on when this "back-back" scenario happens?
No, the interpretations stated that it WAS obstruction, if the player reacted to the verbal "back-back." No judgement involved.

I would disagree. Someone has to judge if an action by the player was a reaction to the verbal. I think that should be the umpire.

Not every move by a runner, even a move back to the bag, is necessarily a reaction to the verbal. The runner may be thinking that the pitcher is about to try to pick him off, and goes back to the back. Judgment is definitely involved.
Please be an official and not so wishy washy about everything. We can make a decision about something and enforce it or stand out on the field thinking about every excuse under the sun why we shouldn't call something.

IF THE PLAYER REACTED TO THE VERBAL "Back-Back" THERE IS NO JUDGEMENT INVOLVED. OBSTRUCTION. No, What-ifs, no maybes, no, it could of been. Just Obstruction. Your trying to analyze something to death here.

Wonder if the runner dies on the way back and it is Sunday afternoon and his mother is at the game and the coach was really thinking about yelling back anyway,,,,yady yady, yada.........!

I'm sorry, but I live and work in the real world. Here when I see an action I have to decide what the action is and what caused it. That, sir, is called using judgment.

If you can umpire without it, have at it.

Well here is the "Real World." We have told you what caused it and what the action was. Ah Dah, I wonder what judgement you could possibly come up with besides obstruction. HELLO!!!
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Old Tue Sep 13, 2005, 05:47pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by jicecone
Quote:
Originally posted by MrUmpire
Quote:
Originally posted by jicecone
Quote:
Originally posted by MrUmpire
Quote:
Originally posted by jicecone
Quote:
Originally posted by umpyre007
The interpretations you are encountering are that it "could" be obstruction and the bottom line advice you are receiving is that this is a judgment call. Problem is that you have to "see" the violation in order to call it. Where would a BU be and concentrationg on when this "back-back" scenario happens?
No, the interpretations stated that it WAS obstruction, if the player reacted to the verbal "back-back." No judgement involved.

I would disagree. Someone has to judge if an action by the player was a reaction to the verbal. I think that should be the umpire.

Not every move by a runner, even a move back to the bag, is necessarily a reaction to the verbal. The runner may be thinking that the pitcher is about to try to pick him off, and goes back to the back. Judgment is definitely involved.
Please be an official and not so wishy washy about everything. We can make a decision about something and enforce it or stand out on the field thinking about every excuse under the sun why we shouldn't call something.

IF THE PLAYER REACTED TO THE VERBAL "Back-Back" THERE IS NO JUDGEMENT INVOLVED. OBSTRUCTION. No, What-ifs, no maybes, no, it could of been. Just Obstruction. Your trying to analyze something to death here.

Wonder if the runner dies on the way back and it is Sunday afternoon and his mother is at the game and the coach was really thinking about yelling back anyway,,,,yady yady, yada.........!

I'm sorry, but I live and work in the real world. Here when I see an action I have to decide what the action is and what caused it. That, sir, is called using judgment.

If you can umpire without it, have at it.

Well here is the "Real World." We have told you what caused it and what the action was. Ah Dah, I wonder what judgement you could possibly come up with besides obstruction. HELLO!!!
You either are fixated on one specific instance in which a runner reacted to the fielder, or you have very limited experience, or you lack the ability to see beyond the obvious.

Even the "interpretation" provided by the original poster included these words: "If the act hindered or changed the play, obstruction should be called."

Do you need to look up the definition of the word "if"?

Even the ruling you appear to be clining to relies on the umpire judging IF the act hindered or changed the play. That, sir, is using judgment. You cannot move to the second phase, the penalty, without first deciding IF the act hindered of changed the play.

How does one do that? We look to the runner and consider what he does and why. Again, we use judgement.

That is all I have said in this thread. Your position that umpires need not utilize their judgement in this play is ridiculous and, most likely, impossible.

Good day.
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Old Wed Sep 14, 2005, 07:48am
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Quote:
Originally posted by jicecone


No, the interpretations stated that it WAS obstruction, if the player reacted to the verbal "back-back." No judgement involved.
ORIGINAL: So, in reality we do not handle verbal obstruction any differently than we would a physical act. If it hindered a runner or changed the "pattern of play" we would enforce the penalty. What is and is not obstruction then lies with the umpire. That is the basis of your discussion.

Sounds like judgment to me.
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