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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 05:23pm
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Protection Between Bases with No other Runners

Haven't been here in a while, so if this has been asked recently, just point me to the right thread.

My question has to do with the Obstruction rule in most rule sets that says a runner who is obstructed cannot be put out between the two bases where the obstruction occurred, unless one of a number of exceptions takes place. One of those exceptions stated in the FED rule book is as follows:

Quote:
1. When an obstructed runner, after the obstruction, safely obtains or returns to the base she would have been awarded, in the umpire's judgment, had there been no obstruction and there is a subsequent play on a different runner, the obstructed runner is no longer protected between the bases where she was obstructed and may be put out.
What if there isn't another base runner? Does this exception no longer apply? Here's a play to discuss it:

BR hits a base hit in the outfield, and is obstructed by F3 as she rounds first base. She returns to first safely, and the BU decides that the BR would not have reached second base without the obstruction. The ball is thrown in to F6, and she casually walks it back toward F3. Nobody is covering second, so the coach, thinking her runner is protected between first and second due to the obstruction, tells the runner to take off for second. The defense notices, and F4 runs over to cover the bag. F6's throw to F4 retires the runner at second on a close play.

Does the runner still have her protection between first and second here? She did make it back to first base safely, which is the base she would have been attained had there been no obstruction. But there was no subsequent play made on another runner, taking away that protection between the two bases, because there were no other runners to make a play on. In this play, I would send the runner back to first base.

I can't find a case play or clarification anywhere that says the between-base protection goes away if she makes it to her trail base safely, and then gets caught trying to advance to her next base when there are no other runners that may be played upon. Is there something out there that says there must be at least one other runner that may be played upon for the obstructed runner to maintain her protection between two bases?
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 06:36pm
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The exception is a 2 part exception and requires both to be met to cancel the obstruction. The obstructed runner must reach the base they would have absent the obstruction AND a subsequent play on a different runner. The rule and exception makes no indication of the rule changing because there is no other runner on base.

USA has the exact same wording in its obstruction rule and rule supplement.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 07:49pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manny A View Post

What if there isn't another base runner? Does this exception no longer apply? ~snip
I can't find a case play or clarification anywhere that says the between-base protection goes away if she makes it to her trail base safely, and then gets caught trying to advance to her next base when there are no other runners that may be played upon. Is there something out there that says there must be at least one other runner that may be played upon for the obstructed runner to maintain her protection between two bases?
I guess I'm having trouble understanding why you would ask this. If I can paraphrase what I'm reading, it's:

Can we apply the exception even when the exception doesn't apply?

What am I missing that makes this a question? Unless the protection between bases is off because of one of the stated exceptions, then the protection between bases still applies!!
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 08:55pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve View Post
I guess I'm having trouble understanding why you would ask this. If I can paraphrase what I'm reading, it's:

Can we apply the exception even when the exception doesn't apply?

What am I missing that makes this a question? Unless the protection between bases is off because of one of the stated exceptions, then the protection between bases still applies!!
Manny is posting a very similar situation to one I posted on a facebook nfhs umpire board. The vast majority of responses is out, their claim is the obstruction was cancelled when the runner returned to 1st base and many refuse to read the entire rule on obstruction.

Some do read the exception which Manny posted with the 2 requirements being reaching the base they would have absent the obstruction and there being a subsequent play on a different runner. However, there are several claims this exception does not apply since there are no other runners on base. I find it very hard to believe there would be 2 different calls in the same situation simply because there was or was not another runner on base and no play being made in either situation after the obstruction.

Then there are a couple of claims about receiving rulings from national, both NFHS and USA saying once the runner returned to the base the obstruction was over. One poster claimed they have a USA national ruling about a runner at 3rd who leads off on the pitch and the catcher attempts to pick them off. The runner is obstructed by F5 while returning to 3rd but the throw sails into the outfield where F7 retrieves the ball. The obstructed runner touches third, jumps up and proceeds home but is tagged out on a throw from F7. They claim this ruling says the obstruction was cancelled when the runner touched 3rd and the out at home would stand.

Supposedly one of the posters is going to send the play to national to get a case play on it. Will have to wait and see if that actually happens. I actually asked the person to please submit the play without another runner, and the identical play with another runner on base but no play on them to see if in fact they come up with different rulings for each situation. The rule as written has no direction as to if the ruling is any different with or without other runners.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 09:07pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKBUmp View Post
I find it very hard to believe there would be 2 different calls in the same situation simply because there was or was not another runner on base and no play being made in either situation after the obstruction.
There are not two different calls simply because there is or is not another runner; the ruling changes when/if there is a play made on an another runner after a runner reaches the appropriate base, and THAT subsequent play leads the formerly obstructed runner to decide to try to advance, separately from continuing running to advance. That is the purpose of the exception; if there is NOT another runner AND a subsequent play, then the protection between the bases remains until ALL PLAY ENDS (ball in circle, and runners stopped on their base).

Quote:
Then there are a couple of claims about receiving rulings from national, both NFHS and USA saying once the runner returned to the base the obstruction was over. One poster claimed they have a USA national ruling about a runner at 3rd who leads off on the pitch and the catcher attempts to pick them off. The runner is obstructed by F5 while returning to 3rd but the throw sails into the outfield where F7 retrieves the ball. The obstructed runner touches third, jumps up and proceeds home but is tagged out on a throw from F7. They claim this ruling says the obstruction was cancelled when the runner touched 3rd and the out at home would stand.
If someone made that ruling, on that exact play, it is simply wrong, according to the written rules of NFHS and USA. I truly hope that no one in a position of authority is making new rules that contradict what the rules actually state. If this were remotely true, that protection ends once a player obtains the awarded base, then there would be no reason to have the subsequent play rule to even exist. This ruling would completely contradict EVERY obstruction ruling the last 40 years, or so; the most recent change (I'm estimating 2005?) was to ADD the subsequent play exception to END protection, previously, the protection existed even in that instance. Again, unless one of the stated exceptions apply, the protection remains until ALL play ends.
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Last edited by AtlUmpSteve; Tue Oct 10, 2017 at 09:19pm.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 09:13pm
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And that is exactly what Manny, Bretman, myself and a few other posters keep saying, the obstruction has not been cancelled and the runner cannot be put out between the 2 bases where the obstruction occurred. Probably 90% of the responses are the obstruction ended the instant the runner returned to the base and the out stands.

I actually posted my play today after a similar thread on there a couple of weeks ago got mostly wrong answers. We had seemed to finally convince everyone, so to see if it sunk in at all I posted another play today. Obviously nothing sunk in from the last thread.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 09:26pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manny A View Post
BR hits a base hit in the outfield, and is obstructed by F3 as she rounds first base. She returns to first safely, and the BU decides that the BR would not have reached second base without the obstruction. The ball is thrown in to F6, and she casually walks it back toward F3. Nobody is covering second, so the coach, thinking her runner is protected between first and second due to the obstruction, tells the runner to take off for second. The defense notices, and F4 runs over to cover the bag. F6's throw to F4 retires the runner at second on a close play.
Let's tweak this play to clarify the exception. Add that R1 starts on first, and BR hits a base hit in the outfield, and is obstructed by F3 as she rounds first base. She returns to first safely, and the BU decides that the BR would not have reached second base without the obstruction. R1 makes a big turn around 3rd, and F6 throws the ball away attempting to pick behind her. Nobody is covering second, so the coach, possiblythinking her runner is protected between first and second due to the obstruction, tells the runner to take off for second. The defense notices, and F4 runs over to cover the bag. F5's throw to F4 retires the runner at second on a close play.

On THIS play, the runner is out; the exception does apply. See the difference?
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Last edited by AtlUmpSteve; Tue Oct 10, 2017 at 09:29pm.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 09:45pm
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I fully understand boh the obstruction rule and the exception requirements to cancel obstruction. It is the other 90% of the posters we can't seem to make understand. Everyone wants to talk about using common sense, or the original intent of the rule etc etc etc. None of them will actually read the rule and take the exception for exactly what it reads. In fact, one poster who is fond of telling people to read the rule book said the and in the exception must be a typo and in reality it is an or. I explained the wording is exactly the same in every rule set with the exception of maybe NCAA and is worded that way in every old rule book I have.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 09:58pm
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One more thought. With all due deference and respect to my good friend, IrishMafia, who would prefer this be handled differently, this somewhat relates to the fundimental differences defining when/how play actually ends between slowpitch and fastpitch (and to some degree, baseball).

In baseball, as soon as the ball gets into the infield and no play is being made, the infielder with the ball routinely requests "time"; and it is routinely granted. Umpires like that; they can rotate during the dead ball, miss nothing, everything is clear.

In slowpitch, as soon as the ball gets into the infield and no play is being made, the PU is directed to declare "time". Umpires like that, too; they can rotate during the dead ball, miss nothing, everything is clear.

In fastpitch, umpires are directed to keep the ball live, until all runners are stopped, the pitcher has the ball in the circle, the lookback rule is in effect; unless there is a specific reason to make it dead. The catch-phrase used by many is to never call time to stop play; time should only be called when play has already fully stopped, by rule. Maybe this distinction leads umpires to question if/when a play has ended, but the correct answer is that it is all one continuing live ball and thus still one play from the word "play", and/or start of pitch, until it is either fully stopped and ended, or dead by rule.

A few years ago, NFHS was forced to add the incessant "play" to restart play, after umpires decided an overthrow returning a foul ball (and before the next pitch) was live to allow runners to advance. Surely we shouldn't need to further define when play ends, do we? Or do we need to revert to slowpitch culture and mechanics, and kill every play, every pitch, and point "play" 200 times a game, to satisfy those that don't get it?

Obviously, to anyone paying attention, IrishMafia would have us call time, it does seem to work fine on slowpitch. Many/most prefer the live ball concept in fastpitch, forcing both teams to conclude play, and keep the game moving. Could this be related to this "play ended" thought, since that one part of the live ball play (but not all, obviously) was apparently ended?

[/Soapbox]
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 10:19pm
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This is a PERFECT example, and an opportunity to list, obscure rule interpretations that even highly experienced umpires have gotten wrong.

As shown in this thread, I'll bet the majority of us would never have protected that runner once she retouched 1st and then left it.

How many of us would say, "foul ball, her foot was still in the box", even if BR clearly ran into a fair batted ball?

There are many more.

Not a hijack attempt. An opportunity.

And AtlUmpSteve, thanks for clarifying this rule. Manny, thanks for posting.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2017, 10:24pm
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That topic has never even been raised in the discussion. I did forget one poster claimed the ball being thrown back to the pitcher who was outside the circle did in fact constitute a play and therefore satisfied the requirements of cancelling the obstruction. Never mind that the rule specifically states a subsequent play on a different runner.
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Old Wed Oct 11, 2017, 07:22am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve View Post
There are not two different calls simply because there is or is not another runner; the ruling changes when/if there is a play made on an another runner after a runner reaches the appropriate base, and THAT subsequent play leads the formerly obstructed runner to decide to try to advance, separately from continuing running to advance. That is the purpose of the exception; if there is NOT another runner AND a subsequent play, then the protection between the bases remains until ALL PLAY ENDS (ball in circle, and runners stopped on their base).
The distinction is probably meaningless but this isn't the way I've read the rule. In this (admittedly TW) play would you call the runner out? BR obstructed after rounding first. Ball goes back to the pitcher and runner returns to first. Pitcher then becomes distracted and moves to talk to her third baseman stepping outside the circle. Coach thinking his runner is protected tells her to make her way to second. F6 screams for the ball and easily tags that runner.
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Old Wed Oct 11, 2017, 08:59am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve View Post

In slowpitch, as soon as the ball gets into the infield and no play is being made, the PU is directed to declare "time". Umpires like that, too; they can rotate during the dead ball, miss nothing, everything is clear.



Obviously, to anyone paying attention, IrishMafia would have us call time, it does seem to work fine on slowpitch. Many/most prefer the live ball concept in fastpitch, forcing both teams to conclude play, and keep the game moving. Could this be related to this "play ended" thought, since that one part of the live ball play (but not all, obviously) was apparently ended?
Okay, my turn on the soapbox

And that is all it is, a "concept". What is supposed to happen once the runners have completed their tasks and the pitcher has the ball in the circle? Nothing, zilch, nada, zip! The claim that FP is a "live" ball game is simply false.

As Steve noted, the SP mechanic has worked for decades. There is absolutely no negative side to it and IMO actually reduces the stress on the umpire and teams alike.

AFA the OP, if I remember the discussion correctly, this exception was added with the thought in mind that the focus has moved to another runner. That means the defense is no longer acting on the OBS runner. The most likely scenario where this is an issue is when the OBS runner is returning to the base which would ultimately be awarded.
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Old Wed Oct 11, 2017, 09:36am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by youngump View Post
The distinction is probably meaningless but this isn't the way I've read the rule. In this (admittedly TW) play would you call the runner out? BR obstructed after rounding first. Ball goes back to the pitcher and runner returns to first. Pitcher then becomes distracted and moves to talk to her third baseman stepping outside the circle. Coach thinking his runner is protected tells her to make her way to second. F6 screams for the ball and easily tags that runner.
Yes. In my definition, the original play ended when the lookback rule first applied, ball in circle, runner stopped on her base; when the pitcher stepped out of the circle, that started a new play sequence.

I would submit that, if the pitcher had NOT left the circle, but the runner belatedly took off again, wouldn't you apply the lookback rule. If you would, haven't you judged the initial play sequence to have ended?
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Old Wed Oct 11, 2017, 09:49am
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Originally Posted by IRISHMAFIA View Post
...And that is all it is, a "concept". What is supposed to happen once the runners have completed their tasks and the pitcher has the ball in the circle? Nothing, zilch, nada, zip! The claim that FP is a "live" ball game is simply false...
Can players still take legal actions that begin a play that can result in either a runner advancing or an out?

Yes, because the ball is live.
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