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-   -   NCAA Pitching Rule Change Guidance - Released today (https://forum.officiating.com/softball/104720-ncaa-pitching-rule-change-guidance-released-today.html)

AtlUmpSteve Sun Sep 22, 2019 07:43pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Big Slick (Post 1034526)
Actually, it was the ambiguity of the interpretation from last fall, which said that a) you couldn't look at an armband while not in the pitching position, but b) if you did, it wasn't an illegal pitch if you did simulate once you got into the pitching position. This really isn't the umpire's doing, it was a select few coaches who complained (and I know one of them, and know exactly the moment she did), and this is hopefully the final stop in the (de)evolution of the rule and interpretation.



Not exactly. She is only prohibited from looking at the signal arm band while not in the pitching position.



You are reading this correctly. This has EVERYTHING and ONLY to do with the signal arm bands. Don't over complicate this interpretation. As you say, she can receive a signal from catcher/coach while not in the pitching position (as long as she doesn't look at the armband), and then take/simulate the signal once in the pitching position (and we need to use this new phrasing, because she doesn't need to be "on" in the traditional "two feet" sense). But if she looks down at the signal arm band -- ILLEGAL. And hopefully she aborts the pitch.

Personally, I wish they would just make the signal arm band illegal.

Slick, these days, I am a conference coordinator; and sat in that meeting when VVK described the rule, discussed the enforcement. You are misunderstanding the meaning of e.g.; it means "for example".

This not solely about the armbands. It is about pitchers walking on to the pitcher's plate and starting to pitch without a pause. When the rule required a pause, there was no pause by pitchers, and umpires universally did NOT make them. Not in NCAA, not in high school, not in ASA/USA.

NCAA tried to do something about it. Since no one seemed to get "pause" to be a significant instant with no motion, a clear and obvious stop, they changed the rule to a two second pause. Surely that would be clear. But, no, as I preached to MY umpires full and complete pause, AT LEAST one FULL second+, we watched top conference games on TV (SEC, ACC, PAC12, B1G, and more) and no one, literally NO ONE, enforced even an obvious stop. I UIC'ed conference tournaments, showcases, watch ball everywhere at every level and every rules set; and pitchers step on and IMMEDIATELY bring their hands together, if not already in motion before the feet were on the pitcher's plate.

The NCAA committee did everything to give the pitchers an option, but stop long enough for batters to KNOW when the pitcher would begin a motion, but pitchers did not comply, umpires did not enforce, coaches crucified the very few that tried to enforce. Thus, the new rule.

The pitcher CANNOT take a signal anywhere but from the pitcher's plate; not from a catcher, not from a coach, not visually, not verbally; FOR EXAMPLE, cannot look at the arm band, but ALSO any other thing the umpire judges to be taking a signal. It is JUDGMENT what constitutes taking a signal, not a rule interpretation, so any question from a coach more than "what did she do" is challenging judgment, and should be stopped, or warned, or ejected.

Just like in baseball, a signal taken from anywhere but the pitcher's plate is a balk; NCAA Softball it is an illegal pitch. Just like in baseball, coaches cannot argue balks; NCAA Softball they cannot argue an illegal pitch.

This in a person-to-person conversation with VVK, in front of most of the conference coordinators in NCAA Softball. It is so simple you can hardly believe there aren't more ifs or buts.

IRISHMAFIA Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:20pm

How many batters have you seen caught off-guard last season because a pitcher did not hesitate for any reason?

teebob21 Mon Sep 23, 2019 08:28am

Quote:

Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve (Post 1034539)
Slick, these days, I am a conference coordinator [snip]

Steve, thanks for posting. As an official working hard to get more "P5" games, this insight to the meeting and intention of the recent interpretation is super useful and makes me glad that I started this thread. I'm not puffing myself up here, but I think I was the only one in the conference that I worked at the time who would make the two-second IP call. I took a lot of heat for calls my partners refused to make.

Quote:

Originally Posted by IRISHMAFIA (Post 1034540)
How many batters have you seen caught off-guard last season because a pitcher did not hesitate for any reason?

Six or seven across ~40 NCAA games. Had one in fall ball this weekend, but I was on the bases and could not stop the game for the quick pitch. My partner got lit up when he called it a strike and the batter was still looking at her shoes.

Manny A Mon Sep 23, 2019 01:33pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve (Post 1034539)
The pitcher CANNOT take a signal anywhere but from the pitcher's plate; not from a catcher, not from a coach, not visually, not verbally; FOR EXAMPLE, cannot look at the arm band, but ALSO any other thing the umpire judges to be taking a signal.

Hmmm. Steve, this one is going to be interesting. I can foresee a situation where the catcher flashes hand signals to her pitcher while the pitcher is not on the plate, the PU cannot see the catcher doing this, but the BU can. So the BU calls the illegal pitch. That one will go over well with the defensive coach!

IRISHMAFIA Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:30pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by teebob21 (Post 1034551)
Six or seven across ~40 NCAA games. Had one in fall ball this weekend, but I was on the bases and could not stop the game for the quick pitch. My partner got lit up when he called it a strike and the batter was still looking at her shoes.

So you had a weak partners that couldn't or wouldn't do his/her job?

Big Slick Tue Sep 24, 2019 03:55pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve (Post 1034539)
Slick, these days, I am a conference coordinator; and sat in that meeting when VVK described the rule, discussed the enforcement. You are misunderstanding the meaning of e.g.; it means "for example".

This not solely about the armbands. snip

Steve, then how does the following, which is copied from an email sent to quite a number of people, reconcile with your conversation with VVK? And I believe that you have received the same email.

My emphasis.

Quote:

If the pitcher takes a signal (looks at her arm band for a pitch signal) and she is not on the pitcher's plate, this is a violation of the taking the signal rule. The mechanic is: delayed dead ball signal - then if no further action occurs - dead ball signal and than verbalize..."That's a violation" - award a ball on batter and give new count - signal play ball. The coach may give a signal verbally or non-verbally to the pitcher and/or catcher before the pitcher takes her position on the plate without violation, provided that the pitcher then takes the signal (i.e. looks at her arm band or clearly looks to the catcher for the pitch selection) while she is in the required pitching position.

AtlUmpSteve Wed Sep 25, 2019 02:18pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Big Slick (Post 1034601)
Steve, then how does the following, which is copied from an email sent to quite a number of people, reconcile with your conversation with VVK? And I believe that you have received the same email.

My emphasis.

I'm not sure the date of the email which you reference; didn't find it. The most current interpretation is dated 9/11/2019, and states simply:

Quote:

Originally Posted by ncaasbre
10.2 9/11/19 Taking the Signal: The pitcher must take a signal while in the pitching position.
Taking a signal from behind the pitcher’s plate (e.g., looking at the signal arm band) is illegal since the pitcher is not in the pitching position. The result is an illegal pitch.

Edited to add: This interpretation is one of 3 posted of that date on the Central Hub; undergarments, defining the pitching position, and this. There is nothing else I'm finding that contradicts that.

Big Slick Wed Sep 25, 2019 08:16pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve (Post 1034624)
I'm not sure the date of the email which you reference; didn't find it. The most current interpretation is dated 9/11/2019, and states simply:



Edited to add: This interpretation is one of 3 posted of that date on the Central Hub; undergarments, defining the pitching position, and this. There is nothing else I'm finding that contradicts that.

sent you a PM. You can share if you feel it is appropriate.

Big Slick Mon Sep 30, 2019 03:30pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve (Post 1034624)
I'm not sure the date of the email which you reference; didn't find it. The most current interpretation is dated 9/11/2019, and states simply:



Edited to add: This interpretation is one of 3 posted of that date on the Central Hub; undergarments, defining the pitching position, and this. There is nothing else I'm finding that contradicts that.

Steve,
New video posted today. It clears the air a bit, in that two specifics are not allowed while not in the pitching position: 1) gathering wristband information and 2) receiving information from the catcher. And yes, the base umpires can call either one. However, receiving verbal signals from the coach and/or non-verbals from the coach while not in the pitching position are not a violation.

Let's remember this is NCAA only.

CecilOne Mon Sep 30, 2019 04:08pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Big Slick (Post 1034686)
Let's remember this is NCAA only.

:D :D :D :D :D :D :rolleyes:

AtlUmpSteve Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:13pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Big Slick (Post 1034686)
Steve,
New video posted today. It clears the air a bit, in that two specifics are not allowed while not in the pitching position: 1) gathering wristband information and 2) receiving information from the catcher. And yes, the base umpires can call either one. However, receiving verbal signals from the coach and/or non-verbals from the coach while not in the pitching position are not a violation.

Let's remember this is NCAA only.

Yes, it's still not what was stated in our meeting, but it is less of of a waffle step to appease (and again allow options where one clear rule would suffice).

Still biting my tongue, cannot/should not state what I really think. But a much cleaner rule than before in getting what they have always actually wanted.

teebob21 Tue Oct 01, 2019 02:34am

Quote:

Originally Posted by Big Slick (Post 1034686)
Steve,
New video posted today. It clears the air a bit, in that two specifics are not allowed while not in the pitching position: 1) gathering wristband information and 2) receiving information from the catcher. And yes, the base umpires can call either one. However, receiving verbal signals from the coach and/or non-verbals from the coach while not in the pitching position are not a violation.

Let's remember this is NCAA only.

I didn't see this video until after my fall ball game today. If I had, I think I would have had to call 70 IPs instead of 7. Weird game tonight...both teams had pitchers that apparently forgot that you can't step on with your hands already together, and you can't bring your hands together to transition the ball from your glove to your throwing hand while in the pitching position without delivering a pitch after separating.

These were what you'd expect as 12U-14U IP violations. My left arm got tired. :D

IRISHMAFIA Tue Oct 01, 2019 08:57pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve (Post 1034688)
Still biting my tongue, cannot/should not state what I really think. But a much cleaner rule than before in getting what they have always actually wanted.

I'm still trying to figure out what was so wrong with the rules a decade ago that necessitated rule changes

Big Slick Wed Oct 02, 2019 09:46am

Quote:

Originally Posted by IRISHMAFIA (Post 1034695)
I'm still trying to figure out what was so wrong with the rules a decade ago that necessitated rule changes

Armbands. They "produced a solution" that was in need of a problem.

This happens when some "innovation" within the game doesn't quite jive with the literal reading of a rule. The armbands allowed the pitcher to receive a "signal" prior to being in the pitching position (which was never against the rules). A few pitchers were then "walking through" the pitch, which was always against the rules.

The majority of the pitchers were either a) compliant with the rules as written or b) may not have been compliant with the literal "simulating taking the signal with hands separated". It was really the "b" part that got a few coaches upset, all the while the batter was not disconcerted.

Then came the "2 second pause" and that went over like a . . . well, expressed body air in a house of worship, because "2 seconds" was not "1-alligator . . 2-alligator", but more of "is the pitcher stopping and not disconcerting the batter."

Eventually, that didn't work, so we are now to "only can receive the signal while in the pitching position" with the interpretation of "signal" as "armbands and hand signals from the catcher."

As I have stated, I'm ok with the rule and interpretation. Hopefully there will be two unintended consequences: 1) the arm bands will be phased out or 2) the game picks up in pace.

Or they could just adopt the international pitching rule in total . . .

teebob21 Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:20pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Big Slick (Post 1034696)
Armbands. They "produced a solution" that was in need of a problem.

This happens when some "innovation" within the game doesn't quite jive with the literal reading of a rule. The armbands allowed the pitcher to receive a "signal" prior to being in the pitching position (which was never against the rules). A few pitchers were then "walking through" the pitch, which was always against the rules.

The majority of the pitchers were either a) compliant with the rules as written or b) may not have been compliant with the literal "simulating taking the signal with hands separated". It was really the "b" part that got a few coaches upset, all the while the batter was not disconcerted.

Then came the "2 second pause" and that went over like a . . . well, expressed body air in a house of worship, because "2 seconds" was not "1-alligator . . 2-alligator", but more of "is the pitcher stopping and not disconcerting the batter."

Eventually, that didn't work, so we are now to "only can receive the signal while in the pitching position" with the interpretation of "signal" as "armbands and hand signals from the catcher."

As I have stated, I'm ok with the rule and interpretation. Hopefully there will be two unintended consequences: 1) the arm bands will be phased out or 2) the game picks up in pace.

Or they could just adopt the international pitching rule in total . . .

Like most things in this sport worth talking about, I am of many minds about this rule.

As an umpire: the 2-second rule of 2018 was great in theory as an objective requirement, and horrible in practice, as it required subjective judgment. "1-alligator . . 2-alligator"....I might have been one of just a few in my JC conference who actually tried to count 2 seconds when this was a POE. (Andy....back me up here?:D) I worked with my catchers best I could...and then called IPs. As I have said before: I called it when I saw a violation...much of the crew in my conference at the time did not. Guess who got the chewing from the dugouts?

As a true fan of fastpitch at any level: The pace of the game is fine at the NCAA level; rule change or not....once the ball is in play. IMO -- Now pace of the game between innings....well....it's slow, but TV doesn't help with that. That said, TV is good for the game. It's sometimes bad for the players and fans, but I think it's good for the game to have coverage, even on ESPN3 with their 2:30 commercial breaks between half innings.

As a "meh"-baseball fan AKA "Daddy Rulebook": It seems baseball requires pitchers to take the sign (or not) from the pitching position. I honestly don't know the OBR rule, but you certainly don't see baseball F1's "walking" through the pitch...and if you did, coaches and batters would be up in arms about it. (I acknowledge that a comparison to the sport with 90 foot bases and the itty bitty white ball carries no weight here; I'm just tossing it out there as a way of thinking about this rule vs. the "other" sport.....as so many of "our fans" do.)

As a student of the game: I agree with your assessment of armbands being a "problem in need of a solution". Armbands and the "4-3-1"/"2-1-2" etc. vocal signals from the bench created a situation where softball pitchers walked through the pitch preliminaries. Umpires, by and large, may have failed to enforce the rules on pitch preliminaries....at the club level, high school level, college level....you name it (I don't dare comment on ISF/WSBC/NPF as that level of play & officiating is beyond me).

The saying goes "what we permit; we promote". At some point prior to the 2018 rulebook being written, TPTB decided that pitchers needed to get back to the letter of the law in the pitching preliminaries...and thus the original 2-second pause verbiage was born. The more I think about it, the more I think this recent interp is just a stricter application of the way the rule is at all levels, as in back to basics:

1) The pitcher must be in the pitching position with hands separated (location of the feet variable depending on code ASA/NFHS/NCAA)
2) The pitcher must take, or simulate taking, a signal from the catcher
3) The pitcher must bring her hands together, and deliver a pitch immediately after separating the hands, with no more than one step forward towards the plate within the 24-inch width of the pitching plate.

As I said, the more I think about this, the more I think this is a return to "Fastpitch Pitching Basics #2" above by the rules interpreters.

I could be 100% wrong, and if so I'm OK with that, and would appreciate help from my crew. :D


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