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Old Fri Jun 09, 2006, 12:11pm
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Verbal Obstruction?

Speaking ASA, is there a penalty for a defensive team member (player or coach) in the dugout loudly yelling something to distract the batter just as the batter is beginning his/her swing (and succeeding)?

My working this out:

Rule 6. (Pitching Regulations - Slow Pitch) 4.B states that "A fielder shall not ...with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter. EFFECT: The offending player shall be ejected from the game."

Rule 1 states: "A fielder is any player of the team in the field."

By that definition, a player who is sitting out that defensive half-inning is, technically, a "player of the team" that is currently "in the field." I'm inclined to believe however, that the intent of that definition was not to include players that are, at that time, bench personnel.

The other two sections which discuss obstruction do not mention anything about defensive bench personnel (POE 36, Rule 8.5).

ASA Casebook Play 1-79 states that it is not obstruction when a defensive team member (it specifically mentions a defensive coach in the dugout) attempts to verbally distract or confuse a runner (i.e. when a runner is tagging up on a caught fly ball - telling them to "GO" early in hopes of getting an out on appeal). In the listed ruling, the following statement is present: "...there is no penalty for a defensive player or a coach yelling."

Should this be taken in the context of pertaining only to runners, however, as that is all the play addresses?

Rule 1 states: "Obstruction is the act of a defenisve team member: A. Who hinders or impedes a batter from striking at or hitting a pitched ball."

If the Casebook play ruling statement is to be applied universally, then it is in direct contradiction with the Rule 1 definition of obstruction, so I'm inclined to say that it is meant to address only runners.

Therefore, by the Rule 1 definition of obstruction, I have obstruction. However, there is no penalty listed that I can find for this type of obstruction in any of the listed sections.

So, if this is a violation of the rules, do we treat it similar to catcher's obstruction, with a delayed dead ball and coach's choice, etc.? Or do we treat it similar to a fake tag, with a player (or team? or both teams?) warning and possible ejection for a future violation?

My inclination is to treat it as a combination of the two, perhaps with giving a delayed dead ball signal, and then coach's choice if applicable, and a warning to the bench. But then, in Championship play, if I'm asked to cite a rule and penalty, I'll be hard-pressed to do so.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
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Old Fri Jun 09, 2006, 12:48pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HawkeyeCubP
Speaking ASA, is there a penalty for a defensive team member (player or coach) in the dugout loudly yelling something to distract the batter just as the batter is beginning his/her swing (and succeeding)?
USC

Quote:

Rule 6. (Pitching Regulations - Slow Pitch) 4.B states that "A fielder shall not ...with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter. EFFECT: The offending player shall be ejected from the game."

Rule 1 states: "A fielder is any player of the team in the field."

By that definition, a player who is sitting out that defensive half-inning is, technically, a "player of the team" that is currently "in the field." I'm inclined to believe however, that the intent of that definition was not to include players that are, at that time, bench personnel.
The definition here is to be taken literally. If the player isn't taking a position on the field, s/he is not a fielder.
Quote:

The other two sections which discuss obstruction do not mention anything about defensive bench personnel (POE 36, Rule 8.5).
That's because such a thing doesn't exist
Quote:

ASA Casebook Play 1-79 states that it is not obstruction when a defensive team member (it specifically mentions a defensive coach in the dugout) attempts to verbally distract or confuse a runner (i.e. when a runner is tagging up on a caught fly ball - telling them to "GO" early in hopes of getting an out on appeal). In the listed ruling, the following statement is present: "...there is no penalty for a defensive player or a coach yelling."

Should this be taken in the context of pertaining only to runners, however, as that is all the play addresses?

Rule 1 states: "Obstruction is the act of a defenisve team member: A. Who hinders or impedes a batter from striking at or hitting a pitched ball."

If the Casebook play ruling statement is to be applied universally, then it is in direct contradiction with the Rule 1 definition of obstruction, so I'm inclined to say that it is meant to address only runners.

Therefore, by the Rule 1 definition of obstruction, I have obstruction. However, there is no penalty listed that I can find for this type of obstruction in any of the listed sections.

So, if this is a violation of the rules, do we treat it similar to catcher's obstruction, with a delayed dead ball and coach's choice, etc.? Or do we treat it similar to a fake tag, with a player (or team? or both teams?) warning and possible ejection for a future violation?

My inclination is to treat it as a combination of the two, perhaps with giving a delayed dead ball signal, and then coach's choice if applicable, and a warning to the bench. But then, in Championship play, if I'm asked to cite a rule and penalty, I'll be hard-pressed to do so.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
You are wasting far too much time overthinking this. Yelling anything does not prevent a batter from striking the ball. IMO, it is unsportsmanlike conduct to act in the manner you described. I would tell the manager of the team that a repeat will result in the ejection of the team member. If I cannot determine which team member created the problem, the manager/head coach will be ejected.

However, it is not obstruction.
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Old Fri Jun 09, 2006, 01:01pm
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Thank you for your insight.

Would you ever, if you deemed it to be effective distraction, enforce a penalty for this type of act by an infielder (i.e. F6 yelling "Let'sGetTheDouble-play!" very loud and very fast as the ball is entering the strike zone?

Rule 6. (Pitching Regulations - Slow Pitch) 4.B states that "A fielder shall not ...with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter. EFFECT: The offending player shall be ejected from the game."

I hadn't thought of this until last night, when it happened. F6 did it on a fairly consistent basis during important at-bats by the other team. Other team never mentioned it, and I never addressed it.
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Old Fri Jun 09, 2006, 01:37pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HawkeyeCubP
Thank you for your insight.

Would you ever, if you deemed it to be effective distraction, enforce a penalty for this type of act by an infielder (i.e. F6 yelling "Let'sGetTheDouble-play!" very loud and very fast as the ball is entering the strike zone?

Rule 6. (Pitching Regulations - Slow Pitch) 4.B states that "A fielder shall not ...with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter. EFFECT: The offending player shall be ejected from the game."

I hadn't thought of this until last night, when it happened. F6 did it on a fairly consistent basis during important at-bats by the other team. Other team never mentioned it, and I never addressed it.
I think what Mike said about UC applies to this, too.
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Old Fri Jun 09, 2006, 01:38pm
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What about the catcher talking to the batter during the pitch? Happens all the time in slow pitch.

Sometimes the entire infield will yell strike when the ball is halfway to the plate. I've even had the catcher suggest to the batter their grandma could hit a pitch just as the batter begins his swing.

It would have to get out of hand before I'd consider calling anything.
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Old Fri Jun 09, 2006, 01:45pm
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I don't know if this is a Babe Ruth rule or a local rule in Dare Co. NC, but when I was coaching, the defense was not allowed to say things like, "Hey hey swing batter swing" during the delivery of the pitch. You could talk but not try to coerce the batter to swing. I thought it was stupid then and I still think it is stupid. When I was a kid, we called it chatter.

Obnoxious fans and players will always be a part of the game. Learning how to deal with and overcome adversity is an important part of what the game teaches. Using umpoires and rules to eliminate anything that might make little Janie's team's day or even little Janie's day more difficult just robs little Janie and her team of a life lesson. Let's not atrophe our kids' coping skills by sacrificing them on some false altar of sportsmanship.

Rant off

BTW I think that malicious behavior should be punished accordingly.
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Old Fri Jun 09, 2006, 01:55pm
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More discussion

Interesting and insightful replies.



I'm going to throw something out there, and if you don't like it, just throw it on back.

Speaking NFHS, why does the forum think that there are rules against player disconcertion by other players and coaches in football and basketball, but not in softball?

Do those that think this is acceptable in softball think those rules are overly-officious in those two sports?
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Old Sat Jun 10, 2006, 12:53am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HawkeyeCubP
Speaking NFHS, why does the forum think that there are rules against player disconcertion by other players and coaches in football and basketball, but not in softball?

Do those that think this is acceptable in softball think those rules are overly-officious in those two sports?
Who says not in softball? NFHS has a full section on Bench & Field Conduct. It addresses specific issues, yet it's worded general enough to provide lattitude to an umpire to take whatever action he/she feels necessary to control the game. For example:

"Unsporting acts shall not be committed, including, but not limited to . . . use of profanity, intimidation and/or deceitful tactics, or behavior in any manner not in accordance with the spirit of fair play."

So in a game that is going well and there is a bit of taunting going on the umpire may choose to ignore it. Conversely, in a game going bad, taunting may get a player ejected.

WMB
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Old Sat Jun 10, 2006, 07:55pm
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Gotcha

Thank you for the info. I don't work high school softball, so that was informative. I'm not surprised that that section exists there.

The football and basketball codes have similar articles, sections, etc., but I'm referring to specific instances where offensive player disconcertion is most likely to adversely affect (by distraction or deception).

I'm basically attempting to include a batter about to swing at a pitch in softball into a group with a center in football about to snap the ball (or anyone else on the offensive side of the ball prior to a snap) and a free-throw shooter about to release an attempt. Rules in those codes specifcally prohibit disconcertion of those players in those situations by defensive team members.

So what I'm wondering from the forum is, simply, thoughts on: Why not in softball?

Last edited by HawkeyeCubP; Sun Jun 11, 2006 at 08:20pm.
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Old Sun Jun 11, 2006, 05:58am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HawkeyeCubP
So what I'm wondering from the forum is, simply, thoughts on: Why not in softball?
Maybe I'm missing something. You're saying "why not in softball" and other's are saying "it is in softball."

Perhaps the disconnect is in your initial question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HawkeyeCubP
ASA Casebook Play 1-79 states that it is not obstruction...
What I think I hear most say is that perhaps it not obstruction, but it is "Unsportsman like Conduct", just like it is for calling signals in football or (I presume) yelling at a free throw shooter in basketball.
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