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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 03:25am
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Question Catcher’s Limits

Here is a strange question a young umpire asked yesterday…
“What I am supposed to do if catcher stays very close to the plate, well over the rear line of batter’s box?”

My answer: “Handle this as a safety issue if you are umpiring a youth game or a real inexperienced catcher: tell her to move back to avoid an accident; otherwise just focus on the pitch and keep both eyes on possible obstruction”.
Another umpire’s answer: “Ok: handle this as a safety issue is correct most of the times. But do not forget what Rulebook says: catcher is not allowed to stay out of the catcher’s box until the ball is released by the pitcher. If a violation occurs you can call an illegal pitch”.

From this point on the discussion was between me and the other umpire: my point “there is no line (no limit) IN FRONT of the catcher and what Rulebook says is referred to lateral and rear lines of the catcher’s box – even if I was submit to torture I never call an horrible illegal pitch like that!”

The other umpire point: “There is no white line on the ground… but the Rulebook settle a front limit, too. Read it carefully and you will notice it.”

I get my ISF Rulebook (but I can imagine ASA Rulebook is quite the same about this!) and I read:

Rule 1 - Sec. 16. CATCHER'S BOX
The catcher's box is that area within which the catcher must remain until
a. (FP ONLY) The pitch is released. The lines are to be considered within the catcher's box.

Rule 2 - Sec. 4 (…)
d. THE CATCHER'S BOX shall be 3.05m (10 ft) in length from the rear outside corners of the batters' boxes and shall be 2.57m (8 ft 5 in) wide.

I never heard about an illegal pitch called because of this kind of violation, neither I saw an umpire says to a catcher “You MUST move back, you know… because of the Rulebook”.

BTW I would like to know different point of view about all this.

I appreciate any suggestion, help, advice, etc.

Grazie
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 06:47am
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An IP is not justified by any rule of which I am aware for the catcher being out of the box prior to the pitch since a pitch is not allowed to begin until all players are in position, including the catcher in the box.

ISF 6(FP).1.B states that the catcher must be in the CB as a preliminary event to the pitcher even being considered in position to begin the pitch. If the catcher is not in the box, there can be no pitch. However, the pitcher is still held to the time limit and if she doesn't deliver the ball within that time frame, the umpire shall award the batter a ball. (7.5.H)

That is a long way from an IP which would also award a base to each runner.

The wording is suspect, but the "rear" outside corners of the batter's box would indicate that the front of the catcher's box is the rear of the batter's box. Not sure about ISF, but ASA allows the catcher to move up, possibly out of the box, if the batter is standing toward the front of the batter's box. The catcher does this at the peril of committing catcher's obstruction should the batter decide to move to the back of the box to hit the pitch
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 07:02am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antonella
... neither I saw an umpire says to a catcher “You MUST move back, you know… because of the Rulebook”.
I always do this with my hand held up for note allowing the pitch. However, it is usually done so quietly and calmly that others probably won't notice. "Come on catcher, you know you've got to stay behind the batter boxes."

If the batter is 'deep' in the box and the catcher is up close, with both legal, I will usually say, "Wow catcher, you sure are getting close. Remember that if you touch her bat while she is swinging, that's catcher obstruction." They usually take an extra step back.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 07:26am
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Had a similar situation recently.

I told the catcher that if her mitt was over any part of home plate that she would be obstructing the strike zone. I would have Catcher's OBS, even if the batter took a pitch belt-high down the middle.

It was effective in moving the catcher back.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 07:34am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
Had a similar situation recently.

I told the catcher that if her mitt was over any part of home plate that she would be obstructing the strike zone. I would have Catcher's OBS, even if the batter took a pitch belt-high down the middle.

It was effective in moving the catcher back.
It may have been effective, but your rule justification would be slim indeed.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 08:15am
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Dear friends...
I am sure each and all of us umpires would DO something if a catcher is too "far" towards the plate...
But this issue is NOT about preventive umpiring...
It is about a Rule that (according to me... and someone else here) DOES NOT exist.

Ciao e grazie per le vostre risposte!
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 08:21am
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Speaking ASA (only).

Leaving out the real young and inexperienced kids (and the safety issues involved), F2 is allowed to move up toward the plate ahead of the rear of the batter's box if the batter has moved up in the batter's box. While allowed, this does not relieve F2 from the jeopardy of CO, but it does make it legal.

If F2 is not properly within the catcher's "box" (in quotes since the catcher's box is never actually lined for routine league games, and hardly ever lined in tournaments), the umpire should hold the pitch and instruct the catcher to get in her proper position.

I can't imagine calling an IP for this.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 08:51am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
Had a similar situation recently.

I told the catcher that if her mitt was over any part of home plate that she would be obstructing the strike zone. I would have Catcher's OBS, even if the batter took a pitch belt-high down the middle.

It was effective in moving the catcher back.
Did you tell her this knowing that you were making up rules, but just trying to get her to move back? Or are you not aware that you've just made up a rule?
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 10:30am
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Making up rules??????????



ASA POE 8. Catcher's Box
[snip]
(Fast Pitch Only) Catchers must remain in the catcher's box until the pitch is released. During a regular pitch to a batter, should the batter be in the front of the batter's box, the catcher can move closer to the plate without penalty. At all times, the catcher must still avoid catcher's obstruction as the batter legally has the right to the entire batter's box.

Obstruction does not require contact between the catcher and the bat or the batter. The umpire's request to move farther away from the batter ot avoid injury or obstruction should always be obeyed.

ASA POE 38. Obstruction
[large snip]
(Fast Pitch and Slow Pitch where stealing is allowed) If a catcher reaches forward, (over or in front of home plate) in an attempt to catch a the pitched ball, catcher's obstruction could be ruled.

Quotes are from the 2005 Rule Book.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 10:58am
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tcannizzo,

Perhaps it would be useful to refocus on what catcher's obstruction actually is.
Quote:
ASA 8-1-D
When the catcher obstructs the batter's attempt to hit a pitched ball.
You wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
...I told the catcher that if her mitt was over any part of home plate that she would be obstructing the strike zone. I would have Catcher's OBS, even if the batter took a pitch belt-high down the middle...
First, it is not possible to obstruct the strike zone. The strike zone is not a batter. Second, merely having the mitt over the plate is not necessarily bothering the batter at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
ASA POE 38. Obstruction
[large snip]
(Fast Pitch and Slow Pitch where stealing is allowed) If a catcher reaches forward, (over or in front of home plate) in an attempt to catch a the pitched ball, catcher's obstruction could be ruled.
"Could" not "shall." The reaching over the plate is not, in and of itself, obstruction. What this is saying is that if, by reaching over the plate, the catcher obstructs the batter's attempt to hit the pitch, that contact with the bat is not necessary for the call. But, still, obstructing the batter is required.

The problem I had with your warning was not that you gave the warning, but that you told the catcher that you would make the call for merely having her mitt over the plate even if it had no effect on the batter. That is not supported by the rules.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 11:21am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
I would have Catcher's OBS, even if the batter took a pitch belt-high down the middle.
And to follow up Tom's eloquent post, clearly this is not catcher's OBS.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 11:36am
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Catchers catch, hitters hit, and umpires umpire. If obstruction happens, call it. If it doesn't happen, nothing to call or do. I'll grant that just about all of my games are not with really young or even inexperienced catchers - but I'm not telling a catcher where he/she can or can't be, at least with this post.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 12:25pm
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Incorrect application? Possibly. Let's debate.

Preventative Umpiring? Absolutley. Why wait for the pitch to be thrown?

Making up rules? Give me a break.

Let's focus more on the rule, rather than looking for boogers in my post.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 01:18pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
Let's focus more on the rule, rather than looking for boogers in my post.
I agree about focusing on the rule, as I said above. I wasn't looking for boogers, but taking you at your word.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
Incorrect application? Possibly. Let's debate.
Yes, I believe it was an incorrect application of the POE. More below.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
Preventative Umpiring? Absolutley. Why wait for the pitch to be thrown?
Because there has not yet been a violation. Barring a safety concern with very young players, I would no more presume to tell a catcher where to set up so as to avoid CO that I would tell F4 to not stand in the baseline. There can be valid defensive reasons for the catcher to position herself as close to the batter as legally allowed, and in ASA, that is pretty darn close.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcannizzo
Making up rules? Give me a break.
I stated your rule support was pretty weak, and I still believe that to be true. You seemed to be taking your justification from the POE when the basic requirement of the rule the POE is explaining has not been met.
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Old Fri Oct 06, 2006, 01:33pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASA Rule Book
POE 8. Catcher's Box
[snip]
Obstruction does not require contact between the catcher and the bat or the batter. The umpire's request for the catcher to move farther away from the batter ot avoid injury or obstruction should always be obeyed.
To answer the OP. By rule, the PU has every right to request a catcher to move back and should always be obeyed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ASA Rule Book
ASA POE 38. Obstruction
[snip]
(Fast Pitch and Slow Pitch where stealing is allowed) If a catcher reaches forward, (over or in front of home plate) in an attempt to catch a the pitched ball, catcher's obstruction could be ruled.
In my judgment, even if there was no contact between the catcher and the batter or the bat, and the mitt was merely over the plate, CO could be ruled.
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