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Old Mon Jul 20, 2015, 08:06pm
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2016 NCAA Rule Change: OBS - "About to Receive" vs. "In the act of Catching"

Anyone have thoughts on this change?

Code:
The act of a defensive team member that hinders or
impedes a batter’s attempt to make contact with a pitch
or that impedes the progress of a runner who is legally
running the bases, unless the fielder is in possession of
the ball, is fielding a batted ball or is in the act of
catching a thrown ball. The act may be intentional
or unintentional and applies to live ball action only.
Quote:
Rationale: Replaces “about to receive” with “in the act
of catching” to better define the specific protected
action. “About to receive” is a longer time frame than
being “in the act of catching” a thrown ball.
I think the change makes sense in the intent of the rule, and the political context of NCAA where coaches write have a high degree of influence on the rule book. However, I disagree with the rationale. I've been taught that ATR comes into play when the umpire judges the ball is closer to the fielder than is the runner. It's not perfect, but it works. I can think of numerous examples where the act of catching will lead to contact or a hindrance of a runner before the ball arrives.

When does the act of catching begin? When the ball begins to touch glove/player or when the throw is released and the player begins to adjust their position to the line of the throw? When does the act of catching end? If a fielder stretches for a misthrow, and obstructs the runner after the ball has passed, is she still in the act?

Until I hear otherwise, I plan to enforce this the same way I enforced ATR, but I'll use the new book terminology when a coach wants to debate my judgment.
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Last edited by teebob21; Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 10:13pm.
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Old Tue Jul 21, 2015, 07:31am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob21 View Post
Anyone have thoughts on this change?

Code:
The act of a defensive team member that hinders or
impedes a batter’s attempt to make contact with a pitch
or that impedes the progress of a runner who is legally
running the bases, unless the fielder is in possession of
the ball, is fielding a batted ball or is in the act of
catching a thrown ball. The act may be intentional
or unintentional and applies to live ball action only.
I think the change makes sense in the intent of the rule, and the political context of NCAA where coaches write have a high degree of influence on the rule book. However, I disagree with the rationale. I've been taught that ATR comes into play when the umpire judges the ball is closer to the fielder than is the runner. It's not perfect, but it works. I can think of numerous examples where the act of catching will lead to contact or a hindrance of a runner before the ball arrives.

When does the act of catching begin? When the ball begins to touch glove/player or when the throw is released and the player begins to adjust their position to the line of the throw? When does the act of catching end? If a fielder stretches for a misthrow, and obstructs the runner after the ball has passed, is she still in the act?

Until I hear otherwise, I plan to enforce this the same way I enforced ATR, but I'll use the new book terminology when a coach wants to debate my judgment.
Actually, it seems this will give coaches more leeway to argue against an OBS call.

This is what baseball uses:

If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the “act of fielding” the ball.
I wouldn't doubt this is where the NCAA may be heading.
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Old Tue Jul 21, 2015, 10:14am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob21 View Post
I've been taught that ATR comes into play when the umpire judges the ball is closer to the fielder than is the runner.
Having been taught the same, I find this equivalent to the ASA and NFHS "possession" wording since the ball is virtually always traveling faster than the runner. (Yes, there might be a rare exception where the (bad) throw is a high, soft underhand lob - a squeeze play comes to mind.) But someone may educate me that, "No, they are not equivalent because ... ."
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Old Tue Jul 21, 2015, 04:52pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake26 View Post
Having been taught the same, I find this equivalent to the ASA and NFHS "possession" wording since the ball is virtually always traveling faster than the runner. (Yes, there might be a rare exception where the (bad) throw is a high, soft underhand lob - a squeeze play comes to mind.) But someone may educate me that, "No, they are not equivalent because ... ."
They are not equivalent in the instances where the throw beats the runner, but the throw is not caught and immediately possessed.
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Old Tue Jul 21, 2015, 05:09pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve View Post
They are not equivalent in the instances where the throw beats the runner, but the throw is not caught and immediately possessed.
To make sure I understand, allow me a scenario. A throw reaches the catcher, who is blocking home plate, just before the runner. However, the throw is bobbled by the catcher. Then the runner slides into the catcher but does not reach home plate because her path is blocked. The catcher then establishes control of the ball and tags the runner.

Under ASA and NFHS, we have Obstruction on the catcher, and the runner is awarded home plate. I am understanding you to say that under NCAA Rules, the runner would be Out. Is this correct?

I'm certainly open to a scenario of your own that would make the effect of the difference in the Rules Sets better evident.
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Old Tue Jul 21, 2015, 07:20pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake26 View Post
To make sure I understand, allow me a scenario. A throw reaches the catcher, who is blocking home plate, just before the runner. However, the throw is bobbled by the catcher. Then the runner slides into the catcher but does not reach home plate because her path is blocked. The catcher then establishes control of the ball and tags the runner.

Under ASA and NFHS, we have Obstruction on the catcher, and the runner is awarded home plate. I am understanding you to say that under NCAA Rules, the runner would be Out. Is this correct?

I'm certainly open to a scenario of your own that would make the effect of the difference in the Rules Sets better evident.
Your play is sufficient.

Under NCAA rules, it would require a second and separate act of blocking the runner AFTER the throw is bobbled to call obstruction on that catcher, if she were only blocked and all momentum stopped, because the initial block was legal under the "about to receive" clause. If the runner makes any effort to advance after that initial block and is blocked again before possession, then you would have obstruction.

Or, if the catcher lays on hers and pins her while retrieving the ball (wasn't there a similar postseason MLB play by Red Sox F5 a few years back??), that would also be obstruction.
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Old Tue Jul 21, 2015, 10:10pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve View Post
Your play is sufficient.

Under NCAA rules, it would require a second and separate act of blocking the runner AFTER the throw is bobbled to call obstruction on that catcher, if she were only blocked and all momentum stopped, because the initial block was legal under the "about to receive" clause. If the runner makes any effort to advance after that initial block and is blocked again before possession, then you would have obstruction.

Or, if the catcher lays on hers and pins her while retrieving the ball (wasn't there a similar postseason MLB play by Red Sox F5 a few years back??), that would also be obstruction.
Thanks!
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Old Sat Jul 25, 2015, 11:07pm
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Steve, you used the phrase "about to receive" in your examples above. In your opinion, under the new rule verbiage, would it be accurate to judge the act of catching as starting when the fielder is about to receive the ball, and ending when the fielder either possesses it, or no longer has a reasonable opportunity to legally gain possession?

I'm sure the fall camps will cover this rule change, but I want to have some sort of mental idea of the difference, if any.
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Old Sun Jul 26, 2015, 01:38pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob21 View Post
Steve, you used the phrase "about to receive" in your examples above. In your opinion, under the new rule verbiage, would it be accurate to judge the act of catching as starting when the fielder is about to receive the ball, and ending when the fielder either possesses it, or no longer has a reasonable opportunity to legally gain possession?

I'm sure the fall camps will cover this rule change, but I want to have some sort of mental idea of the difference, if any.
In my opinion, the act of catching begins when the ball first touches the glove or hand of the defender; this is slightly later than the "about to receive" moment even when following the guidelines previously directed, and is meant MOSTLY to limit/reduce/eliminate the ridiculous argument (and sometime umpire judgment) that stretched about to receive as almost anytime a defender set up almost anywhere, more than to shorten the time frame. I believe this was the best verbiage they could come up with to more clearly define a clear point in time; G-d forbid they consider matching the rule of (literally) everyone else in the world.

The other question posed earlier about when it ends if the defender fails to catch it I haven't heard officially, BUT my personal interpretation would be somewhat similar to what it was previously, that if the initial block is legal, then it would require a second and separate act that hinders the runner if the ball is uncaught. Also, similar to the "step and a reach" philosophy, the defender should still be protected from obstruction if the ball is still right there and her efforts are to control the ball, and not specifically to hold the runner there until she can retrieve it.
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Old Mon Feb 22, 2016, 09:40am
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"the defender should still be protected from obstruction if the ball is still right there and her efforts are to control the ball, and not specifically to hold the runner there until she can retrieve it."

Steve, wouldn't that imply (the lack of) intent to obstruct, which is not a criteria in determining OBS?
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Old Mon Feb 22, 2016, 01:16pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmkupka View Post
"the defender should still be protected from obstruction if the ball is still right there and her efforts are to control the ball, and not specifically to hold the runner there until she can retrieve it."

Steve, wouldn't that imply (the lack of) intent to obstruct, which is not a criteria in determining OBS?
My "intent" is to address and judge the action, not the "intent". If actual possession is not required under NCAA if the defender is in the act of catching, then the act of securing possession of a ball that is trapped or laying "right there" is effectively the same concept. The separate (and assumed primary) act of holding off the runner in order to retrieve the ball as the act judged by the umpire, well, that should be ruled obstruction.

I know, it is not as black and white as "in possession" or not; but it is the continuing philosophy of the rules committee (or so I am told) to not penalize legitimate defensive play that they want umpires to recognize. They want the defender to have some "right" to occupy that space in the correct circumstance. It's defining what they want in a manner that is or can be recognized identically by all, that is the problem.
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Last edited by AtlUmpSteve; Mon Feb 22, 2016 at 01:18pm.
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Old Mon Feb 29, 2016, 09:20pm
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Here's a call of obstruction from Sunday's Mary Nutter Classic on a squeeze play. Nebraska vs. Washington. Doesn't quite fit into the rule change though.

https://mobile.twitter.com/FloSoftba...090049/video/1
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Old Tue Mar 01, 2016, 08:27pm
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Why do you say that? She was not in possession of the ball or in the act to receive ball. She is just blocking the plate, and made a second effort to make sure she was blocking the plate. How can this not be obstruction?
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Old Tue Mar 01, 2016, 11:13pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Umpire@1 View Post
Why do you say that? She was not in possession of the ball or in the act to receive ball. She is just blocking the plate, and made a second effort to make sure she was blocking the plate. How can this not be obstruction?
It's clearly obstruction, but it doesn't fit the rule change because the ball wasn't thrown. Therefore, she was not in the act of receiving the ball. That's why I say that.

If the ball was thrown, then it would be within the realm of the rule change and still obstruction.
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Old Wed Mar 02, 2016, 10:08am
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If the rule says "act of catching", I would not say "act of receiving"; sounds too much like "about to receive".
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