Points of Emphasis
PLAY LISTS WORN BY PLAYERS - This was covered in the 2016 Season and again at our State meeting, and has come up AGAIN. There appears to be some issues with what may and may not be done. Many coaches find benefit with the play lists and accordingly they may be used, but by NFHS Approved Rulings these play lists may only be worn on a player’s arm or wrist or placed in a pocket. They MAY NOT be worn on the belt. This has been the ruling of the NFHS for several years and has not changed. This may seem like a petty issue, but consider that the only place on the belt where it is easily accessible is in the front, where it will stick out and possibly be struck by a pitched ball. It then becomes part of his “person” and could result in a hit by pitch. It will be our policy to professionally remind anyone seen wearing a play list on their belt to remove it so that play can resume. If he does not comply, ask the coach to so instruct the player. While we do have a rule that says failure by a player to wear proper equipment after being so ordered by the umpire, shall be ejected (1-5-4 penalty). I would hope that the situation could be handled without an ejection.
The Crow Hop – It may have been in place before, but Carter Capps (MLB pitcher) has brought the “crow hop” delivery to the front page. In high school, this is illegal and should be called an illegal pitch or a balk if runners are on base. In this delivery, a pitcher releases the ball at a shorter distance than if his foot had stayed on the pitching plate. If you want to know what a “crow hop” delivery is, please see the following video. Crow Hop 1
Crow Hop 2
Flipping the Bat – Flipping the bat after a homerun in the MLB is becoming an “in” thing to do. A player after hitting a home run does the Bautista "Bat Flip". In a tournament this past weekend, a hitter flipped the bat a good 20 feet in the air, and about 30 feet away from home plate after hitting a home run. Rule 3-3-1c addresses this issue: a team warning if the bat is carelessly thrown and an ejection if the bat is deliberately thrown. This is a safety issue foremost, but also a sportsmanship issue. Whether it is meant to be “showing up” the opposing team or not, it will be taken that way by someone and the game could easily be impacted.
PLAY: With two on and down by three, the batter hits a homerun to tie the game. He flips his bat high in the air and the umpire immediately calls him out, for out number two, negates his run, and ejects him. RULING: This is a delayed-dead ball situation. After all runs have scored, the batter will be ejected and replaced in the lineup. The game continues tied.
Also, look at Casebook Play 3.3.1CC as it addresses this as well.
Pitcher with Dirt in his Back Pocket – On an all turf field, the pitching staff has started carrying “dirt” in their back pocket, and while off the pitching plate, put their hand in that pocket and get a little dirt before gripping the ball for the next pitch. Now, getting a little dirt from the mound to dry off a hand is certainly okay. In this case, what the pitcher is doing is not allowed for two reasons. One, this “dirt” is not available to the pitcher from the opposing team, and two, while unlikely, the opportunity for a special substance to be in the dirt does exist. Ask the team to put a rosin bag out on the mound and both pitchers can use it.
Painted Bats –Many manufactures are providing, at time of bat’s manufacture, a team to order the bat to be painted in a special color, like the school colors, or a certain design, or with the player’s name on the bat. If this is done by the manufacture, and we can still see the BBCOR logo as well as bat length, weight, and diameter, it is legal. If any of the important information on the bat is covered up and cannot be seen by the umpire, it is an illegal bat. Painting post production, i.e., someone painting the bat themselves is also illegal.
Runner at First Base –Several times this past week, we had a runner at first base take his lead, not towards second, but towards the pitching mound, in a direct line from the pitcher to the bag. In essence this is blocking the first baseman’s view to first and making a pickoff difficult. This was a popular strategy three decades ago, and an Approved Ruling made it illegal and the strategy died off. It is considered to be interference and the runner is to be called out when he assumes this leadoff position. Casebook Play 8.4.2F: “In the opinion of the umpire, R1, while leading off first base, moves up to the front of the baseline, thus effectively screening the first baseman from the ball on an attempted pickoff. RULING: R1 shall be called out for interference. COMMENT: If this is not ruled to be interference, the runner gains an advantage.
Substitution Play – Is this substitution play legal? PLAY: A pinch-hitter is used for the catcher. The pinch hitter safely reaches first base. At this point, the coach re-enters the starting catcher to run for the pinch-hitter. The coach then uses a courtesy runner for the catcher. RULING: This is legal. The pinch hitter is now done for the game, and the catcher has had his one re-entry allowed by rule.
PITCHER BEING THE DESIGNATED HITTER FOR HIMSELF – There have been several instances this past week where a coach attempted, and even insisted that is was legal, for his pitcher to DH for himself. That is NOT the high school rule. Starting defensive players, by NFHS rule, cannot be the Designated Hitter. One coach convinced the umpiring crew by showing them a NCAA laminated DH card. Another coach showed the umpires a copy of the rule, but what he had was a rulebook from a state that does not play by NFHS rules. Be professional and courteous, but do not allow a coach to use any of his defensive players to DH for themselves or another defensive player.
PITCHER “WHITE” EYE BLACK – There was a game where the pitcher came out to pitch wearing white eye-black. The opposing coach protested so enthusiastically that he got to watch the balance of the game from the bench. The umpires allowed it but were not sure if that was correct. We have no rule that mandates a specific color or pattern. It can be pencil thin, or cover the entire face. It can be in the shape of batwings and have a saying on them. As long as the shape and words are not unsportsmanlike, profane, meant to intimidate, embarrass an opponent, or used as a form of taunting or baiting, we have no issue. As to color, we have no restriction on the color provided the color and shape do not cause a distraction for or a glare on the batter. As always, that determination is the plate umpire’s judgment.
WHEN LINEUPS BECOME LEGAL – The lineups were turned in at the plate conference with #3 and #4 batting in those respective spots in the lineup. In the bottom of the inning, the two players switch (by accident or not) spots in the lineup. The plate umpire noticed it, but neither team did until the bottom of the next inning when the home team became aware when the wrong batter was at the plate. The argument evolved like this: “Mr. Umpire, if you caught it you should have called them out; they should be ejected; the lineup is set after once through the batting order, so it is now legal.” Very innovative points but unfortunately all the coach gets for them is some respect for his quick thinking. First, with regard to the batting out of order rule, if a batter is at bat and is batting out of order, either team may bring it up and we simply put the proper batter at bat. If the improper batter gets on base or gets out, only the defense may appeal before the next pitch, illegal pitch, play/attempted play, etc. At no time, with regard to batting out of order, does the plate umpire take action other than to enforce the rule when it is properly brought to his attention. The lineup does not become “set” after the batting order has made it all the way around back to the leadoff batter. The lineup becomes official at the plate conference, when both coaches exchange them and then, the lineups are verified and accepted by the plate umpire. At that time, the lineups are official and any change after must be done in accordance with the substitution rule.
INFIELDERS WARMING UP TO PITCH – It is becoming popular with coaches, to toss a ball to an infielder (intent is to get the player ready to pitch in the game) while the coach is at the mound having a conference with the pitcher and other players. This is not PERMISSABLE. If we have a new infielder in the game, he most certainly may take some grounders and throws to first. But to have infielders already in the game throw is not allowed. One, the infielder should be warm enough for play, and two, when a player is warming up to pitch, he throws differently and eventually harder than just a player warming up. Before the NFHS ruled on this, there had been “throws” get away and into opposing players etc. with some injuries and a lot of disapproval. This is one of the reasons we have re-entry in the high school game. A coach can take him out for the purpose of getting him ready to pitch and later re-enter him, or have him warm up while the team is on offense. So, bottom line, it is not allowed. We had a coach (wish we had more like him) who wanted to know the rule, call one chapter to ask and they told him it was not allowed, and then he called another chapter he knew who said “no problem,” they allowed it all the time.
DRONES – There was a game recently where a drone glided over the field and settled about twenty feet above the mound. It indeed was rather distracting to all. For both the UIL and TAPPS, drones shall not be used during any scrimmage or game. If a drone is over the field, the game is to be stopped until the drone leaves the area over the field and stands and parking. It has helped in other games with a drone present, to have the Public Address Announcer make an announcement that it is not legal for a drone to be over the field and that the game will not resume until it has left. Please file a game incident report if you are visited by a drone (or UFO for that matter).
BRAWL SITUATION – After a spectacular catch in the outfield and a monstrous throw to home to tag the advancing runner out for the third out, the team on the first base side comes out to congratulate the outfielder as he comes off the field. As the batter walks back to his dugout he passes the pitcher, shoulders are brushed, and the two commence to “mix it up.” All other players turn to watch but stay where they are located. (Great job by the assistant coaches). The pitcher and the batter are ejected from the rest of the contest. The defensive team’s coach wants all the players on the other team who are outside of the dugout also ejected for being there during a fight. Our rule states a player may not leave the dugout during a live ball for an unauthorized purpose. Provided all that the players were doing was congratulating their own players and team, they have violated no rule as the ball is not in play. When the fight started, they did not leave that position they were in on the field during the altercation. No ejections should be made to the other players.