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Thread: How does the runner get to a blocked plate in Little League?

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    How does the runner get to a blocked plate in Little League?

    Regardless of all the "special emphasis" speeches by the umpires in the pre-game, I have never seen a catcher called for obstruction as long as they end up with the ball at the end of the play. The rules say you can't block the plate without the ball, but it happens all the time. My question is what to tell your runners to do? Slide hard? Avoid contact and go around? With safety being paramount, it seems the coach is left with an ethical dilema. What's the right call?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoachP View Post
    Regardless of all the "special emphasis" speeches by the umpires in the pre-game, I have never seen a catcher called for obstruction as long as they end up with the ball at the end of the play. The rules say you can't block the plate without the ball, but it happens all the time. My question is what to tell your runners to do? Slide hard? Avoid contact and go around? With safety being paramount, it seems the coach is left with an ethical dilema. What's the right call?
    Coach,

    That's a good question, and something that recently came up in one of our local leagues. We had a coach who intentionally taught this blocking technique to his young catchers, and as you point out it's creating a dangerous situation. What we did was to get one of the parents to photo the blocking of the plate, and we sent it off to the league president. We got a photo that was clear as a bell. The league president took immediate action, issuing a written warning to the coaches not to teach that technique, and alerted the umpires to look for the blocking. This worked very well, and that particular coach had no more incidents this season.

    In the meantime, given it was young players, we instructed them to go around the catcher rather than through causing potential injury.

    -JJA

  3. #3
    Well, let's first make sure we know the rule. I don't know the exact wording of LL rules, since last time I looked they won't publish them online so as to make you buy them, but in general, under OBR 7.06, the catcher may be in the baseline "when he is fielding a ball" -- i.e., in the process of catching it. He does not necessarily need to have the ball in hand when the runner arrives.

    I'd advise runners to do a normal slide -- i.e., one that will just get you to home plate if there's no one in the way, and try to work a foot between the catcher's feet. If the catcher stops you without the ball, your slide should have slowed you enough that no one will get hurt and you should be called safe unless, as noted above, he's in the process of fielding the ball. If he's up the baseline and doesn't have the ball, you can go out of the baseline to avoid him because you're not avoiding a tag. Unfortunately, some leagues have "must slide" rules that are applied brainlessly so that a runner trying to avoid contact by running around the catcher will be called out for failing to slide, even though it is by far the safest (and most baseball savvy) play.

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    A few weeks ago had a game (11U travel) where it was very obvious the opponent's catcher was taught to stand in the base path well before the ball got there (clearly obstruction) and then once he got the ball, he had also been taught to block the plate by getting down on both his knees with his glove in the middle to become an immovable object. Injury train wreck just waiting to happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Uncoach View Post
    A few weeks ago had a game (11U travel) where it was very obvious the opponent's catcher was taught to stand in the base path well before the ball got there (clearly obstruction) and then once he got the ball, he had also been taught to block the plate by getting down on both his knees with his glove in the middle to become an immovable object. Injury train wreck just waiting to happen.
    I’m curious about something. How big of a problem is this “train wreck waiting to happen”? To be honest, I don’t see a close play at the plate more than a couple times in a HS season, which is about 30 games. I see close plays at other bases far more often, but seldom do I see a player crazy enough to try to block a base without gear.

    I’m wondering how this safety hazard relates to say the danger from metal bats to pitchers or pitched balls to batter’s heads. I’m not trying to minimize the danger at all, but I am trying to get an idea what level of safety triggers people’s sense of danger to children.
    The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

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    Aloha,
    When my son was 10yo he ran over a catcher to score the winning run, catcher was in base path 5' up baseline without the ball and the ball and my son arrived same time and whammo ball went flying catcher went flying and my son touched home. Parents went crazy that we won the game but umpire called him out and tossed him from the game almost had a riot from our parents

    First he was to far from home plate to slide should've went around but happened to fast. Funny thing is he's also a catcher i teach him left heal touching left corner of the dish (towards third base) receive ball first then drop and slide to block plate. (just my 2 cents)
    P.S my son went over picked up the catcher dusted him off made sure he was alright they became best of friends (funny how the kids figure it out faster then us adults)

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    Trying to delete, posted wrong thread
    Last edited by Catchingcoach; 05-28-2010 at 09:12 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoachP View Post
    Regardless of all the "special emphasis" speeches by the umpires in the pre-game, I have never seen a catcher called for obstruction as long as they end up with the ball at the end of the play. The rules say you can't block the plate without the ball, but it happens all the time. My question is what to tell your runners to do? Slide hard? Avoid contact and go around? With safety being paramount, it seems the coach is left with an ethical dilema. What's the right call?
    Well in high school, college, and pro .... if the catcher goes up the line generally a player will take it upon themselves to run the catcher over. I would say in LL tell them to hook slide .... its a technique used at all levels for that type of situation where the catcher does not go up the line. By hook slide I mean slide to the right side of the plate/catcher and reach out with your hand to scrape the plate.
    “If there was ever a man born to be a hitter it was me.” - Ted Williams
    "Didn't come up here to read. Came up here to hit." - Hank Aaron

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    Quote Originally Posted by scorekeeper View Post
    I’m curious about something. How big of a problem is this “train wreck waiting to happen”? To be honest, I don’t see a close play at the plate more than a couple times in a HS season, which is about 30 games. I see close plays at other bases far more often, but seldom do I see a player crazy enough to try to block a base without gear.
    It happened 3 times within the first 2 innings, 4 total. I asked the umpire about it between innings and he said he did warn the catcher about obstruction. It still doesn't change how he was blocking it, which isn't the correct way, either. I can't speak for why you don't see to many plays at the plate in high school. Maybe the 3B coaches in your area aren't very aggressive and only send a runner on a sure thing. I couldn't really care less than I already do about your metal bat comment. It's about as much misdirection as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Uncoach View Post
    It happened 3 times within the first 2 innings, 4 total. I asked the umpire about it between innings and he said he did warn the catcher about obstruction. It still doesn't change how he was blocking it, which isn't the correct way, either. I can't speak for why you don't see to many plays at the plate in high school. Maybe the 3B coaches in your area aren't very aggressive and only send a runner on a sure thing. I couldn't really care less than I already do about your metal bat comment. It's about as much misdirection as possible.
    Well, I haven’t always scored just HS games, and I honestly can’t remember having seen a lot of plays at the plate where there might be a collision at any level. It happens and it isn’t at all unusual, but in my experience, 4 times in a game I’d have to put in the very strange category. Of course it could be that every time a runner came in from 3rd the catcher stood in the basepath, but I can’t believe any umpire wouldn’t eventually put a stop to that.

    As for why it doesn’t happen as much at the HS level, I can think of at least one great reason. The higher the level, the more likely if there is a close play the defense won’t screw it up. A lot of things work in kiddieball that work less and less as the skills of the players get better.

    I’m not sure what you mean about my “metal bat” comment. Are you saying there is no issue having to do with metal bats and pitchers, or batters to pitched balls?
    The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

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    Bumping an old thread. Does the LL rule saying the catcher can not block the plate apply to the pitcher who is covering the plate after a passed ball/wild pitch? It happened a couple times in today's game and here is a picture from the same pitcher doing the same thing in another game. This is a must slide league.
    YOa37.jpg

  12. #12
    Because of the shorter bases, there are always a lot more close plays in LL games than HS games.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Flush View Post
    Bumping an old thread. Does the LL rule saying the catcher can not block the plate apply to the pitcher who is covering the plate after a passed ball/wild pitch? It happened a couple times in today's game and here is a picture from the same pitcher doing the same thing in another game. This is a must slide league.
    YOa37.jpg
    The ball's not in the frame, and his glove isn't even open, so that's obstruction (if the runner happened to be called out somehow).
    Last edited by Chris O'Leary; 05-05-2012 at 05:07 PM.

  14. #14
    I see it a lot in LL at all the bases. What gets me with the even younger ones in the 8u and Tball classes is when you get 3 kids guarding the base to a point the runner cannot even get to the base. We always tell our kids to run hard, run fast and get to base. When there is true blocking at the bases we take it up with the umpire immediately after the play is finished. We see coaches who do that just about as much as we see them run out the clock with delaying tactics like using excessive timeouts(to instruct the short stop on caching, or tying shoes or fixing a players hair, yes, these are just a few things).

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    An umpire told me once, that there must be a ball, a runner, and a catcher.

    The ball is missing here.
    eFastball.com hitting and pitching fact checker

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
    The ball's not in the frame, and his glove isn't even open, so that's obstruction (if the runner happened to be called out somehow).
    I agree, 100% obstruction.

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    what really bothers me is the big 1st baseman (rec league) that's only there because he's big, doesn't know how to play the position and ends up blocking the 1st baseline and my kids slow down/round around him on a grounder to avoid contact.

    also, the kids that cover 1st or 3rd and end up just watching the play in the OF and the runners can't make their typical turn on the base path.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Flush View Post
    Bumping an old thread. Does the LL rule saying the catcher can not block the plate apply to the pitcher who is covering the plate after a passed ball/wild pitch? It happened a couple times in today's game and here is a picture from the same pitcher doing the same thing in another game. This is a must slide league.
    P.S. You need to teach the batters to bail out backwards under that situation (although I know some don't get it and it's cost me runs and even games).

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    Saw this play all the time in LL. Passed ball or wild pitch and pitchers were taught (not mine) to run to plate and drop to one knee about 3-5' up the line to await the toss from the catcher. It all happens so fast that most LL umps wouldn't call obstruction - which it clearly is. That far up the line really makes it impossible for the runner to slide too, as he'd end his slide still several feet from reaching the plate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 50hawaiianpunch View Post
    First he was to far from home plate to slide should've went around but happened to fast. Funny thing is he's also a catcher i teach him left heal touching left corner of the dish (towards third base) receive ball first then drop and slide to block plate. (just my 2 cents)
    P.S my son went over picked up the catcher dusted him off made sure he was alright they became best of friends (funny how the kids figure it out faster then us adults)
    Correct technique.
    Great P.S.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Flush View Post
    Bumping an old thread. Does the LL rule saying the catcher can not block the plate apply to the pitcher who is covering the plate after a passed ball/wild pitch? It happened a couple times in today's game and here is a picture from the same pitcher doing the same thing in another game. This is a must slide league.
    YOa37.jpg
    Obstruction applies to all fielders. You may not impede the runner's progress or block a base, UNLESS you HAVE the ball, or need to be in the spot you are in, to catch the ball, when the ball is almost to you.

    In Little League, the fielder cannot setup in a spot that blocks the base, while waiting for a possible throw. The fielder must setup out of the path, and then may move into the path, AFTER he has the ball, OR if, in the ump's judgment, he needed to move into the path to have a chance to catch the ball.

    It's pretty straight-forward. Stay away from the base until you have the ball, or the block is a natural act of trying to catch the ball.

    A fielder is "in the act of fielding" and it is NOT obstruction, if, his block of the base, is a fluid, continuous result of his effort to glove the ball. Separate, discontinuous movement prior to obtaining the ball, whose sole purpose is to block the base, is obstruction.

    If the fielder breaks the rule, the runner should slide and hope that the ump calls obstruction. If the fielder does have the ball, WAITING TO MAKE a tag, the runner must either slide, OR attempt to get around the fielder.

    If the fielder is not violating the rule, and the ball and runner arrive at about the same time, and the fielder has to move into the path to get the ball; then any collision is just a collision. There is no penalty to either player. Unless, either player makes a flagrant, malicious act during the collision.
    Last edited by jbooth; 05-06-2012 at 12:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSandman View Post
    Saw this play all the time in LL. Passed ball or wild pitch and pitchers were taught (not mine) to run to plate and drop to one knee about 3-5' up the line to await the toss from the catcher. It all happens so fast that most LL umps wouldn't call obstruction - which it clearly is. That far up the line really makes it impossible for the runner to slide too, as he'd end his slide still several feet from reaching the plate.
    Yep, THAT is obvious obstruction, even in MLB unless the fielder has possession before the runner arrives. In MLB, as long as you have the ball before contact with the runner is made, it doesn't matter where you were, or what you do. In LL, the fielder cannot block the base while awaiting the throw, and hope that the ball arrives first. He must only block the base, after possession, or as a move necessary to catch the ball that started from outside the path, not blocking the base.

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    flush,

    That picture is basically identical to what we sent to our league president when a virtually identical incident took place with a team that did this game after game. The league president took immediate action, telling the coaches this was against LL rules (like Booth has explained so clearly), and not to teach this dangerous technique. In our case, it cleared up this issue from this particular coach. Great photo. Makes it very clear what is going on.

    -JJA

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    This is a serious concern for me. My son catches, he's 110 pounds and he's got the lower body of Yadier Molina or Andres Galaragga. As an adult he'll be the guy they call "Forest" (tree trunks for legs) or "Pillars". Forcing a 10-12yo kid in the weight range of 65-80 pounds, with shin bones thinner than my wrist, to slide into a kid like this wearing shin guards is just begging for a broken ankle or leg. Likewise, I don;t want my 10yo kid being forced to slide into someone shin guards either. It's dumb. You wanna see a really dangerous situation? Passed ball, not too far away, runner coming from 3rd, catcher gets the ball, both are running to the plate, catcher goes in shin guards first to block the plate, runner slides feet first into sliding catcher. I don;t see why this is even a possible situation at this age.

    ALL levels of baseball should put down the machismo (and I say that as a pitcher whose blocked the plate before, received spike marks in the leg, and been celebrated for it ... y'know personal sacrifice for the team stuff) and traditional, and create a "catcher's crease" (like hockey) where the catcher stands during a play. The runners cannot cross over the line into the catcher's area/crease/office, and the catcher cannot cross the line to make a tag until they have the ball.

    Plays at the plate will still be exciting and catchers/runners will still need to have skill. What won't happen are runners being able to plow the catcher to make up for poor baserunning decisions, or catchers being able to interfere (they really do) with runners because the defense is lagging.

    Ty Cobb sliding with spikes "waist high" to kick the ball of a fielder's glove, and willie randolph being rolled all the way to LF, we re too once part of the game. It was eliminated because it was simply danger that added little skill to the game. Same with home plate collisions. Get catchers out in front of the plate and drastically reduce or eliminate the needless collisions that result.

    Or let's go full bravado and stop being sissies about it and allow full collisions at all bases, defenders to wrestle runners off the bag, etc. Catchers wear gear to protect themselves from the baseball, not being trucked at the plate (if so, the gear is far too light).
    Last edited by CircleChange11; 05-07-2012 at 06:26 AM.

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    Sorry Circle,

    Totally agree with you on this for kids, but not for the pros. It's a man's game. If you're a catcher and you don't want to get hit, don't block the plate. On the flip side, if you're a runner and you're afraid of a collision, don't come home. But if I'm the manager and you're one of those two, go find another sport, maybe something safe like tennis.

    -JJA

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