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Was the Umpire Correct?

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  • Was the Umpire Correct?

    In a Major division Little League game (i.e., no steals or lead offs), the opposing team reaches base on a throwing error and ends up with a runner on third. My pitcher is on the rubber and the home plate umpire moves into fair territory towards the mound (about 4 ft. in front), turns his back to the mound to start dusting off the plate, and the runner on third runs home. The umpires confer and claim there was no time out and allow the runner to score. I ask them to consider umpire obstruction because my pitcher could not throw the ball to the catcher without literally throwing it through the umpire. Umpire rules no obstruction because my pitcher did not throw the ball. I also argued that because my pitcher was on the rubber, the runner left the base early and should be sent back. They said no, as no wind up began.

    Question 1: Can there be umpire obstruction without my pitcher making the throw? If no, should I actually instruct my players to throw the ball at the backside of an umpire in order to have a chance of stopping the run?

    Question 2: Does that mean in Little League you can actually lead off and run while the pitcher is on the rubber...at least until he starts a windup?

    I thank you in advance for any insight/comments. It was a weird situation, which, fortunately, did not matter as our team won and moves on in the end of season tournament. Yet, this play still bothers me two days later.

  • #2
    My understanding is that once the pitcher has the ball in possession and toes the rubber, that baserunner is locked to his base until the ball crosses the plate again. That's how I've always interpreted it. But I could be wrong.

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    • #3
      The little league umpires screwed up. Umpire should have ruled there was time if he was cleaning the plate, I have never seen an umpire clean the plate during live ball situation. I am sure there will be someone here that can point to where that would be spelled out.

      Comment


      • #4
        For LL - once the runner stops on the bag and the pitcher toes the rubber then the play is over and the runner cannot advance.
        Now there is exception when the play is technically not over. Say the runner advances to third on the throwing error, then 3B throws the ball to pitcher who is not on the mound yet. The runner then takes a lead or fake attempts to run home. You know, like when they run a couple steps then back and forth a few times hoping the pitcher will throw the ball to third and over throw? Well in this case, the play is till live. The pitcher can sprint to the mound and toe the rubber, but the runner hasn't conceded the play yet.

        So technically the play should be dead when both stop. OR when the umpire determines what the runner is doing is pointless and calls the play over (like when a player holds the tag on a runner hoping he'll get up and lose contact with the bag. Sometimes umps will tell the player to let the runner up and throw the ball back to pitcher).


        Lets assume the runner was doing this stupid play and the umpire is not paying attention and decides to clean the plate. Once he turns his back to the field, it should be a dead ball. Especially if he is the only umpire. But, he should have called time just to avoid confusion like this.


        FWIW - I hate these sorts of plays in LL because your're not teaching the players how to play the game. You're teaching them how to take advantage of someone who is not as good as you. You do something like that at the older levels and the kids are better and you'll be thrown out at home plate and at the older older levels, you'll get drilled in the ribs on your next AB.

        Comment


        • #5
          Baserunners cannot leave their base when the ball is live only if the pitcher is on the rubber with the ball and the catcher is in the catcher's box ready to receive the pitch. Any other time during a live ball the baserunner can leave their base. (Little League Rule 7.13)

          The ball is live until the umpire calls time. (Rule 5.10) By the letter of the rule, the umpire is correct.

          That said, it could be interpreted that cleaning the plate falls under the "similar cause" section of Rule 5.10e, which says the umpire "shall call time when the umpire wishes to examine the ball, to consult with either manager, or for any similar cause".

          As far as question 2: the penalty for leaving early is that the runner (and in fact all runners) must return to the nearest unoccupied base. The nearest unoccupied base will depend on the situation and what happens during the play, which is allowed to proceed until conclusion. No runs are allowed to score, unless the batter receives ball four or is hit by the pitch, or hits a "clean" triple or home run. There are 16 examples describing the outcomes in the Little League rule book (Rule 7.13).

          Theoretically a coach could call a "hit and run" to attempt to avoid a double play with a runner on first. If neither the runner nor the batter are put out, they can stay on second and first. However, if the batter is put out, the runner must return to first. If the batter hits a double, the runner will have to return to third even if he scored. The "clean" clause means that the batter would have to return to second if, but the umpire's determination, he hit a double, and advanced to third on, for instance, a throw home attempting to get the runner out.

          There are also situations where a runner is removed from the bases with no out or run recorded. For instance, bases loaded, and the batter hits a single. Runner advancing from third is removed with no run scored and no out recorded.
          Last edited by TJinWV; 05-11-2018, 06:32 AM.

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          • #6
            Q1: -No obstruction is correct. There was no attempt at a play.

            Q2: No -he's dead wrong. Once the play has stopped and the pitcher toes the rubber, runners must be on the bag. Now if the play was still in motion, toeing the rubber will not stop the play such as if the runner was already headed home. Of course, that's unlikely since the ump was cleaning the plate.

            Yes -ump should call or signal time before cleaning the plate -otherwise the ball could end up where he doesn't want it.... I would report the ump to the league and let them send in a complaint. Bad umps get a reputation and we had a few over the years that we would not use. That's about all you can do. For your team, it's a teaching moment. The game is always live. I know the LL league rules well, but better get used to it now. Too many coaches out there take advantage of these situations. It can also be said that baserunners must always look for opportunities to advance.

            FWIW -I would have been ejected because of my objections. Kudos to you for keeping cool.
            Last edited by bluedawg; 05-11-2018, 10:52 AM.

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            • #7
              What if HPU walks to the fence and starts to hurl the sausage dogs he ate bf the game, does play continue if he doesn't call TO? If the HPU is cleaning HP, it is understood that play had ceased until the HPU is in position and signals PB.
              Put your junk in your pocket!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by bluedawg View Post
                Q2: No -he's dead wrong. Once the play has stopped and the pitcher toes the rubber, runners must be on the bag.
                That's just not correct. Runners only have to be on the bag if the pitcher is on the rubber and the catcher is ready to receive the pitch (assuming the ball is live). And even then, the next play can go to completion before a final ruling is made.


                Originally posted by 2022dad View Post
                What if HPU walks to the fence and starts to hurl the sausage dogs he ate bf the game, does play continue if he doesn't call TO? If the HPU is cleaning HP, it is understood that play had ceased until the HPU is in position and signals PB.
                If the umpire doesn't call time, there should be no assumption that play has ceased. As a base coach and/or batting team, you could/should "do the right thing" and not send the runner. As a fielding team, you should not assume the opposing team won't take advantage of it. I expect it would be a good way to get a kid hit by a pitch, though.

                Comment


                • #9
                  What if Blue walks off the field and doesn't call time: is play assumed to still be live? Of course not. That is the same as Blue turning his back in front of HP to clean it off. You can't penalize the defense for the umps carelessness in making it clear that play had ceased.
                  Put your junk in your pocket!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 2022dad View Post
                    What if Blue walks off the field and doesn't call time: is play assumed to still be live? Of course not. That is the same as Blue turning his back in front of HP to clean it off. You can't penalize the defense for the umps carelessness in making it clear that play had ceased.
                    By rule, yes, play is still live. Will the umpire admit his mistake and correct the play? That's up to the umpire.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TJinWV View Post

                      That's just not correct. Runners only have to be on the bag if the pitcher is on the rubber and the catcher is ready to receive the pitch (assuming the ball is live). And even then, the next play can go to completion before a final ruling is made.




                      If the umpire doesn't call time, there should be no assumption that play has ceased. As a base coach and/or batting team, you could/should "do the right thing" and not send the runner. As a fielding team, you should not assume the opposing team won't take advantage of it. I expect it would be a good way to get a kid hit by a pitch, though.
                      sounds like you're the ump in question......

                      Comment


                      • #12

                        Umpire screwed up multiple times.

                        It was an implied time out when he decided to clean the plate.

                        Why would he possibly clean the plate when the ball is live?

                        Stupid decision. He should have sent the runner back.

                        The umpire would have been interfering, not obstructing.

                        Even if it were obstruction, obstruction requires trying to make a play. It does not require a throw.

                        If your pitcher wanted to throw the ball but didn't because of the umpire being in the way, that is trying to make a play.

                        Stupid calls like this get people hurt. Next time, the pitcher pegs the ump in the back.
                        How is that better for anyone?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TJinWV View Post

                          By rule, yes, play is still live. Will the umpire admit his mistake and correct the play? That's up to the umpire.
                          Do you really think anyone would consider the play still live?
                          Last edited by 2022dad; 05-13-2018, 11:40 AM.
                          Put your junk in your pocket!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The ball is still live.

                            I can count on one hand the number of times I call time to clean the plate in a given season. However, I don't do youth ball, so this type of thing doesn't happen.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 2022dad View Post

                              Do you really think anyone would consider the play still live?
                              If the third base coach sends the runner, then yes, he obviously considered the play still live. If he doesn't send the runner, it's a moot point. But it doesn't change the rule.

                              Comment

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