Come On Blue!
"Obstruction", "No Call", or "Must Slide"
As the sun was low on the horizon yesterday evening we had a runner on the "AA" field going from second to third base. "AA" has 8-10 year olds of all calibers, but this runner was on the larger but inexperienced end of the spectrum. As he came onto third the ball was on its way. The third baseman was ready for the throw. The runner did not really know how to slide, so he started to hunch as his cleats dug into the earth and he started to tumble forward with the only thing keeping him upright was the third baseman who missed the ball.
Is there a "must slide rule"? Orem Youth Baseball (OYB), Pony, and Major League Baseball (MLB) have no must slide rule.
Is there a malicious contact rule? Yes, but this was accidental contact, there were no injuries.
Was the contact due to the runner trying to break up the play and make the third baseman drop the ball? No, this contact was due to inexperience.
Did the coach make a formal appeal? No. he complained from his ball bucket and when the conference was called by the plate umpire the coach never made a formal appeal to the field umpire who made no call other than "Safe!" Instead, he was passive aggressive and displayed his disapproval.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
My 14 year old field umpire was 6 feet away from the play with a great view at the time of impact and he called the runner safe with no mention of the anything further. The defensive coach was on his bucket outside of the dugout and he let it be known that there should have been a call and the runner should be out. As the plate umpire, I was heading off the train wreck by giving the coach a formal setting to state his case and I immediately called "Time!" while beckoning to the offensive coach and my partner to join us with the defensive coach, of which stayed seated on his bucket. As we got together I asked the defensive coach what was the matter and he expressed his viewpoint that the runner should be out because he did not slide. I told him that there was no "must slide" rule in OYB and he then changed arguments and told me how awful my call of "Ball" on his pitcher's curve in the prior inning was and that I was just plain wrong. I turned away while saying "Let's play" and he verbalized a bit more disgust that no credence was given to either of his complaints.
COMPLAINT 1 RULING - Play on. The contact was accidental and not malicious in any way. There was no interference, no obstruction, and just one of those unfortunate plays on the ball fields with younger and inexperienced players.
COMPLAINT 2 RULING - Coaches display great foolishness when they argue balls and strikes. The only leeway I could extend was to allow him to stay on his bucket, while still coaching his team for the game. I had called the meeting, so I took the abuse in the hopes that it would help diffuse the tension on the field. Yes, his actions created great tension and he did nothing to relieve these throughout the remainder of the game. Unfortunately for him, his team lost their battle 11-10, in a game that he was clearly in control of before his complaints. I believe that his efforts would have been much better spent encouraging his players as they made their youthful mistakes, rather than disparaging the umpires for judgment calls.
Here are some other items to consider...
2013 MLB RULESOfficial Rules: 4.00 Starting and Ending a Game
(a) No manager, player, substitute, coach, trainer or batboy shall at any time, whether from the bench, the coachs box or on the playing field, or elsewhere --
(1) Incite, or try to incite, by word or sign a demonstration by spectators;
(2) Use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, an umpire, or any spectator;
(a) Any umpires decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.
Rule 9.02(a) Comment: Players leaving their position in the field or on base, or managers or coaches leaving the bench or coaches box, to argue on BALLS AND STRIKES will not be permitted. They should be warned if they start for the plate to protest the call. If they continue, they will be ejected from the game.
(b) If there is reasonable doubt that any umpires decision may be in conflict with the rules, the manager may appeal the decision and ask that a correct ruling be made. Such appeal shall be made only to the umpire who made the protested decision.
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah
SEE OTHER "MAKING THE RIGHT CALL" RULINGS