Baseball Rules, Written & Unwritten

I was talking with my good friend Larry at lunch the other day, and the topic turned to the rules of the game of baseball, and the enforcement of those rules by umpires.

Larry and I have both umpired a number of youth baseball games over the years, as well as both of us doing our fair share of coaching. I’m talking 20+ years of experience for each.

We’ve both seen and heard some comments from fans, as well as coaches that just want to make you shake your head.

One of the most common things that you hear is “the tie goes to the runner.” Years ago, I had a coach come up to me after a close game that his team lost to my team, and his comment was “I can’t believe that that umpire who worked our game would not admit that the tie goes to the runner on a bang-bang play at first base.”¬† What this coach, or any coach who utters that phrase is only showing ignorance of the rules. If anyone can show me a rule book that states that “the tie goes to the runner,” I’ll eat the rule book on the spot. There is no such rule. In baseball, there is no such thing as a tie. It’s either safe, or out. No questions asked.

Spot Behind Centerfield Fence at Thomas Park in Auburn

A situation happened the other day down at the Little League¬† where a coach was screaming for his first baseman to tag a runner who had just been called safe at first because the runner had turned to his left to go to first base. When the umpire would not call the runner out, the coach was irate. If he had read his rule book, he would know that the runner has to make an “athletic” move towards second before the umpire can deem that he was trying to advance.

I’ve seen parents sit behind the fence in centerfield at old Thomas Park in Auburn berating the umpire for missing balls & strikes calls. The umpire is about 2-3 feet from home plate when he makes his call. Those parents were more than 200 feet away.

Something else that grinds my gears that you are seeing more and more of, is that when a runner is on second base, and he signals to the hitter what he thinks the pitch is going to be, that means that the next time up to bat for that baserunner, he is getting hit by a pitch. It happened just the other night in my son’s Summer league baseball game. This is something that goes on all the time. You try to figure out the other teams signals. Sorry Mr. Catcher, or Mr. Coach, if you can’t change your signs when there is a runner on second, I guess you really probably aren’t smart enough to be coaching.

When people scream and yell, especially at the youth levels of baseball, and they are let’s say, mis-informed on rules, it’s only an embarrassing situation not just for the person doing it, but for their children as well.




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