21 Submitted by on Tue, 06 January 2015, 10:51

Please feel free to ask a question about a rule or start a discussion. No question is a dumb question. A lot of us think we know more than we do, so don’t worry about being embarrassed over asking a question that some may think is easy.

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  1. Patrick says:

    STUDY METHODS I would like to hear from some fellow members their suggestions on how they study the rules and mechanics manuals. I like to go back over the previous years tests and answer the questions, then research the rule and write out the applicable rule(s) and whether I was correct or wrong. Any suggestions are appreciated.

    • Robert Brown says:

      Patrick..Thanks for using the discussion board. I agree with your method of studying and I do the same. I keep my rules book handy and I also highlight rules and interpretations in the book that seem to cause issues during games. I also will challenge fellow umpires by asking them a question to see if they know the answer. It’s surprising sometimes to hear the answers they give. Studying the previous year’s test in the off-season is the best way to be better for the current year’s questions. It’s also good to make your own set of questions from past experiences and then challenge yourself.

  2. Patrick says:

    Anybody else having issues with reviewing their test on Arbiter? It keeps locking up and not allowing me to go to the next question or skip ahead. Each time I have to save it and then exit the test. Wondering if anyone else is having the same issues and what they have done to resolve it.

    • Robert Brown says:

      Patrick: I had the same issue. If you leave the page sit inactive for too long, it times out, but does not tell you that. You will need to close the test and then go back in. Hope this helps.

  3. Ronald says:

    I had the same issue as well. Just hit the refresh tap on your computer and it will correct the problem.

  4. Mike says:

    Yes Patrick, I experienced the same issue, especially when I look through the rules book to find the citation that addresses the question, which may take a minute or two.

  5. Mike says:

    I have a question regarding order of appeals, which seems to cause me a bit of confusion. For instance…if there are less than two outs with bases loaded and the next batter hits a double with two runners scoring on the play,..should the defense appeal the BR missing first base, first, then appeal RI missing second, first. I suspect that the appeal on RI missing second should be made first. Is there a general rule of thumb for the order of appeals so that the number of runs scored is minimized or canceled out?

    • Matthew Beaver says:

      Good question Mike; the only time the order of appeals makes any difference is when the appeal that, if upheld successfully (the guy is out), is the THIRD out AND it’s either A) a force out or B) the batter-runner being called out for failing to reach 1st base (which is also, in reality, a force out, but that distinction is made in the rulebook, so I’ve made it here). There are very few ABSOLUTES in life, where the words ALWAYS or NEVER apply. Death and taxes are two examples. In baseball, it’s the same thing, and one of the few examples is “NO runs can score IF the third out is a force out OR if the third out is made by the batter-runner failing to touch first base.” Another way to say that is “a run can NEVER score if the third out is a force out OR is third out is made by the batter-runner who failed to touch first base.” So therefore, if two appeals are made (for the second and third outs), the only thing that’s relevant is simply whether or not the LAST appeal made was a force out. If it is a force, no run can EVER score. If that last appeal is NOT a force, then it becomes a time play, in which case a run or runs (depending on the situation) would more than likely score.

  6. Mike says:

    Thanks Matthew…appreciate it!!

  7. Matt Beaver says:

    General question on Abandonment: Guys, with the NCAA now clarifying the definition on abandonment, I wanted to get some feedback from you. An authority granted to umpires is to judge intent, and judging intent can sometimes be very difficult, so I want to ask all our members: In relation to a baserunner possibly abandoning his effort to run the bases, what do you personally look for to make that determination? Is this something that can be articulated, or is it like the Supreme Court justice who said, when asked to define porn, said that he couldn’t really define it, but that he “knows it when he sees it”? As an umpire, I have my own ideas, but would like to get as much feedback as possible on this because I may pick up something that could help my own work. Thanks in advance – Matt Beaver

    • Robert Brown says:

      Good question, Matt. After further studying the rule, what I have come up with is this will be a judgment call as to when the runner abandoned and gave up his right to continue to run the bases. Although it may be hard to believe, others have been in this game longer than me, but I think I could be pretty sure of myself to know when a runner has given up or abandoned the base path. For example; if the guys in the dugout are all yelling for the runner to get back on the base and the runner complies by turning and running back, I am pretty sure that he thought he was either out, or there were 3 outs. In this case, I would consider that as abandoning because it is what the runner does by his own thoughts and actions and not having to be coaxed or prodded by his teammates, which we have all seen at one time or another. Does that make sense?

      The rules does allow for a lot of judgment by stating; “…starts for the dugout and progresses a reasonable distance..” What is a “reasonable distance?” I don’t think we can all agree on a set distance by stating that we will allow the runner to move X number of feet towards the dugout before we call him out. No one wants to do that. IMO, I think that when the runner has convinced me that he thought he was out, I will call him out. I know that I will have to wait because sometimes runners do start towards the dugout, (maybe a few steps, not several feet), and then will hurriedly return.

      All in all, I don’t believe that this will be a tough call to make for those that have played the game and have experienced when a runner has given up, which is sometimes from what we did ourselves when we played the game.

      • Matt Beaver says:

        Wonderful. Thank you very much, Bob.

      • DJ says:

        Matt I believe that this rule really 90% of the time comes into play at the NCAA level is on A: a walk off hit and B: after a batter strikes out at the plate and I say NCAA because NFHS has a different criteria for determining this judgement…in college he leaves the dirt circle he’s out walk off he leaves the baselane with OBVIOUS actions he’s out but in HS he has to be in or just about in the dugout to be out other wise he has the opportunity to return to the play.

  8. Ronald says:

    My question is about fake tags and obstruction. In the February issue of Referee magazine there’s an article on page 30 titled: “Faked Out of the Play”. The article is about a play where a fake tag is applied to a runner and the runner being thrown out advancing to the next base. This is obstruction at the HIGH SCHOOL level. At the very end of the article it mentions that there is nothing in the pro or NCAA rule book about fake tags. I solicited the opinion of some fellow NCAA umpires in my area and a few of them said they would do nothing if a fake tag was attempted in an NCAA game they were working that would cause a runner to be thrown out advancing to the next base, because there is nothing in the NCAA rule book about fake tags. A few of the other NCAA umpires said they WOULD call obstruction in an NCAA game if this were to happen.
    The NCAA rule book defines Obstruction as: ” The act of a fielder who, while not in possession of or in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner”.

    My question is this: Can we, as NCAA umpires, call obstruction in a college baseball game when a fake tag is attempted based on the NCAA’s definition of obstruction even though there is no mention of the verbiage “Fake Tag” in the NCAA rule book ?

  9. Dennis says:

    Ronald, while it is not in the spirit of the game, it is not a penalty in NCAA rules to apply a fake tag. Do not make up or find rules that you can apply because one feels like they need to address a situation that may not be in the spirit of the game. If the NCAA wanted us to call obstruction on this play it would be addressed. Calling obstruction will only open a can of worms with most coaches who know this rule. We all need to be on the same page with this for the exact reason if you call it on Monday and it happens again on Wednesday and I don’t call it we have a major problem.
    Hope this helps with your question.

    • DJ says:

      Dennis as you said a “Fake Tag” is not in the spirit of the game then under Rule 3-6-b we as Umpires should all be calling this as obstruction and also we all know not every situation is word 100% in the book …I think I will send an email to Poranto and see how we can get the words Fake Tag put in the rules book but until then any umpire is 100% justified in ruling this as obstruction based on the 2 rules stated .

      • Dennis says:

        Dan, you are confusing federation rules with college rules in justifying your comments. We do not want 150 CBCBUA members working NCAA games finding rules that do not exists for a particular play and applying them because you feel it fits the play. There are many more “not in the spirit of the game rules” that I’m sure we can find in every game we umpire. If a rule does not exist we shouldn’t find an applicable rule that you can apply. If the NCAA wants a rule for “fake tags”, they will make one. As of 2015 it does not exist in the rules. It is legal! From a training standpoint for CBCBUA and in an effort to create consistency please do not state that any umpire is 100% justified in ruling this as obstruction based on the 2 rules stated. This only results in confusion and ultimately problems throughout our association. We need to work together consistently on all and every game.

        • William Reuter says:

          Using your Logic what would you do in this case where the play starts with R-1/No Outs? R-1 Breaks on the pitch (Hit & Run is on). R-1, Head Down, barreling toward 2nd base, fails to see the batter hit a short fly ball to F-9. The shortstop heads toward 2nd and calls to the second baseman TWO, TURN TWO!, and acts like he’s receiving a throw chest high (No Fake Tag). The Base Coaches are yelling BACK, BACK! but R-1 slides into second in an attempt to attain second base, and now is easily doubled up at 1st base by a throw from the right fielder who caught the fly ball.

          The question is not whether you CAN call obstruction but rather would you be RIGHT by Rule (and as the rule has been interpreted and is applied) to do so.

          Another good principle would be to not ask a question if you might not like the answer.
          THIS DOES NOT MEAN DO NOT ASK QUESTIONS! If I am CERTAIN of a Rule I will argue it vociferously. It does seem you’re NOT certain—Hence the question. You got an opinion from Dennis. Apparently disagree. Feel free to get an opinion from our Rules Interpreter, Buzz Albert, and if necessary from Jim Poranto. The consensus will head you in the right direction regardless if you agree or not you’ll have the accepted ruling. And of course you can submit your theory to the NCAA for consideration for a Rule or Interpretation Change. The 1st thing is to “Find Out”: Congratulations on exploring this. Second and most important is that we ALL use the same correct ruling.

      • Matt Beaver says:

        Instead of focusing on the whole idea of a fake tag specifically, my suggestion is to simply consider the main concept behind obstruction, which is whether or not the fielder hinders or impedes the progress of the runner without that baseball. In my experience, an actual attempt of a tag (and not the “deke”, a la the whole Lonnie Smith in the ’91 World Series Game 7) without the ball is extremely rare in a college environment. Should it happen, just ask yourself whether or not the aforementioned fake tag hindered or impeded the progress of that base runner. If it did, then bang the guy for obstruction, and then when the manager comes out, DO NOT mention the fake tag at all. Rather, just tell him “Your guy was in the runner’s way and he didn’t have the ball. That’s why I called obstruction”, or something like that. That completely covers you, BY RULE, should the extremely rare instance of an ACTUAL fake tag happen in a game. Of course, said fake tag could occur and the base runner’s progress NOT be impeded, in which case, BY RULE, it’s not obstruction. It IS, of course, idiotic, and you and your partner should then keep your eyes open for some sort of retaliation because, while a standard deke has been an accepted form of gamesmanship (and arguably won the Twins the ’91 World Title; YouTube “Lonnie Smith 1991 World Series” to see the Twins execute the perfect deke on Smith) since before Custer’s Last Stand, an actual fake tag is not looked upon quite as favorably (it’s akin to, for instance, a retired batter-runner, while returning to the 3rd base dugout, actually cutting across the pitcher’s mound, i.e. bad form), which is one of the main reasons it’s not seen very often. I commend you for using this forum to ask your question.

  10. Robert Brown says:


    The 2017 annual meeting will be held at the Red Lion Inn in Harrisburg during the weekend of February 10-12, 2017. Friday evening is just a check-in night if you choose to stay over that night, so that you are fresh and ready to go on Saturday morning. More information will follow in the coming months.

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