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Discussion: Anyone know the correct ruling on this?

Posted Discussion
May 24, 2004
TexasTransplant
Men's 70
415 posts
Anyone know the correct ruling on this?
Two outs in the fifth inning of a close game. Next batter singles. Following batter also hits an apparent single, leaving runners on first and second. Catcher picks up the bat and tells the umpire its illegal because it has a flat spot. Umpire visually checks the bat and agrees that it has a flat spot and says it can't be used again. Plays is about to resume when catcher (also coach) says the batter is supposed to be out for using an illegal bat.

Bats were visually inspected before first game of tournament. This is second game and there was no further inspection.

No one has a bat ring to verify whether the bat is illegally out of round. All inspections are visual.

Any one know the correct ruling on this? Happened in the SPA qualifier in Tulsa this weekend.
May 24, 2004
MTaylor34
Men's 50
24 posts
My team also played in Tulsa this weekend. We did not have an umpire inspect our bats until our second game on Sunday and all he looked for was that there was no bats on the rack that were on his illegal bat list.

As far as what happened to your team, a bat could have a flat spot and still pass the ring test. The umpires and tournament director should have been prepared with the proper equipment, because we know that these issues will generally come up it a tournament situation.
May 24, 2004
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
597 posts
This is one of those situations where a little common sense goes a long way. First of all if the umpire inspects the bats or specifically states in the plate meeting that dented or altered bats are illegal and shall be declared outs when brought to the plate, then that is what would happen. Now it sounds like the umpire visually inspected the bats which either means that the bat either was slightly dented; the dent was not noticed, or the dent happened after the inspection. Since we are not discussing an illegal bat such as a titanium one, this is more of a safety issue. If it was not discussed specifically at the plate meeting, then disallowing the bat which is basically the warning makes good sense, but not calling the batter out. I know of no advantage to the batter in using a dented bat. I will check the SPA rulebook just to make sure that they do not have a different take on it, but when I check bats, I generally pull the barrel through my hand which reveals dents of any significance. It sounds like the catcher is a crafty veteran looking for an out. I hope that the umpire did not respond to this by following the catcher's take on it. Now if he brings the bat up to hit again, then he is out automatically when he steps into the box with it. It is hard to give up our old friends, our bats. I would bet that the intention of the batter had nothing to do with trying to improve their hit with a dent but trying to keep using a bat that had been good to him. Large dents would pose a safety issue as the bat might shatter or split, but a very small dent does often does not lead us to throwing them away.
May 24, 2004
Mitch
Men's 50
68 posts
That does raise some questions. Let's assume that the ump checks the bats before the start of any game and all are okay. If one is found to be dented "during" the game, as in this case, wouldn't it be fair to assume that in got dented in a previous at bat or even at the current at bat???
Again, if the bats are checked before the game and all are okay, then if one is found to be dented during the game, I would assume that it happened during that game. I would also think that the ump would declare it an illegal bat and not to be used again. The batter should not be called out, "UNLESS" that same bat was used again "after" the ump decleared it illegal and then the batter should be called out. NOTE: These are only my thoughts and not necessarily the rules.
May 24, 2004
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
597 posts
I am looking at the SPA rulebook that I received last year. An illegal bat is one that is 1.20 BPF or less "unless the SPA believes in anyway, shape, or form that a particular bat is dangerous and/or not acceptable for fair and safe play." Also the batter will not enter the batter's box with an illegal or altered bat." Now here is the interesting part. For entering the box with an illegal bat, "The opposing team has the option of taking the result of the play, or the ball is dead, the batter is out, and the base runner may not advance." For entering the box with an altered bat, "The ball is dead, the batter is out, and without warning, is ejected from the game." In the case that originally started this, I would not call the bat illegal or altered and would defer to SPA's call on safety, but if I were the umpire, I would tell the coach that the bat is unacceptable for play. Since I did not discover the bat at the start, then there would be no penalty unless someone tried to bat with it again. I still think that the catcher was trying to fool the umpire into an out for his team like we have probably all tried in the past. As few senior rulebooks as there are in circulation, I feel for the umpires and the teams on the details. Thanks for bringing this up.
May 24, 2004
TexasTransplant
Men's 70
415 posts
I tried to make the original post as neutral as I could to see what the response was. In this case, the umpire, after consulting with the tournament director, called the batter out, which ended the inning.

It seems to me that this interpretation could lead to the somewhat extreme situation where a batter stepped to the plate with a brand new bat, dented it on his first swing, and could then be called out for using an illegal bat.

If the bat in question passed muster one game earlier, it had a maximum of 6-7 more hits on it when it was declared illegal.

Undoubtedly the catcher was into some gamesmanship. I think the umpire got talked into something and may have been remiss in not checking the bats immediately before the second game.

I'm not am umpire and don't have an SPA rule book, but I thought bats were supposed to checked with a bat ring, and not just by feel. I'm pretty sure this bat would have passed a ring test.

I've got to add though, that this guy was a hustling umpire. He was calling the game by himself and did everything possible to be on top of every play. I think that tournaments that rely on one umpire per game put that one person in an almost impossible situation as far as getting everything right. I'd rather see the tournaments lighten up on the awards and use two umps.

May 24, 2004
T.Burk
48 posts
The bat in question wasn't just dented. When it was piocked up by the catcher it was flat on one side approx. 2" wide rinning down the hitting zone6 to 8" long.The catcher asked the umpire, and he was a good umpire, to look at the bat. After inspecting the bat he asked the catcher if he was asking for a ruling on the bat. The catcher said yes. The umpire determined the bat was not legal, called the batter out, and ended the inning. The Dallas team responded the same way I would have responded. Eventually it was handed over to the tournament director who examined the bat, determind it should not have been used, removed it from play and upheld the ruling from the field that declared the batter out. All was prperly done. The Dallas argument stemmed from the fact that bats were not checked every game nor were they checked before the tournament. Nancy as for gamesmenship tag, credit the catcher with a heads up question of the bat and perhaps knowledge of the rules. I witnessed the events that transpired. Neither team was out of line, the field umpire did a great job, and when asked by the team from Dallas he carried his appeal to the tournament director, himself an umpire of long standing. The decision was made based on a flat spot 2" wide and 6-8" long on the hitting surface of the bat and not based on a random dent or ball mark. Each batter is responsoble to make sure he shows up at the plate with a bat that won't cause a problem. Does a flat bat create an advantage. Who knows? But there must be something wrong or the bat wouldn't have been tossed.
May 24, 2004
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
597 posts
ASA is the only association that I have seen encourage the use of the bat ring. We receive one every year with our sanction here. In theory bats should be checked every game, but in the interest of time, this often does not happen. State, nationals, and regionals I check the bats at least the first game a team plays. This is a lot easier with an umpire checking each dugout. I pull the barrel through my hand which should catch anything abnormal. Although it sounds like the umpire and the director worked together, I still believe that if I did not specifically cover a dented bat in the plate meeting that I would give a warning on the incident as this is not something generally covered and disallow the bat at that moment. The catcher definitely got the extra out for his team. I will admit that I have done a little work at times to get the extra out on something somewhat fuzzy.

May 24, 2004
BruceinGa
Men's 60
2617 posts
Let me pose this scenario to Nancy and others: I step up to the plate with a $30 Walmart bat and hit a screamer off the right field fence. I end up with a stand up triple but the catcher examines the bat and finds that it is now a boat paddle. Should the umpire assume that the bat was flat before my at bat? Without anyway to determine if the bat was damaged before the at bat or during the at bat I don't see how the umpire can be justified in calling the batter out.
May 24, 2004
TexasTransplant
Men's 70
415 posts
I guess I might buy the argument that the batter is responsible for bringing a legal bat to the plate. However, the bat had been checked and found to be acceptable the previous game. Seems unlikely that it could have flattened to a degree that made it unacceptable in the 6-7 at bats in between. Calling the batter out seems a little extreme, given the amount of judgement involved in the bat check for the first game, in the umpires judgement after the question was raised in the second game, and that required on the part of the batter to determine that somewhere in those 6-7 swings, the bat became illegal.

By the way, I wasn't the batter. I can't hit the ball hard enough to dent a bat.

We still had a good time. The worst softball I ever played was wonderful.
May 24, 2004
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
597 posts
Bruce, I fondly remember in Alabama how your team got bitten by every obscure NSA rule, and immediately your team had a place in my heart. I think that is along those same lines. An umpire can not assume that the bat was dented before the at bat unless they detected it prior to the hit. I still believe given the circumstances that I have read thus far that there was no reason to do anything but give a warning. If I as an umpire did not notice that the bat was that dented, then how do I know that it was before the hit? Over the years of umpiring I have had a particular Easton bat break in half three times on contact, and the knob came off of a TPS twice causing the rest of the bat to fly away dangerously. Do I tell players that these are illegal on my diamond because of the safety issue? Absolutely not. If I see the dent, the fracture, or the crack before the at bat, then I will do something about it immediately. After the hit the cause of the defect is unknown and should be treated as such. We are not talking about bats that are known illegal "hot" bats or one that is disguised to look like another for the purpose of cheating. We are talking about a once expensive bat that has seen some wear. If a little defect or wear keeps a bat out of a game, how long before they get rid of all of us? Good luck in your travels, Bruce.
May 24, 2004
red
28 posts
This is a judgement call, I agree with not calling the batter out. What I have seen happen is the umps checks bats but someone comes up late or just has not brought their bats out. And then uses an illegal bat. On purpose, hard to tell. I do think, as several players said, if no advantage was gained, just throw the bat out.
May 24, 2004
Mitch
Men's 50
68 posts
I will be willing to bet that the majority of umpires rely on the managers/players intregity to play the game by the rules. I think the real question here is did the batter have any idea that his bat "might" be illegal when he went up to bat? If not, then it's an honest mistake and maybe shouldn't be called out. If so, then obiviously it should be an out.
We, as players, have a responsibility to play by the rules and the umpires have the responsibility to ensure those rules are followed. THERFORE, it only makes sense that "every" player should be somewhat fimiliar with the rules of the assoc. they are playing in. Maybe it's just me, but after 24 years in the military, I'm use to following rules.
Aug. 15, 2004
TexasTransplant
Men's 70
415 posts
I had to resurrect this post. We're back in Tulsa this weekend for the SPA Great Plains Championships. Same umpire as back in May inspects our bats before the first game AND PASSES THE BAT THAT WAS THE SUBJECT OF THE CONTRAVERSY!
Aug. 16, 2004
kdog
Men's 50
13 posts
This is in reply to the question of using a bat with a flat spot. This is really interesting, because just this past weekend, I was playing in a USSSA State tournament, and the umpires checked the bats with a ring, and then marked the end of the bats with a big green "X", they also checked for flat spots and cracks on the end of the bat to ensure that the plug would not come out and also to insure that the cracks didnot protrude upwards. This whole conversation was interesting, because I remember and I am sure alot of other guys remember when the Demarini Classic "97" model came out how hot it was but had a problem with the plug and with hair line cracks at the end. In addition, I saw alot of Demarini bats with flat spots, and they were only removed from play and not able to use again. I had a Demarini with a flat spot, and it was check in the NSA World tournament and I was told that it was unsafe, and not to be used. However, it you swing a bat and it doesn't have a flat spot, that doesn't mean it can't happen anytime, materials fail, just as humans do.
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