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Discussion: New Pitcher Rule

Posted Discussion
Nov. 20, 2008
BigLou
26 posts
New Pitcher Rule
Iíve read on here repeatedly about protecting the pitcher and what to do about it
A pitcherís rule/dead ball out/protective screen and so forth. I propose that you let the pitcher/defensive team have a choice.

If the pitcher wants a screen because say the sun is in his eyes or maybe he just canít field the middle very well- then he gets a screen. If the ball hits the screen itís a ÖÖ.DEAD BALL SINGLE. Why should the offensive team/batter be penalized? The defensive team can deal with the problem of the screen being in the way with their throws etc. , after all, itís their choice. And the pitcher is protected.
Big Lou
Nov. 20, 2008
Jawood
Men's 50
794 posts
My question to this is would you want everyone peppering the middle trying to hit the screen?
Nov. 21, 2008
Dirty
Men's 50
1375 posts
The screen is the WORST idea. Why do we want to turn the infield into a miniature golf hole?
Nov. 21, 2008
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
If you get the egos out of the way the easiest way to protect the pitcher, to a certain extent, is playing with an 11th fielder up the middle.

People will howl that we can't change the game, well every rule put in or suggested changes the game. Going from wood bats to aluminum change the game, Demarini changed the game with the double wall bats etc.

From what I can see the biggest objection to a middle fielder is batting averages will go down.
So the question is everyone trying to protect the pitcher or their batting averages????
Nov. 21, 2008
Dirty
Men's 50
1375 posts
Fred, was that rhetorical? We both know this is about guy's wanting to protect themselves. Protect their BA. Protect their capability to hit home runs. Protecting pitchers is faaaaaar down the list for most guys. But it sure does sound noble, now doesn't it? :)

And I still would like someone to tell me how much fussing there will be the first time a throw from third to first hits the screen and an otherwise out batter is safe. Or a throw from CF/2B to home hits the screen and a run is allowed to score.
Nov. 21, 2008
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
611 posts
Now, I know that I have not been around softball as long as many of you, but the only places that I have ever seen any kind of dead ball call on hitting the pitcher was in coach pitch games, such as 8 and under, Special Olympics, or small ball. I only mention the last one because it is not a compliment to be equated with the first two. I guess the 11th fielder would be the pitcher's helper? In these, the batter is not out, but then the pitcher is theirs. If you are trying to hit your own pitcher, that is a whole different problem. In youth and Special Olympics non-coach pitch games, there are no special rules for this, and neither group is always cognizant of what is going on or has the ability to field, hopefully we are.

Screens belong in very recreational leagues, batting practice, and home run derbies only.
Nov. 21, 2008
DQ 8
Men's 50
12 posts
I think that it is really pretty simple. You require the pitcher to wear catchers gear and that is it. If you make it mandatory it takes the whole macho Idon't need a mask and shin guards thing out of the equasion. I have seen guys get hit in the face and I can assure you that it was a life changing event!
Nov. 21, 2008
Tate22
Men's 55
259 posts
I've thought alot about this since watching the Northwest Masters/Goodman Racing pitcher stumbling around in a daze with a bloody mouth after taking a Gekle Builder shot in the first inning in at 50 Majors game in Phoenix. No question, it's friggin' dangerous up the middle with our 50+ reflexes and the equipment in use. As a pitcher in my 40's, I used to welcome middle shots as easy outs. Now I mostly play outfield!

One option that is not mentioned here is to allow each pitcher to use as much protective gear as they want. I believe that is already legal. Soccer shin guards, catcher shin guards, chest protectors, batting helmets, catchers mask. Each of those will protect the pitcher in increasing degrees, with a full catcher/plate umpire set-up being as safe as necessary. This equipment will allow enough movement for the pitcher to field reasonably as well as safely. It works for catchers in baseball trying to catch 100 mph fastballs with foul tips mixed in. If a pitcher doesn't want the protection, it's their choice. Let those that ride decide. With this option, we don't need extra rules that cause confusion and distortion of the game.

The best part of this solution is that we can still hit a ball where it is pitched, not have batting practice equipment on the field, and not put extra players on the field, We can keep using currently approved equipment. Pitcher safety AND game integrity are possible at the same time.

Very few balls hit up the middle are intentionally hit at the pitcher. If I see a big gap in the middle of the outfield I'm trying to hit the center field fence. Mishits happen, but why hit it in the vicinity of a 14" glove that can kill a rally. If a hitter really goes after a pitcher, or threatens to; that's a different issue. Umps discretion to throw out the offender and the team's manager for the rest of a tournament. A couple of ejections and maybe a suspension will clam up the oafs that feel a need to screan "Middle's Open" whenever an opponent hits a ball in the middle of the field.

It's a simple game, let's keep it that way.

Don Newhard
Fornerly Manager of Evolution 50
Now manager of OLR Nighthawks 55
Nov. 21, 2008
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
Tate 22: Have you ever tried pitching wearing all those items you suggested?
Nov. 21, 2008
DQ 8
Men's 50
12 posts
It is called personal protective equipment. It does not matter whether it for work or play the first thing you hear is that it it is cumbersome or uncomfortable. Well so is wearing a cup, but compared to the pain involved with a direct impact the protection seem to be well worth the inconvenience. In industry the first options with regard to safety are to isolate through physical guarding or remove if possible the potential hazard. The last and least effective method of protection is by way of a rule or a procedure. Because we all know that people won't follow the rules or procedures all of the time. So if you want to protect the pitcher put him in the mask and shin guards.
Nov. 21, 2008
DQ 8
Men's 50
12 posts
It is called personal protective equipment. It does not matter whether it for work or play the first thing you hear is that it it is cumbersome or uncomfortable. Well so is wearing a cup, but compared to the pain involved with a direct impact the protection seem to be well worth the inconvenience. In industry the first options with regard to safety are to isolate through physical guarding or remove if possible the potential hazard. The last and least effective method of protection is by way of a rule or a procedure. Because we all know that people won't follow the rules or procedures all of the time. So if you want to protect the pitcher put him in the mask and shin guards.
Nov. 21, 2008
Tate22
Men's 55
259 posts
DQ 8 - I'm with you on the lack of effectiveness of rules to achieve protection.

Fred - I've only gone as far as soccer shin guards, but would consider more if I get back on the mound regularly. It's a trade off, but I'd rather be a little less mobile than disfigured or worse by a shot to the face. I have umpired baseball though, and moved around just fine. A few years ago a 50 Major plus team, I think Master Collision, had a pitcher that used full catchers gear. He fielded just fine up the middle. It can be done.

The protective gear may be a bit cumbersome, but I propose that it is a personal choice for each pitcher. Don't wear it if you feel you don't need it, but don't ask to distort the game with rules that don't really protect the pitcher anyway. A miss hit shot up the middle is still going to hurt somebody. To DQ 8's point, the least effective way to protect is through rules. The current pitcher protection rule is confusing and subject to misinterpretation as we've seen and heard.

Consider the alternatives in human terms. That pitcher I mentioned on Goodman's is as nice a guy as you ever want to meet. The Gekle (great team and good guys) guy didn't hit it at him on purpose, it just happened. But a fraction of an inch or split second difference and he could have been leaving the field on a gurney with an ambulance in the middle of the field. The current rule and the 2'x6' box would not have made a bit of difference. A catchers mask would have, or a softball helmet with a face guard. In those terms, there is no question of what is more effective protection.

Just my opinion, but closing the middle is not the answer, either by rule or with a screen.

Regards;
Don Newhard
Nov. 21, 2008
the wood
1079 posts
Don, while I would usually hate to admit this, I agree with everything that you said... it is dangerous... let's not screw up the game with erector stes on the field... most balls up the middle are not meant to cause harm... it could have been nastier in AZ... make the equipment available but not mandatory.
I would add that in certain isolated conditions, using the screen in pre-season games makes sense... such as the setting/rising sun in Menifee or any other location that blinds the pitcher. But make it optional... agreement between the managers before/during the game.
Years ago I tried to use an athletic cup and it bothered me big time. Every time that I slid or dove it seemed to cause ill effects. I figured that I'd be sliding 4-5 times per weekend and would be hit below the belt once in a blue mood. That was essentially correct but the time that it did occur was defintely more painful than necessary... but I stood by the decision that I knowingly made. It seems to me that this is no different... pitchers and infielders can make their own informed decisions and we can continue to play the game that we have always enjoyed.
BW
Nov. 21, 2008
bashbro1
Men's 60
266 posts
ďBuild a field of screens and they will comeĒ?

How about that title for a softball movie sequel ďSenior SoftballĒ style:

Well, Iím all for having protection during the course of any senior softball ball game. How about letís provide a ball catcher screen rooted equidistance between the pitcherís rubber and the strike mat that captures those dangerous missiles up the middle before they do any physical harm. Rule# 3.1.4.2.6: ďAny batted ball making contact with the this apparatus will be an automatic dead ball -out-ď for the batter and runners advance one base, unless the bases are loaded and then no runner is allowed to advance. A skill batter should be able to easily negotiate up and over or around this safety device. The net will be in play for any thrown balls by the defense so try and make accurate throws especially from the outfield, use a relay system.

The net shall be 6 feet high so if the pitcher hits the net itís a ball on the batter. I would also propose a screen be placed behind the 1st base bag during the course of the game to protect the coach especially during in field warm up. Iíve seen some nasty lumps on those coaches heads from errant throws by infielders warming up between innings.

I know for a fact that some of the high school girlís fast pitch teams in the USA and other local leagues are now requiring all of the infielders to wear protective masks. I propose that it may not be unreasonable to place protective screens in front of our 3rd and 1st basemanís in senior softball. Whatís wrong with that I may ask? So any batted ball that lodges in the nets must be ďfishedĒ out by the defenseman and then has to make the throwÖ.Hence the title of this idiotic threadÖĒ Build a field of screens and they will comeĒ?

Yes, I have photos of my proposals:
Paste in this link to see my proposal photos: http://www.bashbro1nwseniorsoftball.com/id180.html
Nov. 21, 2008
stick8
1283 posts
Tate22 I was the one who accidently hit that pitcher from NW Legends. I wasn't even using a U2, it was a Jeff Hall Worth Mayhem. I saw him the next day and other than the 13 stitches he received, he was fine which I thank God for.
Reading your post about pitcher safety I agree with almost all of it. I still play U-trip with the "kids" and every year I see more and more pitchers wearing protective gear. Face shields, chin guards, etc are fast becoming the norm. I don't think the associations should make it mandatory to do so but it's smart for pitchers to do so on their own. I don't like the rule about hitting the pitcher being an out. To me hitting the middle is part of the game and a rule like that takes away from the game. Even though there are a few select idiots who want to drill a pitcher, 99% of the time middle shots are designed to get by the pitcher. Unfortunately pitchers do get struck and it's just part of the territory. If they're wearing protective gear then the risk of injury will be greatly reduced. jmho
Nov. 21, 2008
Tate22
Men's 55
259 posts
Stick 8 - Back at ya, I agree with and appreciate all of your comments. Rather than screw up the game, let individuals decide how best to protect themselves. I knew it was a total accident on that play, because I know you and your team play the game the right way. I do think, however, a couple of your guys could hit it 350'+ with a wooden Big Daddy bat!! lol We played you twice in Vegas and if we'd taken care of business against Northwest in the morning in Phoenix that would have been us (Evolution) plyaing you in that game instead of Northwest. shoulda woulda coulda!

Here's hoping we stop legislating the game to death and rely on common sense instead of unenforceable and ineffective rules. Good luck in the coming season.

Don Newhard
Nov. 21, 2008
BigLou
26 posts
The screen would be optional. One side may use it and the other doesnít necessarily have to. Therefore if you choose to use it you must deal with the problem of throws from the outfield or across the infield. Itís your problem. You choose to have it. The other team is not going to be penalized because you choose to have a screen. Itís a dead ball single and everyone advances one base. Why does everyone want to penalize the batter when the pitcher canít field it?

The current rule is ridiculous. It penalizes the batter for hitting a fair ball hard and does nothing to protect the pitcher. The screen would be a detriment to the defensive team, which makes more sense since it is their player who cannot catch the ball and needs to be protected. They would be the one potentially penalized for their lack of defense.
Nov. 21, 2008
curty
Men's 60
103 posts
i'm an infielder and some of the shots i get are HOT even at the extra distance! I would like to see pitchers be able to pitch from any distance, with in the frame of the mound. This would allow him to become an extra fielder hence more protection and discourage the middle shooter. Playing u-trip and pitching for the last 10 or so years has taught me to take advantage of the extra distance-- even before it was legal. we are not as mobile as when we were younger and the equipment is better, so the ground ball has become an effective offensive weapon anyway. Why not plug the holes a little bit?
Nov. 22, 2008
stick8
1283 posts
Don, thanks for the props. I remember you guys from Vegas. As I recall we played twice and run ruled each other. I recall watching many a home run leave the park.Your one pitcher must be 6-9!!
Yes we do have a couple guys that can pound it with a tree branch. Woldyk is amazing. I've never seen a guy with such bat speed. The balls he mishits go 350!!
I still play utrip with the "kids' and as far as hitting the middle, it's kind of an unwritten rule around here (Detroit) that we don't do it in league play. But on weekend tournaments where more is at stake, the middle is fair game. Pitchers have to be ready and wearing equipment is essential with the way the bats and balls are these days. If one chooses to pay $50 for a face shield as opposed to getting mashed in the face and pay thousands of dollars in medical bills I know which route I'd take. In my two years in Senior ball (last year I played M+ for Motown Stars) I've noticed there really aren't that many middle shots. Could be because if the hr rule or using the U2, players like to swing for the fences. Why they instituted that rule I'm unclear. I just think it's a bad rule and takes away from the game. Not everyone hit's it 350!!
Nov. 22, 2008
Proudtex40
57 posts
I've played softball for over 35 years. Since turning 50 (in 2003) I've played with a couple of great Major Plus teams and I've had the privledge of playing with some great players (such as Clatter) and I absolutely agree that our reaction time slows as the years go by, but I hate to see the game change with so many "new" rules. The most disturbing one is the various recommendations to protect the pitcher. Although I agree 100% that the pitcher (as we age) needs additional protection if I were King for a day and could make various rule changes they would be as follow:

- - Single wall bats only
- - Decent balls (47 core)

As a pitcher (which I am in a young league) if I were concerned about the shots back at me I would wear a mask and shin guards (which some already wear as protection.) I know I'm only dreaming with my input here because of the money tied up in bats, but again I hate to see so many changes just to allow the use of high dollar bats. Best of luck to you all.
Steve Shannon
Nov. 22, 2008
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
Hey Steve,
How you doin'?
I miss seeing and playing against you
you major plus monster
and you, sir,
have put your finger on the whole of it.
It's when they, whoever they are and aren't,
started dumbing down the balls from that good 525 x 47 core ball
to something less that all the trouble started.
Then guys felt they needed some insurance against TD's and manufacturers
who were giving us lesser balls and started wanting to alter or look for better bats.
It's because the primary satisfaction of playing this game
comes from being able to hit well/drive the ball
and we should and will bury all those
who try to take that fundamentally good bat/ball combo from us.
Happy Holidays, Steve.
Hope to see you down the road.
Nov. 22, 2008
Gary Heifner
248 posts
I agree with adding the 11th defender. Not only will it really discourage hitting the middle, it will allow one more teammate the opportunity to play. However, as I mentioned to Dave Dowell, if they allow the 11th defender, he must have both feet in the dirt and be between the SS and 2nd baseman until a pitched ball is struck. If you don't have this rule, teams with very quick shortstops and 2nd basemen, might try and play with 5 outfielders which would definately encourage hitting the middle.
Nov. 22, 2008
BigLou
26 posts
Gary,
What about the other infielders? Would they all be required to play on the dirt too? Could the shortstop be in shallow left 20feet on the grass? 10 feet on the grass?

Why all the fuss about protecting the pitcher? He can start pitching from 56 feet back. And after he lets the pitch go he can back up easily anywhere from 6 to 9 feet with 2 or 3 steps. This puts him at over 60 to 65 feet with a glove.

I would much rather be 60 to 65 feet away with a glove than to be a runner on 1st or 3rd with no glove.

Get rid of the existing rule. Allow a screen at the pitchers discretion if they really feel unsafe and their penalty for using it would be a dead ball SINGLE and the ensuing defensive problems with it on the field. My guess is you would rarely see it used, perhaps in only severe sun situations. Which would be good.

In this case the pitcher would really be protected. The existing rule does nothing to protect the pitcher
Nov. 23, 2008
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
Gary: Good point. I am not crazy about that idea but could live with it.

BigLou: It depends on your style of pitching wheither you can back up or not. When I pitch all my momentum is forward so it is hard to stop change direction before the ball is back at you.

Question for all the critics of an 11th fielder. Have you ever played with 11.

Outside of the idea that it changes the game what is the downside of it except some batting averages will go down.
Nov. 23, 2008
DCPete
234 posts
We play in an 11-man league and while the extra fielder can discourage a batter from hitting up the middle, it does NOTHING to protect the pitcher when a ball is hit in his direction.
The DBO rule is clearly a mistake also since it doesn't "protect" the pitcher either, it just penalizes the hitter. Our pitcher got hit in his bare hand at the Winter Nationals and had to come out of the game and the batter wasn't even ruled Out since the umpire decided our pitcher was out of the box (as if the ump could really tell).
The hitters won't like this, but the easiest way to give the pitchers extra protection is to raise the arc limit.
Nov. 23, 2008
BigLou
26 posts
He Fred ,

Iíve seen many pitchers (in the 50ís and 55ís) pitch and back up. Do you think this is something you could learn to do? I donít mean this disparagingly at all. Maybe as we get older itís harder to do. If not would you be OK with a screen to protect you with no penalty to the batter?

DC Pete makes a good point about the rule doing nothing to actually protect the pitcher from injury. Maybe a higher arc to allow the pitchers in the older (60 and above) divisions to get back would be a good idea.

But again the most vulnerable players out there are the base runners who have no special equipment(like gloves) or rules to protect themselves.

To me the pitcherís rule is a joke. Again youíre penalizing hitters because someone canít field at the level they wish to play at.
Nov. 23, 2008
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
I tried it. It interferes with my control. My pitching motion follows through is like a MLB pitcher and I end up with my whole body moving forward the plate. I have tried standing still and pitch and with that delivery I can move back but I lose a lot of my control.

I didn't really worry about the ball coming back at me as I had enough control to keep it out of that area, unless the batter wanted to hit it back on purpose, till around last August/Sept when I started to develop Neuropathy in my pitching hand. My tournament pitching days are probably over but can still pitch in Rec league play.
Nov. 23, 2008
firebird380hp
Men's 50
81 posts
I still say let the pitcher pitch from whatever distance he wants...or either wear protective gear. I mean if you add another infielder thats still not going to stop the pitcher from getting knocked off the mound.And after he's been hit the damage has been done even if you have 10 infielders.I can only answer for me but I like the game the way it is hot bats and all I would just like the option to pitch from where I want.That way I would pitch and not have to backup,just get set! I played htis past weekend where they used a screen and that thing will get someone hurt it gives you a false sence of security and you fine yourselve with your guard down.
Nov. 23, 2008
Dirty
Men's 50
1375 posts
firebird, please clarify. Pitching from wherever the pitcher wants is not how the game is. So you would be making a very fundamental change right there. And it would be to accommodate the special bats.
Nov. 23, 2008
firebird380hp
Men's 50
81 posts
well right now you have to be at least what is it 50' to 56'.what I mean is you can pitch from 50' if you feel comfortable but if not you can pitch from 65' if you can mantain the correct arc. Like most ptichers anyway cover second once they pitch anyway.That way you would'nt have to back step as much.I believe I could pitch form say 60' and still maintain arc and strikes.And if you can't pitch from farther back they have the option to wear whatever they want.This past weekend we were in a young guy tourney and ended up having to play on a baseball field and it had the raised mound.So they used a screen.Once you pitched and start to backup to get set you foind yourselve going up hill and maybe off balance thats when you get hurt.I had to pitch with the screen there and imo only it's not for me it bothered me a lot.
Nov. 23, 2008
Proudtex40
57 posts
Hey Joe, I took the last two years off, but I may be back on someone's team next year. I've spent most of the last two years riding my Harley and more importantly spending time with my two grand babies. I did play in a local league in the fall and actually surprised the young guys with some hitting skills. It's interesting how my reaction time has slowed down, but the stick seems to keep on working well. I took some shots back up the middle, but made most of the plays most of the time. Not sure where I'll be playing next year since there are only a couple of 50 or 55 Major Plus teams in this area, but I'll try to hook up some where. I would have no problem playing Major ball and will keep that option open as well. Take care and I look forward to seeing you next year. I would also like to meet a bunch of the other gents I see on this site and I'm sure you know who they are and can introduce me to them. See you around.
Steve Shannon
Nov. 24, 2008
DQ 8
Men's 50
12 posts
If it isn't required most guys won't wear the gear. If the equipment isn't required people will continue to get hurt and the debate will go on and on. After something catastrophic happens some action will probably take place and it will probably be the removal of the high performance bats. So if you want to keep the bats we need to do something soon. Just for the record we played 50 Major + at Winter Nationals and some of the shots that I saw hit up the middle were pretty scarey. The pitcher protection rule did nothing to discourage people from hitting the middle. JMO.
Nov. 25, 2008
stick8
1283 posts
IMO the pitching rule is dumb and should be removed. The rule doesn't protect the pitcher, it penalizes the batter. Not that I agree with it, but the true meaning of a rule designed to "protect" the pitcher, would be to either put a screen in front of him or mandate that pitchers must wear protective gear.
Nov. 25, 2008
BigLou
26 posts
Stick8,
You donít need to protect ALL pitchers. Some pitchers donít need protection (at least nothing more than a glove) and would object vehemently to a screen. They want to get the batter out. They want to turn two.

For others their game may have left them or they havenít been able to adapt by backing up, or being able to pitch with whatever protective gear is available today. For them and their team- the screen- and all the defensive problems it brings. You donít penalize the other team/batter.

The screen just like other equipment would be voluntary. And if you hit the screen no penalty to the batter. Dead ball out single.
Nov. 25, 2008
BigLou
26 posts
Sorry,
Last sentence should be -dead ball single.
Nov. 25, 2008
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
611 posts
First I do not agree with a screen in competitive play, but if it was the rule as a choice, and one team wanted it and the other did not, how much time do you think would be wasted putting the screen out there and then taking it down each inning? I can just hear a player fussing to me, "They are taking too long to put the screen up intentionally to run out the clock." Let's leave the game alone, or we will be hitting off of a tee next. Less is more when it comes to rules, and a little common sense goes a long way.
Nov. 25, 2008
Lecak
Men's 55
1007 posts
I had a lot of time on my hands this past weekend in Vegas and made a point to watch some games. Game situations and men on 1B. Time after time I witnessed poorly exceuted swings through the center of the diamond and next thing you know double play. 50 year old and up with no clue where they are hitting it nor aware of the situation. How many of you are in the field and witness your pitcher pull your defense out of an inning and completely change momentum. I'll turn Dirty's thoughts up side down how about some more BP also and use the whole field. How many of you don't hit middle in BP and then in the game execute something you don't even practice.
Nov. 25, 2008
stick8
1283 posts
Big Lou, the screen makes no sense to me. I agree most pitchers do want to field the middle and turn a dp but if father time has caught up to them then for the betterement they should either invest in protective equipment or not pitch. Hitting the middle is part of the game and adopting special rules just for that takes away from the game.
I happened to accidently hit a pitcher in Phoenix ( using a Worth Mayhem). Dead ball out. 13 stitches later I wouldn't exactly aay that pitcher was "protected".
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