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Discussion: Commitment line

Posted Discussion
July 12, 2019
HAT MAN
Men's 40
197 posts
Commitment line
Classification
When in commitment zone can runner retreat at all but still be im zone?
Situation
Player crossed commitment line catcher fields throw and tries to tag runner. Runner back pedals 5 feet then runs around catcher and scores.
I know any tag in zone is a safe call. I know if runner crosses back over commitment line they are out.
What im unsure of is can runner retreat at all within zone?

Why would they do this, I know but it happened. As director I want to make sure correct call was made.
July 13, 2019
titanhd
Men's 50
545 posts
if runner "re-crossed" the commitment line he is out. No "Tags" allowed at Homeplate. Runner would have been safe had he simply allowed himself to be tagged after crossing the commit line.
July 13, 2019
B.J.
589 posts
HAT MAN.. I have never seen this play happen...lol talk about having a "senior moment"

If I had to rule on this I would have called the runner safe.. because the catcher went after the runner who was technically in the NO TAG ZONE and his actions caused the runner to back pedal

I guess Dave should make a determination on this.. it doesn't state that he must not stop/pause or back up .. also there is a mis-print in (c) the word "long" should be longer

1.15 • COMMITMENT LINE
A minimum six (6) foot (1.83 m) commitment line shall be marked across and perpendicular to the foul line and placed thirty feet from home plate. Once a runner has crossed the commitment line he: [a] cannot return to third base; [b]
must continue home; [c] can no long be tagged out by the defensive player; the defensive player must touch the strike zone mat. The ball remains live.
July 13, 2019
mck71
145 posts
So this could be an interesting discussion unless there is a rule that says you can't "almost" tag a runner past the line.

Seems this would be the opposite of when a fielder is chasing a running towards the line with the ball, runner knows that as soon as he is on past the line and gets tagged he is safe so runner hesitates and as fielder is attempting to tag them, they step on or over the line ruling them safe.

So now we have a version from the other direction. Throw home is offline, Catcher believes they can't touch plate/mat before runner touches scoring plate or crosses scoring line and no one is covering home so Catcher thinks "hey, if I chase this runner back across the line because they don't know the rule, I win, he is out!" Just saying it could happen... :-)

I guess the real question BJ is, can the "out of the base path" rule be applied here? Runner has set their path rounding 3rd base online to scoring plate/line, is it still 3 ft on either side of the base path once they cross the commitment line?
July 13, 2019
ju25
Men's 60
203 posts
If your foot touches the commitment line but doesn't cross it, what is the ruling? We had a runner called out because his foot touched the line.
July 13, 2019
ChiPrimeMarty
Men's 60
90 posts
Craziest play I ever saw involved a runner getting caught in a rundown between 3rd base and the commitment line. Running in the direction of home, the last throw went to the catcher who came up the line away from home plate. As the catcher approached, the runner took a step over the commitment line and was tagged by the catcher.

The umpire called the runner out, who then went and sat on the bench.

An argument ensued, and the tournament director was called. After a lengthy discussion, the runner was called safe but was returned to 3rd base because he never touched home.

Seemed like a fair compromise, though I don't know if it was in the rule book. This was about 10 years ago at an SSUSA tournament.
July 13, 2019
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2527 posts
How long did it take you guys to dream up this somewhat improbable "stump the ump" scenario? ... Pretty funny, but here you go ...

HAT MAN - Runner can do about whatever he wants between the commitment line (CL) and scoring plate/line, except slide into them or run over the catcher ... He MAY retreat toward 3B so long as he doesn't re-cross the CL ...
titanhd - Correct in all regards ...
B.J. - Agreed on the "safe" call, but not necessarily for the reason you state ... He's safe because, in the facts given, he simply scored without being improperly tagged or being forced out by a defender possessing the ball while touching the scoring mat ... The only prohibition against back-pedal/retreat moves applies to a batter-runner between home and 1B (See Rule Book §8.3 H. on page 46) ... [Typo noted ... thanks!]
mck71 - Agreed on your "preamble" ... The "out of the base line" theory is a little tricky ... Not in the Rule Book, but I would tend to lean toward ruling it not applicable ... The base line rule is to prevent evading a tag and, in this situation, a tag is prohibited between the CL and home ... The wise base runner move would be the cause the counter-intuitive opposite result by encouraging the tag (safe by rule) rather than evading it ...
ju25 - Lines are "in" as it relates to the batter's box and the scoring line ... A foot "down on or beyond" the line would be considered crossing or re-crossing (depending on which direction he's running) ...
ChiPrimeMarty - "Safe" was the eventual correctly decided call, but it should have been safe at HOME and not by being returned to 3B ... As soon as the runner is improperly tagged and correctly ruled safe, he may go straight to the dugout and does not have to continue to the scoring line/plate ...

Interesting stuff this Saturday morning .. Thanks!

July 13, 2019
Omar Khayyam
1289 posts
This situation is probably rare in SSUSA competition, but it happens all the time in rec leagues and in other associations (for example, Northern California Senior Softball). These are games where last minute additions to the roster can be made when a team is short of guys. In some cases, one new player, in others two or even three players can be added as long as they are on the roster submitted at the start of the tourney or day.

Here is what I see as typical: new guy is asked to play. He looks athletic enough, says he is an O.K. runner, but how are his other skills? You will likely find out what kind of hitter he is in his first couple of bats. But how is he as a fielder? Playing him in right field the first game may prove nothing as a fly ball may not be hit his way, only a couple of grounders that got through the second baseman. Safest place to start him or put him seems to be catcher (wouldn't happened on a major or major plus team—those catchers are very skilled). He is a newbie. He doesn't know the finer points of the rules. So, he sees a guy steaming home and he goes out to tag him...or the throw in is off the plate on the third base side and tagging him seems the best option...or the guy stumbles and falls down past the commit line...etc.

I have had all these things happen over the years with rookie catchers. They are almost always surprised at not getting the out.

P.S. As a pitcher, I am always running home with a rookie catcher, to back him up in case of a missed catch or to step on home and yell for the ball if he starts running toward the runner to tag him!
July 14, 2019
stick8
1697 posts
Hatman, that runner can do damn near anything he wants in the “no tag zone”. Strange as it sounds backing up to try and avoid being tagged is ok as long as he doesn’t cross back over the commit line.
Common sense dictates that since there is no tagging allowed in the no tag zone a runner cannot be called out of the baseline.
Just my $0.02
July 15, 2019
HAT MAN
Men's 40
197 posts
Thanks all
Dave
As silly as it sounds it happened.
We use the ssusa commitment line safety rule at the park im at for all leagues. This case came up in a co ed playoff game. The runner started to retreat being just a few feet from scoring line. The throw to catcher was off line.
My question came into play when discussing the ruling with my umpire after the game. ( I'm the softball director)
You gave me the answer I needed.
As long as not tagged by defense and runner doesn't re cross commitment line or slide they can basically RUN AROUND lol

The only retreat type of call I could ever imagine would be batter/ runner going to first base. That's where the question here came into thought.
Thanks again Dave.

Vinny
July 15, 2019
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2527 posts
No worries, Vinnie ... Just when we think "we've seen it all", we are reminded that is NOT the case! ... Crazy "stuff" happens in this sport! ... a
July 15, 2019
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
1252 posts
Years ago at the Brickyard, one of the best umpires in the state was doing seniors for the first time. I witnessed the runner coming home, and the catcher making the force out. Runner keeps running. Catcher comes off of mat and tags him. Then runner slides into the scoring line. The umpire got it right based on order of precedence (and a little luck for a newbie). Of course the offense wanted to argue about the tag, but the slide made it even more interesting to watch.

Omar, with all due respect, I would never start someone catching in seniors only because it is so important yet different than catching in other softball. He/she needs to know what to do defensively to keep the runs from scoring or to avoid a collision.

Every year at the beginning of softball, there is always that one player that steps on the plate running to be out because they didn't know. I also find it amusing when a player has not used a scoring line before and kind of runs around looking for that outside plate to tag.

Fortunately with experienced seniors, it runs pretty much like clockwork which is beneficial to the umpires...but every once in a while you get one of these odd scenarions.
July 15, 2019
Monty33
3 posts
Just to play devil's advocate....doesnt the rule 1.15 (b) saying "must continue home" imply you cant retreat/backpedal? How can one continue home if they are not going toward home?

1.15 • COMMITMENT LINE
A minimum six (6) foot (1.83 m) commitment line shall be marked across and perpendicular to the foul line and placed thirty feet from home plate. Once a runner has crossed the commitment line he: [a] cannot return to third base; [b]must continue home; [c] can no long be tagged out by the defensive player; the defensive player must touch the strike zone mat. The ball remains live.
July 15, 2019
B.J.
589 posts
monty33...exactly... wording is everything... write a rule so it's "idiot proof" never leave GRAY area so that a player or manager can throw it back at you as in "must continue home" you are correct if a runner backpedals he is certainly not continuing home.. and if you are going to allow it then there should be an exceptions written in the rule
July 15, 2019
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2527 posts
Not so fast, Monty33 and B.J. ... It's unwise to focus solely on the Definition §1.15 • COMMITMENT LINE ... The more appropriate section is on the Rule ... A Rule ALWAYS takes precedence over a Definition if there is a real or imagined inconsistency ...

§8.8 • COMMITMENT LINE
"A commitment line thirty feet from the scoring line or scoring plate will be used. Once a runner's foot touches the ground on or past this line, the runner is committed to advancing to the scoring line or scoring plate and may no longer be tagged out..."
__________

The last time this issue was discussed (a few years ago), it was the specific intention of the Committee NOT to attempt dictating a specific path, or the pace of advance, for the base runner ... What would be your ruling if the runner is "advancing" by a step every 5-10 seconds as opposed to jogging or an all out sprint? ... Maybe he is trying to lure the defender to approach him, then he sprints around him in a race to the strike mat? ... Is he "advancing"? ... You bet! ... But we dismissed placing the word "directly" in the Rule ... It is inappropriate for anyone else to infer the obligation that comes with that word ... Please don't read more into the rule than what is there ... If the base runner wants to run laps back and forth in the "no tag zone" have at it! ... All the defender has to do is wake up and touch the strike mat while in possession of the ball ... The language is fine as is, and heck, we wouldn't have these strange hypothetical situations to type about if we change it now!

July 15, 2019
TimMcElroy
449 posts
Devil's advocate?
The runner must continue home at what speed?
Should the runner be called out for slowing down- or stopping momentarily because he pulled a calf muscle? - or Should the runner be called out for slowing down- or stopping momentarily to avoid an errant throw that was headed toward his noggin?

In my view, adding wording to each and every rule to eliminate possible GRAY areas would result in a rule book that is roughly the size of War and Peace. And let's be clear here- No matter how black & white you or I might see something, there is always another guy who will see it a bit differently.
July 15, 2019
B.J.
589 posts
Dave,
well actually I don't agree with the wording of 8.8 either.. I must interpret/define the rules differently..

you say (If the base runner wants to run laps back and forth in the "no tag zone" have at it!)

well the way the rule is written it says ... Once a runner's foot touches the ground on or past this line, the runner is " COMMITTED TO ADVANCING" to the scoring line or scoring plate ... and the definition of advancing is "moving forward" .. how is that even close to backpedaling or running laps back and forth?

in my OP I said I would call the runner safe because in my judgement (from HATMANS post) it was the actions of the catcher that made the runner stop ADVANCING and back pedal in the NO TAG ZONE

July 15, 2019
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2527 posts
Yep, B.J., ALL that means is his next base destination is Home (scoring line/plate) and NOT 3B, or anywhere on the 3B side of the CL ... It is an error to infer or, worse, conclude, that there is rule language requiring the shortest direct advancement at some theoretical pace that meets your individual desire ... Example: I have about four nightly commute options for my travel 18± miles home from SSUSA ... Two start out by driving away from the "as the crow flies" route, but all have me "advancing" home (like the plate) and not coming back to the office (like 3B) ... Same is true here ...

I agreed with your safe call, but your rationale for same is irrelevant in light of the facts given ... He is safe simply because he [1] was not illegally tagged while between the CL and home OR [2] forced out at home by a defender in possession of the ball while touching the strike mat ... Your theory of safe because of the catcher running him back without tagging him requires the incorrect application of a non-existent route/pace element of "committed to advancing" by rule ...

July 15, 2019
B.J.
589 posts
Tim, I'm not questioning the speed or for a medical issue..

doesn't the rule say "he must continue home" ?

maybe just write the rule correctly the 1st time and BTW the rule book is only about 100 pgs great analogy to W&P ...lol

read below

1.15 • COMMITMENT LINE
A minimum six (6) foot (1.83 m) commitment line shall be marked across and perpendicular to the foul line and placed thirty feet from home plate. Once a runner has crossed the commitment line he:

[a] cannot return to third base;

[b] REMOVE "b" NOT NEEDED... saved you some space

[c] can no long be tagged out by the defensive player; the defensive player must touch the strike zone mat. The ball remains live.

§8.8 • COMMITMENT LINE
"A commitment line thirty feet from the scoring line or scoring plate will be used. Once a runner's foot touches the ground on or past this line, the runner.. (ADD)..(cannot return to third base) and may no longer be tagged out..."

and if you are really worried and want to shorten the rule book then just remove the definition 1.15 it basically says the same thing as the rule
July 15, 2019
B.J.
589 posts
yet you still fail to answer the question and dance around it..

"BACK PEDALING-- or as you wrote "running laps back and forth" how is that.. 1) committed to advancing .. 2)must continue home

bottom line.. the definition of "ADVANCE" in any dictionary is "TO MOVE FORWARD" just the opposite of back pedaling

and the definition of "MUST" is to be obliged or bound to by an imperative requirement


July 15, 2019
Wayne 37
Men's 60
600 posts
I'm trying to figure out why the runner is supposed to be touching home from what I scanned.

Just remember. All the catcher has to do is tag the plate even if the runner starts to retreat. Runner is out and everyone goes home happy...…...or less grumpy.
July 15, 2019
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2527 posts
Wayne 37 ... We agree ... What seems to be the hang-up is that this "what if" exercise ignores the real problem: Finding a mentally competent catcher that will do just that! .. So simple!
__________

B.J. ... Allow me to be more specific ...

• There is NO language in the rule that requires a specific direct, or one-way, path home by a base runner who has passed the CL ...
• There is NO language in the rule that prohibits his movement back toward 3B so long as he does NOT re-cross the CL ... More specifically, the rule defines the EFFECT (he's out) if he does re-cross ... Implicit in that EFFECT is that retreating toward the CL is allowed ... If our intent was otherwise, the rule would be that he is out if he retreats ... That no-retreat rule applies ONLY for a batter-runner between home and 1B ...
• There is NO language in the rule that reqiuires a minimal speed at which the runner must advance toward home ...

It's apparent you do not agree with our interpretation of the rule language as written ... You also appear to be trying to carve out your own interpretation that is inconsistent with ours ... This combination is a recipe for problems ...

This is a lot like a similar issue the Committee addressed a couple of years ago ... Some UIC's were instructing their crews to call "...Batter is out because he touched the white bag during a play on him at first.." ... There is (and was) NO SUCH RULE ... The rule, by design, requires the batter-runner to touch "some portion of the orange bag" on that type of play, but does NOT prohibit simultaneously touching white ... Ringing the guy up because he touched BOTH portions by stepping on the seam between them is NOT a violation, and every umpire who called the batter out was incorrect ... The same theory is present here ... There are a lot of ways to get from point "A" (3B) to point "B" (home), and any/all of them are acceptable so long as the two points are achieved in that order without re-crossing the CL ... Individual umpires imposing additional standards not present in the rule do so at their own peril of automatic reversal if there is a competent Director present ... That should be fairly clear now ...

July 15, 2019
B.J.
589 posts
Dave, thx for your time and all your long explanations of (There is NO language in the rule that requires a specific direct, or one-way, path home by a base runner who has passed the CL) ...

but where I went to school the "language" of .. (the runner is COMMITTED to "ADVANCING" to the scoring line or scoring plate is very specific and means the runner must go FORWARD.. not back pedal

I guesss we will have to agree to disagree..


Dave, ...and on your explanation of UIC'S
(Some UIC's were instructing their crews to call "...Batter is out because he touched the white bag during a play on him at first.." ... There is (and was) NO SUCH RULE)

you are incorrect on that.. the rule was re-worded /amended because of the confusion on the way it was originally worded and how SSUSA wanted it to be called

I'm not sure of the exact year maybe around 2013/2014 it was changed/amended to the below rule but it used to say

(the B/R "MUST TOUCH" the portion of the double bag extending into foul territory) and the rule MADE NO MENTION of the runner being allowed to touch any portion of the white bag. He will be called out if he fails to do so, except, in the umpires judgement the B/R was trying to avoid a collision.

AMENDED RULE ...the word "SOME" was added and also the last line of the rule was added

8.4(1) • BATTER-RUNNER REACHING FIRST BASE
Each batter must reach first base without the aid of a courtesy runner. A double bag shall be used at first base, the double portion of the bag being in foul
territory abutting first base. If there is a play on a batter-runner going to first base, the batter-runner must touch "SOME" portion of the double bag extending into foul territory. He will be called out if he fails to do so, except if, in the umpire's judgment, the batter-runner is avoiding a collision.

NEW VERSION
The batter-runner simultaneously touching both portions of the double bag is permitted.

now the above is a well written rule...no GRAY area...lol
July 16, 2019
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2527 posts
B.J. ... Thanks for (accidentally?) validating my point on this issue by referencing the orange/white bag controversy from a couple years ago ... The Rules Committee had to add what, in my view, was completely unnecessary language because a few "renegades" came to a rather strange conclusion that a simple two-word phrase ("orange bag") should be interpreted, incorrectly, as a three-word phrase ("orange bag ONLY") ... The rule DID require using the orange bag, but did NOT in any manner include language that prohibited contact with the white bag ... They made up a "rule" and then enforced an onerous penalty for it without any support in the rule book ... And, of course, the "poster child" event for the controversy occurred in the World Championship game of the 55-Major+ division! ...

Don't be "THAT GUY" on this one by making up a "rule" that adds a non-existent specific direction/route and/or pace of advancement requirement ... It's really pretty simple ... Read the rule .. Apply the rule as written ... Thanks! ...

July 16, 2019
B.J.
589 posts
Dave, it wasn't by accident and Thank You for making my point even clearer

why would anyone writing a rule for softball where you have hundreds of umpires who read and interpret rules differently .. write the rule so that it can't happen .. and then you won't have to amend it for ALL to understand

remember NOT ALL umpires are privy to what goes on and discussed at your rules sessions that you have.. A perfect example was the old rule 8.4 (1) it SPECIFICALLY SAID that the B/R "MUST TOUCH" the portion of the double bag EXTENDING INTO FOUL TERRITORY.. well no part of the white bag is in FOUL TERRITIORY .. that is why the rule was interpreted differently and you ended up making an EASY FIX adding The batter-runner simultaneously touching both portions of the double bag is permitted.
July 16, 2019
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2527 posts
Stop it B.J. ... This is approaching a high level on the unintended comedy scale ... The actual fact pattern that gave rise to the mis-application of the made-up rule was a batter-runner stomping on the center-line between the bags ... The umpire incorrectly called him out, despite the fact that he performed EXACTLY as the written rule required: touch the orange bag ... No matter how long you try to find it, there is and was NO prohibition against touching the white bag ... The ONLY appropriate out call is IF the runner touched only the white and, in effect, failed to meet his obligation to touch orange ... This was an extensive and somewhat intense discussion in the Committee sessions, but NOBODY there could find a "thou shalt not touch the white bag" rule (because it didn't exist!) ... One of the considered options was to add the word ONLY to the rule so that the formerly incorrect call would be legislated into rules-compliant for the future ... Same theory applies here:

If you think the rule should be amended/changed, then by all means write it up and submit it (NOTE: We specifically ignore Message Board commentary from Rules Committee Agenda consideration) ... But until submitted and considered officially, there is NO basis for you, or anyone else, imposing a non-existent punishable component to how a base runner gets from the CL to the scoring plate/line so long as he does not re-cross the CL ... That's the official interpretation for the period from now through at least the next National Rules Committee sessions ...

July 16, 2019
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
1252 posts
Well, this for fun post cranked way up on the serious level.

However, it reminded me of my dear departed friend that I learned more about umpiring from by NOT doing what he did. I will start with an example. A runner pushes it to 2B. Runner is clearly in contact with the bag when the fielder tags him. His theory was that if the ball beats the runner that they are out without regard to the timing of the tag. Of course the runner would raise a complaint. So my friend would say, "You're out, and you're stupid for trying". So what reminded me of him was the laps thought. I can imagine him calling the game for a travesty of the game if the runner did laps or even danced in that situation. Game over, time for a chili cheese dog (do you have any idea what a mess that makes in a softball bag?). He taught me a lot of what not do. Thanks for the memory.

Yes, neck10, this was your umpire in the famous gate incident.

Even so I miss him but definitely learned from example of what not to do.
July 16, 2019
B.J.
589 posts
Dave.... wow... I didn't mean to upset you... but... maybe you can explain how can a runner again PER THE OLD RULE ...
UMMM .. "that didn't ever exist"
(the double portion of the bag being in "FOUL TERRITORY" abutting first base. the rule said..If there is a play on a batter-runner going to first base, the batter-runner "MUST TOUCH" the portion of the double bag extending into "FOUL TERRITORY" .. AGAIN there was no mention made of him being able to touch the bag (white) that is LOCATED IN FAIR TERRITORY ...

I can't believe that you actually do not understand how an umpire could end up thinking that way with the way the rule "WAS" worded ....

HMMM well someone must have thought my way because YOU CORRECTED IT and made the rule VERY CLEAR and CONCISE

the only point I'm trying to make is that YES the specific wording of a rule is SOMETIMES necessary and sometimes a NOTE or EXCEPTION can be added to the rule so there is no confusion
July 16, 2019
TimMcElroy
449 posts
Everyone made their point now. Let's drop it and move on.
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