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Discussion: Ruling on Run Down

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July 16, 2019
STL0
Men's 55
162 posts
Ruling on Run Down
I was playing in a SSUSA tournament this weekend and had a situation occur where I disagree with the umpire's ruling on a play and would like some input from all of the rules gurus on here. I was the runner on first and our batter hit a ground ball to the second basemen who was playing just about in the baseline. The 2nd basemen fielded the ball cleanly and once I saw that, I stopped. As the 2nd baseman approached me to tag me, I retreated a few steps towards first hoping that I could delay the tag enough to where he couldn't turn a double play. When the 2nd baseman went to tag me, I hit the ground and he missed the tag by about 6 inches. He then threw to first too late to make that play and I advanced to second because no one was covering that bag. I was ruled out by the umpire which I accepted at the time because it was pool play and there was one umpire so it's tough to expect him to see what happened from that distance. I learned after the game though that when asked, the umpire said that I was ruled out because a retreated. The only thing that I see in the rule book is in Section 8.3 (H) which deals with Batter/Runner is Out. It states, "When he moves back toward home plate to avoid or delay a tag by a fielder. The ball is dead, the batter-runner is out and all runners return to the base occupied at the time of the pitch. That doesn't seem to apply to the runner on first.

I believe that if the umpire didn't believe that I was tagged, I should have been ruled safe at 2nd base. Let me know what you think.
July 16, 2019
Fuzz
11 posts
As you stated, it's my understanding the runner is allowed to retreat other than toward home plate when running from home plate to first base. SSUSA is good about replying to these situational questions.
July 16, 2019
4040club
Men's 75
11 posts
It would seem this is the same situation as a run down where the base runner is
retreating to avoid the tag.
July 16, 2019
B.J.
603 posts
lmao... Dave, just can't let it go huh !!.. well at least this time there is not a "ridiculous amateur-hour" rule that was written !! ...

and Dave it bothered me all afternoon that not only today but in the past we donít seem to agree on the specific wording of rules

I was working a game early this evening ... young guys ... and there was a close call at first base I called the runner out and the base coach yelled blue it was a tie and ties go to the runner

for some reason right there I realized why we tend to disagree sometimes on the wording of rules.

When I first started as an umpire I went to a few national clinics and many local clinics over my first few years and in every clinic you were basically taught that you are either safe or youíre out .. there are no ties ... a batted ball is either fair or foul and a pitch is either a ball or a strike, legal or illegal. .. all very black-and-white and cut and dry ... so I believe many umpires because of this see calls as either safe or out and batted balls as fair or foul "no gray area"... We also tend to read the rules the same way quite literally..

so when a rule says the runner must touch the bag in FOUL TERRITORY we automatically read it and process it as a runner is not allowed to touch the bag in fair territory because then he can no longer be in foul territory

You being a tournament director and not an umpire apparently do not have that black and white cut and dry approach and do not read the rules as literally as we do
you can just write a rule and assume that when someone reads a rule they will know what you intended to write but didn't!!!
July 16, 2019
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
1259 posts
STL0, when I first started umpiring, I mostly did NSA. They had a rule that said that the runner could not retreat to 1B. We had it happen on one of the games in the B state tournament. That was a long drawn out fight. Our state director ended the argument with the rulebook although did not win the popularity contest. He went to the convention that year and was able to get the rule changed. I also saw one of the best umpires in the state call a runner out because he hit the ground. The catcher didn't tag him, but the umpire said that he was out of the base path. He is a friend of mine, but we never discussed it. The call was against our team and thought was better to let it go. I just never heard of anyone going under the base path.

I can list several rules over the years in different associations that I have worked that I didn't like or got umpires in trouble. Some have been changed. I always enforce rules no matter what my opinion of them is.
July 16, 2019
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2561 posts
HAT MAN - Vinny, you are absolutely correct in your criticism ... I have removed my offensive post, with apologies to B.J. ... As a Director, the frustration of having a small sub-set of umpires who make it up on the fly is what, in my view, contributes to inconsistency in rulings ... That is the hardest thing, other than weather, to overcome in many tournaments ...

B.J. - Let me try a more upbeat response to your orange/white bag argument .. Yes, the orange bag is defined as being in foul and the white bag as being in fair territory, respectively ... However, that is a DEscriptive statement, and not a REstrictive one ... The batter-runner (in either pre- or post-amendment language) IS simply required to touch the orange bag and is NOT prohibited from touching the white ... You will find NO language to the contrary anywhere ... One (orange) is an obligation but the other (white) is NOT a prohibition ...

Here's a pretty fair analogy by comparison ... If you believe that calling a batter-runner out for touching the white bag while simultaneously touching the orange is appropriate, then you would have to also call a batter out for stepping out of the box if his front foot straddles the front line of the batter's box at bat-ball impact, which I hope you wouldn't do ... Absolutely the same theory ... Please don't try to over-think this ... That's where most problems arise! ... Again, read the rule ... Apply the rule literally as written, and make constructive suggestions for improvement to the Rules Committee for consideration during the Convention ...

I'm done on these two, but have at it if you wish!

July 17, 2019
B.J.
603 posts
Dave, no problem, and my apologies also the conversation just got a little heated by both of us trying to make a point

and on your analogy you are 100% correct on the foot having to be "completely" out of the box.. and the rule (7.3) BATTING POSITION that you were speaking of was another rule that had the wording amended several years ago to give that full description of what being out of the box means.. even though Rule 7.6 did already give the same full description
July 17, 2019
lb16
Men's 50
151 posts
STL0 - To answer your question if it wasn't already. I missed the BJ vs Dave exchange. You are correct no penalty for retreating back to 1st to delay or avoid tag. Umpire got this one wrong.
July 17, 2019
STL0
Men's 55
162 posts
I guess I missed some previous dialogue and the question got hijacked :). Thanks for responding lb16. It seems like if that were a rule, you would never have a rundown situation.
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