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Discussion: Net for Pitchers

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April 30, 2020
L
80 posts
Net for Pitchers
I know that some leagues and one current organization is using the net. And I know that the rule is if you hit the net it is a foul ball and on third strike it is an out. My question is if the pitcher is outside of the net and the ball hits it why is it a foul ball because he is taking a place to play defense so why should the ball that hits the net not be a fair ball and be in play? The net is in place to protect the pitcher not to take away the chance for a hit even though I try not to hit the middle. If the ball goes foul off of the net then it would be a strike on third it would be an out. The catcher would be involved because if the ball hits net and bounces towards home he would be making plays also.
April 30, 2020
DieselDan
Men's 70
377 posts
I've always felt hitting the net should just be a dead ball.
April 30, 2020
Bob21
34 posts
The screen is optional in our Omaha league. If used, the pitcher must stay behind it until the ball is hit, otherwise it's an unfair advantage. Any hit ball hitting the screen is a dead ball, no matter what the count is. The screen is a pain in the rear when trying to gun a runner out at the plate. Any thrown ball hitting it during play is a live ball.
April 30, 2020
OZ40
524 posts
They are optional in our league. Batted balls hitting the net/screen are treated as foul balls, hit it on the 3rd strike and you're out. Pitcher must be completely behind the screen after the ball is pitched, he may then move from behind it to make a play on a batted ball.
April 30, 2020
SSUSA Staff
2840 posts
As you may know, SSUSA rules do not provide for Pitcher Screen devices, so there is no guidance in our Rulebook ... However, many leagues we sanction do have local rules modifications on this topic ... The most common rules structure we see is pretty simple to document and enforce ... Generally, the following three are the most frequent ...

• The Pitcher must stay behind the screen until the ball is put in play by the batter ... Leagues vary on whether or not he must stay behind the screen until the batted ball passes the screen ...
• Any batted ball striking the screen is a dead ball foul ball, regardless of the count ... If there are two strikes (and no courtesy foul available) the batter is out ...
• Any thrown ball striking the screen is a live ball and the result of the play stands ...

April 30, 2020
L
80 posts
I still think that if the screen is used that the pitcher should not be able to play defense as that is still adding to the defense and taking away from the offense and if he is playing defense the screen should be part of the field of play and not a defensive help.
April 30, 2020
Omar Khayyam
1325 posts
This is my 20th year of pitching with a mandated pitcher screen protection rule. Our league probably has more experience than most since we play 2-3 games per week and often 6 games on a Saturday in winter. Here are my observations about the screen in response to questions above:

Screen is not optional in our league. Been mandated since a pitcher was plunked in the chest and the ER doctor said it could have been fatal.

Any batted ball hitting the screen is a dead ball. Some, including myself, believe it should be a dead ball and a strike, but majority disagrees.

Pitcher does not have to stand behind the screen at any time, but most do once releasing the pitch. Pitcher is allowed to field any ball. This lessens the protection of the screen, particularly a ricocheting ball, but lots of pitchers want to defend (and take their lumps at times).

Any thrown ball on a play that hits the screen is a live ball. This happens very, very rarely. Maybe once or twice a year in the 100 games I play. That is once every 700 innings or 2100 outs or about 2500 batted balls.

Balls hitting our screen (more properly a net) do not bounce very far anywhere. Some stick in the netting, rolling to the bottom; many bounce back a foot or so; those hitting the frame of the netting—watch out! Could go anywhere (which is why we play it like a dead ball).

Hitting the screen/net three times in one turn at bat has happened maybe once in my 20 years, 10,000+ innings. It is a bit more common, especially for middle hitters, to hit it twice in one at bat. This happens maybe once a month.

P.S. Masks are optional for the pitcher because of the screen.





May 1, 2020
B.J.
697 posts
omar.. last winter our top division of play made screens mandatory because of a rash of injuries 1 serious..

after the release of the pitch the pitcher must step totally behind the screen but then they are allowed to step/reach out to field a batted ball.. a pitcher who doesn't step behind the screen is issued 1 warning and if he is caught a 2nd time not stepping behind the screen he is removed from the pithcing position..

my question is that you say in your league the screen must used but the pitcher does not have to stand behind the screen at any time.. then why make the screen mandatory if they aren't using it?
May 1, 2020
L
80 posts
Like BJ said if the pitcher is able to play defense then why have the screen. But if he is able to play defense then a ball that hits the net should be a live ball. If the pitcher stays behind the screen for which it was intended for the the ball should be a foul ball and a strike.

May 1, 2020
E6 in AZ
Men's 50
91 posts
Minimize the protective netting, say to 18" wide (2 ft max)and 6 1/2 feet tall.
It will still do the job, with the pitcher mandated to be behind it.
I do not agree with the two strikes and a ball striking this net off the bat being an out; it's a ball hit up the middle and most likely gets through for a single. Dead ball, the hitter shouldn't be penalized for this.
I understand player safety is paramount, this is a start.
Stay safe, stay strong and stay healthy.
E6inAZ out
May 1, 2020
Omar Khayyam
1325 posts
B. J. Excellent question about potentially futile mandatory screens. I think it was a compromise between those who disliked the screen and those who wanted the screen for every pitch. Those who don't use the screen effectively are considered fools by the cautious (although not to their face) and those who jump behind the screen every pitch are considered timid by the fearless (although not to their face).

Many pitchers position the edge of the screen halfway over their bodies and deliver the pitch around the screen. Another nice compromise. Personally, having the screen halfway bothers my vision and I also want to be more prepared to field a ball in tournament play and not get used to relaxing after the pitch is released.

The screen was never thought necessary, of course, in the age of wooden bats and less lively balls. I began pitching from the official distance of 37 feet 8 inches! One famous pitcher in our area pitched without a glove—and that was in tournaments, including the world series of softball. I'm not talking about the large softball favored in some parts of the country, but the size we use today.

As the balls got hotter, the pitching distance was moved back to 40 feet, then 42, then 45, then 50 feet, the current distance, primarily for safety of the pitcher. Then came the metal bats; then the composites. Soon we saw mandated masks...and shin guards...and soon I believe it will be chest protectors and screens. All of this safety protection so big boys could hit 350 foot home runs instead of the standard 200-250 feet of the day. And pipsqueaks like me could reach the fence with good hits and even clear some fences in older parks that I couldn't even reach when I was 30 years younger! Ego, my friends, ego.
May 2, 2020
garyheifner
603 posts
I would use the screen anytime it is an option.

For those who say it takes away the pitchers ability to play defense is wrong. The key is not to place it 1 or 2 feet in front of U. Place it 6 to 8 feet in front of the rubber. It protects from the 100 MPH liner and leaves plenty of room to move and catch a liner or field a grounder. It leaves U room cover 1st if needed. If the pitcher is the cut off to home, simply align to the right or left screen and U will have a clean relay throw to home. The relay guys will know where U are. I have been doing this for years and it works great.

A bonus to the screen is I have seen an untold number of hitters who not only have great ability to pull the ball but have learned to hit the opposite field. That includes me. The leagues that I have played in with the screen still require a mask which I believe in.
May 2, 2020
cycleman
Men's 70
14 posts
The closer the screen is to home plate the more balls it will block!!
May 3, 2020
lowprofile
46 posts
How about we just require pitchers wear masks, shin guards and chest protectors? I'm thinking it would be a logistic nightmare for SSUSA to purchase and drag these nets all around, especially to parks that do not have nets available considering how many different tourneys they put on. just a thought, I'm ok either way
May 3, 2020
k man
Men's 65
290 posts
Our local league includes the following regarding use of a net:
1. Net must be at least 46 feet from home plate
2. Net must cover at least 1/2 of the pitching rubber and pitcher must get behind screen upon release but may come out to field on contact.
3. use of screen is optional. One team may use it while another doesn't is time consuming, but our games are untimed.
4. we use the portable screens that slide down into the carry box, on throws from the field, if it hits the screen its a live ball. If it lands in the base of the screen, its a dead ball, runners get 1 base
5. Any batted ball it's a do over, no foul.
May 3, 2020
stick8
1777 posts
In our senior league:
—Screens are optional
—Pitcher must have part of his body behind the screen when attempting to make a play
—Batter hits the screen twice in one at bat is out no matter the count
—Screen has to be centered directly in front of the pitchers mound
—If a defensive throw inadvertently hits the screen, oh well. Live ball
May 3, 2020
Omar Khayyam
1325 posts
lowprofile, most of these screens are extremely portable and not that expensive. They last for years. It would easily be within SSUSA's budget to buy a dozen screens, transport them to tournaments (they would all fit in an average trunk), have the umpire or first team of the day set them up; last losing team of the day takes them down and folds them up. We buy screens about every 7 years (about 1200 games). Screens are coming to tournament play is my prediction. Nothing else is as protective of the pitcher.

Didn't talk about placement of the screen in my league for the last 20 years. The placement has never been legislated! No rule! Some pitchers place it almost on the rubber; some pitch around it; some put it 3 or 4 feet in front of the rubber; some put it off to the side so that no part of the frame extends over the rubber, but usually aligned with the rubber. Never had an argument about giving the batter or pitcher an advantage. I should note that our league is very friendly and there is lots of camaraderie amongst the entire league, not just teams. Net placement might be more contentious in a tournament with strangers playing each other.
May 3, 2020
stick8
1777 posts
Lowprofile, in ssusa sanctioned tournament play all pitchers are required to wear a mask. Any shin guards and any chest protector is considered optional.
House leagues are free to make their own rules on that.
What doesn’t get mentioned is that the pitcher has use of a pitching box10 ft behind the mound. A pitcher can legally pitch anywhere in that box as long as some portion of one foot is inside the pitching box. Being on the line is considered in the box.
I’m not a pitcher but I would be interested to read how pitchers feel being that far back minimizes the risk of getting drilled by a line shot up the middle.
May 6, 2020
coop3636
401 posts
Hey guys
I am a pitcher
We use screens in league, I don't like them but I can understand you need them in league because a lot of people that pitch are NOT pitchers. Its great for older folks to just be out there having fun a few times a week.

In tournaments, it is a different situation. I am STRONGLY against screens. It takes away the defensive part of the game. This is a big part of the game. I have been pitching for over 30 years and have taken my lumps like most pitchers, it is part of the game. I have a glove just like the other fielders. If a person thinks its too dangerous to pitch, the DON'T pitch. It is that easy.
I wear a mask and shin guards and can pitch from way behind the rubber. (FYI, the rubber is the most dangerous thing for a pitcher, get rid of them if you want to be safe)
In league and BP, yes use a screen, in tournaments NO, NO, NO

Please don't change the game more than it has changed already.

just my 2 cents

Brett
TN Connection
May 8, 2020
garyheifner
603 posts
Omar, I like your rules. I will agree with Coop on one point. Get rid of the rubber.

The 2 shots I took off my helmet/face mask happened when I went down for hard grounders and the ball jumped up off the rubber before I could react. Not only could they mark the box with lining material, they have those little nylon flag things to mark where the bases go down when they are grooming the field. Put those in the 4 corners of the box and the pitcher and ump can see if your in the box.

The one I took in my chest/stomach area, even tho I was wearing a protector over
my heart, the ball missed that, came off the rubber. I still have a bubble in that area after 2 years. I have since purchased a full length chest protector to go along with can be best described and a pretty much hockey goalie attire.

The term taking your lumps always bothers me. Like the guy I saw in St. George who took one in the leg and had a compound fracture, or the guy in Milwaukee who took one in the face and shattered his cheek and jaw bone or the guy in Indy who took a one hopper in the nuts and 911ed to the hospital. Are there different levels of lumps?

The one good thing I have seen recently is that a good majority of teams have purchased screens and use them in batting practice. That one out of Florida is around $300 compact and easy to set up and take down. We had each guy kick in $20 and it is still going strong after 5 years. We can't take it on airplane tournaments but I carry it in my trunk to every driving tournament. Takes up very little room.

The screen will be a mute point until we have several catastrophic, GOD FORBID,
injuries.



May 8, 2020
Omar Khayyam
1325 posts
GaryHeifner, I agree completely that the rubber is the most dangerous part of the field for us. Some infielders complain about bad hops, but they are nothing compared to the hop off the rubber and you are already closer to the batter than any infielder.

I am fortunate that most of my games, including the Big League Dreams fields, have artificial turf and a painted rubber. Solves the problem! I have had some rubbers on a dirt infield that is so eroded that I feel like my foot is on a small mountain when I pitch from 50 feet!

As to taking our lumps, I say that and other pitchers say it also, but the injuries to pitchers can be terrible. A friend of mine was hit in the face (wasn't wearing a mask as it was not a sanctioned tourney but a league game) and it rearranged his face—broke his nose, his jaw, his palate, and knocked out several teeth. The ER doctor said he was lucky—that much power on other parts of the head could be fatal! Do shortstops playing 90 feet away ever suffer a compound leg fracture from a batted ball?

I agree with you, pitching screens will be standard when the first fatality or even concussion with little recovery happens. Too bad it will have to be that. Of course, a lot of the danger could be alleviated by returning to an aluminum bat, but too many egos for that, so the screens will come.
May 9, 2020
UMBACH
60 posts
Iam 67 pitch in different leagues all leauges except a few use the pitcher net, the ones that dont only allow single wall bats,a lot of tournament players play in theses leaugues, they are use to it and dont have a problem, the only time they play without is in tournaments ,everyone has tried coming up with a solution to protect the pitcher,penalties if hit up the middle waiver forms , just wear a helmet shin guards, chest protector , try wearing that in extreme heat for a few games,hoping someday some one will try a net tourney and might be shocked by the response, you can say you been pitching for so many years, all it takes is to be hit one time to change everything,stay safe retired from tournament ball till nets are used, thanks stay safe
May 10, 2020
L
80 posts
I pitch for a 70s team if we are to use the net then the pitcher should not be able to field the ball. The net is put there to protect the pitcher so why should he be able to field the ball. If you are going to allow the pitcher to field the middle with the net then it should be a playable ball of the screen you should not be able to have it both ways with the net being a protective device and also a defensive device.
May 10, 2020
L
80 posts
I should have put that he should not be able to field the middle of the field if the net is used except when the screen was hit by a batted ball.
May 10, 2020
stick8
1777 posts
L, that’s the $64,000 question!! Our local senior league has a rule that if you use a screen part of your body must be behind the screen to make a play. That seems to work out pretty well.
May 19, 2020
wbaum
Men's 50
2 posts
Why hasn't anyone ever just made a batted ball, that hits the screen, a dead ball out? Just assume any ball that hits it would have been fielded by the pitcher and an out made. Want to stop players from hitting up the middle? This will cause the batter to think twice about hitting in that direction on purpose. It's slow pitch softball. Hit the ball somewhere else. Put more gear on a pitcher and the batter feels less guilty about hitting up the middle.

Don't make it a dead ball do-over, or foul, giving the batter another chance/mulligan for a better hit. How many times would those balls hitting the screen been outs that are taken away? Without it being an out, what's to stop batters from trying to get as close to the screen as they can for that hit up the middle if there isn't really any detriment, especially if they can have that mulligan, should they end up hitting the screen instead?
May 21, 2020
Parman
Men's 60
26 posts
Nets became mandatory in our leagues last year. However, last year a pitcher on the team we were playing in the last game of the season in the last inning with 2 outs got hit in the mouth by a line drive because he did not get behind the screen. Broken jaw, lost 2 teeth, it was pretty bad. A screen won't protect you if you don't get behind it. As for the argument that the pitcher should be able to field all balls that hit the net, I strongly beg to differ. Yes a weak dribbler will more than likely get fielded but there are a heulluva lot smashes up the middle compared to weak dribblers. The pitcher on my team the year before took 3 off his legs during the season last year. He refused play again unless there was a screen and the league managers voted it in unanimously.
May 21, 2020
L
80 posts
If you are going to use the net then you should have to stand behind the net till the ball either pass the pitcher and net. If a batted ball hits the net then call it a foul ball or dead ball strike. But if you are going to let the pitcher be a fielder then a batted ball that hits the net should be a fair ball and should be a playable ball off the net.
June 3, 2020
maskedman
Men's 55
42 posts
If the game is safer its more fun. If its more fun more people will want to play. screens should be mandatory. Face masks on all infielders should be mandatory. If a batted ball hits the screen it should be an out. If a thrown ball hits the screen it should be treated as throwing the ball out of play, the base you are running to plus 1. If you don't want the pitcher to make plays DONT hit the middle. There should be more defense in the game anyway.
June 3, 2020
E6 in AZ
Men's 50
91 posts
Thought about this,
I agree that pitcher safety is primary, but a ball hit up the middle being an "out" if it strikes the net ?
DISAGREE
Using this school of thought, why don't we just move the pitcher back to 2nd base and hit off a tee ? WEAK
Finally (and I thought about this a lot) ..... safe is not fun ..... want fun and safety ... play horseshoes.
Oh wait, CORNHOLE is taking that game over, cuz' it's edgy and dangerous.
Huh, Jimbo ???
Have a great day amigos.
Stay safe, stay strong, stay healthy
E6inAZ out.
June 4, 2020
L
80 posts
I think that we should go back to the 70s and play unlimited height if it hit behind the plate it was a strike that would give us pitchers a chance to get as far back as we wanted. I don't remember the middle being used as much because you could get back to second base before the ball was able to be hit most of the time. I know that the ball at first was not a lively as it is now and the bats were not that good also because I remember when I first started I used a wood bat it was not till worth and dave carrol and steel came out that changed the game till they went to the rf80s and that toned the game down again so we all want to be safe and where do we start and is there ever going to be an ending?
June 4, 2020
Omar Khayyam
1325 posts
L, I remember that wonderful season! Unlimited height. I pitched a no-hitter. I had numerous multiple-strikeout games. And the batters complained like crazy. Turns out not every player can hit fungo! lol Only lasted one season here and then back to normal and the scores soared again from single digit to multiple digit. Ah, the good old days for pitchers!
June 5, 2020
neck10
680 posts
you can die quicker from a softball to the chest than from covid 19
June 5, 2020
Omar Khayyam
1325 posts
neck10, that is certainly true. However, with 1800 deaths in California in the last three months among people over 50 compared to zero (to my knowledge) of pitchers hit in the chest, it seems you are much more likely to catch the virus and die than die being struck by a batted ball. In addition, I see more and more pitchers wearing chest protectors since it is a legitimate concern.
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