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Discussion: Rule interpretation

Posted Discussion
Feb. 26, 2021
franjan
13 posts
Rule interpretation
HI, In our local senior softball league in an attempt to reduce the chance of injury they have what is called "The Run by Rule". This rule allows a runner to avoid a base to the left or right by about 2 feet and continue past the bag another 2 feet. If he beat the throw he will be called safe. In this league runners can be tagged, but it is not required and all outs can be made via the force rule.
This is all in the name of player safety. This is my viewpoint of how as an umpire I would call this play which is not backed up by any written instruction.

There is a close play on a runner advancing to 3rd base. The 3rd baseman is pulled off the bag by the throw, the runner comes directly (did not veer off) into the bag and over runs it (did not make turn towards home, just overran it). Although the runner was able to reverse course and get back to the bag before the 3rd baseman recovered,I would have called the runner out for violating the intent of the run by rule, which is to avoid any collisions by defender and runners.

My fellow umpires do not agree and some say that if he can get back to the bag he should be called safe. Remember this rule is about safety and I see the actions I described as a violation to the intended rule. I told my head umpire that if I face that call in the future I will call the runner out because he did not slide or veer off to avoid a possible collision. If agrued I would encourage an appeal to the league so that this can be resolved in writing. What is you opinion?
Feb. 26, 2021
stick8
1853 posts
Interesting situation. First and foremost I’d have to read the entire written rule and see the play before I make a definitive call.
Going by your description of the rule you might be right in your ruling.
Does it specify anywhere in the rule that a runner advancing to a base MUST go on one side of the bag or the other if there is play at that bag?
If yes, then your call would be right.
If not then going by your description of the play I’m not certain how that runner can be called out for arriving safely at third base when you say the throw pulled the third baseman off the bag.

Feb. 26, 2021
AJC
Men's 60
171 posts
Franjan, our local club also has in place the rule where you can run wide left or right of tue bag depending on where the defensive player is for both day and night play. It is used in night play even tho the majority of players range from 50 - 60 but we do have a few guys who are pushing 70 that come out to play.

As for your question, a player CAN touch the bag as long as the fielder is not postioned there without the risk of being tagged out before he returns to the bag and cannot be called out for touching the bag.

Also if the batter is trying to take 2 or 3 bases and a throw is coming in, he just needs to make a swipe tag motion ( without actually touching the runner ) to make the out.

Feb. 26, 2021
B.J.
825 posts
as stick mentioned the actual wording of the rule is important.. I have a question for you if the rule does say he must veer to the L or R if a play is being made on him to AVOID A COLLISON .. why would you call him out for going to the bag when the fielder was pulled off the bag by the bad throw.. maybe going to the bag avoided the collision with the fielder going after the bad throw? also if the throw pulled the fielder off in the opposite direction then technically there was no longer a play being made on the runner at the base



Feb. 26, 2021
Turning2
Men's 70
71 posts
++ agree with stick8 and BJ, how the rule is written will be the deciding factor on how the call is made, the initial post states “allows” the runner to bypass the bag, not “requires” the runner to bypass the bag. Sometimes I’m guilty of less leniency, so to speak than others, when adhering to the written rule, but I agree that you wouldn’t rule the runner out for running directly to the bag as the rule “allows” the option of bypassing rather than arriving directly on the bag.

I think some of the “rules makers” would greatly benefit by consulting with these guys that have been around for several years to sit in on the meetings when the rules are modified locally for safety and/or other reasons.

The rule modification has safety first at its core, that is a good thing. We’re old guys having fun. We need to come home in one piece so we can spend more time fishing with our grandkids.
Feb. 26, 2021
DCPete
395 posts
Particularly on a play at 3B, the ball is probably coming in behind the runner so he has no idea whether he should veer off or not and to which side. Your call of Out seems exactly wrong, since in your scenario the Runner DID avoid any possibility of a collision. As others mentioned, the Run By rule doesn't say a Runner Must veer off, it's just an option when the fielder is actually on the bag and the Runner Could avoid a collision by veering off. The Runner did absolutely nothing wrong in your scenario and should Never be called out on this play.
Feb. 26, 2021
AJC
Men's 60
171 posts
Gee DC Pete, thats what i was trying to say. Lol.

As usual BJ & Stick are correct. It really comes down to each league and how their rule is written. In ours, there is no penalty for the runner touchs the bag if there is no defender there. If the defender is pulled off the bag the runner should be allowed to step on the bag. The runner as long as he/she does turn towards the next base or plate should be allowed to walk back to that base with no risk of being tagged out.
Feb. 27, 2021
franjan
13 posts
Thanks all for your input. There is no difinitive wording in our run by rule that adequately covers this situation. Using 2nd base as an example it does say that the runner must give himself up or veer off so as not to interfer with a throw to 1st in a double play situation.
when I said the fielder at third was pulled off the bag he actually was on the bag but leaning to his right. He was vulnerable to being run over because the runner hit the bag standing straight up with no attempt to avoid the fielder. With luck I won't see that again. Frank
March 2, 2021
stick8
1853 posts
Franjan based on what you’ve posted here it appears to me (again I’d have to read the rule and see the play) that if the fielder is leaning to the right of the bag the runner has the option of running by the bag on the other side. Or he can stop on the bag on the other side. Question I would have:
Since runners can overrun either side of 2nd or 3rd and not be liable to be tagged out going back to the base would that also be the case if a runner touched the base and ran past it (if they initially avoided a collision)?
March 3, 2021
AJC
Men's 60
171 posts
Stick8, it sounds like we have pretty much the same rules as Franjan. In our league, even tho you can run wide of the bag to avoid a collision it doesn't matter if you touch the bag or run wide as long as you dont make a turn towards the next bag or home plate you can walk back to the bag without the risk of being tagged out.
March 3, 2021
stick8
1853 posts
AJC, many moons ago I played in an indoor winter league which had the same rules. Tagging was allowed and runners had the option of running past the bag. Any turn toward the next base they were liable to be tagged out. At first it was weird but we eventually got used to it. For us it was a great way to keep our swing and throwing active thru the winter to be ready to go for outdoor ball once the season began.
March 12, 2021
Michael Plunkett
Men's 65
27 posts
The Run By Rule that some locals use is the stupidest rule every.
One has to believe only people who have never played would suggest a runner running full speed into second-base to either side of the bag is a good idea. That run hurts people. Infielders are hoping a runner knows what side to go to and the defense throwing the ball to the correct side. That is a false premise. Infielders get wiped-out and hurt because of that rule. It's based upon the idea that an infielder at second wants to stand stationary on the base and throw when in fact no middle infielder making a pivot stands on second and then throws. It restricts the infielders throws and restricts the pivot man at base from taking a throw and making a play by swiping the bag with a foot then moving outside or inside bag to pivot and throw. Again, anyone who's played middle-infield knows making adjustments to throws is part of the game. The Run By Rule assumes too much. And it's not necessary. JUST RUN TO THE BAG. That way every fielder knows where runner is and adjust accordingly as opposed to hoping the runner knows what side they are to be on and the field throws the ball to the correct side. Plus the pivot man is not stationary on touching the bag and moving off of it to pivot and throw. They are catching the ball and moving toward out-field or in-field to pivot and throw to first. No infield stays stationary on a base unless its a force play or tag.
Stupid rule that has hurt more infielders than bad bounces.
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