Little League 60'. The answer might be different from Minors to Majors or at tournament time. But I was pondering a play I had several years ago, and I wondered what you would if.......
Sitch: R2. B3 singles to LF. Coach waves R2 home. It's a great throw home! The ball comes in on a rope just before the sliding runner. There's a cloud of dust, and this is what you see: R2 has knocked the feet out from under F2 who has fallen on top of R2's body. The ball is not in the mitt--it's 3" away on the ground. R2's foot is 6" short of the plate.
I'll let you fill in the rest of the "what ifs", because a lot more could (and did) happen; but given any of the possibilities, what would might you call?
I'm not calling anything yet, there is no tag and the runner hasn't reached home.
Sounds like there wasn't any obstruction and assuming the slide wasn't head first contact with the catcher is allowed.
So to me, the ball is still live and the call depends on whether or not the runner is tagged before reaching home plate (unless something crazy happens like the runner intentionally kicks or slaps the ball or the catcher holds on to the runner while the pitcher runs over and picks up the ball and tags the runner).
So, what happened?
Talk about "forever"!
The catcher got up and didn't know he didn't have the ball. The runner just lay there clueless! The whole place was waiting for a call. The whole thing seemed to take forever!
The catcher finally found the ball, and fell on his duff as his feet flew out from under him. (He slipped on home plate.)
Finally he picked up the ball.....and waited! Somebody said "Tag him!" which he did! For which I ruled out.
3B coach (manger) went high PRF! As did his vast fan base. For the reasons you pointed out, Lou, I did NOT have OBS, I DID have a legal slide, albeit the proximate cause of the pileup. I had a runner who had not yet touched home, and I had a clueless klutz for a catcher.
Manager became a pedestrian. A fan yelled out, "I have been umpiring for 30 years, and...." So I said, "Man! You must be tired! Take a break! Get a cup of coffee!" :-)
Assitant coach--who became acting manager after the ejection--argued another call. "Ump! You're wong!" Bango! That team refused to take the field, so I obligingly arranged a forfeit for them. The report took 6 pages and was provided at the manager's hearing. (Suspended 2 games).
Sounds like only one team was paying attention, and however klutzy the catcher might have been, he at least responded. I can't imagine being the running and not reaching to touch the plate when I hear someone yell "TAG HIM!" That runner owes the manager a snowcone, and the manager owes his players and fans an apology for not MANAGING!
Mike - If I saw the play today as you describe it, I would probably make a call of obstruction unless I had evidence that the catcher had the ball in his possession before contact was made with R2. Otherwise I have evidence that the catcher was not in possession of the ball (3" away) and I would have to give serious consideration that the force of knocking the catchers feet from under him was enough to make his slide stop short. I know you said the original play took place several years ago so the LL rule in place at that time regarding obstruction may have been correct as you called it so I am not arguing how you called it. I am just looking at the rule as it is today in LL, the catcher cannot block the path without possession of the ball. If the catcher got knocked over and he didn't have possession of the ball, then he obstructed the runner and I would award the runner home (score).
Mike, per the original post, "The ball comes in on a rope just before the sliding runner." What is LL's written rule today? I know in the past it had included "in the act of receiving" the throw. Based on your assessment, if the throw beats him, but he muffs it, the runner is automatically awarded home if he is impeded, per OBS. But based on what I read in the OP, I would assume the catcher caught the ball, but lost posession during the collision, so I see a legal slide, legal positioning by the catcher, and a runner that should have been more aware and touched home at some point.
Brad----to your question:
Back for the 2003 season, and going forward currently, LL Inc. changed the wording in Rule 7.06(b) Note 2--- to: "If the defensive player blocks the base (plate) or base line clearly without possession of the ball, obstruction shall be called. The runner is safe and a delayed dead ball shall be called."
[Not saying it applies to the case at hand because it's not known to us (for sure) if the catcher actually caught the ball and lost it via the collision.]
Anywhere in LL print where ....."in the act of receiving the throw/ball " appeared, was no longer the case. In effect, negated.
Wow, LL really screwed this rule up... So they took a play that would actually be type A and made it type B, while at the same time handicapping the defense by making it obstruction to be in proper position but not receiving the throw cleanly... very nice.
Define "clearly without possession of the ball." If I'm wearing a blue suit and the ball beats the runner, I can't imagine calling OBS unless the catcher continues to block the runner after he muffed the throw... and in that case it'd be pretty obvious.
"Wow, LL really screwed this rule up... So they took a play that would actually be type A and made it type B, while at the same time handicapping the defense by making it obstruction to be in proper position but not receiving the throw cleanly... very nice."
What LL did was change the rule in an attempt to put a stop to "collisions" at the bases.
If you're the defensive player and you don't have the ball, stay out of the way, don't block the base.
Once you have the ball you can block the base while attempting to make the tag and the runner must slide or attempt to avoid hitting you.
Of course, if the throw takes the fielder into the path of the runner then all bets are off - trainwrecks happen.
In this case, sounds like the catcher caught the ball before the runner got there and the runner slid in to him.
Nothing against the rules there, play on!
"Of course, if the throw takes the fielder into the path of the runner then all bets are off - trainwrecks happen."
But the wording they've included seems to trump the trainwreck concept - If the fielder doesn't clearly have possession, he's obstructing. Especially since they removed the part that about "in the act of receiving" as that's what allowed trainwrecks without either side being penalized.
The OP said "The ball comes in on a rope just before the sliding runner."
So, the cathcer "had the ball" before the runner got there, so how can there be obstruction?
Prior to the rule change, the catcher could set up in the baseling to catch an incoming throw and not be guilty of obstruction (judgement call on "in the act of receiving the throw" - eg: how close does the throw have to be?).
Now, the catcher has to have the ball "before" the runner gets there, which is what happened in this case (sounds like a bang bang play with the first bang being the catcher catching the throw).
I guess we'll just agree to disagree on this one.
Define "possession" in the case of receiving a throw. As I understand it, possession would indicate having caught the ball and having control. So with the current wording, if the throw takes him into the baseline, but he muffs it, it's obstruction. Am I missing something here?
"So with the current wording, if the throw takes him into the baseline, but he muffs it, it's obstruction. Am I missing something here?"
Forget about a play at the plate let's talk about one at first.
Batter hits grounder to deep short.
Short stop fields the ball but the throw is to the left "down the line" of first.
First baseman moves off the bag to field the throw.
The ball glances off the first baseman's glove a split second before the batter/runner collides with the first baseman.
Are you telling me you are going to call Obstruction because the first baseman didn't catch the throw?
In MY opinion, this is a "trainwreck", play on.
True, using a play at the plate takes so many other considerations out of the equation. Let's say you have 2 out, bases loaded in the bottom of the last inning in a tie game, and the pitcher throws to first in an attempted pick-off. The throw takes 1B into the baseline preventing the runner from getting back to the bag, but he muffs the throw. And like the OP, eventually the fielder figures out where the ball is and tags the running. If you're going to call that OBS, it sure fits the definition of type A - ballgame over. But in LL rules, play relaxes, time is called, and the runner is safe at first. Fan of the visiting team are screaming, as is any home team fan that knows OBR, once you mention that OBS was called.
I can see scenarios where I'm guessing this is supposed to teach players that there are penalties for not executing properly. The main problem I have with that line of thinking is that by the time that becomes effective, those players will NOT be playing by LL rules. I can also see issues with the judgement aspect of determining when you become "in the act of receiving." However, I can't see addressing that problem by creating a rule that bastardizes every other ruleset out there, and applying it to a group of players that are more likely to find themselves in this situation than most other groups(age and ability wise). And then you have to deal with parents/fans that don't even understand real OBS, much less something like this.
I can't count the number of times I've seen type B in my daughter's softball games, and nobody else even sees the obstruction besides me and the umps, and the other parents certainly never notice the ump holding his fist out. So they're going to be really confused if what I described above were to happen.