The College Baseball Blog will be providing roundtable discussions during the season on some of the big issues around college baseball. We invited Swarthmore Assistant Coach Jordan Wyckoff to join our writers to discuss some of the rule changes for the 2009 NCAA season. Some of the changes are minor and others focus on the safety of the players and on the field personnel. We will also see a few changes in the amount of conferences each team is allowed on offense and defense. We comment on a bunch of the changes below.
Major Rules Changes
Rule 1-3-c-A.R. Add “At the time of the pitch, a coach must position himself no closer to home plate than the front edge of the coach’s box and no closer to fair territory than the edge of the coach’s box nearest the field.
PENALTY: Warning on the first offense; a further violation shall result in the coach being ejected.
“Rule 1-3-c. It is required that base coaches wear some form of NOCSAE approved head gear. Play will not continue until compliance with this rule is met.”
**Rationale: To enhance the safety of base coaches, who often are assisting runners and may not be directing their attention to the batter at the time of the pitch. Additionally, base coaches that are outside of the coaching area are in jeopardy of interfering with a live play.
Brian Foley, Editor of The CBB: I think this is a great move for College Baseball to take the lead of MLB and put it into the college game. We need to protect the base coaches from getting hit with a wicked line drive.
Jordan Wyckoff, Asst. Coach Swarthmore College: “I think the NCAA has the right idea with making rules to protect base coaches. Keeping coaches in the box will increase reaction time to balls being hit. The helmet requirement is a necessary evil. I have spoken with some coaches who are opposed to it. However, the threat of being hit with a batted ball is a real issue and it is a preventative measure. Personally, I’d probably feel safer with a glove on my hand rather than a helmet on my head.”
Colin Weber, Writer for CBB: I am in total agreement with this move by the NCAA. The primary concern is the safety of the student athletes, coaches, umpires, and fans, so I am all for taking precautions to protect base coaches. This became almost an absolute necessity after the tragic minor league incident where the basecoach was hit in the head and killed.
Southern Miss Alum, Contributor for CBB: I can also see how the rule about coaches wearing helmets can be abused. Need a little extra time for your player to warm up or to make a decision? Just take your helmet off.
Rule 3-6-f, A.R. 2: “If a coach leaves the dugout or their position to argue a ball or strike call (including a checked swing), the coach may be ejected without warning.”
**Rationale: Clarifies that no one should be allowed to argue a ball or strike call which includes a check swing.
Rule 3-6-a, A.R.1: “An umpire first may warn any violator or team before ejecting the individual(s) from the game.
PENALTY: Ejection after either warning.”
**Rationale: Clarification that a warning can be issued individually or for the entire team.
CW: Nothing new here. I think the rule change is fine. There’s no need to allow coaches to argue check swings (How would they have any better look from the dugout/coach’s box than the umpires do on the field?)
BF: I always wondered why coaches would be allowed to be questioning check swings and other calls from the dugout. At least, they clarified the rules here.
Rule 3-6-k: “Jurisdiction on personal confrontations and conduct towards the officiating staff
does not end until the umpires have left the parking lot.”
**Rationale: Clarifies when an official’s jurisdiction ends with regard to the officiating crew.
BF: I have seen on multiple occasions where a coach would be stuck in the parking lot waiting for the game to be over where they could get into an umpire’s face about a call.
CW: I like this rule. It makes the coaches responsible for their behavior not only on the field but off the field after the games as well. No need to allow the coaches to carry over arguments outside of the confines of the field of play.
Rule 5-16-b. Any threat of physical intimidation or harm to include pushing, shoving, bumping, kicking, spewing, spitting….
**Rationale: that any type of spitting or spewing that is directed at an official will be cause for an
CW: Good rule. I am all for having a coach stand behind his team and argue a call but there has to be boundaries and there is no need for any of this type of behavior and any coach/player involved in it should face extra suspension.
BF: I totally agree with Colin’s opinion and think that physical confrontation between a coach and an umpire is grounds for a major suspension.
Rule 9-4a and 6-5-f: Each team shall be allowed three (3) offensive and (3) defensive conferences per game. If the game goes into extra innings, the team will receive one (1) extra free conference plus any unused ones from the first nine innings.
**Rationale: An attempt to improve pace of play.
CW: The rule definitely speeds up the pace of the game, but it could cause offenses problems late in games if they’ve already used their 3 offensive timeouts and there’s a question between the batter and base coach about signs or situations.
BF: Colin brings up a good point say the batter doesn’t understand the sign. Does he continue to step out until he understands them?
Rule 1-12-b-PENALTY for a. and b: “…cause an unusual reaction on the baseball shall be
removed from the game. If detected after the first pitch the batter shall be declared…”
**Rationale: Clarifies when a batter should be called out for using an illegal bat.
BF: No major change just a clarification.
CW: Don’t care. Doesn’t matter.
Rule 2, Ejection; 3-6-d; and Appendix D:
“3-6-d: A.R. 1, Sight and sound shall mean that the ejected person(s) cannot view the contest, cannot communicate with their team nor be where the umpires may hear them. It may still be possible for the ejected person(s) to be able to hear the sounds of the game; however, they must have left the confines of the playing field and the grandstands.
A.R. 2, The ejected individual is not allowed to return to the dugout, field or grandstands until the umpiring crew has been escorted to their dressing area by security or game management.
PENALTY: A minimum of a one game suspension, in addition to the post-game or post-participation ejection, will apply to any individual in violation of this rule.”
**Rationale: Assists game management and the umpires in identifying what the Committee defines as “sound” as well as defines where an ejected individual must go and sets penalties for violations of 3-6-d.
Also, change wording in A.R 3 and A.R. 4.
Rule 5-2-f, A.R. 3: T.V’s shall be turned off in the Clubhouse during a game.
Revise the penalty for “f” to read: …shall be removed from the stands or shall receive a post
**Rationale: Brings the regular-season code in line with all post-season play regulations.
BF: I always wondered what the status of the TV’s are during a game. I think this is a good move to put the codes from the post-season into the rule book for the regular season. I have been in the FSU Video room where they have cameras that can analyze every pitch in the middle of the game. Will this sort of situation be stopped now?
Rule 7-7-e, p. 81: “Hits the batter in the batter’s box or hits the dirt or home plate and then hits
the batter or the bat, which is in the hand or hands of the batter, while the batter is still in the
batter’s box; or . . .”
**Rationale: Clarifies that when the batter is still holding the bat, a ball should be ruled foul that rebounds from the ground and hits the batter while the batter is still in the batter’s box.
CW: Hasn’t this always been the rule? If the batter gets hit with the ball while still in the box then it’s a foul ball, but if he’s hit out of the box then it’s an out?
BF: I think so Colin but it is probably just a clarification issue in the rulebook.
Rule 8-6-b (1) (b): “… return the ball to the base and the fielder may tag the runner or the base.”
**Rationale: Eliminates the ambiguity between 8-6-a and 8-6-b, both rule sections now allow
the defensive player the same type of defensive response when playing on a runner.
Rule 9-4-b, A.R. 1: “If after ….the coach goes to the plate umpire to announce a pitching change, the second trip is charged (when the change is recorded on the official line-up card). If moved to a defensive position, the removed pitcher shall not return to pitch.”
**Rationale: Clarifies when the second trip is officially charged.
CW: Has to remove the pitcher on the first visit to keep him in to pitch if he stays in the field?
BF: I know one of the teams that I see on a regular basis in Boston College uses Michael Belfiore to get lefthanders out and returns him to first base after getting the batter out.
Rule 9-4-d: A trip to the mound, that may include a conference with the infielders … begins when the coach crosses the foul line and shall be concluded when the … ”
**Rationale: Clarifies when a defensive conference begins.
CW: Once the coach crosses the foul line it’s a visit. Have you ever seen a coach walk out there and decide he didn’t really want to talk to the pitcher and then walk back to the dugout? I haven’t.
BF: I saw this happen in a game last year or the year before. The coach went to visit his pitcher, as he was walking off the field, he proceeded to fix a divot on the other side of the foul line after crossing it and the umpire caught it as a second visit and the pitcher had to come out. I am not sure if that was the correct game.
Section A-1-a: Delete “replays showing balls or strikes”; add: Allow in-stadium replays of
swinging third strikes, if shown immediately and prior to the next batter of either team.
**Rationale: Clarifies the time frame that swinging third strikes may be shown on the video
CW: I wish they would allow both, but I’m glad they at least allow some live-action replays to be shown. I see no reason why controversial calls shouldn’t be replayed on the video screen.
BF: I have been to only a few games where this would be an issue.
Section A-3: Add to the existing sentence, “Any instance in which an umpire has made a judgment call may be replayed only one time at regular speed and must be replayed prior to the next batter (for either team) entering the dirt area around home plate.
**Rationale: Defines when a judgment call may be replayed and sets a definite time frame for
CW: Works for me as long as the controversial calls are getting replayed. The video replay booth will have to be on their game though because it doesn’t take long once an out is recorded before the next batter is on the dirt.
Rule 3-6-e: “… decision and seek its reversal.” Coaches are not entitled to a second opinion
simply because they dispute a call. [See Appendix E, (c) 1-7]
A.R.: After a request for an umpire conference has been granted, coaches are not allowed to continue to argue a call once the final decision has been made. If a call is reversed, coaches are entitled to an explanation.
**Rationale: Clarification for Appendix E.
Appendix E: Add to F), Line 5: Add: “Also some calls cannot be reversed without creating larger problems. Examples include a “catch/no catch” with multiple runners or a ball that is ruled foul.”
**Rationale: The addition defines that a ball that is ruled foul cannot be changed.
CW: Makes sense..judgment calls are best made right when the play happens. Usually the umpire right on top of the call has the best view so conferencing and changing a call is not going to sit well with the team that gets the bad end of the call since the reversal will be made minutes after the original call was actually made. There are times where rules are in question that conferences and reversals are necessary, so I agree with this rule.
BF: Right on Colin, I completely agree with you.
Thanks to the NCBWA for sending us the rule changes. Please leave your comments about the Rule Changes in the comment section of the site. Registration is free.