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 Top 10 list of things you should know about common situations around the diamond when the game is on the line

10. “He has to try to get out of the way!” There is nothing in the rules that says this... only that the batter cannot “permit” the ball to hit him. While it's easy to complain that the hitter didn't move, he gets the benefit of the doubt when the pitch infringes on his space (and body). It's a rare call to keep him in the box.

9. Dropped third strike – as a last ditch, post-whiff, effort, players often make a dash for first when the ball is not caught but the rule is simple, the batter is out if 1st base is occupied at the time of pitch, unless there are 2 outs.

8. Base running awards on throws that go OB – 2 bases from time of pitch on the 1st throw from an infielder; 2 bases from time of throw for all others. Bonus tidbit, wild pitch that goes out of play: 1 base from time of pitch even if the runner advanced one base while the ball was rattling around before leaving play.

7. Obstruction/Interference – On a batted ball, the fielder has the right of way to the ball and the runner must yield but once the ball has been touched, it flip-flops and the runner cannot be impeded. On a thrown ball, a fielder cannot block the entire base without the ball. When both players are doing what they are supposed to be doing, incidental contact is allowed – it’s just a baseball play.

6. “He has to slide!”, there is no rule in baseball that requires any runner to slide, ever. It's interference only if the runner goes out of his way to obstruct or hinder a fielder. A runner who “peels off” is only following an unwritten rule that suggests he might get a throw in kisser. Unwritten rules are cool!

5. The Infield Fly Rule is in effect if runners are on 1st and 2nd or bases are loaded and there are less than 2 outs. The batter is out on a fly (non-line drive, or bunt) that is judged catchable with ordinary effort.

4. “He’s out of the base line!” - The base line is not a straight line from one base to the next because that is not how you run the bases! The runner establishes his own base line depending on how he rounds bases or effort to avoid interfering with a fielder. Once in peril of being tagged he will be called out if he runs more than 3 feet outside the line he establishes from this position to the base.

3. “He held it long enough!” – A catch is not a catch until the player makes some voluntary effort that indicates the initial action is complete, like removing the ball from his glove. An outfielder for example could make a “catch”, take 3 or 4 steps, run into a wall and drop the ball. This should not be ruled a catch just because he had it for a few seconds or strides. This is why the blue ask to see the ball; to ensure the fielder has control.

2. Did he or didn’t he? – The check swing. The rule book does not explicitly define a swing so any half-swing appeal is based on the umpire’s decision if the batter “struck at” the ball. Position of hands in respect to hip or bat barrel in respect to the plate are only guidelines.

1. Balls and strikes – So many factors go into how pitches are called: ability of catcher to frame and receive, batter’s stance, pitch break and movement, umpire timing, etc. Let’s just put it this way, MLB umpires are correct about 95% of the time given a 2 inch buffer zone. At this rate, in a 7 inning game, out of 200-250 pitches there are still 10-15 pitches that can go either way, and do! Cut Rocky the umpire some slack!

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