2017 Playing Rule Changes – Video

Coach’s Box Rule

Rule Change: Beginning in 2014, it was a point of emphasis in baseball that no base coach may position themselves closer to home plate and / or fair territory than the boundaries of the coach’s box, prior to a batted ball passing them. This point of emphasis shall now be relaxed – a base coach shall be permitted to stand closer to home plate or fair territory than the coach’s box unless a member of the opposing coaching staff complains. At this point, the umpire shall strictly require the base coaches of both teams to stand entirely within the boundaries of the coach’s box.

From 2014-2016, it would be expected of the umpires to move the coach in the photo below to a position no closer to home plate and fair territory then the perimeter of the coach’s box. This coach shall now be considered in a legal position, unless there is a complaint by the defensive team. Should this occur, the umpires shall ensure both base coaches of both clubs remain entirely in the coach’s boxes.

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Please note that it is always acceptable for a base coach to leave their box in order to signal for a runner to advance or slide once a ball has been pitched, as long as they do not interfere with the play in any manner.

No-Pitch Intentional Walk

Rule Change: A defensive team is no longer required to pitch to a batter in order to issue an intentional walk. After receiving a signal from the defensive manager, the plate umpire shall call “time”, award the batter first base. Any runners forced to advance are entitled to do so at this time. Please note a team may still elect to intentionally walk a hitter the “traditional” way.

Furthermore, the plate umpire’s award of first base to the batter shall constitute a pitch or play, meaning an appeal of a missed base, runner leaving early, half swing, batting out of order, or protest shall no longer be considered. A no-pitch intentional walk shall also fulfill a returning or substitute pitcher’s requirement to pitch to at least one batter prior to being eligible to be removed from the game.

First Baseman’s Mitt

Rule Clarification: Upon complaint by the offensive manager or upon their own volition, should the umpire adjudge a fielder other than the one using a first baseman’s mitt to be playing closer to first base than the first baseman, the umpire shall order the first baseman to use a regular fielder’s glove. The other fielder shall, at this point, be permitted to use the first baseman’s mitt.

This rule is not meant to prevent the defense from shifting positions. Rather, its intent is to ensure that the fielder positioned closest to first base is the fielder permitted to use a first baseman’s mitt.

As you will see in the video, the defense has positioned themselves in preparation for a bunt. The player listed as the first baseman on the line-up card is positioned extremely close to home plate, near the pitcher’s mound, while the player listed as the second baseman is actually holding R1 on at first base. Therefore, the umpires instruct the players to switch gloves.

Runner Leaving the Baseline

Rule Clarification: The physical act of a fielder in possession of the ball reaching to tag a runner is not required in order to adjudge a runner out of their baseline.

Although no physical tag attempt is made by the fielder, the actions of the runner are clearly indicative of an effort to avoid a potential tag, and also clearly involve a deviation outside of the runner’s baseline. Therefore, this runner is eligible to be called out for leaving the baseline.

Batter Overrunning First Base

Rule Clarification: While a batter is entitled to overrun first base when going to first base, the protection provided by this rule shall not apply if they leave first base following their return to it.

As the video will show, U1 initially and correctly makes no-call following a missed tag by the fielder and miss of first base by the batter-runner. There is then a race back to 1B, won by the B-R, resulting in a correct “safe” mechanic by U1. However, the B-R then voluntarily removes his hand from the base, while the fielder’s glove (in possession of the ball) is still in contact with the runner. The umpire then correctly declares the batter out. The umpire then reverses his out call and declares the runner safe because the batter did not make an attempt to advance toward second base. Courtesy of a clarification to the interpretation regarding a batter’s ability to overrun first base, a runner who leaves first base after returning to it shall henceforth be called out, irregardless of whether or not they make an attempt to advance to second base.

Runner Misses Home Plate

Rule Clarification: A runner who has missed home may return to touch the plate regardless of whether the ball is alive or dead, except when:
• A following runner scores,
• The runner steps into the dugout, or
• The third out is made before the runner returns to touch the plate

Although you can not see in the video below, the plate umpire has called “time” after the runner passed the plate, but before the runner had returned to touch it, because the pitcher has requested a new baseball. Even though the ball was dead, because none of the exceptions listed above had occurred, the player legally touches the plate. On appeal, he would be eligible to be called “safe.”

Passing on the Basepaths

Rule Clarification: Runners are still required to run the bases properly when being awarded bases with a ball that became dead during the play (such as a home run or ground rule double) and may be called out for passing. The following runner is always the runner out when two runners pass each other on the basepaths, regardless of which runner “caused” the passing to occur.

In both videos, R1 improperly retreats to 1B believing a fly ball to have been caught when the ball has actually left the playing field (home run in video one; ground rule double in video two). Even though the passing was “caused” by R1, the batter should have been called out for passing in both circumstances.

Should this infraction occur with two outs and a runner scoring, regardless of if it occurs with a live or dead ball, this is a time play.