Obstruction

Obstruction is the act of:

  1. A defensive player or team member that hinders or prevents a batter from striking or hitting a pitched ball.
  2. A fielder who impedes the progress of a runner or batter-runner who is legally running bases while:
    1. not in possession of the ball, or
    2. not in the act of fielding a batted ball, or
    3. Making a fake tag without the ball, or
    4. In possession of the ball and who pushes a runner off a base, or
    5. In possession of the ball, but not in the act of making a play on the runner which intentionally impedes the progress of that runner, while he is legally running the bases.

For those of you who’ve been asking why I was ejected and suspended for one game in my co-ed softball, here’s the skinny…as only I can tell it :-).

Only our second game of the 2009 spring season, and we were playing with eight players. A strategy in place, we had a “roving” second baseman, who was playing a deep 2nd, or a shallow right field. Other players filled in at whatever position they felt comfortable. There wasn’t much chance of winning the game, or even a chance it would be a close game, but the eight that were there were there already and we wanted to play.

It’s frustrating to play shorthanded not only because there’s more territory and position to cover, but also because any mistake made is amplified. And if the other team is worth their salt, they’re going to take advantage of every opportunity.

So it was worse when the frustration was caused not by fielding mistakes, nor a ruthless opponent, but by an umpire who played by his own rules.

The first incident was a force play at second. With the throw coming in to second base, our basemen lined up for the play at 2. Our player tagged the player as he reached the base, and turned to look for a possible throw to first, but the ump called the runner safe. When I mentioned to the umpire that we play with a slide or avoid rule, he told me that the player did not have to either slide or get out of the way, but instead the second baseman had to get out of the runners way. He called the runner safe due to obstruction.

The second incident was an attempted double play with another force play at second and a tag at home. Again, the second baseman was called for obstruction and the play at home denied. The second baseman had her foot on the bag long enough only to make the play, and then threw to the catcher. The catcher had her right foot on the left (3rd base) side of the plate and she tagged the runners foot when he slid into her foot. The runner at home was called safe. When questioned about his calls, he stated that at no time, in softball, could a fielder obstruct a base.

We have some rules specifically geared towards safety. We’re not professional ball players after all. For instance, we have two first bases. One inside the line and white, and one outside the line and orange. Runners get orange, fielders get white. We also have to slide or get out of the way when running to second or third. Sometimes, we have an “in the neighborhood” rule if the bases are slick from the night dew.

But, if the baseman has to yield the base to the runner, then what is the sense of having basemen? Why have anyone play? Why not just flip a coin at the beginning of the game to determine the winner then all head out for pizza and beer?

Aggravated beyond my normal scope of fair play, feeling my sarcastic self gearing up for battle, we headed into the top of the last inning. With our first two batters out, down by enough for the mercy rule to kick in, just about out of time, our third batter was called out on a throw to first.

In an ordinary game, a completely legitimate play. An end to a game. Infield hit to 3rd, throw to 1 for the out. If we had a score book, it would be written as 6-3 and have another 3 with a circle around it to indicate the out.

But of course…

“WHAT!!!???” I yelled from the coach’s box. “How can the runner be out?!!? The baseman’s foot was ON the bag! Isn’t that OBSTRUCTION?” For which I was ejected and suspended for one game.


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