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Thread: Is it legal to block 1st base without the ball?

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    Certified softball maniac Wellphyt's Avatar
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    Default Is it legal to block 1st base without the ball?

    We played a team on Saturday where the 1st baseman blocked 1st base on purpose everytime the catcher threw to 1st to try and pick off our runner.

    We have a runner on 1st. The 1st baseman plays in towards home plate during the pitch. After the pitch she runs back to the bag and stands between the runner and the base and waits on the throw from the catcher. I could tell this was a play that she was coached to do as it was very deliberate. I brought it to the umpire's attention and he said it was obstruction.

    There was one time where my runner almost couldn't get her foot back to the base because the first baseman was trying to block her out. The problem I have with this is that if it is obstruction, it sounds like obstruction won't get called until the runner is tagged out because she is blocked from getting back to the base. Then all she gets is to stay at first. In the meantime the runner is at risk of injuring an ankle or hand trying to find an opening to reach the base.

    Is this just one of those cute clever little tricks that some coaches come up with to try and gain an advantage? I've been coaching for ten years and this is the first time I've run across this.

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    Softball Junkie FPMark's Avatar
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    I've never seen it taught before, but unless there is a base to award, there's not really anything to call. Now if 1st baseman is blocking the base, you could have your runner run into her and immediatly run to second, if she made it, you get the runner to second. If she is out, then the ump should call obstruction and award her the base she should have made it to (1st base). One bad throw and she could be on 3rd. Assuming ASA.

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    Certified softball maniac SBFAMILY's Avatar
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    Yes I have seen it. The other form of this is to run in front of our runner each time the pitch is released to slow her down, or make her run around her, since she is in the baseline. I almost got pitched as the first base coach complaining about this. Too bad some coaches resort to tricks that can get players hurt.

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    MTR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellphyt View Post
    We have a runner on 1st. The 1st baseman plays in towards home plate during the pitch. After the pitch she runs back to the bag and stands between the runner and the base and waits on the throw from the catcher. I could tell this was a play that she was coached to do as it was very deliberate. I brought it to the umpire's attention and he said it was obstruction.
    He is wrong, that is not obstruction. There is no rule forbidding a defender from blocking a base with or without the ball.

    There was one time where my runner almost couldn't get her foot back to the base because the first baseman was trying to block her out. The problem I have with this is that if it is obstruction, it sounds like obstruction won't get called until the runner is tagged out because she is blocked from getting back to the base. Then all she gets is to stay at first. In the meantime the runner is at risk of injuring an ankle or hand trying to find an opening to reach the base.
    Now, THAT is obstruction. A defender not in possession of the ball or fielding a batted ball may not impede the progress of a runner. The result of OBS is to nullify the play and award the runner the base they would have attained had the obstruction not occurred. Contact is not only unnecessary, it should not be used as an indicator by the umpire as to whether make the call or not. It is non-punitive as, in spite of many who believe otherwise, OBS is often unintentional. I know, this isn't one of those cases.

    However, you are correct. The DEFENSE coach is placing his player's well being in jeopardy and if I were a parent, I would run away from this guy/gal as fast as I can. The runner does not have to slide or fight their way around the fielder. Just stop or step around. IF THE UMPIRE REFUSES TO MAKE THE CALL BECAUSE THERE WAS NO CONTACT, PROTEST THE GAME. And then point out to the moron that if your runner does what s/he is demanding, the defender can be injured and the UMPIRE will be at the head of the lawsuit and you will take time off from work to testify for F3's family in court.

    Dramatic? Yeah, sure is, but not as dramatic as an ambulance pulling onto a softball field to carry away a player. This is softball and under no circumstance is preventable injury acceptable.

    Is this just one of those cute clever little tricks that some coaches come up with to try and gain an advantage? I've been coaching for ten years and this is the first time I've run across this.
    It is nothing new. It was almost a standard until umpires started calling obstruction. HOWEVER, in the HS game, the umpires would not call the OBS because there was an automatic award of one base. Once NFHS dropped that part of the rule, umpires (well, good umpires) started calling OBS to the point that it was almost impossible to pick-off a runner and they gave up the practice (of blocking the base) in many areas. However, some coaches think they have discovered something that no one has ever thought of before and just cannot figure out why it doesn't work until it is too late.
    Last edited by MTR; 05-16-2011 at 07:06 PM.

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    I eat, sleep and breathe softball softballphreak's Avatar
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    I like FPMark's suggestion about running to 2nd but I would check with the ump beforehand to see if that call would be possible. If you bump the 1st baseman out of the way there won't be anyone there to field the ball.

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    Wannabe Duck Boat Owner Greenmonsters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by softballphreak View Post
    I like FPMark's suggestion about running to 2nd but I would check with the ump beforehand to see if that call would be possible. If you bump the 1st baseman out of the way there won't be anyone there to field the ball.
    Metal spikes make this an unwise technique to teach and practice.

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    I eat, sleep and breathe softball softballphreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenmonsters View Post
    Metal spikes make this an unwise technique to teach and practice.
    Very good reason not to obstruct, also.

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    Certified softball maniac Lozza's Avatar
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    This is a very old school style. I was taught it when I was a teenager. (mid 90s) What we used to do was we'd straddle the base but there'd be a clear baseway to the path. This was done every pitch by first or second.

    Apparently it's now changed, as I had obstruction ruled against me when I tried it this year.

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    I eat, sleep and breathe softball softballphreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lozza View Post
    This is a very old school style. I was taught it when I was a teenager. (mid 90s) What we used to do was we'd straddle the base but there'd be a clear baseway to the path. This was done every pitch by first or second.

    Apparently it's now changed, as I had obstruction ruled against me when I tried it this year.
    It hasn't changed. As long as the runner has the path you mentioned it is not obstruction. That ump got it wrong.

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    Checking out the clubhouse qwikvr6gti's Avatar
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    yes it's called obstruction. I taught my girls what it is and we use it to our advantage every time we can.

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