Commissioner Memo: Memo Regarding Upcoming Rules Review and Proposals for Rule Changes

To: Co- Commissioner Eric “The Hammer”
From: Co-Commissioner Kelly “The Coach”
CC: Public Commissioner Memos Blug
Memo Regarding Upcoming Rules Review and Proposals for Rule Changes
Re: List of Potential Rule Change Proposals

Per Your request and in preparation for a proposed rules review during the Oregon Tapey Beercone Invitational, listed below are a series of proposed rule chances. These includes a framework to codify the ground rules for base stealing, additional proposed rules to resolve other ground/governing rulings as well as open rules issues from this season, and lastly a number of minor rule changes/clarifications which this Commissioner deems worthy of discussion.

Also attached for purposes of clarity is a revised version of the complete rule book with all the following proposals made and with changes tracked.

This commissioner looks forward to an enlightened discussion on these and other rules related topics.

Yours,

Co-Commissioner Kelly “The Coach”

Concrete Rules for Stolen Bases

Our main objective for the upcoming rules review will be to codify the rules governing the experimental stolen base rules first employed during Season 4. I have broken up my proposed modifications of these rules into three sections.

Game State Rules

To Clarify the rules for stolen bases, I propose adding to following rules regarding the State of Play.

Current:
There are no current rules for state of play.
 
Proposed:
Article III: Section H: States of Play (This should more preferable be made section B with the other sections in Article III being moved down)

    Play during Tapey Beercone revolves through three states of play. These are:

  • Readied Ball
  • Live Ball
  • Dead Ball

Sub-section a: Beginning the Inning – Each partial inning begins in a Readied Ball state once the pitcher is on the mound with ball in hand and the batter is at the plate.

Sub-Section b: Readied Ball – Whenever the ball is dead it can become readied again once the pitch is on the mound with ball in hand, the batter is at the plate, and all base runner substitutions have been made. While the ball is readied the pitcher may deliver the pitch, and no conventional baserunning or fielding plays can be made, but baserunners can attempt base stealing.

Sub-Section c: Live Ball – The ball becomes live when it is struck at by the batter. While the ball is live runners can advance bases and fielders can attempt to make outs.

Sub-Section d: Dead Ball – The ball remains live until it is called a swinging strike, lands foul, or when landing in play, after no runners are attempting to advance or at risk of being put out, at which point it becomes dead. Once dead no plays can be made.

Sub-Section e: Calling Time – For purposes of promoting beer consumption and allowing bladder relief, the Umpire may grant time to a requesting player so long as the ball is not live.

 

Reformat of Runners Section

The Runners section of Article III has become lengthy as well as non-comprehensive with multiple rules on running located outside the section. Adding stolen base rules only exacerbates this issue leading this Commissioner to propose a complete reformat of the section.

Current:
Article III: Section D: Runner – The Runner’s sole responsibility is to advance around the bases. A runner must reside on a base during each at bat. No leading off is permitted. Runners may only advance one base in the event of a passed ball. Runners may not advance any additional bases on a successful throw out or bean out. No Sliding into bases is permitted; runners sliding into bases will be declared out.

Sub-Section a: Ghost Runner – If a team cannot field enough runners to cover all occupied bases, the lead bases are manned and remaining bases are covered by “Ghosts.” The ghosts are tied to the actions of the trailing runner and score as normal. In a force out condition, ghost runners are assumed to run the bases in the optimal order.

    Additionally other sections of the rules apply to runners under Article IV: Section A: Permanent Ground Rules:

  • -Obstruction: If a fielder prevents a runner’s advance along the bases, the runner should avoid interference and call “obstruction”. The runner will then be awarded bases according to the umpire’s best judgement. Safety is key!
  • -Interference: If a runner creates a conflict of motion with a fielder in the act of fielder, the runner will be ruled out and additional outs will be awarded according to the umpire’s best judgement. Safety is key!
 
Proposed:
Article III: Section E(changed from D by above rules): Runner – The Runners’ sole responsibility is to advance around the bases.

Sub-section a: No leading off – A runner must reside on a base during each at bat. No leading off is permitted.

Sub-section b: Limits on base advances – Runners may only advance one base in the event of a passed ball. Runners may not advance any additional bases on a successful throw out or bean out.

Sub-section c: No Sliding – No Sliding into bases is permitted; runners sliding into bases will be declared out.

Sub-section d: Obstruction – If a fielder prevents a runner’s advance along the bases, the runner should avoid interference and call “obstruction”. The runner will then be awarded bases according to the umpire’s best judgement. Safety is key!

Sub-section e: Interference – If a runner creates a conflict of motion with a fielder in the act of fielding, the runner will be ruled out and additional outs will be awarded according to the umpire’s best judgement. Safety is key!

Sub-section g: Ghost Runner – If a team cannot field enough runners to cover all occupied bases, the lead bases are manned and remaining bases are covered by “Ghosts.” The ghosts are tied to the actions of the trailing runner and score as normal. In a force out condition, ghost runners are assumed to run the bases in the optimal order.

 

Stolen Base Rules

My attempt at clear and concise rules for base stealing.

Current:
No current rules exist beyond our lex non scripta understanding of the rules.
 
Proposed:
Article III: Section E: Runner

Sub-section f: Base Stealing – Baserunners may attempt to steal bases according to Section F: Base Stealing.

Article III: Section F: Base Stealing – Any time when the ball is readied, a runner may attempt to steal a base.

Sub-section a: Stolen Base – To perform a steal the runner must advance unnoticed from their current base to the next base and once touching the base verbally declare their steal (ex. “I have stolen a base!”). If successful the runner is awarded the stolen base.

Sub-section b: Caught Stealing – If at any time during a stolen base attempt any fielder notices the runner and makes any audible utterance to the effect prior to the runner touching and announcing their steal, the stolen base attempt fails and the runner is caught stealing and put out via caught out.

Sub-section c: Neighborhood Rule – A runner lingering in the neighborhood of their regular base who may not actually be touching the base, but having made no clear attempt to vacate the base, will not be construed as making a steal attempt. The neighborhood is defined as the region where a standing runner can still easily touch the base with one foot by simply extending their leg. This rule does not remove the runner’s responsibility to not lead off until the batter swings.

Sub-section d: Pregame Determination – Prior to each game, players should agree as to whether Section F stolen base rules will apply for that game by a majority vote.

Also add to outs list under Article III: Section: A Sub-section: b – Outs:

-Caught Out – When a fielder notices a runner attempting to steal a base and makes an audible utterance to the effect.

 

Resolve other Ground Rules/Governing Rules/Seasonal Rules Conflicts

Beyond stolen bases there exist a handful of additional open rules items from the last season which should be addressed. These items are provided below in order by the rules they are related to.

Confirm Cleat Ban as an Official Rule

Codify the governing rule into the official rules

Current:
Article 1: Section C:Other Equipment

GOVERNING RULE AMENDMENT:
Sub-Section c: Ban on Cleats – Cleats and similar footwear are banned from use.

 
Proposed:
Article 1: Section C: Other Equipment

Sub-Section c: Ban on Cleats – Cleats and similar footwear are banned from use.

 

Clarify Thrown Outs

Follow the games from last May, the definition of a throw for the throw out rule needs clarification. This Commissioner is open to arguments for many options on how to resolve this rules issue. Below are three alternatives from most to least restrictive.

Current:
Article III: Section A: Inning Sub-section b: Outs – List of Outs

– Thrown out: When a runner, in a forced to run position, is beaten to the applicable plate or base by a ball thrown by a fielder, or for a runner, in non-forced motion, either; having covered a majority of the distance between two bases, be beaten by a thrown ball to the base of intent; or touch any base having been previously struck during the play by the throw of a fielder.

 
Proposed (Restrictive):
Define in glossary: Thrown Ball: Any causative motion of the ball from the hand of a fielder after having come in control of the ball is considered a thrown ball.
 
Proposed (Moderate):
Define in glossary: Thrown Ball: Any purposeful motion of the ball directed from a fielder is considered a thrown ball.
 
Proposed (Radical):
Add an additional out category to the list under Article III: Section A: Inning Sub-section b: Outs –
-Hit Out: When any base is struck by a batted ball, either directly or after ricochet, outs are recorded according to thrown out rules. Bases hit on the fly are also considered fly outs.
 

Sudden Death Rules – Resolution of Called Games

An open rules issue since the end of Season 3, and heightened further by recent events at The Ranch, this Commissioner has worked on various rules frameworks for resolving this issue. An initial attempt revolved around creating a series of sudden death play states to quickly end games. (ex. Replacing any inning start tie game state with runners first and third next out or run wins) However this construction now appears overly contrived and doesn’t address abruptly called game situations where even a single sudden death at bat can not be played.

This led to the present proposed construction which leans more heavily on existing rules by considering an undecided game state, which can no longer be resolved with play on the field, to be a dispute of play. By rule Article V: Section B: Tradition – Disputes of play are resolved by Rock-Scissors-Paper.

Current:
No rules for resolving called or postponed games exist.
 
Proposed:
Article III: Section E: End of Game Sub-section a: Sudden Death Rock-Paper-Scissors – If a game is called due to time or weather, or is otherwise postponed, and cannot be continued during the same series with a majority of each team present, the game will enter Sudden Death Rock-Paper-Scissors (SDRPS). During SDRPS alternating players from each team exchange throws until one team reaches the winning number of throws. The team winning SDRPS is considered the game’s winning team. Reference Appendix: Figure 1 to determine the required winning throws for each team based on game state.


 

Testicle Amendment Part 2 – a

This rules questions arises from a discussion this Commissioner engaged in with “The Rocket” whereby in describing the events during the Arizona Pro-Am in which this Commissioner was struck in the head while on second base the questions was asked as to whether the throw would constitute a “passed ball” allowing an advance to third base. This Commissioners answer being that, while the throw did not hit a legal target to make an out, a throw to the head can still reasonably be considered on target as the head is part of the player. This led to a further question as to whether this logic would apply to any part of the player. Should The Testicle Amendment, Part II be violated it would seem antithetical to consider a throw to the testicles to be on target. Therefore the follow rule is proposed:

Current:
Article IV: Section: A Sub-section a: The Testicle Bill of Rights
-The Testicle Amendment, Part II: If a fielder should strike a runner in the testicles, no outs shall be incurred.
 
Proposed:
Article IV: Section: A Sub-section a: The Testicle Bill of Rights
-The Testicle Amendment, Part II: If a fielder should strike a runner in the testicles, no outs shall be incurred.
Sub-part a: The Curtis Corollary: The runner is granted an additional base advance, and any runners forced to vacate their base are also advanced one base.
 

Tradition – Nicknames

A ground rule first used at The Ranch this season during Beer Pope Day Weekend:

Current:
The ground rule from The Ranch added a tradition suggesting that players be given nicknames when appropriate.
 
Proposed:
Article V: Section B: Tradition
Add to hyphenated list: – Frequent players should be granted a nickname based on their attributes and performance during play, be them real or imaginary.
 

Other Rules Clarifications

Below are additional rules clarifications, mostly minor, which this Commissioner feels deserve at least passing discussion. These items are provided below in order by the rules they are related to.

Remove Reference to Inches

Buckos tradition uses an object based measurement system unreliant on international standards. The rules follow this system with one exception.

Current:
Article I: Section B: The Bat – …The bat shall be made unserviceable should any piece longer than 2” come from it, or it be split in twain.
 
Proposed:
Article I: Section B: The Bat – …The bat shall be made unserviceable should any piece longer than one can width come from it, or it be split in twain.
 

Foul Lines

The rules leave wide open interpretation on foul lines, but do not address the home to mound foul line used during every game.

Current:
Article II: Section A: Sub-Section d: Foul lines – Foul lines shall be defined as clearly as possible, and always agreed upon before the start of play.
 
Proposed:
Article II: Section A: Sub-Section d: Foul lines – There are three foul lines. A left field foul line, a right field foul line, and a home to mound foul line located halfway between the pitcher and home plate. Foul lines shall be defined as clearly as possible, and always agreed upon before the start of play.
 

Remove Call Outs

First added during Season 3, by this Commissioner’s recollection no player has ever employed the call out rule. Further, it is unclear what benefit would be provided by it, as the rule does not prevent throws after a call and fast fielder play does not often provide time to react to a call. This may be an example of an overcorrected extraneous rule.

Current:
Article III: Section A: Sub-section: b: Outs – List of Outs -Call Out: Runners, to avoid a beaned out or thrown out situation, may call themselves out through shouting “I’m Out!” or a similar phrase and ceasing forward motion on the basepath.
 
Proposed:
Remove call out from the list of outs.
 

Move Strike Zone Definition to Rules

The strike zone is referenced in Article III: Section A: Sub-section c: The Count but is only defined in the glossary. Should additional language be included in the body of the rules for clarity?

Proposed:
Article III: Section A: Sub-section c: The Count after all list of calls add:
Strike Zone: The strike zone is a rectangular prism bounded over the plate, two feet wide by two feet long and from the bottom of the batter’s kneecaps to the midpoint between the top of the batter’s shoulder and top of the batter’s pants.
 

Pitching – Single Forward Swing

At times discussion has arisen over the limits on pitching delivery. The only rules limitation is an underhand throw, however clearly a whirlwind style fast-pitch soft ball throw would not be allowed.

Current:
Article III: Section B: Sub-Section a: Pitcher – The Pitcher delivers the ball underhand and serves as Umpire in the absence of an Umpire.
 
Proposed:
Article III: Section B: Sub-Section a: Pitcher – The Pitcher delivers the ball underhand, in a single forward swing, and serves as Umpire in the absence of an Umpire.
 

Fielder Positioning

There exist no rules for fielder positioning, yet there are practicle and safety related limits followed in practice.

Current:
Article III: Section B: Sub-Section c: In/Out Fielder – The fielders are responsible for play or retrieval of any struck ball forward of home plate.
 
Proposed:
Article III: Section B: Sub-Section c: In/Out Fielder – The fielders are responsible for play or retrieval of any struck ball forward of home plate. All in/out fielders must begin play in fair territory further away from home plate than the pitcher.
 

Glossary Additions

A number of frequently used terms or added terms are not included in the Glossary:

Proposed Additions some contingent on other rules additions:
Base of Intent: The base a baserunner is progressing towards with the intention of reaching. A base remains a runner’s base of intent until they vacate the base and make clear progress to a new base in the judgement of the Umpire. Reference Article III: Section A: Sub-section b.

Caught Stealing: A runner noticed by a fielder making an audible utterance during a base steal attempt is considered caught stealing and caught out. Reference Article III: Section F: Sub-section: b.

Dead Ball: The ball is dead after a swinging strike, a foul ball, or when play ends after no runners are attempting to advance or at risk of being put out. While dead no plays can be made.

Live Ball: The ball is live after it is struck at by the batter. While the ball is live runners can advance bases and fielders can attempt to make outs.

Neighborhood: The neighborhood of a base is that region surrounding the base that a standing runner could easily reach with a single stride. Reference Article III: Section F: Sub-section d.

Readied Ball: The ball is readied once the pitcher is on the mound with ball in hand, the batter is at the plate, and all base runner substitutions have been made. While the ball is readied the pitcher may deliver the pitch, and no conventional baserunning or fielding plays can be made. Baserunners can attempt base stealing while the ball is readied.

Stolen Base: A base advance during readied ball play made unnoticed and followed by a verbal declaration of the steal. Reference Article III: Section F: Sub-section: a.

Vacated Base: A base is considered vacated when the runner has left the neighborhood of the base, and is clearly progressing towards a new base in the judgement of the Umpire. Reference Article III: Section C: Sub-section d.

 

A PDF of the Draft Version 6 Official Rulebook with all changes made is included below.

Rules Draft with Proposed Changes.
 

Author: Commissioners Office

The Office of the Commissioners of Tapey Beercone.

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