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The Umpire Corner

Strike Zone???

Rule question? Get it answered here.

by Overwatch » Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:42 pm

Arguing balls and strikes is not an option...got it!

But, we had an umpire that was calling pitches (one foot off the plate) strikes. I questioned the umpire and he said HIS strike zone was "anything between the lines." We are talking 18U softball (tournament championship game), not 8U recreation softball.

If this umpire had said his perception was that the balls were crossing the plate, there's not much to be said. But, where in the ASA rule book (or any rule book) does it say the strike zone is "anything between the white lines" or that the umpire gets to make-up his own strike zone definition? In fact, isn't the ASA strike zone DEFINED as "the area over home plate from the batter's armpits to the top of the knees, when the batter assumes a natural batting stance?" His PERCEPTION may be off, but the DEFINITION never changes.

Doesn't his stated DEFINITION of the strike zone raise an appeal issue? He's not saying those pitches were strikes in his judgement. He's saying those pitches were strikes based on an incorrect strike zone. Let's say he said the strike zone was from the top of the batter's head to her shoelaces and two feet off the plate (even if it goes behind the batter). That's an incorrect DEFINITION of the strike zone...no? Wouldn't that be up for appeal?
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by eclipse09 » Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:38 am

Overwatch wrote:Arguing balls and strikes is not an option...got it!

But, we had an umpire that was calling pitches (one foot off the plate) strikes. I questioned the umpire and he said HIS strike zone was "anything between the lines." We are talking 18U softball (tournament championship game), not 8U recreation softball.

If this umpire had said his perception was that the balls were crossing the plate, there's not much to be said. But, where in the ASA rule book (or any rule book) does it say the strike zone is "anything between the white lines" or that the umpire gets to make-up his own strike zone definition? In fact, isn't the ASA strike zone DEFINED as "the area over home plate from the batter's armpits to the top of the knees, when the batter assumes a natural batting stance?" His PERCEPTION may be off, but the DEFINITION never changes.

Doesn't his stated DEFINITION of the strike zone raise an appeal issue? He's not saying those pitches were strikes in his judgement. He's saying those pitches were strikes based on an incorrect strike zone. Let's say he said the strike zone was from the top of the batter's head to her shoelaces and two feet off the plate (even if it goes behind the batter). That's an incorrect DEFINITION of the strike zone...no? Wouldn't that be up for appeal?


Have you ever seen a high school game? There are quite a few home plate umps that call it between the white lines. It is what it is. Not much to appeal if he/she is calling it equal to both sides. Better hope your pitchers paint the black and white in some cases.......
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by Comp » Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:10 am

The definition of the high school zone is exactly the same as the ASA definition. Have no idea what rule set you were playing under, but if it wasnt NFHS rules Im not sure why an umpire would be spouting supposed rules from a different rule set. I suppose at the point he used that definition you could have protested and called for the UIC, not sure what exactly it would have gotten you, especially if he was calling the same zone for both teams. It may have been bad, but both teams were getting the same calls.

NFHS has issued a point of emphasis this year to call the strike zone per the rule book. If umpires actually do enforce the zone per the book I am expecting to hear about a lot of coach ejections because the book zone has never been called. Being as any portion of the ball touching the definition of the zone and the armpits being the upper limit of the zone, that would put the top of the ball up around the batters chin. Im waiting for the start of the HS season to see how this goes.
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by Spazsdad » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:45 am

Sounds like there will be plenty of "careful what you ask for" going around
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by UmpSteve » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:30 am

Comp wrote:The definition of the high school zone is exactly the same as the ASA definition. Have no idea what rule set you were playing under, but if it wasnt NFHS rules Im not sure why an umpire would be spouting supposed rules from a different rule set. I suppose at the point he used that definition you could have protested and called for the UIC, not sure what exactly it would have gotten you, especially if he was calling the same zone for both teams. It may have been bad, but both teams were getting the same calls.

NFHS has issued a point of emphasis this year to call the strike zone per the rule book. If umpires actually do enforce the zone per the book I am expecting to hear about a lot of coach ejections because the book zone has never been called. Being as any portion of the ball touching the definition of the zone and the armpits being the upper limit of the zone, that would put the top of the ball up around the batters chin. Im waiting for the start of the HS season to see how this goes.


Not just the offensive coaches ejected for arguing strikes called at the armpits, but defensive coaches, pitchers, catchers. and daddies for pitches in the river and on the black being called balls. JV just became the SEC and PAC# squeeze the plate zone if called "per the rule book".

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the recognized strike zone called forever by MOST (top of the knees to the bottom of the sternum, widen the plate 4-6" on both sides) cannot be defined and made the rule. It is what is most fair for the balance between pitching and batting without taking too much away from either side (and still gives the pitchers a strike zone that won't get them killed, while still leaving the ball hittable, if not necessarily putting it on a tee).

Just one man's opinion.
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by UmpSteve » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:54 am

Overwatch wrote:Arguing balls and strikes is not an option...got it!

But, we had an umpire that was calling pitches (one foot off the plate) strikes. I questioned the umpire and he said HIS strike zone was "anything between the lines." We are talking 18U softball (tournament championship game), not 8U recreation softball.

If this umpire had said his perception was that the balls were crossing the plate, there's not much to be said. But, where in the ASA rule book (or any rule book) does it say the strike zone is "anything between the white lines" or that the umpire gets to make-up his own strike zone definition? In fact, isn't the ASA strike zone DEFINED as "the area over home plate from the batter's armpits to the top of the knees, when the batter assumes a natural batting stance?" His PERCEPTION may be off, but the DEFINITION never changes.

Doesn't his stated DEFINITION of the strike zone raise an appeal issue? He's not saying those pitches were strikes in his judgement. He's saying those pitches were strikes based on an incorrect strike zone. Let's say he said the strike zone was from the top of the batter's head to her shoelaces and two feet off the plate (even if it goes behind the batter). That's an incorrect DEFINITION of the strike zone...no? Wouldn't that be up for appeal?


An appeal is a defined term meaning something very different than what you are asking. Generally, you can get more consideration with proper terminology, while quickly dismissed when asking the wrong question. Simple answer you would get is, no, not an appeal, ever. So let's talk about a protest, instead.

So, you want to protest a misapplication of the rule. What can/will you accomplish? Most likely results; pick from:
1) UIC tells umpire "don't say that".
2) Umpire changes terminology to "in my judgment it hit the corner of the plate".
3) Umpire decides you showed him up so his zone with corners is there for their pitcher, your pitcher has to throw it on the white.
4) Your next comment is your ejection. If you got to stay that long; you may not survive before the UIC even arrives.

There is also an obvious disconnect somewhere; you say a foot off the plate, but he's calling anything within the lines? There is 6" from white of the plate to white of the batter's box, and exactly 2.18" of that is not a rule-book strike (but common everywhere not called SEC or PAC#). Which is it?

Don't get me wrong. If an umpire is actually calling strikes a foot off the plate, the best options you have are:
1) Get the UIC and ask him to look at what you are getting called. He should either a) attempt to correct the umpire between innings, b) not use him again, but there isn't any fixing it now, or c) tell you he sees nothing wrong with what is being called.
2) If there is no UIC, don't go back to that sanction again. If you get c) above and you can't live with it, don't go back to that sanction again. If a) or b) above, thank the UIC, thank the TD for getting a UIC that knows his job, and accept what you got for now. Umpire calls are as much a part of the game as bad coaching decisions and mental and physical errors by the players.
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by Overwatch » Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:25 am

All good points. This is why I raise these issues here, instead of the field. It's more "venting" than anything else. My wife's heard enough on the drives home, so HeyBucket is the next best thing. :lol:

I normally just take my lumps and deal with it. Thanks for listening... ;)
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by MTR » Sun Feb 21, 2016 6:30 pm

UmpSteve wrote:
Not just the offensive coaches ejected for arguing strikes called at the armpits, but defensive coaches, pitchers, catchers. and daddies for pitches in the river and on the black being called balls. JV just became the SEC and PAC# squeeze the plate zone if called "per the rule book".

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the recognized strike zone called forever by MOST (top of the knees to the bottom of the sternum, widen the plate 4-6" on both sides) cannot be defined and made the rule. It is what is most fair for the balance between pitching and batting without taking too much away from either side (and still gives the pitchers a strike zone that won't get them killed, while still leaving the ball hittable, if not necessarily putting it on a tee).

Just one man's opinion.


Not just one.

This is an annual issue, sometimes more often. You are correct, the manner in which the strike zone has been called for decades has been pretty much as fair as possible to both dugouts. I have found that many of the "feet off the plate" claims are the result of a misperception caused by the manner in which the catcher receives the ball.
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