Appeal process among baseball rule changes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Most of the rules changes for the 2003 baseball season involve base running and the use of proper appeals. The Baseball Rules Committee of the National Federation of State High School Associations met recently in Indianapolis.

The most important change was made to Rule 8-2 Penalty Articles 1-5 explains when a coach or player can make an appeal on a missed base. In addition to the set rules on appeals, the rule change added that an appeal must be made before an intentional base is granted.

According to Elliot Hopkins, NFHS assistant director, this rule was added to prevent the defense from intentionally walking batters it does not want to face and then appealing a missed base. The rule change also prevents the defense from attempting a pick-off play and then appealing a missed base as well as allowing the defense to appeal if the offense initiates a play, such as stealing a base. The rule also stipulates that a defensive coach can appeal only during a dead-ball situation.

"This change keeps the coaches from disrupting the umpires during a live ball," he said. "The umpires need to be intent on live-ball situations."

Another important rule change is an addition to Rule 3-1-1i. The change states that coaches in the coach's box may have in their possession a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or comparable electronic score-recording device that shall be used for scorekeeping purposes only in addition to a rules book and scorebook.

Two new rules were also added. Rule 1-2-5 recommends that when the dugout area is extended, for any reason, it should be extended toward the outfield on a line parallel to the foul line. The extension of the dugout area shall be equally applied for both teams. This rule was added because dugout areas were being extended closer to the foul lines and home plate, causing liability concerns and a competitive advantage for one team over the other.

The second new rule was Rule 2-29-6 stating that a defensive appeal of a runner failing to touch a base or tag up is not considered a play. This rule was added to clarify that an appeal does not constitute a play.

Five other rules changes included:

The last line of Rule 3-3-2 was revised to state that a coach who has been ejected can return to the playing area only if specifically requested to by an umpire.

Rule 5-2-2b Exception was changed to explain that if a runner is on or beyond a succeeding base when the ball becomes dead, or advances and touches a succeeding base, he cannot return and will be called out upon a proper and successful appeal.

Rule 8-2-5 was amended to state that if a runner who misses any base or leaves a base too early desires to return to touch the base, he must do so immediately. If the ball becomes dead, he cannot return to the missed base and is subject to being declared out upon a proper and successful appeal.

The following was added to the end of Rule 8-4-2i: "… does not retouch his base before a fielder tags him out or holds the ball while touching such base after any situation. Umpire may also call him out at the end of playing action upon proper and successful appeal. Also, it is not necessary for a runner to retouch his base after a foul tip."