Arbiter’s Commentary

Arbiter’s Commentary

Welcome to the “Arbiter’s Commentary”. These posts will focus on anything and everything to do with the world of sports officiating. We are looking to produce a dialogue to shed light on best practices that you may use to hone your officiating development.

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Time Management

As a baseball and fastpitch softball umpire, you cannot help but notice the focus of MLB on time management this 2023 preseason. Let’s take a quick look at the high school baseball or fastpitch softball game today and see if we can better manage some time. The NFHS Baseball Rule (6-2-2c) states, “failing to pitch or make or attempt a play, including a legal feint, within 20 seconds after he has received the ball.” And the NFHS Fastpitch Softball Rule (6-2-3) tells us that “once the ball is returned to the pitcher to prepare for the pitch, the pitcher has 20 seconds to release the pitch.” In either sport, the penalty for not adhering to the time is an awarded ball to the batter.  If you are an umpire do you really keep this count or do you error on the over?

The batter in a baseball game, following NFHS Baseball Rule (7-3-1), gets 20 seconds to take their position within the batter’s box, and “the batter must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout their time at bat.” The NFHS Fastpitch Softball Rule (7-3-1) tells the batter “to promptly take position with both feet completely inside the batter’s box within 10 seconds after the ball is returned to the pitcher to prepare for the next pitch.”  In your game, do you get after the batter more than the pitcher?

Another area that we may be able to improve on is the time allotted between half-innings.  Both NFHS Baseball Rule (6-2-2C Exception) and NFHS Fastpitch Softball Rule (6-2-5) allow for a maximum of 1 minute of time to lapse between half-innings.  The timer should start the moment the last out of the half-inning is recorded. NFHS Baseball differs from NFHS Fastpitch Softball in the number of warm-up pitches that are allotted to pitchers. The point here is to manage the 1 minute correctly.  In a full 7 inning game there are 13 half-innings. If you allow both teams 2 minutes between innings, you have just added 13 minutes to your game time. This season try to see if you can reduce the time between pitches and innings by just enforcing the rules that are written.

If you are a coach reading this, think of ways you could improve the time management of the game.