by Carl Heikkinen
I’ve recently returned (after 40 yrs.) to umpiring Cal Riken/Little (10-12 year old). It is different than my experience with summer leagues (13-18 year old) and high school baseball and softball umpiring.
I’m trying to get a grip on what to do with what I personally think delays the game, “cat and mouse baserunning.” Example: Runners on 1st and 2nd base, Batter takes a pitch (ball or strike), R2 starts running toward 3rd, stops and shuffles back and forth trying to force a throw from the catcher F2. (then the cat and mouse games begins-delaying the game in my opinion)
F2 throws to F5 and F5 walks toward R2, herding him back to 2nd base. R2 appears to be returning to base, so F5 throws to F1. F1 receives ball on or near pitching rubber.
R2 never reaches and occupies 2nd, then again bolts toward 3rd again, either stopping part way down the line (repeating above) or trying to actually reach 3rd base.
I can not locate any rules or cases to help clarify whether or not an umpire can stop the cat and mouse stuff and stop these actions based upon it delays the game. Softball has the big circle around the pitcher’s mound which helps better manage these types of things, when runners have to return to their last occupied base and continue play.
Your thoughts on what to do with umpiring youth baseball here please.
COACH HENZE’S ANSWER
Thanks for the question Carl! I also can’t stand cat and mouse base running in youth baseball.
I totally get what you are saying! However, I don’t think there is anything you can do when it comes to this baseball rule. I guess you could recommend the other team call a time out when the pitcher receives the ball. If you think the “play” is done, then call a timeout.
In fastpitch softball, there is no leading off and when the pitcher gets back into the circle, the fielder needs to be ready for the next pitch and cannot leave the base until the ball is released.
I would also recommend talking to the coach about it… Most coaches are pretty reasonable and want the game to move along too.
Thanks again! If you are simply here reading this baseball question, please share your experiences and thoughts on this topic of cat and mouse base running below.