Team Captains and board members met to kick off the 2015 season. Our esteemed commissioner, Matt “Ranger” Petty, brought up five issues for discussion and vote.
1. The catchers glove: Yea or nay, shall we continue to allow the use of the Shoeless Joe 1915 catcher's mitt with the webbing removed (The one we used in the 2014 season). The 1930 Dazzy Vance glove with webbing removed and four fingers optionally laced together will be allowed either way the vote goes. We'll either allow both (Yea vote), as with last year, or just the Dazzy (Nay vote). A side note: The league shall develop a task force to do further research and develop more glove options for future seasons.
2. Balk rule: Yea or nay, shall we adopt new language to clarify the balk rule, and move us to a simpler "forward motion" approach.
The working language (subject to adjustment by the board) would state: "The hurler must deliver home if the front leg and/or throwing arm is moving toward the plate. A hurler may lift the front leg and go to a base, but may not lift the leg, start a motion home with either leg or arm, and then change course to a base. Balk calls are the discretion of the sir, and he may offer warnings and adjustments before making balk calls. As with any call, a request for a balk should not be made during play. Between innings a captain may request to clarify a call to help reach an understanding about the Sir's interpretation.
3. Dues: Yea or Nay, shall league dues be $85 for the season and an additional $15 for registrations submitted after Feb. 1, 2015. Prorated mid-season additions may be added after 5/18 (the day after game 7) for $45. There shall be absolutely no players on the field who have not registered with the league and paid appropriate dues. A release form must be signed by each player before allowed in a BAVBB game.
4. Sirs: Yea or nay, shall it be mandated that a sir must be arranged for each BAVBB league game. It shall be the responsibility of the home team to arrange for a sir and pay them as negotiated. A team may use a player for sir, but they must be dedicated to the task and wear appropriate sir attire (black hat and jacket) and may not participate in the game. It is expected that all league sirs have a solid understanding of the rules and make unbiased calls.
5. Batting order: Yea or nay, shall we allow managers to use a set lineup where all strikers bat in order regardless of whether they played in the field or not. This would be an additional option to our current system, and would be declared by the manager at the beginning of the game.
All the measures passed, some resoundingly and some after a great deal of back-and-forth. The most contentious issue was #1, regarding the catcher’s mitt. Many felt the new mitt contributed to harder hurling and endangered the Striker. The Captains and board members debated how best to protect both the safety of the Behind and the safety of the Striker, and whether the design of the mitt was a good way to control the Hurler’s velocity. The debate revolved around period accuracy, safety, and gameplay. Our current mitt isn’t quite period accurate, the Behind is at risk for broken fingers, and the Striker is at risk for head injury. As for gameplay, ballparks are idiosyncratic; some ballparks have short backstops and some, particularly Big Rec, have long backstops. Passed balls have more impact at fields with long backstops, leading to games that are decided by stolen bases and dropped third strikes. For now, the league has decided to keep the glove from 2014 and work to create a more period-accurate glove for 2016 that is safe for the Behind’s fingers. We also proposed a gentlemen’s rule, that if a Hurler hits a striker (or strikers) twice in an inning he shall be removed by the captain for that inning; should he return and hit a Striker thrice in a game, said Hurler shall be relieved and not allowed to hurl until the next match.
The balk rule, #2, is very difficult to describe, but the BAVBB board has never balked at hard work. The idea is that once the Hurler has started his usual motion to the plate, he must continue. The converse is that the league wishes to encourage active trickery to hold runners, including faking to a base and then hurling homeward. We hope to meet with Sirs before the season to discuss implementation of the new definition. In the end it will be upon the Sir to adjudge.
Rule #3: The dues are set at $85. We extended the deadline to Feb 15th, but encourage all ballists to submit their dues as early as possible so we can sort the insurance and obtain the necessary gear (balls, bases, Behind’s gear, etc.) in time for the season.
Rule #4: Everyone who has played agrees that self-Siring is no fun for anyone. We wish to mandate that every home team provide a Sir for the game, be he one of the professional Sirs who have served the league well in the past few years; or as second resort, a designated player from the home team who dedicates himself to the task for the entire game, including wearing appropriate attire. Cigar smoking is encouraged, as incentive.
Rule #5: The batting order rule instigated another contentious debate, but in the end the “ayes” carried the day; meaning that teams may decide a priori whether to bat only the nine in the field or bat through the lineup. The reasoning behind this amendment is that all players pay the dues, pack the car, don the kit, and drive an hour to get to the game an hour early; and that all those ballists deserve a few at-bats. Because it is a contentious point it has been left to the discretion of the team captain, but must be declared at the beginning of the game. Therefore lineups should be presented to the Sir and the opposing team at the beginning of the game so that players cannot bat more frequently when they are moved in and out of the field at different positions. Your humble reporter is not certain on this point, but I believe we do not allow the captain to shift batters up and down the lineup by shuffling them in and out of the field, and by so doing provide more frequent opportunities to the best Strikers.
The Captains and Board also discussed items for future debate and vote:
- Mandatory uniforms
- No substitutes from another team shall be permitted to Hurl or play the Behind, and any such substitutes must bat last in the order, and not play at all if an original nine are present
- How to resolve end-of-season tie-breakers
- Permit the “knuckleball”
Becker “TORO” Drane