Sports have rules. Each rule is designed for a reason.
But rules can intersect.
One of our local high school baseball teams won a hard-fought 5-4 game on Monday for their League’s Division Title…only to have to forfeit the crown to that opponent today because of a rules violation that never should have happened. And while the forfeit decision is absolutely correct, the rules should be rethought.
A young man for Downingtown East pitched seven innings in a game last Friday. The Pennsylvania state high school rule is if a player pitches in six or more innings in one calendar day, the player must then have three calendar days rest to protect himself from injury.
The same youngster then inexplicably pitched to three batters in the final inning of that Title-clinching game Monday versus West Chester East…who Downingtown East entered the game tied with record-wise.
The home plate umpire allegedly said the player could pitch because a new calendar week started on Sunday. His mistake was considering another PA state rule which says a player can pitch no more than fourteen innings in any calendar week – a week defined as Sunday through Saturday. The umpire felt the “reset button” had been pushed and the player was eligible…and Downingtown East’s coach went ahead and put him in.
You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know the “fourteen innings” rule is fine to clarify when a week begins…but in this instance is trumped by the more “urgent” rule no one can pitch six innings or more without those three required days of rest.
It was decided even if the umpire did approve the player’s entry into the game on Monday the three-day rest rule was broken and Downingtown East therefore used an ineligible player. State rules only allow for a remedy of a forfeit. West Chester East’s coach logically protested the game…so they will be declared Division Champ.
Fortunately, both teams have done so well they will advance to play another day as the State Playoffs loom ahead. It will be very interesting if they meet again.
However, Downingtown East loses their first Division Title in school history and also drops in the Playoff seedings. I am just amazed this happened…how rules were seen separately…but interpreted in the wrong order.
I get the rest rules to protect young men from being injured but with rainouts and rescheduling sometimes games have to be played on top of each other…and it’s not like all high school teams have unlimited depth. These restrictions seem to be a bit confining considering high schools have trainers who monitor players’ health regularly, do they not?
And what of the fact the umpire let him in the game – should that carry any weight…and perhaps the winning team should have stayed the winning team? Thoughts on that?