Many smart baseball players are masters of disguise. Infielders break this rule and get away with it 99.9% of the time. Catchers, in particular, get away with it 100% of the time. If a rule is not being enforced, why is it still in the rule book?
Baseball rules clearly state that you can NOT block a base without the baseball. So much for the rules. Many players don't just bend this rule but completely break this rule. If you're not going to enforce a rule, why don't we either remove it from the rule book or start to enforce it?
Catchers do it on almost every close play at the plate and get away with it 100% of the time. Infielders get away with it 99.9% of the time. They say the hand is quicker than the eye but in this case, quite often the knee is quicker than the eye.
What the infielders will do is block the base with their knee a fraction of a second before they receive the throw. It happens so fast that they get away with it. The runner often gets to the base beforehand but has no access to the base. It happens all the time on an attempted pickoff or on a tag play at one of the bases.
First basemen are very good at blocking the base on a pick-off throw from either their pitcher or their catcher, before they actually receive the throw. What the first basemen will do is to get their knee down to block the base an instant before they catch the ball and then bring their tag down. They get away with it because the knee blocks the base at the very last split second before they receive the ball. Most are so good at it that it has to be viewed in slow motion to be seen. We're talking a fraction of a second.
A base runner can discourage this from happening. If the base runner is retreating to a base or advancing to the next base, he can slide in feet first instead of head first. The last thing we want is to see anyone hurt on the ball field so hopefully the player in the field will follow the rules. And even if the player in the field does not follow the rules, we still don't want to see anyone injured.
I saw a high school coach in May of 2006 make a valid point. His team had a base runner on first base and his runner had to dive back to first base on an attempted pick off by the pitcher to the first baseman. Before the first baseman had the ball, he blocked the base with his knee and the runner was safe but it was a very close play. Much closer than it should have been. But the base runner was blocked by the first baseman's knee and had a difficult time getting to the base. The coach simply yelled to his runner, “if he's going to block the base, go back feet first. " The coach is 100% right. I'm hopeful that the coach did not want his runner to injure the first baseman but simply wanted to forewarn the first baseman that he should abide by the baseball rules of the game.
Larry Cicchiello is the successful author of “Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away. " His VERY user friendly eBooks and CD's cover 320 topics on playing very good baseball. ANY baseball player, coach or parent who wants to help their child will be fully equipped! Some FREE baseball tips on hitting and FREE baseball pitching tips are available at http://www.LarryBaseball.com .