The PIAA posted its preseason bulletin on its website this week, with its usual lineup of rule changes, points of emphasis, reminders, officials’ uniform guidelines and good ol’ infectious disease prevention. Most of the interesting stuff comes via the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Here’s the rundown of the NFHS rule changes for this season:
“The game of baseball has evolved and technology is now very affordable and available. Videotaping a game or players’ performances adds to the evolution of the game and enhances ability for a coach to provide real-time instruction.”
You’ll often hear about big leaguers checking video between at bats, and while I doubt it will get to that level in high school, this change seems like a no-brainer. Technology continues to extend its reach into baseball, and I’m guessing plenty of teams already use video in practices. This just opens another avenue for players to learn.
* The newsletter is a little unclear on whether the PIAA gives a green light to video capabilities in the dugout. It says the PIAA adopts the 2015 NFHS Baseball Rules Book — though not specifically that rule — but then mentions video replay as a basis for a team warning.
Points of emphasis
Last year, the NFHS honed in on malicious contact, coaching attire and umpire authority and enforcement. This year, it offers three more points of emphasis:
- Helmet maintenance and usage — This one’s pretty simple. Helmets are important, and the NFHS wants to make sure they properly cared for and are “free of cracks, cuts, missing pieces and should have proper ear pads installed without tape holding them together.”
- Pitching substitution and change — Looks like the NFHS is feeling the same kind of pressure to make games go faster that’s in play at the professional levels. It thinks pitching changes are becoming a bit of a problem, with the defensive coach “extending his time around the mound while the substitute pitcher completes his warm-up pitches.” The NFHS isn’t crazy about the coach making the change, then sticking around to talk to talk to his defense while the pitcher warms up. Instead:
“The coach should make his substitution known to the umpire-in-chief, scorekeeper, relieve the game pitcher, instruct his players quickly, and leave the diamond area heading back the dugout/bench area. For the sake of continuity, it is a better game when it is fluid and with minimal interruptions.”
- Sportsmanship: Celebrations around or near home plate and postgame ejections — Again, fairly straightforward. The NFHS wants to make sure things don’t get out of hand at the end of games. Umpires need to be able to see the bases, and celebrations shouldn’t be impeding that. It also wants to eliminate taunting and other types of bad sportsmanship, including harassing umpires after a game has ended.
Mark your calendar
First practice date: Monday, March 2. … First Inter-school/scrimmage date: Saturday, March 7. … First regular-season play date: Friday, March 20. … District championship deadline: Saturday, May 30. … PIAA championships first round: Monday, June 1. … PIAA quarterfinals: Thursday, June 4. … PIAA semifinals: Monday, June 8. … PIAA championships: Friday, June 12 (Class AA, 10:30 a.m.; Class AAAA 1 p.m.; Class A, 3:30 p.m.; Class AAA, 6 p.m.).