Thursday, March 5, 2015

Introducing BetaBall: Part Two

We're back with the second part of our introduction to a new sport called BetaBall. Hopefully you guys enjoyed the first part of this series and will enjoy this one as well, and if you don't please let me know and I will scrap the idea. Without further delay here is part two of the BetaBall introduction as we wait for the Yankees to take the field in Bradenton before facing off with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Key rule in Phase One BetaBall:

Start today on any hardball or softball field in the world.

·         When the bases are empty and a batter is OUT by strike-out, ground out, fly out, line drive, caught foul ball; or pick-off at any base, the fielding team has the opportunity to score a Defensive Point.   The play is extended after the OUT is declared requiring the out batter or picked-off runner to immediately proceed to run all the bases (or remaining bases in case of a force out or double play ball or pick-off) and touch home plate BEFORE all the players on the field have handled the ball and returned it to the catcher at home plate. In that frantic 8 -16 seconds, the batter can AVOID a defensive point by reaching home plat before all the field players have handled the ball.  But if all the field players do handle the ball and get it home before the batter or runner; then the defensive field team is awarded a Defensive Point. Defensive points accumulate and convert into runs.

·         A throwing arc painted on the outfield surface defines the zone the outfielders must occupy when their team is attempting to win a defensive point. They must catch and throw from beyond the arc.

·         For long fly outs or foul outs beyond the throwing arc, only the outfielders (and perhaps 1 cut-off infielder) need to touch the ball before throwing it to home plate.
·         Defensive points SCORED by the field team accumulate and convert into runs at agreed benchmarks set by the League …. Perhaps 5, 6, or 7 defensive points will convert to 1 run. A league office will determine this threshold.

Defensive point situations:
1.    Strike out or foul tip caught.  Batter immediately starts a 14-18 second circuit around the bases. All defensive field players must handle the ball and throw to home before the batter gets there to be awarded a defensive point.  If the batter gets home before all players handle the ball, then his team avoids a defensive point.

2.    Pop up, line drive, or ground ball to the infield  All 9 fielding players must handle the ball.

3.    Foul ball out within the OTA arc. All 9 players must handle the ball

4.    Long fly out or foul out to the outfield beyond the OAT arc. Only the 3 outfielders and catcher must handle the ball to be awarded a defensive point.  Sometimes a cut off infielder may be used to get the ball to home plate if the outfielders are near the outfield wall.

5.    A force-out or double play ball and both runners are out with no other runners ahead of the out-base runners; then all 9 players must handle the ball to get a defensive point.

6.    Fair ball hit as a double play ball and only the lead runner is out (normally at second base) with no other runners ahead of them. All 9 players must handle the ball.

7.    A pick-off at any base when there are no other runners ahead of the pick-off victim.

For example, in a hit-less inning without a base on balls, at least 3 defensive points are possible. Once there is a runner on any base, no defensive points are possible until the next inning.  Only when there is a home run will defensive points again become possible in that inning.

The option is a dual award system where total defensive points count for 1 point in league standings; and total runs count for another point.

Start today on any hardball or softball field in the world. Get a dozen small plastic garden markers and plant them each 200 feet from home plate (OTA) A temporary throwing arc.

Scoring:   Coaches, you have at least 2 scoring options when introducing BetaBall to your league.
1.    Assign two points for every game in the league standings. Award 1 point to the team scoring the most pure runs on offence; and another point for the team who achieves the most defensive points (DP)
2.    Test a league rule that converts each  5 defensive point (DP) into a run and the team with the combined score wins all 2 points.

Rule Options for Converting to Full BetaBall

Full BetaBall is a team sport with 9 players, 9 innings, similar playing field, similar skill sets, and same equipment as traditional baseball.  The game is still a demonstration of 5 basic skills …….  running, fielding, hitting, catching, and throwing.  But for BetaBall, we use:
Enlarged strike zone. 18.5 inches wide and + 34 inches long. Expanded.
3 balls to walk;

Electronic pitch calling with overhead and side electronic cameras.

Touch not tag at home plate.

Batters must stay in the batter’s box;

Designated hitters;

Intentional walk on request;  No 4 pitches.

Time clock between pitches; About 20 seconds

2 warm up pitches for relievers from the bull pen;

Limited visits to the mound;

Plate umpires are 50% ceremonial and 100% theatre.

A running swath 3.5 meters wide protects runners as they dash the bases.

90mph is the maximum pitching speed. Fewer blown arms.


Runner Swath:  In DPP situations, the batter / runner cannot deviate from a 3.5 meter (12 ft. ) wide invisible  “swath” while rounding the bases. Fielders must avoid this swath because if the batter /runner can touch either the ball or a fielder within the swath, the DP opportunity is automatically avoided.

Outfield Throwing Arc:  In BetaBall , a throwing arc (OTA) is painted on the surface of the outfield and all outfielders must remain beyond the arc during a DPP to catch a ball from the “infield horn” or to throw the final DP ball to the catcher. All points on the arc are equidistant from home plate and this distance may vary according to the age or skill level of the players; little league to college to professional to senior leagues ….. hardball and softball.

Home Plate:  The home plate dimensions change to avoid collisions on DPP situations.  The catcher need not tag the runner. Home plate has a hinged front edge or be layered and the top layer attached to the bottom layer by tongue and groove. The umpire manually extends the plate when a DPP is under way. The catcher “owns” the front part of the plate; while runner “owns” the rear part to touch the plate. No tag necessary.

To repeat, in DPP situations in which the bases are empty and the batter is “out” by strike-out, line drive, fly ball out, ground out, foul tip, foul ball caught, or a base runner is picked-off; then the batter or runner must immediately run and tag the remaining bases and touch home plate before each defensive player has handled and touched the ball. This will avoid a DP.

In DPP routines, the first baseman usually handles the ball first and the catcher last. Most balls will go “around the horn” and then be thrown to the outfield culminating in a long throw to the catcher. The outfield throw to home plate is the most exciting play in BetaBall as well as in baseball. BetaBall will showcase at least 40 of these throws per game.
In BetaBall is the Defensive Point Play (DPP) comes into effect when a new batter comes to the plate and there are no base runners. 

Sample DPP situations in a typical 9 inning game are as follows:
1.    The lead-off batter in each inning:
Team A          9 batters                     Team B          9 batters
2.    The second batter in each inning. (Assume a team batting average of .333)
Team A          6 batters                     Team B          6 batters
3.    The third batter in each inning.   (Assume a team batting average of .333)
Team A          4 batters                     Team B          4 batters
4.    The next batter following a home run which clears the bases. (Predict 3 home runs per game on average)

5.    Special cases. a) Double play ball when there is a runner on first base;  b) pick-off  at any base and no runners ahead of the pick-off victim;  In a successful double play when both the lead runner and batter are out; then both must run the bases and touch home plate before the defensive team can touch and handle the ball to both avoid a DP.  In extremely rare situations the defensive team can score 2 DP’s on the same play. 

Safety features of BetaBall:
3.    Maximum pitch speed at the professional level will be either 90 or 95 MPH.  Slower speeds for minor and college leagues. Fewer blown arms.

4.    Runners Swath.  An imaginary lane 3.5 meters wide protects the runner. If a runner can touch the ball or any infielder during a DPP, he is automatically awarded home plate and the DP is voided.

5.    Each On-Deck box is located much farther away from the batter’s box. Both boxes are shaded and host an exercise bicycle. Better leg muscle preparation for a DPP.

6.    A larger and extendable home plate for the runner and catcher to share. No tag at the plate is necessary in BetaBall.

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