Just Tribbin on the spirit of the rule .. Precedent setting? Probably not, but enlightening for sure

The most interesting part of the CIF-Southern Section’s decision to deny Montebello’s protest that South Hills took an illegal pre-game batting practice, and thus should forfeit its 3-2 victory, was the section’s acknowledgment that a rule was violated, but not severe enough to warrant a disqualification from the playoffs. “At the end of the day, nobody is here to penalize kids,” Southern Section Director of Information Thom Simmons said. “Did a penalty occur? Sure. Did a team gain a competitive advantage? No. Did they (South Hills) win on the field? Yes. In the rules, it says a team `may’ be removed from the playoffs for something like this. Not that they `will’ be. The rule allows us that leeway. We don’t think it was worthy of removing a team from the entire playoffs.” I’ll be honest, I thought if you violated this rule it was a slam-dunk disqualification. Simmons’ remarks and explanation were enlightening, to say the least. It’s good to know the section has the power in some instances to ask, “does the punishment fit the crime?” To weigh the rule versus the spirit of the rule, which Steve Ramirez so elegantly explained commenting on a previous thread, should be used in more situations. Click the thread to read what Steve wrote

For the record, Steve wrote this prior to CIF’s ruling.

My only comment would be: Was what South Hills is accused of in the spirit of the rule?
Was the alleged batting practice formal, which would give them an unfair advantage? Or was it one kid throwing to another, just goofing off before taking infield? Was it something the coaches were involved in, or the players themselves? It has to be, in my mind, in the spirit of the rule.
I use the term in the spirit of the rule, because I don’t think you can have a rigid rule and have it be fair.
I’m sure you remember when George Brett hit a GW home run against the Yankees in the early 1980s. Umpires ruled he had pine tar beyond the handle of the bat, which is illegal, and Brett was ruled out and his HR dis-allowed.
Brett and the Royals appealed, and the American League ruled that while the pine tar was indeed up the barrel of the bat, and Brett violated it, it wasn’t in the spirit of the rule, because the rule is in place because pine tar on a batted ball can give it extra spin and result in a base hit and not an out. The AL ruled that if Brett’s bat was clean, he would still have hit a home run; there was no advantage.
I would bring it to our case in point sand say if South Hills had a formal batting practice, whether it be with baseballs, softballs or whiffle balls – as the rule states – then OK, they are guilty and must forfeit, but if it was just players goofing off, then no, the win should be upheld.

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  • smash

    You can’t use the term ‘allegedly’ when even Simmons already confirmed it did occur.

    And Simmons said “Did a penalty occur? Sure.”… Actually a penalty didn’t occur. A penalty is the punishment imposed for breaking a rule. Since a punishment wasn’t imposed, there was no penalty.

    We all need to better understand the words we use.

  • jcaz

    This story sort of reminds me of an article that came out not to long ago about a similar rules violation in which a girl wore jewelry during a track meet.

    According to this rule, she wasn’t suppose to have had jewelry on when she competed, but she did, and as a consequence, she was disqualified only because the opposing coach filed a protest to the powers that be, AFTER THE MATCH was completed and after his team had lost.

    Boy, you should have heard all of the outrage over this issue, because people were just ripping into the coach who called in the violation. They were angry because even though it was a clear violation of the rules, the issue was, that he had only filed the protest after his team had lost

    Anyway, my take on this whole thing is that is if there is going to be a rule, then enforce it, otherwise why even have rules to begin with ? I mean yes, you can sit here and argue that there was a spirit of the law type of a deal, or may there was an instance where this rule really didnt have to be applied, but if we go that route, then the bigger question is, where do we stop ?

    In other words, if a Reggie Bush were to be found guilty of a rules violations that in actually, had absolutely nothing to do with playing football, then why should USC be put on any kind of probation ?

    I suppose that you could even go further with this type of an argument and bring up any number of issues included HGH in cycling, or even the whole baseball doping scandal and paint it any color you want to.

    Anyway my point here is that it’s really all about having rules that somebody either choose to enforce or chooses to ignore. But that really sucks. In my opinion it’s not fair do have different standards and then enforce them whenever you damn well want to because it’s just not fair to those who know the rules and then play by them.

    And…..even though I am in not in anyway way making a value judgment about what happened in this particular game, I am nevertheless saying that maybe the opposing coach should have brought this issue to the attention of the SH people when he saw the violation being committed. After all, if the guy took the time to video tape it, he at least should have mentioned something to the opposing staff and got that on the record.

  • smash

    jcaz, good point.

    One more thing, to all of you that keep bringing up the phrase “the spirit of the law”, it doesn’t apply to sports. It only applies to laws such as civil, criminal, vehicular. You can’t apply the term “spirit of the law” when it comes to sports. Sports have rules. And for sports to be fair, everyone has to adhere to these rules. It’s a slippery slope once you start down this road. So now is it okay for the next team to do as much BP as South Hills did as long as they don’t go beyond? And who’s to judge? When is a face mask really a face mask? “By the rule book he’s out of bounds, but by the spirit of the law he is…?” See what I mean? You can’t apply it.

    Next thing you know you’ll have some kid explaining, “we were playing hide and seek and I was suppose to count to 10. Since I count slow, I stopped at 8. It would have been the same as counting to 10.”… No!! How about you just count to freakin’ 10!

    My final point. There is NO ‘spirit of the law’ when it comes to sports!

  • Rules police

    All you complaining that rules are rules don’t get it, the RULE as it is written, says a team MAY be disqualified for being in violation, not that it AUTOMATICALLY results in one. CIF applied the rule, which gave it the leeway to look at the infraction objectively and make a sound decision. You can agree or disagree with the decision, but the rules were enforced as it as written, giving CIF the right to weigh what the penalty should be. If you don’t agree with the penalty, too bad.

  • No integrity Fred, absolutely none.

    Okay folks here it is. CIF suffered a national pie face hit with the Robin Liard incident, otherwise known as the Jewelry Rule. Even though this rule and it’s consequences had been imposed countless times, this time they found the “perfect” face to voice an up roar.

    This time around, on the heels of the PR nightmare, CIF relented and gave Montebello the shaft. Mr. Robledo is just another misinformed go along hack who will never think for himself, only for the heavy hitter in the room, in this case South hIlls.

    Mr. Robledo and others have taken the tactless position that any protest is crybabying. Reallly? So what constitutes a non crybaby protest? Rowland Softball coach could have protested a call/game but didn’t…he’s no crybaby.

    Isn’t the nature of a protest to alleviate the need for coaches to enrage fans “on the spot”.

    Salesian beat Chaffey years ago in a Soccer Quarterfinals. In a tie game taht went to penalty kicks we went best or five, best of five and best of five. When they misse dtheir last shot 100’s of Mustang fans rushed the field. At that moment Salesian was electric with pride.

    Two days later CIF informed Salesina that the third best of five was really sudden death, we lost. Were we mad, no. We understood the rules were the rules. The officials made a mistake.

    Montebello could have informed South hIlls on the spot it was protesting the game before any pitches were thrown. What a circus that would have been.

    What’s sad is Fred’s position in this matter. Calling coaches crybaby is paramount to a slap in the face. The coach has an obligation to have his team adhere to the rules, so did Smith. One failed, case closed. Same as the jewelry incident. When every one complies with a rule why is it a crybaby move say “she didn’t”?

    Fred what happens if Montebello wins? Do they still report South Hills ? Would it matter? In your mind no…but then if he does it at the end of the game he’s entitled to your public scorn. Make sense if that.

    Fred in your world view only “scoreboard” winners should protest games….really?

    Incredible that you don’t apologize to the Montebello community who played their hearts out. Leave the crybaby comments to school yard bullies who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

  • oiler alumni

    I was at the game and next to the Montebello dugout when Coach G was speaking to the 1st base umpire before the game started. When he came back he said the game was being played under protest. The umps then informed SH and you can tell the coach got worked up (guilty). Just want to make it clear that SH knew about the protest before the game.

  • Does knowing a game is under protest, prior to the game, inspire a team or deflate them?

    You know Oiler Alum I was talking to my kids and their friend who’s an umpire about this very issue. I thought it was to a team’s disadvantage to know about the protest, especially one that is grounded in a well known rule violation.

    I think it takes the edge off somewhat knowing essentially, “the game is in the bag”, even if it’s 5% of an ease off in close games 1% matters. Not sure there is any evidence of that but that would be my fear. Maybe other’s would care to give an opinion about that from a coach or player perspective.

    This is crazy about the field. It’s easy to say Montebello did it but let’s keep in mind tempers have to be high right know. Is it a reach to think a SH fan did it to increase the righteousness of the ruling and to generate sympathy in a twisted way. Or maybe it was Oilers students or fans who felt robbed by the ruling. Or maybe it was Fred calling out the Montebello contingent as crybabies, who knows.

    The easy thing here would have been for CIF to have ruled against a CIF Champion and sent out a memo to all remaining teams, don’t go near the line on rules. Then some one would say they didn’t get the memo.

    Lost on all this is Smith’s being asked the question, for the record, “If CIF clearly said there was a rule violation how could that take place with such a seasoned team and a even more seasoned coach?” Didn’t Smith initially say, “IT NEVER HAPPENED?”

  • Jr Law

    Precedent SET

    ANY two kids can now decide, on their OWN of course, that it is OK to do this as CIF said it was a penalty BUT did not penalize the team. Therefore these kids can actually say they wanted to see if 9 pitches was ok (since someone said the SH kids had 8 pitches) and that they were NOT taking batting practice but rather TESTING the rule so in the spirit of the game they did not violate the game just the rule.

  • Ouch!


    Frank no like you homeboy!

  • Name calling sportswriters?

    Who doesn’t like Fred. You can disagree with some one and not hate them. This isn’t a jihad after all. I just don’t see the ethical value in calling a coach, any coach, a crybaby for filing a protest. Especially when it’s been reported that Montebello informed the umpire and Smith he was protesting the game prior to the first pitch.

  • EvanLeigh

    Lots and lots of comments by folks who are confused. Let’s see if I can help…
    The difference between the jewelry episode and the Montebello protest is night and day.
    No integrity Fred does not understand that the jewelry rule is not a CIF rule. It is a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rule. The CIF played no role in creating the rule or its enforcement.
    The rule says wearing jewelry of any kind (except religious medallions or medical alert bracelets) is illegal. It further states, under the penalty, the person who violates the rule WILL BE disqualified. It gives you absolutely no ability to allow somebody to stay in the meet. They are out.
    With regard to the batting practice rule the rule states that a school MAY be removed from the playoffs. Not that they WILL be removed.
    You can choose to ignore those FACTS or continue SPECULATION on what is right or wrong. Instead I am sure I will be attacked for presenting them.
    Good luck.

  • Jr Law

    THE FACT then is that NOW ANY TWO PAYERS CAN TAKE UP TO 8 PITCHES OF BATTING PRACTICE as long as they do it “jokingly” and IF the team is DQ’ed then can honestly claim discrimination or at the very least favoritism, right?

    and as for the “friendship” bracelet, when did friendship bracelets become jewelry? and who is to say it is not religiously motivated? a religious medallion is accepted according to you, but how do you wear it?

  • SI’s take on Cushing’s RE-Vote

    Religious medals are worn under the uniform taped to the skin

    Read an interesting piece in SI about Cushing’s ROY award and the subsequent re-vote. Seems one sportswriter changed his vote to Cushing in the re-vote, what sense does that make?

    He wasn’t his pick before the suspension but after the suspension he was. Maybe Fred and Aram aren’t the only man crushing sportswriters on the planet. Guess that sportswriter likes his men “dirty”, ouch!

    What would have happened if Smith had benched the offending players and asked the Montebello coach if that satisfied him enough not to protest the game, in the name of sportsmanship and all. Would that have made News?

  • Fred – hiding in the shadows again

    Does anyone else find it amusing that when Fred gets slammed – legitimately I might add(nice work No integrity Fred, absolutely none) that he crawls back into his little hole and hides.

    But then again when we expect professionalism from Fred it is like expecting rain on a cloudless day – never going to happen

  • FredJ

    Why would I hide, I took Sunday off, sorry if I’m not answering 24-7. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, and if you want to question my integrity because I have an opinion on the subject (the blog is called Fred Robledo on prep sports), then go right ahead. I felt then, and still feel now, that it was a protest I would not have filed because I would not have wanted to advance that way. Sorry if that bothers so many of you, but the blog is for opinion, including mine, and has nothing to do with the balanced news stories that appear in the paper.

  • openminded

    Ok so Santiago and Montebello coaches are in the same boat. Both with good travel ball locations but both only average coaches.

    Smash said it best..learn to read. A lot of people here say ” It is clearly a rule violation” ok but the punishment is up to CIF. Period..and they have handed down the ruling.

    The jewelry rule is a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rule!

  • Step Up Time

    Fred I don’t think you hide, ever. I’ll say that right up front. Maybe you side step certain coaches faults but hide, never. Are you wrong on this absolutely. When you put forth the idea that you “wouldn’t want to win that way” you do a disservice to the process. Protesting a game has many forms. Recently a 22 year old re-enrolled as a high school student and a school called him out. The games were reversed. Every year teams are forced to forfeit games due to a variety of reasons, all survived. As my mother in law used to say about kids that kid to get their way, ‘They don’t cry blood, they’ll get over it”. She was right. Kids are resilient and more often than not it’s the adults who hold on to things too log. You only hear adults form Bonita talk about the infamous balk. Kids, they move on.

    Fred I’m a little surprised by your “advance that way” comment but I respect your position as a former player myself I think it does every player, on both sides, a disservice to have to play, win, lose,advance or forfeit while breaking rules, even those I disagree with. But somewhere deep down as an athlete I know my coach has my back. It’s at times like these that players have to have their coaches back as well and follow the rules or come forward, as Robin Liard or the baseball players in question did not, and admit they let the team down. Because that’s what they did.

  • Basic


    My question is “WHY does the CIF get an OPTION” why do they get to decide how and WHO they want to punish and who they don’t? Why not have SET procedures, rules and punishments? then this would never be an issue. Yes sometimes it might seem Unfair but if everyone gets the same punishment for the same crime then in my opinion it’s the most fair.

    As it stands now, I would probably fall in the group that thinks advancing by, as Fred put it “crying,” is not cool BUT the rules ARE the rules and EVERYONE has to follow them and therefore SH at the very least should sit the two players in question. Otherwise let every HOME team have a few kids take BP and tell the visitors this is fair because CIF said it was ok.

    Just my questions and opinions…

  • at the game

    Hey Fred, if that was your opinion thats fine and i can respect that and it can all be maturely debated. But for you to say that someone who didn’t agree with your opinion was a cry-baby was just wrong. What makes you right and MHS wrong. A coach is supposed to defend his players and if he felt they were being wronged then by all means he should have stepped up and reported it.

    For CIF to say South Hills got no competitive advantage thats BuLL. That kid had three hits. How can they know for sure?? There is a chance he did get an advantage right?? At LEAST a CHANCE???? That should have been enough right there. it was obvious CIF wasnt going to have any ballz and do what was right. Now they are trying to put a lid on it and telling everyone not to comment on the issue and not to release the video? What are they afraid of if they know they made the right decision??

    And talking about crybabies… after they learned MHS had a video south hills called MHS and said they were protesting because montebello took pepper to far away!!! LOL Why would you protest a game you won UNLESS you thought you were gonna lose on protest because you did something wrong!>>??
    They knew they screwed up, but luckily for them CIF bailed them out.

    And for that kid that supposedly went to the hospital because he had chest pains worrying about the protest!? Give me a freakin break.

    And for the loudmouth SH principal to make that a major issue at the meeting…..WHATS THE RELVANCE of that relating to whether or not a rule was broken?? NONE. Why was that even taken into consideration.

    On on a side note…..How does Mike Lamb who is the founder of the WEST COVINA DUKES who knew all the south hills players and coaches obviously very well by the way he was fraternizing with the team before the game get that assignment when he has such a close relationship with so many of those players and parents? I’m not making excuses because i dont care who won but two plays/calls were very …lets say questionable. When i saw he was going to umpire i told my wife, watch any close calls he make are going to south hills……guess what…they did. what a surprise. Nice Job Mike. You made your Hometown proud. Next time dont make it so obvious b4 the game that you have so many friends on the team. It looks unprofessional.

    An for those of you blaming MHS for jacking up their field. Wheres the video?? I guess video evidence is good enough in a court of law, but not for CIF. CIF is a JOKE!

  • EvanLeigh

    Jr. Law… I can’t say that your scenario is FACT from now on. That would be up to the CIF office… not either of us. I can state that the rule states illegal batting practice MAY result in being removed from the playoffs. Not must. That is a FACT.
    As for the friendship braclet… I guess it became jewlery when the NFHS said it was in their rulebook. Again, a FACT.
    A a religious medal is accepted not according to me… it is accepted according to the NFHS rule book. Once again, a FACT.
    Now, you can have problems with the rule and be angry with the circumstances but you cannot change the facts.

    Basic… the CIF gets to decide because that is what they are there to do. And they have been given that responsibility by the member schools who make the rules like no batting practice and no jewlery.

  • sesdk2000@yahoo.com

    Just in…..CIF is facing possible legal action over their decision not to punish south hills for conducting illegal batting practice. Way to go Lakewood!!

  • SGV Reader

    Well this ruling must make that whole track and field situation more interesting. If CIF can take a championship away for wearing a braclet, I would think an illegal batting practice would be would result in some sort of penalty. I’m not saying disqualify South Hills from the playoffs but maybe take away a home playoff game or something.

  • Did happened before right?

    Fred’s consistent, Pulled up these comments between Joe Amat and Fred after the first year softball coach’s team was forced to forfeit a playoff win. One sentence stood out for me. Fred saying that the oposing coach’s reaction would dictate his actions. What was Smith’s reaction when informed before the game of the protest? Was he surprised by his players actions or did he deny it took place. He denied it ever happened. Does that change your view Fred seeing as it came out that Smith was either in denial, standing up for his players or flat out lying.

    FredJ said:
    Joe Amat, that would make a great legal argument, you win my vote if I’m on the jury. You said coaching matters, well it matters if you’re a coach witness to this, and what your reaction is to it. For me personally, I’m not interested in winning that way, and knowing the punishment is so severe, I would approach the opposing coach and ask if they’re aware of the rule. That coaches reaction determines what I do next. If someone explained they were a first year coach, and appeared surprised by the question, I think I would give the benefit of the doubt, and use my best judgment. Again Joe, this is about the players, this is their moment, and its a moment they never get back if they’re seniors. I know there are many other scenarios, an umpire spotting and turning a team in for it, or a fan or administrator tipping off CIF, but I’m talking about the scenario I explained. I think there are ways you can handle it if you think in the best interest of the players.

  • EvanLeigh

    SGV Reader… Once again it was not a CIF that ended up disqualifying the pole vaulter from the meet. It was a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rule. And the CIF did not take away the league title for that infraction. The school never claimed the title once the girl was disqualified from the meet. Additionally, even if the league title had been stripped that would not have been done by the CIF. Only the league can strip a league title.

  • FredJ

    I wasn’t at the game, so I don’t know what Smith’s reaction was. But the case you pulled up involved a first-year softball coach that had conducted a full pre-game batting practice, but said she was unaware of the rule.

  • joemama

    Frank, why are you always talking crap to fred ? If you want to call him out do it under your name. Stop hiding because everyone knows who you are anyway.

  • SGV Reader


    With that being known, CIF still concluded that THEIR rule had been broken by South Hills. While disqualification may not be necessary in this case, a penalty of some kind should be enforced as I stated. Nothing unreasonable of course, but I think a forfeiture of their next playoff home game and having to play on the road again would be sufficient in my opinion.

  • Jr Law

    The FACT is CIF said “YES Two of SH players had BP” so that is a FACT. Now CIF decided that it did not give an unfair advantage to SH and in the “spirit” of the game NO Punishment was given. Therefore, IF two kids from a home team have their own BP before the game and do EXACTLY what SH did, then by the Precedent set here by CIF, they can legally do it and have the same result, which is NO Punishment, otherwise CIF can be cited for discrimination, unless of course CIF informs Every team that from now on they will do something different under the same circumstances.

    And Fred, as others have pointed out, I have no objection to your opinion however, IF other schools (non SGV) have illegal BP against SH, BA, Bonita, SD, NV, Glendora etc. and IF any of these schools file a protest against said non-SGV school, then I hope you call them out like you did MB…


    joemama you oxy-moron . How is Frank hiding if everyone knows who he is like you say. Just stick to the subject matter and quit stalking Frank like a bloodhound. We all know it’s him and some of his posts make for good reading. At least you can understand his writing some of which makes a lot of sense. Wasn’t it Frank who challenged the SGV to schedule Serra , Cathedral and others. Well don’t look now but you know who is playing Cathedral this coming season.I know you are enjoying that Frank . It’s called thinking outsuide the fishbowl jm .At least as well as he’s known, and you know when it’s him like you say , he still posts some bold opinions and is there to take anything thrown back at him .

  • whistle blower

    It did look like it was organized. Plus it occurred close to the home dugout. 4 other players can be seen waiting to go next and take their hacks. I got some shots on my camera phone. I emailed them to fred. Hopefully he’ll post them up.


    Not a chance in hell will he post those pictures. Might create another scandal but for the wrong team.

  • Fred – Let’s get this straight

    OK Fred – just to be clear you want us to believe this? “the blog is for opinion, including mine, and has nothing to do with the balanced news stories that appear in the paper”

    Now that is funny!!

  • Anon

    I know there are at least two sets of rules governing high school sports in California, CIF and NFHS. I also know that sometimes CIF rules explicitly incorporate NFHS rules, so sometimes CIF has the job of enforcing NFHS rules. Enough already, right?

    What I would like to see is even enforcement of the rules. That is, the rules must apply evenly to everyone, no matter who they are. For example, kids get disqualified in track for wearing jewelry, for relay members not wearing matching outfits, etc. One male longjumper was disqualified at CIF Finals on Saturday because he had contrasting stitching on his shorts.

    Having said that, it appears that one local track & field athlete, very well known, competed in 5 events at league finals. CIF rules prohibit track & field athletes from competing in more than 4 events in one meet. What was his/her punishment? Nothing. S/he was allowed to advance to CIF Prelims in 4 events, and the 5th event (a relay, his/her weakest event) was also allowed to advance! This means that there was no punishment at all for breaking the rule, even though this was a planned, premeditated event: the coach entered the athlete in 5 events. The athlete apparently warmed up for and participated in 5 events. I understand that the coach may now be claiming that the athlete’s name was a typo and s/he didn’t actually participate in all 5, but his/her name is on all 5 events on the league finals results . . . .

    At CIF Prelims the athlete was dropped from his/her weakest event, the relay, but the relay team was still allowed to move on. At the very least one event should have been disallowed, and it shouldn’t be up to the coach to choose. Why was this allowed? I don’t know, but it makes me wonder if it has anything to do with this athlete being high profile. I would like to see the rules evenly enforced against EVERYONE. No playing favorites, in baseball, softball, track, or any other sport!