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I Will Get More Ejections!

I Will Get More Ejections!

Gentlemen, I’ve long been an advocate of the ejection being the tool of last resort. You may have seen my many posts on various forums where I state somebody has been too quick to toss a player or coach. I’m coming to the realization that I’m just being to lenient. The players and coaches are pushing the line too far, and as officials, overall, we’re not holding the line. I am now going to give much less latitude to folks and do my part to hold the line.

Over the years I’ve probably had 15 or fewer ejections. I’ve even gone a few seasons without any. I’ve always thought of my fewer ejections than others as a strength as to my ability to control the game and situations. The majority of these ejections were on players for flagrant violations: malicious contact, tossing the helmet across the field, cussing at me… Very few of these were for demonstration or showing me up. These are the offenders I will be targeting both players and coaches. I’m not saying I’m going to become a red ass, I’m just going to hold the line.

Players and coaches are getting out of control and the problem is that they are getting away with more and more. It’s an endless cycle bad coaches & parents spawning bad players they never get set straight and become the bad parent/coach. Too many youth coaches think they can act like Lou Piniella to the umpires and too many players want to be Milton Bradley. Just a week or two ago in a LL Seniors game (with HokieUmp) in the first inning I called strike three on this kid with a tremendous ego. He didn’t say anything to me but steps out of the box and makes a motion marking the lower part of his shin and yells something to someone up in the box.

I pulled off my mask and had every intention of tossing him, but for what ever reason I didn’t. I *probably issued my loudest warning ever, but let him stay in the game. He was quiet the rest of the game, but I really doubt he learned his lesson.

It’s been said time and time again, “You won’t regret the ejections you make, but you surly will regret the ejections you don’t make.” This couldn’t be more true. This situation has been bothering me ever since that day. Then when I started to think about the times I hadn’t ejected someone but should have I got frustrated with myself. The vast majority of these things dealt with demonstrating or showing me up. When I thought about some of the close situations where there was hard contact but judged it not to be malicious or the pitch which plunks a batter and in the back of my mind I’m thinking that might have been intentional but made no call. Those didn’t bother me, the ones that got my blood boiling are the times when a player or coach is demonstrating or otherwise showing me up.

The almost funny thing is that many of these things didn’t bother me at the time. I’m thinking of a time when I had a banger at first and the head coach was in the 1st base box with his team in the first base dugout. I had perfect positioning and gave the emphatic out call. I hear all the moans, groans and boos coming from that side. The coach comes up to me hollering about he was safe by a country mile, etc… I keep to my usual philosophy of let him vent and when answering keep it short and sweet. I must have said, “No sir he was out” a dozen times.

He then faces the dugout and his spectators and shouts, “You mean to tell me that I, and everybody over here could see he was safe, but you think he was out?” Obviously, not speaking to me but meant to incite the players and spectators.

I just gave him ‘the look’ and told him sternly “That’s enough.” This did end it on the field, but he went to the dugout and continued to rant and rave between innings. Thinking back that no-ejection bothered me for a while, that was his ticket out that I didn’t punch. Maybe I’ve been more reluctant to toss folks because my warnings have generally been heeded with no further incident and I have rarely needed to back up my warnings, but I think my warnings were in err.

I should have learned my lesson much earlier. My very first season umpiring I worked a district Bronco tournament game and I was being evaluated by one of our NCAA D-1 guys. Sometime in the game there is a runner on 3rd (who just happens to be the coaches son) the batter sends a ball, fair, up the right field line and rolls to the fence. I’m now 20 feet up the first base line and turn around to watch the runner touch the plate. The runner could have been on his hands and knees and crawled to the plate with out any problem, but instead comes in full speed. He runs through the plate and intentionally bumps the catcher with his shoulder, who is 6 feet down third base line extended. The catcher who was not paying attention or expecting to be hit goes down. I called time and issued a warning.

Dad, the coach who was in the third base box comes down to holler at me. I had never had anybody approach me like that and was admittedly intimidated. I got my self together and told the coach something to the effect of, ‘It’s only a warning coach, if you make sure things like this don’t happen again, there won’t be a problem, so lets get back to playing.’

The game went on and his team lost. My partner and I go to the concession stand to get paid. As we’re waiting for the person with the money to come, in comes coach dad. He starts hollering and cussing at me and yelling about how I cost him the game. I honestly must say I was frightened. He only got a sentence or two out before my partner stepped in between us and gave the coach everything he had been giving me and then some. My partner told him he was lucky it was me behind the plate because if it were him he would have tossed his kid and then tossed him the second he came out of the coaches box hollering like that him. They ended up going at it for a little while until the person with the money arrived and got rid of the coach.

We went back to our cars and went over the evaluation. I scored pretty well on most of the categories for a rookie. Obviously the majority of our conversation centered around the incident on the field. His final comment to me, and I can hear his voice in my head right now as I type this, “There is never a need to issue a warning. If you feel the need to issue a warning, just eject ‘em.”

I should have paid attention to his advice much earlier, but finally, many years later I’ve learned my lesson.