Dealing with close calls

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Posted · Report post

I have a bad habit on close calls where I allow fan/coach reaction to influence what I think I saw. Case in point this weekend:

Runners on first and third and team attempts a steal of second base. R1 leaves pretty early and F1 steps off mound and they have him in a rundown. I'm in "B" and take position to watch the rundown. As runner goes for second base the fielder reaches for the tag, the runner turns his body to avoid the tag, and then scurries to second base. The fielder, because he knows the runner from third is going home, turns and throws home right after the attempted tag. I see no tag so I immediately give the safe signal and yell "no tag". Fielder turns to look at me as if he had tagged him. Bench and fans erupt. Obviously because they are at a different angle, especially the first base coach, they have an angle to see a tag that I may not have. The HC calls time and comes out to question the call. I say coach from my vantage point I had no tag. He claims it was obvious there was a tag because the runner almost got knocked over. I told him that he was not being sensible, that the runner was trying to avoid the tag, not getting pushed over. I told him that my call stands and I gave him my reason so there was nothing more to discuss and he needed to go back the the dugout. After a few more words I gave him a warning that if he didn't drop it I would eject him. He grudgingly went back to the dugout. While I was talking to the coach and after he retreated to the dugout I was really hearing it from the dugout area/fans. Comments such as "get a better angle", "you aren't in cement", etc.

So two things that I wish I could do better in these situations:

#1 - The reaction was so over the top that it made me wonder if maybe he did tag him, and I just missed it. So I go over it in my mind and replay it and I lose my focus.

#2 - In addition to this I wonder how much I'm supposed to take before ejecting coaches, especially for random comments from fans/assistant coaches. When tensions are that high I fear that ejections will lead to more problems so my inclination is to let it go. I especially feel that way when I am not certain that I made the right call in the first place.

Any advice?

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Posted · Report post

Read the play, replay it in your mind (timing), and call what you saw. Sell it. The harder and more emphatic your call the less argument you get. I don't like the wording of your warning. I prefer a hard look, stop sign or point, and a hearty "Knock it off!"

As far as seeing the play, it's more important to ge angle than distance. That's why from "B" on a pickoff to 1B, you step toward the 45' line, not the bag. That 1 step changes your whole angle and gives you a good look. Replay what happened and whhere you were. Could you have gotten a better look by a step to the left or right? Not necessarily closer, but if you can get ANGLE, you see more.

Umpiring is more geometrical than linear.

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Posted · Report post

I bet you didn't hear anything from the other side, you know why ? Because they got the call but if it went the other way...............

We are there to make such calls because we are to only one's out there that will call it like it truly happened and not like we wanted it to happen. Don't let that stuff get to you, I bet you got the call right.

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Posted · Report post

Someone once told me "Every baseball player is a liar" and in my experience every fan for the team you made a call against is so bias they can't see a play for what it is. I find myself agreeing with trout (quite often actually) that you have to sell the hell out of the call. The louder the call, the more emphatic the motions. I had a game last evening with 5 or 6 plays on the bags that could have gone either way. Each time I a very loud safe or out call with an exagerated, sharp mechanic. I didn't get a single arguement the whole night. This isn't always the case but I avoid more trouble than I find when I am loud and sure. I find myself getting caught on angles occassionally, I had a game the other night that I was at 90 degrees to the throw from second to first, but the throw was off first baseman had to move towards home to catch the ball and made a swiping tag. Had I been paying attention to the ball a little better I would have seen the ball wasn't true and could have taken a step or two in and I wouldn't have been stuck with a 180 degree line of sight with the runner between me and the tag. I was kind of shocked i got myself into the situation and made a rather unsure call. I did end up asking my partner who said I got the call right but that was somewhat emberassing being a deer in the headlights

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Posted · Report post

I find myself agreeing with trout (quite often actually)

:beerbang: :cheers: I hear ya! :beerbang: :cheers::rock: :wave:

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Posted · Report post

I find myself agreeing with trout (quite often actually)

:beerbang: :cheers: I hear ya! :beerbang: :cheers::rock: :wave:

Looks like you have a fan!

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Posted · Report post

Legions. Legions of fans. And at least that many detractors! Lol

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Posted · Report post

I have a bad habit on close calls where I allow fan/coach reaction to influence what I think I saw. Case in point this weekend:

Any advice?

Yes. Stop it. lol.

As others have mentioned you need to work to get an angle, but that cant always be done. At some point almost no matter where you are the runner will pass by the fielder and you will be stragihtlined. And Murphy has it that this is when the tag attempt will happen. Slow down a bit, read the players - both defense and offense, use your baseball knowledge to decide what likely happened, give the benefit of the doubt to the defense (at least in your play where the offense messed up and it appears the defense executed well) and make the call.

And look for the silver lining -- you got a chance to practice your game management skills.

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Posted · Report post

Exactly right.

Get the best position possible, make the calls confidently, realize that you're human and *will* miss a call or two a year, and move on. Don't let a team's perception of a call influence your umpiring or influence how you manage your game.

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Posted · Report post

Thanks for all the advice. I have definitely been guilty of not selling a call or making it too early or too late. This one I did sell, and it was one of those where it didn't matter. But I do agree with the point that selling the call does usually make a big difference. I think my biggest issue with this call is that I was not happy with how I handled the situation with the coach. I'm usually really good at thinking on my feet, but with the fans yelling and me running it over in my mind and doubting myself I didn't sell my call very well to the coach in my explanation. He seemed so sure that he saw the tag that I fell back on the "best angle I could get" argument. But when I ran it back in my mind after the inning I really wasn't "straightlined". I didn't have a perfect angle, but it was good enough to make an accurate call. A few innings later I was curious with what the other team felt so I asked their coach if the player said whether he had been tagged or not. He asked the kid and he said that the tag missed him. Now obviously that's not proof, but it made me feel a little bit better that I go the call right.

Later in the game my partner had to eject a fan that was berating us from behind the plate. They had complained about a few ball/strike calls, and went apeSH*# over a call I made at 3rd on another missed tag (they were in the first base dugout btw). And the play at 3rd was not even close. The runner slid around the tag while still being able to grab the bag and the fielder missed applying the tag by about 3 feet. So after my partner ejected the fan and I was in "A" position I was kind of shaking my head at the level of poor sportsmanship this team was displaying. My water cooler was over there so between inning I went to get a drink and one of the assistant coaches asked why I was shaking my head that their conduct was all a result of my blown call at second base. I tell him that ship has sailed, that we are not discussing it anymore, but that I got the call right. He replies with his 2nd baseman's reaction proved that he tagged him, because if he missed he would have tried to tag him a second time. In a moment of weakness (because I thought his argument was so retarded) I responded instead of ignoring him. I said that's completely false. There was a runner going home that was a much higher priority. What he did is exactly what a good baseball player would have done. Then I said if we are looking at player reaction what did the runner do? He went right to second base as if he had not been tagged. If the tag was that obvious then most runners would have shown some sort of negative reaction to getting tagged he showed none. And of course the coach immediately says "Oh so that's why you called him safe". I say no I called him safe because your player missed the tag. Then wanted to kick myself in the nuts for even engaging the conversation in the first place.

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Posted · Report post

All part of game management. Comes with a expirience.

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Posted · Report post

The guys advised you to get in the best position, replay what you saw, sell the hell out of it. That is the best advice.

I will add one more thing. Train your brain to recognize what each type of play looks like. I found that watching the hundreds of clips collected on this site allowed me to gain a certain dimension of experience (while not replacing actual experience). I have seen so many videos on interference, obstruction, swipe tags, balks, etc, that when I see them on the field, it's pretty much automatic.

Start with this Google search string

site:umpire-empire.com "content_id" OR "Youtube.com"

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Posted · Report post

All part of game management. Comes with a expirience.

Keep doing games, and always stay interested in getting better. Experience and dedication is a winning combo. I was told about 100 years ago, that humans only retain about 10% of what they are taught in any lessons. So I figured if I went 10 clinics I would get it all. It truly doesn't work out like that, but staying interested in being the best, helps. and forums like this where you can share the experience with like minded folks helps even more!!

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Posted · Report post

All part of game management. Comes with a expirience.

Keep doing games, and always stay interested in getting better. Experience and dedication is a winning combo. I was told about 100 years ago, that humans only retain about 10% of what they are taught in any lessons. So I figured if I went 10 clinics I would get it all. It truly doesn't work out like that, but staying interested in being the best, helps. and forums like this where you can share the experience with like minded folks helps even more!!

Man, you are old! You look pretty young tough. You don't look a day over 90!

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Posted · Report post

Know your positions. If you know exactly where you're suppose to be, trust me, the fans and coaches certainly don't know where you're supposed to be. If you know your mechanics inside and out, you can always tell yourself that you were exactly where you were supposed to be, and you called what you saw.

Anybody who tells you to "get a better angle" doesn't know what they're talking about. And sometimes in a two man system, the fans/teams do have a better angle than you.

If they bring that up you can say "Well, you had the benefit of a different angle. You might have seen things differently from your angle."

You can believe the fans...remember they see with their hearts. Cognitive Dissonance.

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Posted · Report post

Scott,

I agree with the other posters here about how to get the best angle, selling the calls, etc....

I'm commenting on your proclivity for conversation with coaches; in particular, assistant coaches. I would strongly advise you to back off on that behaviour.

Saying something like, "You're not being sensible." is, IMHO, way out of bounds. It's just going to inflame an already agitated coach. Generally, don't say anything to a player, coach or manager you wouldn't allow them to say to you. And, I know you want to know what the other team thought of that controversial call, but from experience I would advise against asking. Best case is that you feel better; worst case is that it causes another problem. The risk/reward is just not there for this.

This conversation:

. . . So after my partner ejected the fan and I was in "A" position I was kind of shaking my head at the level of poor sportsmanship this team was displaying. My water cooler was over there so between inning I went to get a drink and one of the assistant coaches asked why I was shaking my head that their conduct was all a result of my blown call at second base. I tell him that ship has sailed, that we are not discussing it anymore, but that I got the call right. He replies with his 2nd baseman's reaction proved that he tagged him, because if he missed he would have tried to tag him a second time. In a moment of weakness (because I thought his argument was so retarded) I responded instead of ignoring him. I said that's completely false. There was a runner going home that was a much higher priority. What he did is exactly what a good baseball player would have done. Then I said if we are looking at player reaction what did the runner do? He went right to second base as if he had not been tagged. If the tag was that obvious then most runners would have shown some sort of negative reaction to getting tagged he showed none. And of course the coach immediately says "Oh so that's why you called him safe". I say no I called him safe because your player missed the tag. Then wanted to kick myself in the nuts for even engaging the conversation in the first place.

should never have happened. You told him 'that ship has sailed' and that you're not going to discuss it . . . and then you discuss it!!! If it's over for him, it has to be over for you, too.

A very wise man once told me, "They can't quote silence." I know it's hard to not defend yourself, especially when you know you're right (& I am certainly not perfect in that regard - far from it) but it's in everyone's best interest if you learn to do just that.

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Posted · Report post

Scott,

I agree with the other posters here about how to get the best angle, selling the calls, etc....

I'm commenting on your proclivity for conversation with coaches; in particular, assistant coaches. I would strongly advise you to back off on that behaviour.

Saying something like, "You're not being sensible." is, IMHO, way out of bounds. It's just going to inflame an already agitated coach. Generally, don't say anything to a player, coach or manager you wouldn't allow them to say to you. And, I know you want to know what the other team thought of that controversial call, but from experience I would advise against asking. Best case is that you feel better; worst case is that it causes another problem. The risk/reward is just not there for this.

This conversation:

. . . So after my partner ejected the fan and I was in "A" position I was kind of shaking my head at the level of poor sportsmanship this team was displaying. My water cooler was over there so between inning I went to get a drink and one of the assistant coaches asked why I was shaking my head that their conduct was all a result of my blown call at second base. I tell him that ship has sailed, that we are not discussing it anymore, but that I got the call right. He replies with his 2nd baseman's reaction proved that he tagged him, because if he missed he would have tried to tag him a second time. In a moment of weakness (because I thought his argument was so retarded) I responded instead of ignoring him. I said that's completely false. There was a runner going home that was a much higher priority. What he did is exactly what a good baseball player would have done. Then I said if we are looking at player reaction what did the runner do? He went right to second base as if he had not been tagged. If the tag was that obvious then most runners would have shown some sort of negative reaction to getting tagged he showed none. And of course the coach immediately says "Oh so that's why you called him safe". I say no I called him safe because your player missed the tag. Then wanted to kick myself in the nuts for even engaging the conversation in the first place.

should never have happened. You told him 'that ship has sailed' and that you're not going to discuss it . . . and then you discuss it!!! If it's over for him, it has to be over for you, too.

A very wise man once told me, "They can't quote silence." I know it's hard to not defend yourself, especially when you know you're right (& I am certainly not perfect in that regard - far from it) but it's in everyone's best interest if you learn to do just that.

Agree 100%. That's why my last sentence said I wanted to kick myself in the balls for even getting into the exchange. I was angry at myself for even engaging in the conversation.

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Posted · Report post

I'm usually really good at thinking on my feet, but with the fans yelling and me running it over in my mind and doubting myself I didn't sell my call very well to the coach in my explanation. He seemed so sure that he saw the tag that I fell back on the "best angle I could get" argument.

The best response,whether you are sure or not, is to tell the coach that you didn't have a tag so he is safe. If he tries to discuss you getting an angle, hold your hand up and tell him your mechanics are not up for discussion. No matter what he thinks he saw, you can't guess an out so he is safe, this is when you aren't sure. Or, I had daylight on the tag, for when you are sure.

Never let a coach discuss where you were or where he thinks you should have been. The play at second is a call he really has no reason to even be discussing except to vent. Once you tell him you don't have a tag, he has exhausted his points to discuss. When I hold up a stop sign I usually say,"That's enough!" Any conversation about how the players should or did react have no place here, from either side.

Remember the addage,"The less said the better." I know a guy that says five words or less. I think in many cases that is true, not always but keep it as short as possible. If you use his method, just say," I have no tag."

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Posted · Report post

I know this is a slightly old thread, but I saw something last weekend that I think might help. DON'T listen to the fans/coaches. This is obvious, but a little bit as to why. There were some very close, bang-bang plays in a tourney I was doing. The side that didn't get the call would complain, especially the HT side. Then, a bit later in the game, the same exact fans that were all immediately up in arms about my calls (in the back of my head just made me ever so slightly think, hmm, maybe I did miss a swipe tag or something) were congratulating the catcher on blocking/keeping the ball in front of him on 2 pitches that helped keep a runner from advancing. Mind you, EACH time the catcher completely whiffed at the ball, and it hit me once in the chest and once in the collar bone, and bounced forward.

Fans have NO clue what they are watching, and we just need to ignore them!

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Posted · Report post

...

Fans have NO clue what they are watching, and we just need to ignore them!

Ahhh... there is much truth in that statement, Grasshopper.

JM

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Posted · Report post

Agreed. Ignore the fans...the vast majority of them have no clue what they're talking about, and they're all biased for one team or another. And again, don't talk to assistant coaches at all. Nothing good can come from it.

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Posted · Report post

For the most part, fans, players, and coaches react based on emotion, while, as umpires, we base everything on judgment and rule. That can be a very important point to remember when things get a little loud because of a call.

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Posted · Report post

Don't get too hung up on not talking to asst coaches. If they are coaching a base, as long as they don't leave to argue they absolutely can ask about a play. Coming on the infield, coming to the plate or leaving the dugout, absolutely not. But if they are in their coaching position, they have some standing. Yesterday I had a D1 umpire working an adult tournament for me and the asst was yakking from his box. He answered him the first time, stop signed him the second time. Then the next inning he came out of the dugout to yak about a call at third. The PU covered a first to third and the BU didn't hear him call him off so we had two guys making a call and a half. The PU safed the runner and the BU was part way through banging him and dropped his arm. When the PU returned to the plate the asst came out to yak. He turned on him, told him to get in the dugout by saying,"That dog doesn't hunt here!" Then he told the manager if he had a question he was more than welcome to come out, which he didn't. They did have a polite conversation between innings.

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Posted · Report post

I should have been more specific...don't let an assistant coach argue. If he wants to ask a question in a calm manner while he's in the coaches box and I'm in "A," that's fine. But he doesn't get nearly the leash or room to argue like the HC does.

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Posted · Report post

I'm in "B" and take position to watch the rundown.

Comments such as "get a better angle", "you aren't in cement", etc.

I selected the above quotes to say this...

I don't care what coaches/fans say about positioning. However, taking those comments and adding to it your statement of "take position to watch the rundown" would indicate you didn't stay moving with the rundown. If you have a run down, you must move with the play. Staying in one spot and observing the entire play will cause you to get straight lined.

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