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Stk004

What's the Count?

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So today I had a LL Majors game. VT starting pitcher is throwing gas. Bottom 2nd outs don't matter R2. 1st pitch is on the outside part of the plate, belt high, but it tips off the glove of the catcher and goes to the backstop. I call strike 1 as the runner advances to third. Next pitch ball. Next pitch swinging strike. I give the count, "1-2". Home team head coach goes "Woah blue it's 2-1!" 

"No coach the first pitch was a strike." 

"Book, what do you have?" 

Home book: "2-1"

Visiting team book is unsure of the count. 

HTHC and home book: "It went to the backstop!" 

Me: *loudly* "Count 1 ball, 2 strikes, play!" *points at pitcher" 

HTHC: "Woah hold on time blue!"

Me: *LOUDLY* "Time! Coach, that's enough!" *held up stop sign" 

HTHC: "I'm not arguing with you." At this point he came down from the 3rd base coaches box and met me by the plate.

HTHC: "Blue both books have 2-1. The first pitch went to the backstop"

Me: "Coach first pitch was in the zone, catcher whiffed, and it went to the backstop. Count is 1-2, let's play" 

Coach walked away grumbling but realized I wasn't changing the count. No one was ejected. Play resumed and him/his team complained that my zone was "outside" the rest of the game (which to them was the right center of the plate), but never said anything else directly to me. 

Would you guys have kept him in the game? Should I have allowed him to meet me after the "that's enough" or did I handle it properly? Thanks in advance for your feedback. 

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Your style and my style are different, so no, I wouldn't have handled it the same way you did, but whether or not your way was "proper" is just others' opinions. And we all know what they say about opinions.

Here's what I do in similar situations (I take it you were working solo?). When the coach says, "Whoa, Blue, it's 2-1!" is when I would have next said what you said last. "Coach, the first pitch was in the zone..." Obviously, he's simply confused and maybe a little clarity in the beginning of the conversation would have kept the tone down and the exchange to a minimum. Otherwise, i kind of seems like you were dismissing him and not addressing his legitimate question.

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1 minute ago, ElkOil said:

Your style and my style are different, so no, I wouldn't have handled it the same way you did, but whether or not your way was "proper" is just others' opinions. And we all know what they say about opinions.

Here's what I do in similar situations (I take it you were working solo?). When the coach says, "Whoa, Blue, it's 2-1!" is when I would have next said what you said last. "Coach, the first pitch was in the zone..." Obviously, he's simply confused and maybe a little clarity in the beginning of the conversation would have kept the tone down and the exchange to a minimum. Otherwise, i kind of seems like you were dismissing him and not addressing his legitimate question.

I was working solo. Up until he came to the plate he never left the coaches box, so would you still give the explanation initially even if he was all the way up the line? 

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6 minutes ago, Stk004 said:

I was working solo. Up until he came to the plate he never left the coaches box, so would you still give the explanation initially even if he was all the way up the line? 

No. I don't have conversations at that distance. If the coach asks the count from the box, I give it to him, but that's as far as I'll go. If I thought he had a question, I'd call time and we'd talk about it up close. When we engage coaches from a distance, it can come across as adversarial, and I don't want to appear that way... at least not initially when it seems there's just some confusion.

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I'm agreeing with ElkOil here. You were unnecessarily confrontational here, especially in a situation where the coach had a good reason to be confused. You shouldn't be yelling from a distance. Calmly suggest that he come over to discuss it, i.e. "Okay, let's figure this out" while motioning for him to come over. Then explain in a conversational tone that the first pitch was indeed a strike. This is also an example of why to always give the count loudly after a steal. Maybe say something like "that was a strike, 0-1", especially when it might not be clear to people.

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6 hours ago, PonyUmpire said:

I'm agreeing with ElkOil here. You were unnecessarily confrontational here, especially in a situation where the coach had a good reason to be confused. You shouldn't be yelling from a distance. Calmly suggest that he come over to discuss it, i.e. "Okay, let's figure this out" while motioning for him to come over. Then explain in a conversational tone that the first pitch was indeed a strike. This is also an example of why to always give the count loudly after a steal. Maybe say something like "that was a strike, 0-1", especially when it might not be clear to people.

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This is a good way to deal with it - talk calmly and face-to-face. Remember this is Little League and sportsmanship is important here - both on his part and your part.

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I was going to post something about "this is why you don't call a borderline pitch a strike if the catcher doesn't catch it," but then I saw this was Little League.  Plus, such a post would just open a can of worms.

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53 minutes ago, lawump said:

I was going to post something about "this is why you don't call a borderline pitch a strike if the catcher doesn't catch it," but then I saw this was Little League.  Plus, such a post would just open a can of worms.

I had a JC coach tell me that you can't punish a pitcher for a catcher's mistake. He had a point. At the LL level, which I did tonite, the catcher missed balls because he was trying to catch them as a strike and they weren't.  But I did take the coaches advice to heart. I just haven't seen occasion to act upon it except once or twice.

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5 hours ago, Jimurray said:

I had a JC coach tell me that you can't punish a pitcher for a catcher's mistake. He had a point. At the LL level, which I did tonite, the catcher missed balls because he was trying to catch them as a strike and they weren't.  But I did take the coaches advice to heart. I just haven't seen occasion to act upon it except once or twice.

JC, you mean JUCO? Or that some other baseball?

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7 hours ago, Jimurray said:

I had a JC coach tell me that you can't punish a pitcher for a catcher's mistake. He had a point. At the LL level, which I did tonite, the catcher missed balls because he was trying to catch them as a strike and they weren't.  But I did take the coaches advice to heart. I just haven't seen occasion to act upon it except once or twice.

If you mean Junior College (JUCO), then if it goes to the backstop on a pitch that may be borderline - you will get screamed at for calling a strike. The catcher is as important to the pitch as the pitcher is I believe at HS (Varsity) or above. If it is 'uncatchable' it "can't be a strike".

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Yep.   In the younger levels you're never going home if you ask them to catch every strike.

12s though--LL Majors, or the 50/70 we run--I want it caught more often than not, especially on the corners so I get a fair look at it.  Belt high at the point of the plate, it's kind of hard not to call a strike.   Kind of hard to see how they drop those, but they do.

To the original point, yeah, give the count when the runners moved up and it's likely nobody heard you call the strike due to parents yelling like monkeys.  At the very least, settle the confusion immediately after the event.

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On 4/21/2016 at 8:23 AM, maineump said:

This is a good way to deal with it - talk calmly and face-to-face. Remember this is Little League and sportsmanship is important here - both on his part and your part.

Sportsmanship should be important in all games, not just Little League.

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20 minutes ago, stevis said:

Yep.   In the younger levels you're never going home if you ask them to catch every strike.

12s though--LL Majors, or the 50/70 we run--I want it caught more often than not, especially on the corners so I get a fair look at it.  Belt high at the point of the plate, it's kind of hard not to call a strike.   Kind of hard to see how they drop those, but they do.

To the original point, yeah, give the count when the runners moved up and it's likely nobody heard you call the strike due to parents yelling like monkeys.  At the very least, settle the confusion immediately after the event.

I had a 14U DD game and I had 7 dropped third strikes in 4 innings for one team.  Some down the middle.  Some on the corner.  Catcher "has been catching for five years" but can't catch a cold.

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3 hours ago, maineump said:

If you mean Junior College (JUCO), then if it goes to the backstop on a pitch that may be borderline - you will get screamed at for calling a strike. The catcher is as important to the pitch as the pitcher is I believe at HS (Varsity) or above. If it is 'uncatchable' it "can't be a strike".

This is what I was getting at.  Basically, in any level of college that pitch better be right down the c*ck if it's not caught.  And the expectation is that, every strike should be caught "like a strike", otherwise they're not getting it.

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It would be helpful if you started out by announcing the count after a stolen base, especially if it's a confusing play. 

 

Remember that on a stolen base, most of the coaches and parents aren't looking at you. 

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1 hour ago, TheRockawayKid said:

It would be helpful if you started out by announcing the count after a stolen base, especially if it's a confusing play. 

 

Remember that on a stolen base, most of the coaches and parents aren't looking at you. 

I've always found it good to at least throw up signs after the stolen base. Your BU is not paying attention to the count either. If it's to the backstop, it's not that necessary, but if it's borderline, everyone's going to switch to the steal attempt, so just give the count after a steal attempt.

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On 4/21/2016 at 10:41 PM, Stk004 said:

So today I had a LL Majors game. VT starting pitcher is throwing gas. Bottom 2nd outs don't matter R2. 1st pitch is on the outside part of the plate, belt high, but it tips off the glove of the catcher and goes to the backstop. I call strike 1 as the runner advances to third. Next pitch ball. Next pitch swinging strike. I give the count, "1-2". Home team head coach goes "Woah blue it's 2-1!" 

"No coach the first pitch was a strike." 

"Book, what do you have?" 

Home book: "2-1"

Visiting team book is unsure of the count. 

HTHC and home book: "It went to the backstop!" 

Me: *loudly* "Count 1 ball, 2 strikes, play!" *points at pitcher" 

HTHC: "Woah hold on time blue!"

Me: *LOUDLY* "Time! Coach, that's enough!" *held up stop sign" 

HTHC: "I'm not arguing with you." At this point he came down from the 3rd base coaches box and met me by the plate.

HTHC: "Blue both books have 2-1. The first pitch went to the backstop"

Me: "Coach first pitch was in the zone, catcher whiffed, and it went to the backstop. Count is 1-2, let's play" 

Coach walked away grumbling but realized I wasn't changing the count. No one was ejected. Play resumed and him/his team complained that my zone was "outside" the rest of the game (which to them was the right center of the plate), but never said anything else directly to me. 

Would you guys have kept him in the game? Should I have allowed him to meet me after the "that's enough" or did I handle it properly? Thanks in advance for your feedback. 

Had the same sort of issue earlier this week. I was behind the plate and me and my partner both had a 2-2 count, then the pitcher proceeded to throw strike three. As we ended the inning, the coaches called time and asked us to confer about the count. After roughly a 5 second conference, we confirmed our count. Coaches continued to argue in between innings. We told them it was over and we weren't going to discuss it, but they continued to argue for 2-3 more minutes. Eventually we confined all three coaches to their dugout (as our league allows us to) for the rest of the game. No one got tossed.

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Ok now what about this? PU and BU have same count.

Score keeper plus each coach has same count but different from yours. Who wins? (We gave in)

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58 minutes ago, mbates50 said:

Ok now what about this? PU and BU have same count.

Score keeper plus each coach has same count but different from yours. Who wins? (We gave in)

Good call. Why fight both?

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19 hours ago, mbates50 said:

Ok now what about this? PU and BU have same count.

Score keeper plus each coach has same count but different from yours. Who wins? (We gave in)

Me. Books and coaches don't pay close enough attention to override me or my click.... indicator.

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22 minutes ago, Specks said:

Me. Books and coaches don't pay close enough attention to override me or my click.... indicator.

Do you want to be right or good?

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23 minutes ago, Specks said:

Me. Books and coaches don't pay close enough attention to override me or my click.... indicator.

I'll give you the situation I had.

Pitcher has walked the bases loaded, and then goes 2-0 on next batter.

Coach calls time, talks to pitcher, returns to bench, leaves pitcher in game.

Pitcher throws two more balls.   Batter jogs to first...all runners advance.  Catcher tosses ball back to pitcher...pitcher is dejected.  Coach is shouting words of encouragement.

Umpire calls time, and says it's only 2-0...sends the batter back AND all runners back.  I argue, he talks to base ump.

Base ump also, somehow, has the count at 2-0  (it's quite obvious he wasn't paying attention, and wasn't tracking).

In this situation a reasonable umpire needs to be willing to look at ALL the facts to see that maybe, gasp, he made a mistake:

1. OT coach reminds ump that DT coach called time during an at bat, not after one (ie. batters didn't change at that time - which is likely why he reset the counter)

2. all four base runners advanced without hesitation - is it likely they all missed the count by two pitches?

3. not single member of the defensive team - especially the pitcher/catcher - thought it was odd to see base runners, and batter, advancing on a 2-0 count  (sure, on occasion players - even whole teams - miss THREE balls vs four balls...but have you ever seen a whole team of players miss TWO pitches?)

4. not a single coach, nor parent, of the defensive team thought it was odd to see base runners and batter advancing on a 2-0 count

5. official scorekeeper also has four balls

He not only refused to look at the situation reasonably, to assess his mistake...he then compounded it with a second mistake by making the base runners to return, saying it wasn't fair.

But his clicker said there were only two balls.

You're willing to let your fragile ego get in the way of getting something right?

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18 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

You're willing to let your fragile ego get in the way of getting something right?

What other aspects of judgement and game management shall I put to a vote in order to demonstrate that I'm not driven by a "fragile ego"?  Shall I ask the defense and offense to vote on each play and only offer my judgement when they disagree?

Many, maybe even most, people still believe (as evidenced by the almost weekly rules forum posts) that getting the third out of an inning on a tag-up appeal is a force out, and thus would negate any runs that scored on the play.  Shall I let them agree that the run doesn't score, even though I know it should, to demonstrate that my ego isn't "fragile"?

I'm not saying that the umpire didn't handle this situation poorly, because I think he probably did.  I just think the trigger words (fragile, gasp, refuse, reasonable) are unnecessary.

(I also think, based on #5, that the official scorekeeper should consult a doctor immediately.)

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1 hour ago, CJK said:

What other aspects of judgement and game management shall I put to a vote in order to demonstrate that I'm not driven by a "fragile ego"?  Shall I ask the defense and offense to vote on each play and only offer my judgement when they disagree?

There's no suggestion that an umpire should consult with anyone, and certainly not on judgment calls. The count is not a judgment call. Let's stay on task.

The suggestion is to pick your battles. If literally everyone else agrees on the count, what is to be gained by sticking to my guns? (Apologies for the martial metaphors.)

This is a game management issue, and how we handle it is the kind of thing that sticks with us in the minds of coaches, assigners, and evaluators. I might be right about the count, but at what cost? I'll be the guy who's a decent umpire but hard to work with, and that will hold me back.

 

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10 hours ago, maven said:

There's no suggestion that an umpire should consult with anyone, and certainly not on judgment calls. The count is not a judgment call. Let's stay on task.

The suggestion is to pick your battles. If literally everyone else agrees on the count, what is to be gained by sticking to my guns? (Apologies for the martial metaphors.)

This is a game management issue, and how we handle it is the kind of thing that sticks with us in the minds of coaches, assigners, and evaluators. I might be right about the count, but at what cost? I'll be the guy who's a decent umpire but hard to work with, and that will hold me back.

 

True story: I filled in (as a favor when an umpire didn't show) and worked a coaches' pitch (seven year olds) game, by myself, a few years ago.  In typical kiddie land fashion, the ball was being thrown all over the place.  I thought there was going to be a play at the plate so I hustle there, only to have the throw go to F3 (I admit, I stink at one man mechanics.  LOL.). F3 is standing 10-feet off the bag or so, when he swipes at the B/R who is trying to retreat to first.  I have no idea if there is a tag or not (I'm totally straight-lined).  So, not seeing a tag I called "safe".  Defensive coach says, "blue, he got him."  Just then, the first base coach says, "blue, he got him.  It was a good play."  I said, "no problem, then he's out."  Both daddies coaches say, "good job, blue."

The game proceeds without incident.  Besides learning that I will never work below high school varsity again (it's way too tough!), I learned that if all the participants ask you to consider the fact that you may have been wrong...you may want to stop and consider the possibility that you may have been wrong.

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