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BrianC14

Umpire Berates... Himself

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So I'm following the "Coach berates..." thread in "Ask An Umpire" section, and it got me wondering...  when you make a mistake - a big, ugly, brain-cramp-induced-oh-my-gosh-I-kicked-the-living-crap-out-of-that call mistake  - - do any of you openly berate yourself during a game when you have one of those moments?

Tee it up.

Full disclosure:  I have been known to.  

 

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2 hours ago, BrianC14 said:

So I'm following the "Coach berates..." thread in "Ask An Umpire" section, and it got me wondering...  when you make a mistake - a big, ugly, brain-cramp-induced-oh-my-gosh-I-kicked-the-living-crap-out-of-that call mistake  - - do any of you openly berate yourself during a game when you have one of those moments?

Tee it up.

Full disclosure:  I have been known to.  

 

What behavior is characteristic of openly berating oneself? 

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Well for me it doesn't happen terribly often; pretty rare, actually.

But the other day, in the middle of a game, with absolutely no external pressure or tension in the game, I rang up a called third on the batter.  It was a close pitch, so I gave it enough emphasis to sell the call.

As soon as I make the call, I had turned toward the dugout with the 'punch out' (nothing real demonstrative, I usually let my voice take care of the emphasis).  But as soon as I finished the mechanic, I immediately followed it with "OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!"   and was looking directly at the home team manager (his batter in the box).   He's got a big smile on his face, both his hands are up, and he's saying "It's OK, it's OK."   

I had just 'rung up' the batter on strike 2.    

D'oh.   

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I just did that tonight. The batter looked back at me and I immediately knew that I blew it. So with a straight face, I asked him, "How many strikes?" He says, "Two." "Good, I was just making sure you were paying attention." We all got a chuckle. The coach looked ready to storm the field, until he realized his batter was laughing and was still in the box. 

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1 hour ago, BrianC14 said:

Well for me it doesn't happen terribly often; pretty rare, actually.

But the other day, in the middle of a game, with absolutely no external pressure or tension in the game, I rang up a called third on the batter.  It was a close pitch, so I gave it enough emphasis to sell the call.

As soon as I make the call, I had turned toward the dugout with the 'punch out' (nothing real demonstrative, I usually let my voice take care of the emphasis).  But as soon as I finished the mechanic, I immediately followed it with "OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!"   and was looking directly at the home team manager (his batter in the box).   He's got a big smile on his face, both his hands are up, and he's saying "It's OK, it's OK."   

I had just 'rung up' the batter on strike 2.    

D'oh.   

The best punch outs are always on strike 2 for me.  Get's a good laugh but it's so perfect.

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This is one thing I need to work on for my future development. It may not be as big as kicking the heck out of one, but when I mess up whether it's:

  • bad mechanics
  • bad footwork
  • bad timing
  • or other woulda, shoulda, coulda situations

I tend to think about it a lot. Last week I had horrible footwork on a pick off play, while there wasn't even a call needed to be made I was pretty frustrated at myself. Even last night I didn't read a play well and when it started to go sideways a little, I got the deer in the headlights look and didn't sell it as well as I should have. 

Both of these situations nobody else even noticed, but it frustrates me when I do things like that.

What I need to do is let it go on the field and not dwell on it, then focus on it post-game.

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I just had one earlier this week. Bases loaded. Ball hit to F6 who bobbles it. Throw goes to F1, out there, F1 throws home to try to get an overzealous R2. Ball isn't close and goes out of play. For some reason, my first reaction was to say 2 bases TOP. Where my brain was, I don't know. Obviously this should be TOT. So I ended up having R2 and R3 score, but I kept R1 at 3rd. Had I correctly ruled TOT, R1 would have also scored. No one questioned the ruling as I came up big with the call and was quite verbal on the placing of the runners. That being said, I ripped myself apart when I realized that I messed up and cost the team a run.

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18 minutes ago, Umpire in Chief said:

What I need to do is let it go on the field and not dwell on it, then focus on it post-game.

Take a piece of paper and a pen with you (yes, even on the bases).  Write it down after the incident (well, between innings, or during a conference).  Then, you can forget about it without forgetting it.

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I don't get upset at myself.
I just try to do it better next time.

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30 minutes ago, noumpere said:

Take a piece of paper and a pen with you (yes, even on the bases).  Write it down after the incident (well, between innings, or during a conference).  Then, you can forget about it without forgetting it.

I hadn't thought about that - that's a good idea. Thanks!

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6 minutes ago, kylehutson said:

I hadn't thought about that - that's a good idea. Thanks!

You should have one anyway so you can document any ejections / warnings while they are fresh in your mind.

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Working a game last week as PU.  We had R1 and a deep fly ball to right center that took F8 to the fence.  My partner was in B and got to the edge of the infield grass to view the play.  At that part of the field, there is a bullpen with a 4 foot fence.  What both my partner and I both saw was the ball hitting the glove and then going directly over the fence - home run.  The DC came out and told my partner that the ball went all the way to the ground after hitting the glove and then bounced over and should have been a double.  After getting together, we stuck with the call and had to remind DC (we already told him that he couldn't come back out) that he needed to stay in the dugout and there would be no further discussion.

After we got the game going again and the next batter singled, I could see this blank stare on my partner's face where it was clear that he was still thinking about the play.  After giving him the rotation sign, I just pointed to my temple with my finger to remind him to keep focused and he said in our postgame that it helped him to get his head back in the game.  Flush it and move on.

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I was working a FED game about three weeks ago and I was on the bases. My partner had a particularly loud strike three call and on a called strike two he yelled STRIIIIIIIIKE...... 2. You almost couldn't hear him say 2 because he realized his mistake in the middle of his call and got embarrassed. I gave a him a little thumbs up and we both laughed at one another and the coaches were laughing too. I don't know why, but it's the little things like this that make umpiring so great.

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20 hours ago, BrianC14 said:

Well for me it doesn't happen terribly often; pretty rare, actually.

But the other day, in the middle of a game, with absolutely no external pressure or tension in the game, I rang up a called third on the batter.  It was a close pitch, so I gave it enough emphasis to sell the call.

As soon as I make the call, I had turned toward the dugout with the 'punch out' (nothing real demonstrative, I usually let my voice take care of the emphasis).  But as soon as I finished the mechanic, I immediately followed it with "OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!"   and was looking directly at the home team manager (his batter in the box).   He's got a big smile on his face, both his hands are up, and he's saying "It's OK, it's OK."   

I had just 'rung up' the batter on strike 2.    

D'oh.   

I don't think brain-cramping on a called third strike rises to the level of a call you kicked the crap out of. That's just a normal occurrence for umpires at all levels. When you describe a "big, ugly, brain-cramp-induced-oh-my-gosh-I-kicked-the-living-crap-out-of-that call mistake," I tend to think of things like calling a runner out at home when F2 dropped the ball or making the wrong call because you were out of position or something similar. In any of those cases, openly berating yourself is unprofessional and amateur, and should be avoided.  Now, if you're referring to simply owning up to a mistake, that's a different story, and looking at the coach while pointing at your chest, or telling him "my bad" between innings is sufficient.

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1 hour ago, ElkOil said:

I don't think brain-cramping on a called third strike rises to the level of a call you kicked the crap out of. That's just a normal occurrence for umpires at all levels. When you describe a "big, ugly, brain-cramp-induced-oh-my-gosh-I-kicked-the-living-crap-out-of-that call mistake," I tend to think of things like calling a runner out at home when F2 dropped the ball or making the wrong call because you were out of position or something similar. In any of those cases, openly berating yourself is unprofessional and amateur, and should be avoided.  Now, if you're referring to simply owning up to a mistake, that's a different story, and looking at the coach while pointing at your chest, or telling him "my bad" between innings is sufficient.

Well thanks for your opinion.  I didn't say it was the only mistake I made, it's just the most recent.

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Just now, BrianC14 said:

Well thanks for your opinion.  I didn't say it was the only mistake I made, it's just the most recent.

I didn't say you said it was the only mistake. I'm just trying to reconcile what you described as kicking the living crap out of a call, then openly berating yourself for it with your example of a common, benign mistake. I didn't mean anything by it -- just trying to understand.

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17 hours ago, ElkOil said:

Now, if you're referring to simply owning up to a mistake, that's a different story, and looking at the coach while pointing at your chest, or telling him "my bad" between innings is sufficient.

I've always been curious about this and would be interested in hearing everyone else's stories on handling this. If/when you tell a coach that you kicked the call and missed it, do you not catch a lot of hell or even more grief for admitting that? It doesn't escalate the coach's anger? I've never admitted to a coach during a game that I've kicked a call, even if I know without a doubt I did. Don't get me wrong, I've made calls where I immediately wished I could have a mulligan; however, I've taken my ass chewing because I deserved it. I guess I've just never had the balls to admit to a coach while he's chewing my ass that I missed a call. Either it's not having the balls or not wanting to make the matter worse. I guess I just feel like admitting it is going to piss the coach off more and he's going to be wanting me to change the call because it's "for the kids".

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Best "admission" story that I ever experienced was in a JV game and the pitcher uncorked a nasty curve ball that had no business being called a strike.  

That did not deter me and as soon as I was done ringing the kid up I knew I blew it. It was the third out and there were lots of groans from the bench.  I took my place on the third base line and 3B coach comes over very composed, gentlemanly and stands next to me with his arms folded watching his team take their warm-ups.  This whole conversation took place with us looking out at the field and not making eye contact until the end.

"How's it going blue?"

"Good coach."

"Good game so far"

"Yup.  Nasty curve there at the end."

"I'll say.  Looked tough."

"I would not mind having another look at that pitch."

With that we looked at each other and he nodded in a tacit understanding and said "I know what you mean" and just quietly went back to his dugout.

I have found that the phrase "I wouldn't mind another look..." has gone a long way to kinda, sorta, maybe implying an admission of missing a pitch without an outright confession.  Experienced coaches who understand our work can read between the lines and as long as you don't make a habit out of it you should be good to go.

Now for the inexperienced jack-wagon who just wants to get a piece of your hide, there is no telling the reaction to an admission.  It is an area best tread lightly and on a case by case basis.

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Two different time this happened to me:

I missed a pitch on the inside corner that I should have called for strike three, which caused the pitcher to exhale a deep breath and the catcher to ask, "Was that just in?"  Both times, the batter was retired on the next pitch for the 3rd out, and I get the catcher's attention on the way back to the dugout.  "Tell your pitcher that I missed that pitch, but don't tell your coach."

That's resulted a big grin and a hard-working catcher for the rest of the game.

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7 hours ago, JamesC said:

I've always been curious about this and would be interested in hearing everyone else's stories on handling this. If/when you tell a coach that you kicked the call and missed it, do you not catch a lot of hell or even more grief for admitting that? It doesn't escalate the coach's anger? I've never admitted to a coach during a game that I've kicked a call, even if I know without a doubt I did. Don't get me wrong, I've made calls where I immediately wished I could have a mulligan; however, I've taken my ass chewing because I deserved it. I guess I've just never had the balls to admit to a coach while he's chewing my ass that I missed a call. Either it's not having the balls or not wanting to make the matter worse. I guess I just feel like admitting it is going to piss the coach off more and he's going to be wanting me to change the call because it's "for the kids".

I missed a beautiful breaking pitch on the inside corner that should have been strike three. Between innings, the coach came up to me and asked with genuine curiosity, "What was wrong with that one pitch?"

"Me." He laughed. "I simply missed it, coach. That's my one bad for the game."

He understood and we never had any issues all game.

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On 4/12/2017 at 8:23 PM, ElkOil said:

I didn't say you said it was the only mistake. I'm just trying to reconcile what you described as kicking the living crap out of a call, then openly berating yourself for it with your example of a common, benign mistake. I didn't mean anything by it -- just trying to understand.

I think Elk was getting more at something like..... oh I don't know...... calling TIME immediately on catcher's interference when the ball is put in play......... :smachhead:

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On 4/12/2017 at 7:58 AM, noumpere said:

Take a piece of paper and a pen with you (yes, even on the bases).  Write it down after the incident (well, between innings, or during a conference).  Then, you can forget about it without forgetting it.

If anyone is wondering, this is far more vital than an indicator carried by a BU. In fact, lighten the load – BU's should bring a pen and a mini-notebook in their pocket and leave the indicator in their bag.

On 4/13/2017 at 0:16 PM, JamesC said:

I've always been curious about this and would be interested in hearing everyone else's stories on handling this. If/when you tell a coach that you kicked the call and missed it, do you not catch a lot of hell or even more grief for admitting that? It doesn't escalate the coach's anger? I've never admitted to a coach during a game that I've kicked a call, even if I know without a doubt I did. Don't get me wrong, I've made calls where I immediately wished I could have a mulligan; however, I've taken my ass chewing because I deserved it. I guess I've just never had the balls to admit to a coach while he's chewing my ass that I missed a call. Either it's not having the balls or not wanting to make the matter worse. I guess I just feel like admitting it is going to piss the coach off more and he's going to be wanting me to change the call because it's "for the kids".

It's not a matter of balls (or "hutzpah"), James. You're onto something with "making the matter worse", though. We should be very aware – guarded, even – when engaging participants (especially coaches) during a game. An admission of booting or botching a call, while perhaps easing one's own conscience, serves no benefit to game management. Even if the momentary outcome is one of no ejections, there's now a greater chance of one's calls and judgements being questioned.

 

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