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Umpire in Chief

Assigning Expectations

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@CJK posted a thread I didn't want to hijack but on a similar topic.

Say you're assigned games at 10:00 & 12:30. You arrive and for whatever reason the field isn't ready so the teams say, oh we'll just start the first one at 12:30 and play a 3:00. Now you're there twiddling your thumbs for 2.5 hrs. and if you stay for the 3:00 you're impeding on my time. Maybe I made plans for 5:00???

  • Would you be expected to do the 3:00?
  • Would you face repercussions for not doing it?
  • How would you be compensated? 

Unfortunately, I've faced similar situations a few times. If I can I've stayed, but I've also told them I just cant do it. When I've said no, I haven't faced any repercussions but there has been moderate pressure to help out and try to take it. But when I have agreed to work the later game I've never received any additional compensation. 

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Yep -- stay if I can; be very apologetic (and as specific as possible as to the reason) if I can't.  It goes a long way toward getting assignments and being seen as someone who the assigners and teams want on the games.

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I generally will specify my availability as "all day" or "until 3pm."  If I had given "until 3pm" availability, I (like @noumpere) would be apologetic, but I would not feel the slightest bit guilty about leaving.  If I had given "all day" availability, I would stay.

In either case, I would be in contact with my assigner/UIC immediately, either to indicate that s/he needed to find someone to pick up the late game, or else so that s/he understands that I'm picking up the slack.  I don't need the pat on the back so much as I want to be the guy that s/he will call first the next time s/he needs someone.

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Agree with all above. Do them if you can. The 2 1/2 hours standing around because everything got moved back is just part of the "job". I've had it the other way around too. A 5PM game on a Saturday when I'm working til 3, and the forecast looks bad and they want to play earlier. If you can't make the change, so be it. Explain why and that's it. keeping availability up to date in Arbiter helps a whole lot when you can't make a late time change and you have to explain why.   

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4 hours ago, Richvee said:

Agree with all above. Do them if you can. The 2 1/2 hours standing around because everything got moved back is just part of the "job". I've had it the other way around too. A 5PM game on a Saturday when I'm working til 3, and the forecast looks bad and they want to play earlier. If you can't make the change, so be it. Explain why and that's it. keeping availability up to date in Arbiter helps a whole lot when you can't make a late time change and you have to explain why.   

The arbiter comment is a very good one. Agreed.

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What if you are scheduled to work a 12 and 3 and the first game ends up going 14 innings? Are you not going to do the 2nd game?

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13 hours ago, JSam21 said:

What if you are scheduled to work a 12 and 3 and the first game ends up going 14 innings? Are you not going to do the 2nd game?

It's not the same situation as the OP, but to answer the question, if I have second games with a different partner and/or location, I make every effort to let my 2nd game partner know what time and where my first game is. I've had some close calls, but never ran into a situation being late for game two. My concern always is, if I'm on the field for game 1 and it's getting close to game 2 time, how do I let them know. No, I don't carry my cell to the field. 

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9 hours ago, Richvee said:

It's not the same situation as the OP, but to answer the question, if I have second games with a different partner and/or location, I make every effort to let my 2nd game partner know what time and where my first game is. I've had some close calls, but never ran into a situation being late for game two. My concern always is, if I'm on the field for game 1 and it's getting close to game 2 time, how do I let them know. No, I don't carry my cell to the field. 

It was more directed at the people that have said, well what if I had plans for 5 or 6 pm. 

But to your point, this is why I won’t take 2 different games in different locations within 5 hours of each other. 

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To the OP, if I arrived for a 10:00 game and wasn't notified prior of the field not being ready and the game doesn't get underway until 12:30, I'm going to ask for some sort of compensation for the "missed" game.  Even if a thunderstorm comes through at 9:55 and causes a delay, we shouldn't be expected to sit there for 2.5 hours for no pay.  This of course is assuming it's a run-of-the-mill doubleheader, not a state tournament or something like that. 

The topic of this discussion is one of the reasons that many areas struggle to have enough baseball umpires.  I know of many areas that have next to no baseball guys and are flush with basketball officials.  You never know if you'll be at a doubleheader for 3 hours or 8 hours - with basketball and football, you pretty well know your game is going to be done within a certain time frame.  Nothing that really can be done about it but just my opinion and observations.  

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While I get what you're saying, @zoops, I feel like you're describing something different.  It was a day of tournament games (actually girls' fast pitch) with 75-minute drop dead clocks, and we were actually a bit ahead of schedule.  We finished 4 of the 5 game slots when the rain came, and we were probably in the room for a half hour when they decided to move the games.

I've worked with this same TD a number of times, and the only instance where we had a significant delay, we were scheduled for 3 games, we finished one, and he asked us to stay through the rain and recovery to do the 3rd.  We got paid for the two games we actually worked and he added a 1/2 game fee for the trouble.  I feel like he's a stand-up guy.

I was just curious if anyone had any kind of experience with traveling half-way through a game like this, because this umpire was so adamant that "you just don't do that."  I'm of the mindset that if you want the work, you go where the games are.  Inconvenient sometimes, but that's just the backside of getting paid a full game fee for working a 45-minute run rule.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback!

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Yea, I don't think it's reasonable to ask for extra on something unforeseeable like this, though I don't think you should feel guilty of declining if the reschedule is so different that you reasonably can't make it because of later plans. If you have a 'conflict' 3 hours from 1st pitch, that's not reasonable. But if it's 5 hrs from the scheduled 2nd half of a DH and now they want to flip the 1st game to the 2nd? Well, that's more understandable.

All of that is out the window if it's just something like the coaches rescheduling the game beforehand but not bothering to tell you...screw them, then, but weather/field/other outside circumstances, I think we have to be reasonably flexible and accept this kind of thing as the flip side of the 1 inning rainout/1:15 run rule/etc. The philosophy I've always tried to stick to - and I created this all by myself - is that you take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and there you have the facts of life. The facts of life.

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41 minutes ago, scrounge said:

The philosophy I've always tried to stick to - and I created this all by myself - is that you take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and there you have the facts of life. The facts of life.

This is brilliant.  Someone should make a TV show about it.

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9 hours ago, CJK said:

While I get what you're saying, @zoops, I feel like you're describing something different.  It was a day of tournament games (actually girls' fast pitch) with 75-minute drop dead clocks, and we were actually a bit ahead of schedule.  We finished 4 of the 5 game slots when the rain came, and we were probably in the room for a half hour when they decided to move the games.

I've worked with this same TD a number of times, and the only instance where we had a significant delay, we were scheduled for 3 games, we finished one, and he asked us to stay through the rain and recovery to do the 3rd.  We got paid for the two games we actually worked and he added a 1/2 game fee for the trouble.  I feel like he's a stand-up guy.

I was just curious if anyone had any kind of experience with traveling half-way through a game like this, because this umpire was so adamant that "you just don't do that."  I'm of the mindset that if you want the work, you go where the games are.  Inconvenient sometimes, but that's just the backside of getting paid a full game fee for working a 45-minute run rule.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback!

I was describing something different - the OP where a game is delayed 2.5 hours.  

Although I guess my 2nd paragraph would apply to both threads.  

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On 10/27/2017 at 7:07 PM, zoops said:

I was describing something different - the OP where a game is delayed 2.5 hours.

Of course you were.  And I was thinking that this was in the thread I started.  My mistake, and my apologies.

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FROM MY PERSPECTIVE AS THE Asst Coach/GM:

1) If I'm the Asst Coach/GM, and the situation in the OP happens, then I suck ... and the umpires are not gonna get shafted.  The umpires will not be the last to hear that there is a delay because of an unfit field, or a reschedule, or a change of venue.  I can honestly say it never happened when I was in that role.  My son played travel ball for a team during his High School summers and falls that ALWAYS asked me to umpire, ALWAYS offered to pay me, I never accepted payment in cash (the moms slipped some Cracker Barrel gift cards to my wife a few times which was very nice), but I was able to relax with the fact that I always knew the umpires would be well-informed, since I was half of the crew.

2) If I were the GM (and not an umpire), and any of the above scenarios occurred, I'd get on it right away with the umpires (or assignor if we went through one) and weigh all the options.  "George, we're gonna have to delay the first game 2 1/2 hours just to let the field dry out.  I'll either pay your guys half a game fee extra if they can work with my head coach and work 12:30 and 3:00, or I'll take a new crew, or I'll take a split crew ... I'll even take just one umpire and pay him 50% more for game 2 if that's all we can do."  (And that's assuming the guys didn't find out about the long delay after they left home).

In other words ... I realize I'm throwing a huge curveball ... it can't be helped due to Mother Nature ... but I want the guys to feel appreciated, and I want them to come back ... and I want them to remember me as the guy that went out of my way to take care of them.

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE AS AN UMPIRE:

This kind of thing, as inexcusable as it sounds, has happened to me so many times I couldn't take a stab at guessing the number.  I would leave, grab lunch, watch a game on TV, find something to do for two hours (which really isn't hard to do), and either stay and do the 3:00 game for no additional (expected) compensation, or if I literally couldn't because of a prior commitment, I'd tell the coaches and my assignor at 10:00 am and help find a replacement for that 2nd game.  (With my kids mostly grown, I don't recall an incident where I scheduled something so tightly that I couldn't stay). 

My point here is, $hit happens in baseball that shouldn't, but I wouldn't insist on additional compensation even though I just stated that I'd offer it as a goodwill gesture if I were on the other end (GM).  As Michael Keaton (Bill) so eloquently stated in the movie NIGHT SHIFT, when he was feuding with Henry Winkler (Chuck):

     Bill:  "I gave you a hundred bucks."

     Chuck:  "Yeah, well, I didn't ask for it."

     Bill:  "I know!  That's what made it such a beautiful gesture on my part..."

Just this past summer, I showed up for the first of what was going to be four 15u Tourney Games with one of my favorite partners.  The Tournament Director was using only High School Certified umpires from my Association, and he just "forgot" to tell our assignor about a schedule change.  So as we walked to Field 1 about 10 minutes before game time, we passed Field 2 and noticed they looked ready to start, but had no umps.  One of the TD's underlings asked me ... without even an introduction,

"Can you gear up and take that game? (pointing to Field 2)"

"Hi, I'm Bob ... (extending my hand.)  What have we got here?"

"I think we have two umps running late."  (Translated:  Field 2 is starting an hour earlier than your schedule says)

"Well, Sir, I'm gonna have to say no unless I'm told otherwise by my assignor.  We're following the schedule you have online."

So, sure enough, after half an inning, the young lackey motions me over to the fence with a cell phone in his hand and says, "It's your assignor ... he needs to talk to you."

My assignor didn't TELL me to do anything ... he kindly "asked" if I would bail these people out by gearing up and starting the game on Field 2 solo, my partner would stay on 1 and work solo, and when the other umps arrived, we could either switch partners or switch back.  I told him, "Yes Sir ... I'm on it."

When the other two umpires showed up, they were turned away at the gate by one of the other young (and mis-informed) lackeys, and told that they had been replaced "since they were late."  (Now, I do fault them for taking the kid's word for it and not walking up to the fields to check, but they were pissed, so they just left.)  They stopped to get a brew and called our assignor and told him they'd been turned away and replaced.

So after two games solo, my original partner and I got our first chance to sit down and talk, and my phone rang.  It's our assignor who wants to know who turned the other guys away.  Of course, we had no idea, we just knew that the TD caused the problem with a schedule change (he emailed the coaches ... he never even changed the website schedule, let alone informed the assignor) and we were going solo.

A thunderstorm ended our glorious day in the 2nd inning of games 3, as two substitute umpires were showing up to partner up with us.

This story, I tell, because it is the only time I can recall in the last 14 years that I personally pushed it for our assignor to collect ALL the money that should have been paid to the umpires.  I suggested that the four umpires who drove to the park and never worked each get one game fee, and that my partner and I each get 3 full game fees.  I honestly don't know how my assignor approached it with the TD, but that's how the money was collected and divided up ... on the principle that all of the problems were avoidable, and none of it was caused or embellished my the umpires.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my willingness to be flexible has been rewarded in many, many ways over the years by my various assignors.  They know I get shafted occasionally, but then I also might get first dibs at a really good assignment.  I might get put on a District Post-Season 3-man crew of my choice two years in a row, because he's quietly thanking me for my helping him out so often.

Karma's not always a bitch ... it's often very kind.

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As an assigner, the way I write my contracts with my leagues is that if they cancel with at least 2 hours notice there is no charge for the umpires. If they cancel with less than 2 hours notice the umpires will be paid a half-game fee. If they cancel with less than 30 minutes notice the umpires get a full game fee. In this case my umpires would be looking at 3 game fees if they could be there for all 3 games. There is a shortage of umpires in my area and a plethora of games, so maybe I have more sway over the Leagues and tournament directors than in some other areas. As an Umpire, I value my time and the time of my umpires.

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