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Guest Pstark

Umpire Interference with catcher/runner

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Guest Pstark

Scenario: Runners at 2nd and 3rd. Passed ball, 3B runner steals home, 2B runner moves up to 3rd.  After the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher, the umpire proceeded to move into position to clean the plate (blocking the catchers view of the runner and blocking the possible throw from the pitcher to the catcher).  The runner at 3rd now attempts to steal home and the pitcher turns quickly to see the umpire blocking the catcher and does not throw the ball.  The umpire steps out of the way in time for the runner to score. Umpire states that "no timeout was called" therefore the runner can steal home and is safe.  Is this Umpire Interference and what should the call have been?

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11 minutes ago, Guest Pstark said:

Scenario: Runners at 2nd and 3rd. Passed ball, 3B runner steals home, 2B runner moves up to 3rd.  After the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher, the umpire proceeded to move into position to clean the plate (blocking the catchers view of the runner and blocking the possible throw from the pitcher to the catcher).  The runner at 3rd now attempts to steal home and the pitcher turns quickly to see the umpire blocking the catcher and does not throw the ball.  The umpire steps out of the way in time for the runner to score. Umpire states that "no timeout was called" therefore the runner can steal home and is safe.  Is this Umpire Interference and what should the call have been?

No it isn't.  Have your catcher move to where he can see the runner.  Have the pitcher wait at the plate with the ball until the catcher gets there. 

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What do you mean the umpire was moving into position to clean the plate?  Was his back turned and bent over?

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39 minutes ago, Tborze said:

What do you mean the umpire was moving into position to clean the plate?  Was his back turned and bent over?

Doesn't matter.

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Just now, Rich Ives said:

Doesn't matter.

You're right, but if you have an R3 and decide not to call time to sweep the plate, then you better have good awareness to be sure you move your ass so the defense can make a play.  Is this umpire interference?  Of course not.  Was it a mistake?  Definitely.

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43 minutes ago, Rich Ives said:

Doesn't matter.

When I'm bent over cleaning the plate, the ball is dead!

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No, this wasn't umpire interference.  The runner is still allowed to score.

I rarely call time to clean off the plate.  It's a good idea to look at R3 as you are bending down to clean the plate, then either quickly clean it and/or glance over again once you've cleaned about half the plate.  No longer than it takes to clean an entire plate, glancing over at the halfway point makes sure that R3 doesn't have time to steal without you noticing.

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And I always call time once all motion has ceased to clean a plate. It doesn't take but a second to put the ball back in play either.

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... and I never call time so as to clean the plate. Never. Now, if time is called for another reason (conference, hit-by-pitch, injury check, base-came-out-of-mooring, etc.), I'll take the opportunity to clean the plate. Even then, catchers and batters remark at how expedient efficient I am. There are two key words to this – awareness and edginess.

We (as umpires) should always be aware of the status and location of the ball. If the catcher is at the backstop to retrieve the ball, throws it to the pitcher who then turns around in a frustrated huff to head back to the mound... the ball is still live, is it not? And for a runner on 3rd base (now R3), this could be a scoring opportunity, would it not? Inattentive fielder... open plate... So if the runner takes off, and the pitcher is quick enough to react and tag and/or shuffle it off to the catcher to tag the runner, would that not be an out? And we (as umpires) want (legit) outs, do we not?

@WilsonFlyer, you said the right thing, just packaged it wrong – "once all motion has ceased". In that, you are aware that all possible plays have ended, and what the current status and location of the ball is – as do the rest of the participants. So why call Time?? What purpose does it serve?

This gets into the other key word – edginess. We want the participants to be on edge... anticipatory... ready to pitch, ready to hit, ready to field, ready to make plays. This keeps the pace of the game going. When we call Time arbitrarily – without purpose (such as ball-out-of-play, interference, conference, etc.) – we're putting the participants in a relaxed state. And then they start walking around, and muttering, and pouting, and daydreaming, and suddenly you're looking at 2-3 minutes waste away per half inning. Does a 2nd Baseman really need Time to be called to throw the ball eight feet to the pitcher?! No. But then I'm looking at Umpires do exactly that, and suddenly we've got the entire infield (minus coach) all talking at the mound, and the R2 trotting off to go talk to 1BC or 3BC, and the batter going back to the ODC (or worse, dugout) for one last dousing of pine tar. Several minutes later, we finally have the batter step into the box, the catcher crouch down, and the pitcher engage to the rubber... and then the PU can call "Play!".

This. Adds. Up!

Now, if we keep the ball live, there's nothing preventing me (as PU) from cleaning the plate. I know where the ball is (with pitcher), I've got a catcher in proximity to the plate, I've got a new batter walking up, just quickly and effectively clean off the plate, step back behind the catcher getting into his crouch, direct the batter into the box, and we're ready to go. My BU partners have this understanding – if they ever get a balk call or a pickoff out call (hidden ball trick included) while I'm brushing the plate, I'm buying them a beer (or a tasty NA beverage if they are < 21).

So back to the OP, it's tough cookies. Tell the pitcher not to pitch so sloppily, tell the catcher to stop moping, and tell the 3rd baseman to stop daydreaming. I will confidently say that what happened in the OP would never happen to me, but I support that umpire – that's not Umpire Interference, even in its most loose definition.

Edited by MadMax
Used the proper word
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I've seen this debate over calling time when cleaning the plate many times on this and other forums over the years. While MadMax makes some great points, I just don't see any appreciable savings in time(pun intended) by not calling time to dust off the plate and putting the ball back in play. I don't really care if the PU calls time or not, do whatever works for you. But situational awareness is most definitely the key.

Now if I have a couple of runners bury the plate while sliding into the dustbowl known as the batters box in my area, and maybe a runner is in scoring position, I have no issue with calling time and cleaning the plate. (Sometimes shoveling the 2 yards of dirt off the plate can take a while :D). After all play relaxes, the catcher is not in position yet, I have a batter that is walking to the plate after being on deck, and calling time IMO just doesn't really have any bearing on the length of the game. Besides, after play is relaxed, 99.9% of the time, the players and coaches think time has been called anyway. I just don't have an issue with it.

With that being said, I try to work my games with efficiency and a workmanlike manner. I don't like anyone waiting on me. I always strive to keep the game moving and I never grant time unnecessarily. While you don't need to call time everytime you clean off the plate, I think there can be times when it's prudent.

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Guest Coach P

O.k. MadMax, I'll take your work for it...No ump interference, but like GreyHawk said, it was a mistake (and sloppy umping imho). By standing on home plate, with your back to the field, and not calling time out when you are brushing off the plate, you are a sloppy ump and inviting an argument by one or both Coaches, and worse yet, inviting injury.  By your admittance, you are telling me to instruct my players to continue to play the game, which will include throwing the ball as hard as they can towards home to get the runner out, unmasked umpire in the way...or not.

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Some of it depends on the level of play, but during a LL game, I'm not turning my back on a pitcher during a live ball. Hell, time had been called, I was taking subs from a coach and I glanced over to see the batter in the batters' box and the pitcher preparing to pitch. 

I've gotten in the habit of putting on my mask, before I take position behind the catcher. The game's gonna be a whole lot longer if I take a foul or a pitch to the face. 

I had my partner once tell me that I didn't need to call time to clean the plate before the half-inning started. I said, "I know that and you know that, the problem is THEY don't know that." A couple days later he got  hit in the ass with a pitch.

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1 hour ago, MadMax said:

Now, if we keep the ball live, there's nothing preventing me (as PU) from cleaning the plate. I know where the ball is (with pitcher), I've got a catcher in proximity to the plate, I've got a new batter walking up, just quickly and effectively clean off the plate, step back behind the catcher getting into his crouch, direct the batter into the box, and we're ready to go. My BU partners have this understanding – if they ever get a balk call or a pickoff out call (hidden ball trick included) while I'm brushing the plate, I'm buying them a beer (or a tasty NA beverage if they are < 21).

Yes, I'm completely on board with minimizing "time" calls, and cleaning the plate without killing the play - but as an aware and experienced umpire doing his job you would not clean the plate in a live ball scenario where the pitcher is walking away with his back to the plate, and a catcher is likely not at the plate, with R2 has now rounded third - where something could still happen...Any more than you'd clean the plate on a ground ball to CF with F8 throwing to home to get R2 - you would wait until it was pretty evident that action was relaxed (R2 now on third base high fiving coach, F1 on rubber, F2 next to plate, ODB approaching plate, etc).   That's not to say a F2 might "assume" time is called when you're cleaning the plate, and go talk to the pitcher, and an aware F3 will run - tough luck for the defense.

It's one thing to want your players aware and edgy, and to support your brother umpire - it's another thing to support a scenario where teams take tactical advantage of inexperienced umpires.  Would you support F2 pushing PU out of his way to make the play at the plate?  Or R3 bowling BU over trying to score?  Or F1 throwing the ball and hitting PU square between the eyes (unintentionally of course)?   This umpire put himself into a middle of a live play - I don't care if you call it an innocent mistake, or gross ineptitude, or something in between - let's take it one step further and what if R3 was already running, and BU, simply clueless and unaware, decided to go clean the plate?  Still not interference, by rule...doesn't make it right.

In either scenario that umpire needs to be corrected, not supported.  I would say umpires should call time to clean the plate until they are experienced and aware enough to recognize when they can do it live, and  aware enough to adjust if runners do go (this is frankly true in any situation, not just with a runner on third, and not just if you have partners - if you're going solo and there's R1 and R2 you're gonna have a fun time seeing things when you're cleaning the plate during a live ball)

 

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Guest Coach P

Excellent and well put, BG55!  I couldn't agree more.  To clarify, solo ump, 10-12 yr olds, competitive play (not rec).  PU's mask was off, and his back turned toward 3rd....If he didn't hear the yelling, he would not have been alerted to the runner coming home and step aside last minute.

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3 hours ago, Guest Coach P said:

By your admittance, you are telling me to instruct my players to continue to play the game, which will include throwing the ball as hard as they can towards home to get the runner out, unmasked umpire in the way...or not.

Spoken like a true rat.

How about instead of teaching your kids to throw the ball as hard as they can into an umpire,  teach them some baseball fundamentals    Teach your catcher to run the passed ball back to home plate. Teach you F1 to cover the plate on passed balls,and if there's another runner on third, stand at the plate with the ball until F2 returns to the plate.

Teach the kids baseball, instead of passing blame for your lack of coaching skills on an umpire.......Typical 12u Bull $h*t.

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3 hours ago, Guest Coach P said:

By standing on home plate, with your back to the field, and not calling time out when you are brushing off the plate, you are a sloppy ump and inviting an argument by one or both Coaches, and worse yet, inviting injury.

Oh, I'd very much like to be calling a game with your team participating. It'll be a hoot. You wouldn't even have to introduce yourself or make me aware you're participating... let's just see what happens.

3 hours ago, Guest Coach P said:

By your admittance, you are telling me to instruct my players to continue to play the game, which will include throwing the ball as hard as they can towards home to get the runner out, unmasked umpire in the way...or not.

Do you tell them to do something otherwise? I'd actually applaud and commend coaches (heck, I'd buy them a tasty beverage!) who get their players to stop moping, pouting, whining, b!tching, farting on each other, picking dandelions, or otherwise goofing off... during live ball play! Coaching ain't easy, I'll grant you that, but if you can engage and motivate your players to see a play through to its completion, whatever role they have on (or off) the field, you'll meet a high level of success. If you have a bench player (or two) while the rest of the team is on defense, why not have them visually track the runners as they go around the bases? I can't tell you how many missed Outs I've seen in the past year, at all levels because no one on the defense – coaches included – bothered to watch the runner (or batter-runner) and verify he touched the bases. Or, to verbally assist cut-off men as to where to go with the baseball so as to get an out on the play despite giving up a 2-strike, 2-out base hit that went right through a middle infielder. Continue to play the game!

That won't help, or be effective. Throwing accurately is what matters, and actually catching the baseball. Fundamentals! More often than not, the runner is on base because an outfielder couldn't catch a fly ball, or a middle infielder couldn't make the throw across to F3 accurately so as to retire the BR. "Throw hard" is actually counter-productive; throw accurately and catch, that's the name of the game.

2 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

but as an aware and experienced umpire doing his job you would not clean the plate in a live ball scenario where the pitcher is walking away with his back to the plate, and a catcher is likely not at the plate, with R2 has now rounded third - where something could still happen...

You know, @beerguy55, you stumbled onto something a bit profound. The umpire in the OP is not inculpable. The A-Number-One Top Priority of an Umpire is to know the status and location of the baseball. Too often amongst amateur umpires, the superfluous stuff – keeping the plate clean, making sure bats are picked up, etc. – gets pushed to the top of the agenda, often at the sacrifice of situational awareness. What difference does it really make if the plate is completely brushed off? It doesn't. But it seems to me that merely a moment after a runner slides across the plate, burying it in a shovel-full of dirt and sand, our PU feels this compulsion that he has to clean the plate off! This is probably the same type of umpire who will take his eyes off the baseball / the runner so as to pick up the bat dropped by the batter-runner near the plate.

The point is, all those other minor things can be taken care of once, as @WilsonFlyer points out, all play has ceased. 

I've worked several dozen Adult baseball games, solo, and never called Time so as to clean off the plate or get myself back into position. Sure, I've taken the opportunity to brush the plate off, typically when these Adult players request Time so as to take off the 10 lbs. of protective gear they're wearing, or get a courtesy runner (league allowance).

There are no two instances that irritate me more as a BU than to see a PU partner call Time so as to get himself from 3B back to the plate after rotating, or to dramatically call Time and thunder, "Get that bat!". So there's a bat there... big deal! Someone will get it, if not, direct the batter to step out and yell at direct his teammate to, or take care of it himself. The ball can stay live, and if the F1 (legally) picks off R1... hey!... Mazeltov!

2 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

I would say umpires should call time to clean the plate until they are experienced and aware enough to recognize when they can do it live, and  aware enough to adjust if runners do go (this is frankly true in any situation, not just with a runner on third, and not just if you have partners - if you're going solo and there's R1 and R2 you're gonna have a fun time seeing things when you're cleaning the plate during a live ball)

That's a point of concession, sure. And I would advise new, developing umpires to adopt this. However, this comes at a price... do you know when the best time is to clean off the plate? Between half-innings, when the ball is dead and pretty much everyone is off the field... instead of leaning against the fence checking your mobile phone!!!

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4 hours ago, Guest Coach P said:

By your admittance, you are telling me to instruct my players to continue to play the game, which will include throwing the ball as hard as they can towards home to get the runner out, unmasked umpire in the way...or not.

Sooo... do you blindly follow implied instruction when it goes contrary to common basic sense? Umpires umpire and coaches coach. At least that's the way it should be. So do your job and coach your players in sound fundamentals instead of believing anyone is advocating the kind of gamesmanship you're trying to blame on @MadMax. As MadMax stated earlier, separate what you think he's saying from the essence of what he's actually saying and you'll come away with some things that'll help you take your coaching game to the next level.

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1 hour ago, ElkOil said:

Sooo... do you blindly follow implied instruction when it goes contrary to common basic sense? Umpires umpire and coaches coach. At least that's the way it should be. So do your job and coach your players in sound fundamentals instead of believing anyone is advocating the kind of gamesmanship you're trying to blame on @MadMax. As MadMax stated earlier, separate what you think he's saying from the essence of what he's actually saying and you'll come away with some things that'll help you take your coaching game to the next level.

No. He's saying if time hasn't been called his team is going to keep playing whether you are paying attention or not.

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By the looks of this      vvvvvvvv  

19 minutes ago, Guest Leonard said:

Mad Max,

Expedient has nothing to do with speed.

 

I'd wager this vvvvvvvvvvvv   ain't happening

1 hour ago, ElkOil said:

As MadMax stated earlier, separate what you think he's saying from the essence of what he's actually saying and you'll come away with some things that'll help you take your coaching game to the next level.

 

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7 minutes ago, Rich Ives said:

No. He's saying if time hasn't been called his team is going to keep playing whether you are paying attention or not.

No. It was the other team that continued playing. His team failed to pay attention and execute fundamentals on how to handle a passed ball and keep a second runner from scoring, and now wants to blame someone else.

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13 hours ago, Richvee said:

No. It was the other team that continued playing. His team failed to pay attention ..., and now wants to blame someone else.

Yes and no.  There is blame to be shared...probably.   The team put itself in that situation by not paying attention - that's on the players and their coaches...Hell, even their parents...F2 was probably still at or near the fence, pouting...F1 had ball, with back to plate walking to the mound...likely in a huff and pouty...and R2 had likely rounded third and getting ready to go, as soon as F1 gets far enough from the plate....and F5 isn't noticing this.

PU exacerbated this by not being aware of this, and letting his OCD kick in to clean off the plate the previous runner had so rudely covered with dirt, and inserted himself into the continuing action, not as an umpire, but as an obstacle.

Now, F2 has to make a choice about whether to go through or around PU.  And F1 has to choose to throw at or around PU.  Even R2 might have to make a choice about going through or around the umpire to score.   That's on the umpire.  If the umpire isn't there then it's just a matter of whether or not F1/F2 react quickly enough to overcome their lapse in attention.    And the high likelihood is they would not.  And the high likelihood is the umpire's presence here is moot - they weren't gonna get the runner whether the ump was in the way or not.  But we'll never know.   I'd be fuming if I was coaching either team, regardless of the result - what if the umpire panicked, and moved into the runner's path, and instead of preventing F2 from catching/tagging, he prevented R2 from touching the plate?

It really doesn't matter.  This wouldn't change even if the players all did everything right, and R2 simply decided to run home with the umpire cleaning the plate, hoping that he creates enough of an obstacle, or confusion, to prevent F1 from successfully throwing to F2....if PU is just a fraction of a second late recognizing the change in action, you have a SH*#show that has nothing to do with the players not paying attention....and that's not baseball.

Well coached heads up players don't get into these situations.   And well coached heads up umpires don't get into these situations.  The problem is, the coach can only fix his players.   Unless the umpire himself has the integrity or self awareness to do so, he's not changing a thing, and nobody's going to make him - unless there happened to be an evaluator watching that exact game...then maybe he'll get some feedback.   And there's no recourse, and unless someone videotaped this, do you think ANYTHING will be done if either coach complained to the umpire association?

I once had a wild pitch go past me to a short fence with R3...as I went back to recover the ball and throw it to F1 covering the plate, PU had planted himself squarely between me and the plate - I guess getting to 1BX was really important to him - with his back to me looking at F1/the plate for a tag, and no awareness to where I (or the ball) was.   I later said to him that, it likely didn't matter, I likely wouldn't have got the runner anyway, but wanted him to know he was directly in the path of the throw, and if I had thrown it it would have hit him in the middle of the back...he's lucky I didn't throw it, because I often make that throw blind - I happened to see in time the umpire, and stop my throw.    He told me he would have ejected me, and that his positioning isn't the problem - it's my fault I missed the ball.   Great attitude.    I have worked with umpires who absolutely in a heartbeat take that constructive feedback, and want nothing more than to improve, on their own initiative, without waiting for an authority figure to tell them to change.  They are, unfortunately, like most humans, in most walks of life, the exception.

The frustration from a coach comes in knowing they can't do a damned thing about it.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Guest Leonard said:

Mad Max,

Expedient has nothing to do with speed.

Ah, my mistake. I was intending to use the term/words ruthlessly efficient – as in, I don’t take an eternity to brush off the plate like it’s some just discovered Paleolithic artifact – and for some reason, I chose the wrong word.

Much in the same way coaches confuse “interference” and “obstruction”.

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3 minutes ago, MadMax said:

Ah, my mistake. I was intending to use the term/words ruthlessly efficient – as in, I don’t take an eternity to brush off the plate like it’s some just discovered Paleolithic artifact – and for some reason, I chose the wrong word.

Much in the same way coaches confuse “interference” and “obstruction”.

You made up for it by employing "Paleolithic."

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8 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

Yes and no.  There is blame to be shared...probably.   The team put itself in that situation by not paying attention - that's on the players and their coaches...Hell, even their parents...F2 was probably still at or near the fence, pouting...F1 had ball, with back to plate walking to the mound...likely in a huff and pouty...and R2 had likely rounded third and getting ready to go, as soon as F1 gets far enough from the plate....and F5 isn't noticing this.

PU exacerbated this by not being aware of this, and letting his OCD kick in to clean off the plate the previous runner had so rudely covered with dirt, and inserted himself into the continuing action, not as an umpire, but as an obstacle.

Now, F2 has to make a choice about whether to go through or around PU.  And F1 has to choose to throw at or around PU.  Even R2 might have to make a choice about going through or around the umpire to score.   That's on the umpire.  If the umpire isn't there then it's just a matter of whether or not F1/F2 react quickly enough to overcome their lapse in attention.    And the high likelihood is they would not.  And the high likelihood is the umpire's presence here is moot - they weren't gonna get the runner whether the ump was in the way or not.  But we'll never know.   I'd be fuming if I was coaching either team, regardless of the result - what if the umpire panicked, and moved into the runner's path, and instead of preventing F2 from catching/tagging, he prevented R2 from touching the plate?

It really doesn't matter.  This wouldn't change even if the players all did everything right, and R2 simply decided to run home with the umpire cleaning the plate, hoping that he creates enough of an obstacle, or confusion, to prevent F1 from successfully throwing to F2....if PU is just a fraction of a second late recognizing the change in action, you have a SH*#show that has nothing to do with the players not paying attention....and that's not baseball.

Well coached heads up players don't get into these situations.   And well coached heads up umpires don't get into these situations.  The problem is, the coach can only fix his players.   Unless the umpire himself has the integrity or self awareness to do so, he's not changing a thing, and nobody's going to make him - unless there happened to be an evaluator watching that exact game...then maybe he'll get some feedback.   And there's no recourse, and unless someone videotaped this, do you think ANYTHING will be done if either coach complained to the umpire association?

I once had a wild pitch go past me to a short fence with R3...as I went back to recover the ball and throw it to F1 covering the plate, PU had planted himself squarely between me and the plate - I guess getting to 1BX was really important to him - with his back to me looking at F1/the plate for a tag, and no awareness to where I (or the ball) was.   I later said to him that, it likely didn't matter, I likely wouldn't have got the runner anyway, but wanted him to know he was directly in the path of the throw, and if I had thrown it it would have hit him in the middle of the back...he's lucky I didn't throw it, because I often make that throw blind - I happened to see in time the umpire, and stop my throw.    He told me he would have ejected me, and that his positioning isn't the problem - it's my fault I missed the ball.   Great attitude.    I have worked with umpires who absolutely in a heartbeat take that constructive feedback, and want nothing more than to improve, on their own initiative, without waiting for an authority figure to tell them to change.  They are, unfortunately, like most humans, in most walks of life, the exception.

The frustration from a coach comes in knowing they can't do a damned thing about it.

 

 

I agree with a whole lot of this, except The red.

I think IF the players did it right...(F1 standing at the plate to receive a throw from F2, or F2 getting back to the plate while F1 gets back to the mound) then there's a good chance the umpire doesn't try to get in front of the plate to clean it if there's fielders standing there. maybe I'm wrong. Not all umpires have good game instincts. But it would be much less likely PU tries cleaning the dish with a fielder standing on it. 

I'm certainly not excusing the umpire from his error in the OP. It's just that the coach's remarks after the OP question was answered (NO umpire INT) scream of a coach looking for a scapegoat instead of learning from and coaching his players to cover passed balls correctly.  

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