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Balls/Strikes: How much do you tolerate

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I'm blown away by the amount  of  complaining on ball and strike calls --- by coaches at all levels. I thought this was the one no-no in baseball, but every coach partakes with varying degree.

Seasoned vets, what will you listen to, for how long, and then how do each of you handle a whiny coach complaining about the zone going forward? 

I'm sure I'm tolerating too much. But before I go and get wild, help me out.

If a coach asks "where was that pitch?" Do you answer?

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Some mechanic tips to keep them off your back

1.(OK, not really a mechanic) Dress sharp. Look professional. Some say a professional look walking on the field will buy you the first  2 or 3 innings even if you suck :cool:

2..Timing- Take the same amount of time if you're calling a ball or a strike.

3. Make sure both ball and called strikes are firm and assertive. If you sound tentative, coaches will jump you.

4. Balls- Stay down, call "BALL" then come out of your stance. Don't be coming out of your stance while saying "Ball".

5. called strikes.- See it, get up out of your stance and assertively point or hammer the strike, and LOUDLY call it.. 

Look confident in the calls.

Be consistent. This only comes with time. Do as many games as you can. A consistent strike zone will lead to less chirping.

 

Something else to consider.....Some will argue that this is a no no, but I've had success with it...

Give location on (in and out only) on close balls. ..."BALL, that's outside", etc. Not every pitch, but on ones that just miss. Sometimes this answers their questions before they ask and keeps 'em quiet.

 

Now ,if they're getting on you anyway, try the IAWE approach.

I---ignore. Let it go at first....If it persists....

A - Acknowledge. This could simply be a "death stare" without removing the mask, or, remove the mask, and a simple "I heard you coach, we'renot arguing balls and strikes today" .....and if it persists...

W - WARN. "That's enough coach" "I don't want to hear anymore about the strike zone."....and if it persists.....

E - Eject. Don't put up with it all game. There's a great saying "The only ejections you regret are the ones you didn't follow through on". Often it's amazing how much better the game can be after the loudmouth is removed. Often the loudmouth's players are more than happy to play without ole Coach yapping the whole day.

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It depends on the game and the question that’s posed. If the coach is being a tool, and the question is posed, not as an instructional thing for his pitcher, but as an opinion of your judgment, I’m going to, first, make it as general and vague as possible, “outside”, “low”, etc., and, when it happens again, shut it down.

 If, however, we get the question posed as “was it low?”, it’s easy to answer “yes” (even though it was low. I’ve even answered the question, “was it low or outside?” with a simple “yes”.)

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21 minutes ago, jjb said:

It depends on the game and the question that’s posed. If the coach is being a tool, and the question is posed, not as an instructional thing for his pitcher, but as an opinion of your judgment, I’m going to, first, make it as general and vague as possible, “outside”, “low”, etc., and, when it happens again, shut it down.

How do you effectively "shut it down"? Exact verbiage that should be used? 

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6 minutes ago, Nic said:

How do you effectively "shut it down"? Exact verbiage that should be used? 

I've always been a fan of "we're not going there, coach"

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1 hour ago, Richvee said:

Some mechanic tips to keep them off your back

1.(OK, not really a mechanic) Dress sharp. Look professional. Some say a professional look walking on the field will buy you the first  2 or 3 innings even if you suck :cool:

2..Timing- Take the same amount of time if you're calling a ball or a strike.

3. Make sure both ball and called strikes are firm and assertive. If you sound tentative, coaches will jump you.

4. Balls- Stay down, call "BALL" then come out of your stance. Don't be coming out of your stance while saying "Ball".

5. called strikes.- See it, get up out of your stance and assertively point or hammer the strike, and LOUDLY call it.. 

Look confident in the calls.

Be consistent. This only comes with time. Do as many games as you can. A consistent strike zone will lead to less chirping.

 

Something else to consider.....Some will argue that this is a no no, but I've had success with it...

Give location on (in and out only) on close balls. ..."BALL, that's outside", etc. Not every pitch, but on ones that just miss. Sometimes this answers their questions before they ask and keeps 'em quiet.

 

Now ,if they're getting on you anyway, try the IAWE approach.

I---ignore. Let it go at first....If it persists....

A - Acknowledge. This could simply be a "death stare" without removing the mask, or, remove the mask, and a simple "I heard you coach, we'renot arguing balls and strikes today" .....and if it persists...

W - WARN. "That's enough coach" "I don't want to hear anymore about the strike zone."....and if it persists.....

E - Eject. Don't put up with it all game. There's a great saying "The only ejections you regret are the ones you didn't follow through on". Often it's amazing how much better the game can be after the loudmouth is removed. Often the loudmouth's players are more than happy to play without ole Coach yapping the whole day.

Thanks for taking the time to list all that.  Good checklist to go over before the game.

I do think my zone is good by in large part. Dress the part. I act the part. My partner tonight said I was spot on consistent. It frustrates me as to how these doofus' can sit there and gripe when I'm busting my hump and being consistent.

I find myself doing a lot of JV Frosh and cub games, lately I've been at the youth level more. 

Tonight, the losing team's HC was an ass. One exchange was like this; pitcher was wild and missed glove by multiple feet often. It was tough to call.

HC: where was that pitch, outside?

Me:  and low.

HC: Theres no way that's too low. 

Me: Below his knees.

HC: I'm standing here watching it. No way it was too low. 

Me: (stares at him)

'Give it a rest, man,'  I told the catcher.

Handful of those.

Later, during the top of the 7th, he told me my last inning had been awful. He said its apparent you just want out if here.

It was a 9-1 game. One zone got opened up. His son got rung up after he didnt take bat off shoulder. 

Appreciate the words.

 

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40 minutes ago, Nic said:

Later, during the top of the 7th, he told me my last inning had been awful. He said its apparent you just want out if here.

That's a REALLY personal comment, and is grounds for at least a warning, if not an EJ. If you'd already had anything more than him whining from the dugout, and say EJ for sure. 

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9 minutes ago, Biscuit said:

That's a REALLY personal comment, and is grounds for at least a warning, if not an EJ. If you'd already had anything more than him whining from the dugout, and say EJ for sure. 

Thanks. good to know what is and isn't cool to say.  Personally, I felt it was over the line. I was down everytime every dang pitch too. Little guys and I'm 6-3. Same ump same game from 530-730 and he dropped that. 

But I didnt knkw what grounds I had and what I should do lol. Which got me hotter. I needed you guys then lol 

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24 minutes ago, Nic said:

Thanks. good to know what is and isn't cool to say.  Personally, I felt it was over the line. I was down everytime every dang pitch too. Little guys and I'm 6-3. Same ump same game from 530-730 and he dropped that. 

But I didnt knkw what grounds I had and what I should do lol. Which got me hotter. I needed you guys then lol 

I'm gonna preface this by saying that I've never dumped anyone, but I've come close a couple times. I've been lurking this forum for probably two weeks now, and I've already seen that my standards for what would be a dump-able offense have been way to high, and I need to be more willing to discipline unruly coaches. 

The commonly accepted guidelines for what is EJ worthy is 

1) Personal. What you had here. If they say "you"... It's probably time for them to take a nap in the car while they wait for their son to finish the game. 

2) Profane. If they start cussing you out, or otherwise being profane... Nap time. 

3) Prolonged. If you tell them "Coach, this isn't up for discussion, now go sit down" (or some variation) and they don't... Well, you get the idea.

 

Some of the more experienced guys may be able to give better examples and tips, but that's the general rule I've seen in my time on this forum, and it makes sense. 

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4 minutes ago, Biscuit said:

I'm gonna preface this by saying that I've never dumped anyone

Me either. Always wondered what the veterans numbers might look like. Has to a bunch of EJs.

But I have another big USSSA tournament this weekend. Going to be a nap or two, feeling it based on what I endured last weekend from these wet fart dad coach types. I stayed on "I" ignore and it wore me down after 10 games in two days.

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I was working with a second year a few weeks ago, the strike zone chirping from one side started in the first inning. I was U2 so I let it go to see if he would handle it. He didn't. Second inning, it started again. First whine out of the coaches mouth, in my firmest mom of 3 boys voice "Dan, that's enough! We're not discussing balls and strikes today. That's your warning." Coach apologized after the half inning.

Several partners have been similar, they ignore too much, too long, so I've stepped in and shut it down hard and fast. That mom voice seems get their attention, they get the point that I'm serious and done with their crap.

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8 hours ago, Nic said:

HC: where was that pitch, outside?

Me:  and low.

HC: Theres no way that's too low. 

Me: Below his knees.

 

 

1)  Don't give him additional information.  If the pitch was out, just say out -- the coach can't see that.  He already asked if it was out, just say yes.

2) He didn't ask a question.  Just ignore it and don't respond.  Or, if you need to respond, then address the commenting, not the pitch location.

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9 hours ago, Nic said:

How do you effectively "shut it down"? Exact verbiage that should be used? 

In my local league, I've even used the following once or twice over 20 years......as my acknowledgement in IAWE.  It stopped

Coach: Now where was THAT one Bill?

Me: Chris, even though that was outside, that baseball is still in the game.

 

<crickets>

 

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These situations vary quite widely, and proper handling them depends on many factors—too many to make formulating general rules feasible.

How much I tolerate depends on the experience level (not necessarily age) of coach and players, the heat of the game, the heat of the weather (yes, really, I'm human too; plus, we actually dehydrate faster when we're angry), how much of a pest the coach has been in that game (and, if I know him, others), whether I judge the question to be legitimate (or just arguing the call), etc. etc. etc.

One rule of thumb is: when any behavior becomes a distraction to us, who are actually trying to concentrate and work, then it's too much and needs to be addressed. That includes fans, though the bar should be substantially higher.

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Like Maven, my toleration level depends on many things..........and not usually following any listing type order.  I have a low ejection rate. It hasn't always been that way, but for a good long stretch now, I am at the lowest EJ rates of my chapters.  But it's not for the reason many think.......

Its not that I don't eject....................its that I WILL eject......

If a participant needs to go.........they go.  I don't hesitate and I don't have second thoughts about it either. Baseball is a passionate game and its good to keep in mind that in mind. I don't want to take that out of the game. The 3 or 4 "P's"........are a good guide.........Personal, Profane, Prolonged, Persistent...................If we allow  offenders to get away with going over board.........we are just passing on bad behavior on to our other partners down the road....if they need to go.............

As to arguing B&S..........I looked inward first to reduce my complaints...... I got better. I stopped umpiring just "any" game played with a white ball and red stitches. I found that bouncing back and forth between youth levels was actually working against me in consistency. I sought out training, mentors and advice........worked less games but better games.......went to camps.......... and developed what I feel was a good fair strike zone...and I jealously protect it.  Work on your game and it will cut a portion of your grief.....

 

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3 minutes ago, GPblue said:

I know they are two different sports, but I do know a lot of guys who do both baseball and basketball.

Do refs in basketball have the same conversations about T'ing up coaches?

Yes.

 

And, much if it is local -- you don't want to be the one with the most Ts (coach ejections) or the least.

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14 hours ago, Nic said:

I'm blown away by the amount  of  complaining on ball and strike calls --- by coaches at all levels. I thought this was the one no-no in baseball, but every coach partakes with varying degree.

Seasoned vets, what will you listen to, for how long, and then how do each of you handle a whiny coach complaining about the zone going forward? 

I'm sure I'm tolerating too much. But before I go and get wild, help me out.

If a coach asks "where was that pitch?" Do you answer?

I'll throw another variant.  Any umping I have done has been on a volunteer basis either in leagues where all games are umped by volunteers, or in some cases where scheduled umpires haven't shown up, and invariably no one else wants to do it.

As a volunteer ump, and as a coach needing a volunteer ump giving them advice, the tolerance is VERY low.   And you would be (or maybe not) surprised at how much chirping volunteer parent umps get.

"You want to do this?  Because I'd much rather be sitting in that empty chair over there.  This is a favor, and it's no skin off my nose if I leave and nobody else umps.  So, either park your ass behind the plate, or can it.  Another word and you can go sit in your car."

Then I contemplate whether or not to go into the Samuel Jackson Pulp Fiction speech....or the Amanda Plummer Pulp Fiction speech.

It's actually not much different when the parents try to get involved in my coaching approach..."there's the equipment - now I can mow the lawn I haven't touched in two months".

 

Now, maybe I'm being naive, but I think complaining to umps becomes a habit, or a learned behavior.  If coaches and parents are taught at the lowest community levels not to do it, I believe they won't develop the habit.  If those community volunteers or newbie/rookie umps starting at that level put up with the nonsense, those people learn it's "ok".   And the tendency, of course, with the inexperienced, and less confident, umps, is to avoid conflict and confrontation.  I'd encourage them to be assertive and shut it down, to an even higher standard than the higher levels. 

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12 hours ago, Nic said:

Thanks for taking the time to list all that.  Good checklist to go over before the game.

I do think my zone is good by in large part. Dress the part. I act the part. My partner tonight said I was spot on consistent. It frustrates me as to how these doofus' can sit there and gripe when I'm busting my hump and being consistent.

I find myself doing a lot of JV Frosh and cub games, lately I've been at the youth level more. 

Tonight, the losing team's HC was an ass. One exchange was like this; pitcher was wild and missed glove by multiple feet often. It was tough to call.

HC: where was that pitch, outside?

Me:  and low.

HC: Theres no way that's too low. 

Me: Below his knees.

HC: I'm standing here watching it. No way it was too low. 

Me: (stares at him)

'Give it a rest, man,'  I told the catcher.

Handful of those.

Later, during the top of the 7th, he told me my last inning had been awful. He said its apparent you just want out if here.

It was a 9-1 game. One zone got opened up. His son got rung up after he didnt take bat off shoulder. 

Appreciate the words.

 

See what happened there? He gave you an out, but you didn't take it. Think of this:

HC: Was that pitch outside?

You: Yup.

End of discussion. ....

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Be careful not to warn coaches too early. I'm a big fan of "I hear you John, but we're not going to discuss balls and strikes today" as the acknowledge step. That lets them know that I'm not going to listen about balls and strikes anymore. But once you warn a coach, you will have to eject him if he continues. Following IAWE typically gives you enough steps to convey to the coach that he can't argue balls and strikes, and if it does get to the E stage you definitely gave him the opportunity to save himself. Also consider what your local association wants, because if they want you to issue a written warning before an ejection, you'll be in hot water if you jump from verbal warning to ejection. 

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Yeah, I hear ya, and, FWIW I agree with most of what you say. But, a lot of us are working Rec Youth Ball, which are, by definition, coached by dads who don’t know what’s expected/allowed, but think they know.

A great deal of the time, we run across these people. For some reason, (mostly because they listen to other clueless people,) they think that, if they argue a play, it’ll give them an edge on the next play. It’s absolute nonsense; we don’t have the time to think “well, I gave the other team the last call, I’ll give them this one”. But, they try anyway. This is why they do what they do.

They try it without crossing the line of “arguing calls”. You’ll see it in “Aw, nice pitch!” (I’ve even heard it when F1 hasn’t let go of the ball yet!), or, as in the OP, “Where was that, Blue?” It’s a way to argue, but not argue, know what I mean?

This is mostly an annoyance; the coach isn’t out there kicking dirt on the plate, they’re just trying to get over on you. And personally, while I’m trying to keep my diastolic down, I’m really not in the business of tossing people; it don’t help, and bad for business. I’ll be happy to toss when it’s necessary, but, all in all, I’d rather not.

Anyway, I’ll be patient with the occasional “where was that, Blue?” and answer him, and see what happens. If it re-occurs, I may try ignoring him and see if he gets it. Or, if he persists, a “not going there” will usually let him know he’s out of line. After that; all bets are off, and, hey, I tried…

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I've umpired and I've coached, youth/teen teams on my own and then eventually my own kids. I agree 100% that every umpire should issue the 'we're not discussing balls and strikes today' warning when it first comes up. From both points of view, this is most effective.

But I'll try to give a little perspective from a youth coach's POV... sure, we sometimes disagree with ball and strike calls - there are like 200 of them a game, it's going to happen. But I have to say, if I say "nice pitch" or "looked good" - I'm talking to my pitcher. I find the biggest difference between kids that perform to their best abilities in games and those that don't is confidence. So "nice pitch" is affirming what I've told them pregame, in between innings, in conference, etc.: you can do this, you're good at this, you're the guy we want out here, etc.

If I have an umpire calling consistent b&s, any discussion over strikezone, and this only happened once, was to get together with the other manager and approach him, together and between innings, to ask him to open it up a bit for the level we were at. Otherwise you tell the kids to appreciate that he's consistent, and know that with 2 strikes, you're going to have to get a bat on that (low and away etc.) strike.

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Others have already said most of what is necessary and I agree with them.

I'll add one thing that we can't have as umpires is "rabbit ears". As the poster above me says, there are times I've learned coaches are talking to their kids trying to keep them straight.  I've seen kids go to pieces (even in HS) if they don't get the corner they wanted and you "ball" it.  Coaches sometimes aren't trying to get us at all, they're trying to keep Johnny from losing it and becoming out of control.  While this is not our problem, the best thing we can do is to make sure they're questioning us or our zone, before we start the IAWE process.

When I was green, I always thought coaches were questioning me and it bugged me.  I didn't eject a lot, but was on the prod because I was trying my hardest to do the best job I could and then learn how to become better.  The "looked good" or "aw, that was really close" really messed with me and I would question if I saw the pitch correctly or not.

Thankfully, I had a good friend with 5+ more years experience than I who helped me stop listening and trust my mechanics and then coached me up if I was too close to catcher, or too far in or out, head-height, etc. so I could have the best view of the plate and zone.   Once I made the necessary corrections, it became much easier to focus on calling a good consistent zone and to my surprise - most of the comments stopped.  There's always that one guy who is trying to get in our heads, but the majority aren't doing that at all IMO.  They're honestly trying to coach up and encourage their kids. 

Now, parents on the other hand, that's why we can't have "rabbit ears".  I would never be able to umpire at all if I turned around and started addressing each idiot/idea/opinion/rule correction that the parents come up with... and that's why we don't even acknowledge they're there unless it becomes absolutely necessary. 

FWIW, do the best baseball and highest level you can find as it'll be more enjoyable, have more knowledgeable coaches and fans, and become the best you can be.   If you focus internal first and keep getting better, you'll find that your confidence will grow and you won't care what the coach thinks because you KNOW you were in the right position and made the right call.  It's not ego, it's confidence in knowing you did the job well and correctly. The coaches will understand this too and will only argue to see if they can either (A) get you to waver and possibly overthink the next bang-bang call or (B) because they honestly think you missed something or (C) because they're coaches. :)

Best of luck and have fun out there!

(The only ejection I regret are the ones I should have done, but didn't do.  This is SO true.  Hold people accountable - don't pass the buck onto the next umpire and hope he enforces the rules and sportsmanship.)

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15 hours ago, jjb said:

They try it without crossing the line of “arguing calls”. You’ll see it in “Aw, nice pitch!”

Be careful on this one.  Many times a "nice pitch" is a ball, and I mean exactly that when I say that to my pitcher.  The pitcher put it exactly where he wanted to, just outside the strike zone, and the batter simply didn't go for it.

Keep in mind, pitches right down the pipe are NOT "nice pitches"...they are often home runs.

The best pitches are on the outskirts of the strike zone.

 

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