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Volunteer Blue

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  1. Edit 2: Reposting situation per below requests—but with a lot less smugness. U8 machine pitch game, I’m OC, no umpires, defensive coaches make all safe/out calls. Bottom of 5th, bases loaded, 2 out. Grounder to F5. F5 decides to tag runner instead of base. R2 is slow anyway and stops. R3 crosses the plate long before tag is made. I’m 1B coach and I point and say “coach, the runner crossed before the tag.†Their coach agrees and says (jokingly) “I was hoping you didn’t see that. Absolutely the run counts. That’s why I was trying to tell him to touch the bag.†My other coach also agreed that the run counted. We count the run. (Feel free to stop reading here). Two dads of other team flip out (one is F5’s dad). I offer to their coach, “If you agree with them, you can protest the game†and he replies, “we’re not protesting the game.†Of course because karma, they score 4 runs in top of the 6th and this turns out to be the winning run. Next day the league commissioner calls me and says he got emails that made it seem like game 7 of the World Series and it was going to cost some kids their MLB futures. Outcome we chose (because since we already kicked one rule, may as well toss out the proper execution of a protest) to cancel the run and the next time we play, we’ll pick up in bottom of 6. If my team scores, we win, if not, it’s a tie (league rules—no extra innings). I was wrong. And I was 1,000,000% certain I was right. I have umpired HS Varsity, Legion ball, Connie Mack, and yes, Grayhawk, a little D3 (all in rural MN—getting the D3 games wasn’t nearly as difficult as many places) and it was back in the late 80s/early 90s. I still do league ball 15 and under, but maybe 30 games each spring. So I called my brother who I umped with in all those years. I gave him the situation with no bias and asked him if the run scored. He thought for a second and said yes. I asked him why he thought that. He reminded me of a clinic we attended and which covered almost exactly that situation except it was R1 and R3 with R1 tagged by F4 on ground ball with 2 outs after R3 crossed. They taught us to be sure to watch closely the timing on the tag vs. plate touch. Basically we both took away that the force out negating the run only applied on a base touch. Clearly we were taught wrong and didn’t study enough or find reason to negate what we learned. So with far more humility I walk away with a lot less arrogance, and a lot less confidence in my rules knowledge. Three strikes is still an out, right?
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