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MPLSMatt

Mouthy Catcher

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Another question - place I'm looking for help. 15U Rec Game, 2nd pitch of a game, off the plate but reasonably close. I call Ball. Catcher groans but fires the ball back. Couple of pitches later, pitch misses more, I call ball, catcher groans again (both times fairly loudly, benches can probably hear it). "Catch, that's enough groaning about balls and strike calls."

2nd inning, batter is hit by pitch in the knee. Catch (while in crouch facing F1) "doesn't he have to try to get out of the way, blue." "he didn't permit the pitch to get him - the benefit of the doubt goes to the batter." "oh, sure he did (sarcastically)." Me: "It's a judgment call, catch, and we're done talking about it."

3rd inning, play at the plate. Runner is safe (I had a great view, catcher blocked the back half of the plate but the runner clearly had the front of the plate long before the tag is down). "Safe." Catch, "I tagged him blue." Me "he got the plate." Catch "I had my foot there, didn't you see that." Me "your foot was only blocking the back half of the plate" we're walking back. Catch: "whatever (again sarcastically). " Me, "catch, you talk about another judgment call and you are gone." He didn't argue anything further but still wasn't real happy.

Is there better way to handle this? I felt that I had to give an explicit warning so that there was no gray area (and yes, I would have gunned him for anything else).

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just let him know you had a good look at what you called and YOU make the calls not him--also let him know that if HE keeps it up it will be HIS pitcher who will not be happy.

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I always introduce myself to the catcher's and during the game I call them by their name and I allow them to call me by my first name as well. now I realize I mostly work college and high school games but when I work youth league or travel ball I do the same thing. I talk to the catchers on the close ones only loud enough for he and I and possibly the batter at times but that's' fine too. I will tell him " thats a little low " or " thats close just bring it in a little and you will get that one " and so on. you build a repore with the catchers and you will be suprised how they will work for you.

when you get a kid that is acting the way this kid was acting to you ring him up on strike three that may not be in your zone. when he comes back out surely he will have something to say just tell him that he has been asking you to call that a strike all night and you thought that was a good time to start.

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Make the catcher your friend right from the get-go, because they are the ones keeping you from a trip to the emergency room. Like tommy said, always introduce yourself to them with a handshake, then ask them if they are going to take care of you with a pat on the shoulder. If they make a nice play, such as blocking a pitch in the dirt, tell them "great work, jordan!" The little things go a long way when developing a relationship with your catchers. Another little thing I do from time to time, is when they are batting, and I ball a close pitch, and everyone is groaning that they thought it was a strike, I'll say in a soft voice that only him and the other catcher can hear, "that's my catcher's special, anyone else that's a strike, but not for you guys." They get a chuckle out of it, usually followed by a word of thanks.

You do those things, and heap a lot of positive praise on the catchers throughout the game, and you won't have very many problems with them.

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I think it's a great idea do build a rapport with with your F2's, but I wouldn't go quite so far as a "catcher's special" (unprofessional - hence all those groans on that close pitch you balled) or guiding them on where a pitch needs to be (that's coaching - after an inning, if they haven't figured out your zone, either your zone is very inconsistent, or he has no business playing the F2 position).

The handshakes before the game and calling them by their first name, and even a complement on an outstanding play... I can live with, but that's as far as I will go.

For the knucklehead in the OP... Warn, then toss. He's not doing himself or his team any favors by giving you flack. He gets tossed, quite possibly he'll learn that he needs to work with his umpire. Hell, there are books and videos for catchers that are all about working with umpires, suggested reading for any F2 above LL age.

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This is all great advice. I do try to compliment catchers for their play but I have not been introducing myself first. Good ideas. Giving the "catchers special" (and I know that according to your post, you aren't actually giving special treatment, just responding to the groans) is a little scary for me, because that catcher is probably going to wonder WTF when hhe doesn't get a similar call when he bats.

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I wouldn't go quite so far as ... guiding them on where a pitch needs to be (that's coaching - after an inning, if they haven't figured out your zone, either your zone is very inconsistent, or he has no business playing the F2 position).

In general, I agree. However, at the HS level, I have told a catcher between innings that a specific pitch is just a bit outside, especially if he tried it a few times with no strike called. Something similar to "Hey, John. Those fastballs outside last inning were close, but just a bit out."

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I think it's a great idea do build a rapport with with your F2's, but I wouldn't go quite so far as a "catcher's special" (unprofessional - hence all those groans on that close pitch you balled) or guiding them on where a pitch needs to be (that's coaching - after an inning, if they haven't figured out your zone, either your zone is very inconsistent, or he has no business playing the F2 position).

The handshakes before the game and calling them by their first name, and even a complement on an outstanding play... I can live with, but that's as far as I will go.

For the knucklehead in the OP... Warn, then toss. He's not doing himself or his team any favors by giving you flack. He gets tossed, quite possibly he'll learn that he needs to work with his umpire. Hell, there are books and videos for catchers that are all about working with umpires, suggested reading for any F2 above LL age.

I agree with this but I don't every give a complement on a play(but I do think that is a good idea) I always before the game when they throw the ball down to second after the pitcher is done warming up give them a "nice throw catch". That way they know I'm there and know I know they got a hard job(in mind the hardest job in baseball). I don't want to tell them good job on a great play because I don't want anyone from the other team hearing it and giving their coach any ammo.

I would never ever say "That is a catcher special." Not going to happen. Basically I just said I cheat for you guys. Nope.

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. . . also let him know that if HE keeps it up it will be HIS pitcher who will not be happy.

. . . when you get a kid that is acting the way this kid was acting to you ring him up on strike three that may not be in your zone. when he comes back out surely he will have something to say just tell him that he has been asking you to call that a strike all night and you thought that was a good time to start.

MPLSMatt,

There's some good advice in here, but I wouldn't do what I've quoted above.

In the first one, you're intimating that unless he behaves, you'll cheat his pitcher out of strikes

In the second one, you're basically telling him his zone is bigger than everyone else's - again, cheating.

Both of these will cause you to lose credibility faster than walking on the field with white shoes. (OK - maybe not faster, but at about the same rate)

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I don't have that much dialogue with catchers. I speak to them before the first inning, introduce myself and allow them to do the same, but after that I'm mostly business.

If he asks, "Doesn't he have to get out of the way blue?" I'd answer "Yes" or "He did." After I call "time" for a hit batsman, I always walk around the plate as the batter leaves the box to prevent any problems. If I answer the catcher while moving it doesn't appear to be a conversation at all.

On the play at the plate, when he said, "I tagged him blue," I'd answer, "He beat the tag" while I call time and proceed to sweep the plate.

There's no argument. Kids are smart. They don't need a detailed explanation. If there is an argument, then he is going to have to make one, and I will deal with that accordingly.

When you engage in more than one or two exchanges with a player you open the door for bad things to happen. If the conversation escalates into an argument, it appears to the fans & coaches that you baited him.

I've seen too many catcher conversations go bad.

Having said that, occasionally I run across a catcher who wants to talk. Had one this year in an NAIA game who talked to every batter who came up and made comments to me all day. The kid was good-natured and funny and I enjoyed it, but I let him initiate the conversation.

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I don't mind talking with a catcher. I don't say much. Keep it short but friendly. Nothing wrong with that.

When I am BU I dont say a word to Base Coaches. I have seen some of the BU chat with the coaches all day.

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In my games this week (all 15U Rec) I've started going by 1st names, and with the smart catchers (the ones that have played 9th grade or JV ball) it's gone well, with the others, doesn't make a difference. Makes some of the small things easier like when F2 takes one off the bucket, it's nice to be able to say "I've got it, Ben. Take a minute, I'll walk it out" as opposed to just saying "take a second." It makes it feel more like you have personal concern for him and hopefully, it'll come back to me when I get dinged (hasn't happened yet this week). That's probably the biggest gap I notice between JV level catchers and those below - by the time they reach high school, those that are still playing know "the code" and work to establish a report with me.

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When I am BU I dont say a word to Base Coaches. I have seen some of the BU chat with the coaches all day.

I might say a few words between innings as I'm making my way to A. I don't go in depth with conversations, but to ignore them completely seems a bit anal.

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everyone here is adding good advice, I think something we all may be overlooking here is how well do we know the catcher, coach and team. I live in a small town and our local babe ruth league here has only 8 teams and they plat 4 double headers a week. I know these kids and I have no problem admitting that I will talk to these kids and even have a piece of advice or a nod of aproval from time to time. I dont do that quite as much at the high school or college level.

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I might say a few words between innings as I'm making my way to A. I don't go in depth with conversations, but to ignore them completely seems a bit anal.

How do you pass them to say a few words on your way from RF to A?

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How do you pass them to say a few words on your way from RF to A?

You do have a coach at 1B, right? When I'm getting close to A, it's highly possible he's standing behind the coach's box (toward right field). Between my getting to A and the batter reaching the box, there may be 20 seconds or so -- the coach saying something isn't out of the ordinary. I don't normally initiate conversation, and it's never more than "beautiful weather today" or similar unrelated chat.

Are you suggesting that a small conversation with a coach is bad?

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Are you suggesting that a small conversation with a coach is bad?

Not at all.

But, what you describe isn't a "pass", and most of the time (here) the coach is in or moving to the box as F2 throws to F4 or F6, and that's the same time I move from RF to A.

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I always introduce myself to the catcher's and during the game I call them by their name and I allow them to call me by my first name as well. now I realize I mostly work college and high school games but when I work youth league or travel ball I do the same thing. I talk to the catchers on the close ones only loud enough for he and I and possibly the batter at times but that's' fine too. I will tell him " thats a little low " or " thats close just bring it in a little and you will get that one " and so on. you build a repore with the catchers and you will be suprised how they will work for you.

when you get a kid that is acting the way this kid was acting to you ring him up on strike three that may not be in your zone. when he comes back out surely he will have something to say just tell him that he has been asking you to call that a strike all night and you thought that was a good time to start.

I wholeheartedly agree with the above. The Catcher is your friend unless he is stupid. It's a symbiotic relationship. We need each other. Great comment.

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