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heyCoop

Almost blinded thanks to sunglasses

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Curious how y’all would’ve handled this situation I had this past Saturday, as well as whether any of your states/associations (other than New Jersey, which I know does) have rules that’d apply here…

I was working a JV game solo (as is typical here in the Chicago area).  Bottom of the third, bases loaded, two outs, HT up something like 8-1.  Right-handed batter hits a sinking, slicing line drive to right.  The RF dives, and I see him make the catch, with no chance that it was a trap.  Since the bases were loaded, I couldn’t gain any kind of ground to get out closer to the play.  Immediately after making the catch, and while still on the ground, I see him scramble to pick up something just beyond the end of his glove.  At this point, I haven’t called the batter out, as I wanted to see the ball to confirm that he’d made the catch.  I didn’t process that he could’ve been reaching for anything other than the ball (which I couldn’t see on the ground, given the ~175’ distance and long grass), and he made no effort to show it to me, so I signaled safe and yelled “No catch!”

The batter-runner and the runners had all pulled up, and the HT first base coach was approaching the batter-runner to take his helmet, so at that point I had a pretty good idea that I’d hung myself out to dry.  I immediately killed the play (figuring that I could simply place runners if need be), just as the VT head coach starts yelling “HE WAS REACHING FOR HIS SUNGLASSES!”  I processed about a hundred thoughts in a millisecond, started walking out to right field, and instructed the right fielder to show me his sunglasses.  He did, I changed the call to an out (which ended the inning), explained the call to the HT first base coach, then jogged across to explain it to the HT head coach.  Neither had any qualms with the end result, which I can largely attribute to the fact that the first base coach had a clear view (~90’ closer than I was) and didn’t squawk, as well as the fact that they were up seven or so runs.

So, I realize that I got it wrong, but then was fortunate enough to be able to correct myself to get it right without anyone melting down.  I also realize that I could’ve (should’ve?) asked to see the ball before making a call either way.  How would y’all have handled it, given the situation?  If I’d had a partner, I probably wouldn’t have gotten myself into this mess—or maybe I would’ve, since the right fielder was moving to his left, which means he was outside the cone, making it the PU’s call regardless.  Also, please don’t suggest not working solo…it’s simply not an option around here.

The NJSIAA specifically has a rule that says “Sunglasses are to be worn as designed by players, coaches and umpires.  They are not be worn on the bill of the cap or dangled below the face.  If observed, the violator shall be directed to wear the sunglasses appropriately.  Failure to comply shall be reported to the Head Coach for corrective action.”  For the remainder of the game (which only lasted another inning-and-a-half, before ending 15-1), I was rueing the fact that Illinois doesn’t have a rule similar to New Jersey’s, particularly since five of the VT’s defensive players were wearing their sunglasses on their bills.  In the end, it was a nothing-burger, but had the stakes been different, it could’ve really bitten me in the butt.

Thanks for any and all feedback that y’all might have!

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Hmmm...where to start...

I'll begin with what isn't in your control: that's a stupid rule regarding sunglasses. Sometimes you need them, sometimes you don't, and I really don't feel like working a game where the players have to run them in and out every time the light changes. 

When you think you've possibly kicked a call, let the play play out. Don't call time, don't do anything besides officiate the rest of the play. If it turns out that the original call was indeed correct, you'll just be making an even bigger mistake by ending play than if you had made the wrong call initially. Afterwards, you can gather the rest of the crew (if applicable, and if appropriate) to sort it out.

I've gotten heat on this in the past, but I will say until my dying day that asking a player to show you the ball is a bad habit. You'll be able to tell in the aftermath of the play if they had it. It'll just take one time where there are multiple runners and a fielder showing you the ball when asked instead of throwing it and you'll quickly see the problem.

Also, remember your priorities on a batted ball: fair/foul, catch/no catch, tagups/touches. If fair/foul is not in question, you then prioritize the catch/no catch. Especially with two out, you can get out further from the plate--the whole play (as you learned) hinges on that first call.

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3 hours ago, heyCoop said:

Curious how y’all would’ve handled this situation I had this past Saturday, as well as whether any of your states/associations (other than New Jersey, which I know does) have rules that’d apply here…

I was working a JV game solo (as is typical here in the Chicago area).  Bottom of the third, bases loaded, two outs, HT up something like 8-1.  Right-handed batter hits a sinking, slicing line drive to right.  The RF dives, and I see him make the catch, with no chance that it was a trap.  Since the bases were loaded, I couldn’t gain any kind of ground to get out closer to the play.  Immediately after making the catch, and while still on the ground, I see him scramble to pick up something just beyond the end of his glove.  At this point, I haven’t called the batter out, as I wanted to see the ball to confirm that he’d made the catch.  I didn’t process that he could’ve been reaching for anything other than the ball (which I couldn’t see on the ground, given the ~175’ distance and long grass), and he made no effort to show it to me, so I signaled safe and yelled “No catch!”

The batter-runner and the runners had all pulled up, and the HT first base coach was approaching the batter-runner to take his helmet, so at that point I had a pretty good idea that I’d hung myself out to dry.  I immediately killed the play (figuring that I could simply place runners if need be), just as the VT head coach starts yelling “HE WAS REACHING FOR HIS SUNGLASSES!”  I processed about a hundred thoughts in a millisecond, started walking out to right field, and instructed the right fielder to show me his sunglasses.  He did, I changed the call to an out (which ended the inning), explained the call to the HT first base coach, then jogged across to explain it to the HT head coach.  Neither had any qualms with the end result, which I can largely attribute to the fact that the first base coach had a clear view (~90’ closer than I was) and didn’t squawk, as well as the fact that they were up seven or so runs.

So, I realize that I got it wrong, but then was fortunate enough to be able to correct myself to get it right without anyone melting down.  I also realize that I could’ve (should’ve?) asked to see the ball before making a call either way.  How would y’all have handled it, given the situation?  If I’d had a partner, I probably wouldn’t have gotten myself into this mess—or maybe I would’ve, since the right fielder was moving to his left, which means he was outside the cone, making it the PU’s call regardless.  Also, please don’t suggest not working solo…it’s simply not an option around here.

The NJSIAA specifically has a rule that says “Sunglasses are to be worn as designed by players, coaches and umpires.  They are not be worn on the bill of the cap or dangled below the face.  If observed, the violator shall be directed to wear the sunglasses appropriately.  Failure to comply shall be reported to the Head Coach for corrective action.”  For the remainder of the game (which only lasted another inning-and-a-half, before ending 15-1), I was rueing the fact that Illinois doesn’t have a rule similar to New Jersey’s, particularly since five of the VT’s defensive players were wearing their sunglasses on their bills.  In the end, it was a nothing-burger, but had the stakes been different, it could’ve really bitten me in the butt.

Thanks for any and all feedback that y’all might have!

I would say it's nothing til you call it.  Matt feels asking to see the ball is a bad habit?  Not sure why?  Had you asked to see the ball, "Show me the ball", it would have made your job a whole lot easier.  Why on earth did you ask him to show you his sunglasses?

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7 hours ago, umpstu said:

Matt feels asking to see the ball is a bad habit?  Not sure why?  

You are asking a player to do something other than what he would normally be doing and that's inviting trouble. If he turns his wrist to show you the ball and it falls out of his glove, then you have created a problem. Did he have secure possession of the ball (catch/no-catch) ? You'd may give the fielder the benefit of the doubt since it was your request to see the ball that initiated the drop, but it is a debate that you unnecessarily created.

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If he drops the ball while showing it to me, then he had possession.

For the other side: What if he runs all the way into the dugout never taking the ball out of his glove? Then, as the next F9 jogs out there, he picks up the game ball that had landed in a hole in right field.

I don't ask as a habit, but have asked and won't hesitate asking.

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11 hours ago, heyCoop said:

Thanks for any and all feedback that y’all might have!

Pause longer.  Read more.

 

That is, wait to see what happens with the fielder -- you had the ball into the glove; if he had been reaching for the ball he would have been scrambling to throw it.  That's whan you could make the "safe" call.

 

And, read the rest of the defense -- they would have been setting up for a cut; yelling where to throw the ball.

And, read the offense (as you did after the call).

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5 hours ago, ricka56 said:

You are asking a player to do something other than what he would normally be doing and that's inviting trouble. If he turns his wrist to show you the ball and it falls out of his glove, then you have created a problem. Did he have secure possession of the ball (catch/no-catch) ? You'd may give the fielder the benefit of the doubt since it was your request to see the ball that initiated the drop, but it is a debate that you unnecessarily created.

I see absolutely no issues in asking a player to show you the ball.  That isn't creating trouble, it's removing all doubt about possession.  

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Not an answer, but there was a situation one time at the old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore,in the early spring at a night game where a rather heavy fog had rolled in....nothing occured but after the game Orioles left fielder John Lowenstein said he had a baseball stuck in his back pocket...just in case the umpire couldn't see very well!!

 

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I like Matt's original post.. Prioritize the fair/foul, then catch/no catch, then tag ups/touches. Take your sweet time IMO... You can get a few more steps closer, and had he dropped the ball he would be retrieving it, popping up, and aiming before hauling it to home or another base, so you will have time to get back for any plays and react..

On the "show me" comment, in a HS Varsity game last year, I was BU,  2 outs with R1, routine attempted steal of second on a poor (thick dirt, dry, big dust storms on slide plays) infield. Throw was accurate and beat the runner by a mile. 2B catches ball cleanly, steps off 2B towards the head-first sliding runner to lay a tag on his backside a ways off the bag. BIG dust cloud, I wait... Guys are jogging off, 2B is two steps jogging off, I tell him to show me the ball, he displays his glove closed up, tucks it under his armpit and continues jogging...

I stand up to give the out hammer, but luckily look over once more at the prone runner, and see a ball half buried in dirt between his legs.. I stop myself half into my hammer, step closer, and sure enough its a ball! I stand high again and start signalling "Safe! Safe! Balls on the ground!"

I turn around to the 2B, who is circling back with a big grin on his face.. You almost got me number one-four!!

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Frankly, I put this on F9.

Showing the ball in some way should be a habit - especially on a two out diving catch.  If he prioritizes picking up his sunglasses, or chewing gum, or dentures, or tobacco tin, that's his problem.  If it looks like he's picking up the ball, most of the time he's picking up the ball.   Sure, you might wait a beat to see if he goes to his glove, or his forehead, or what exactly he does after he picks up whatever he's picking up - but even then, a savvy fielder is going to sell the catch by casually jogging in, and then what do you do?

 If there's only one out you're going to see pretty quickly the natural progression of the play, where he's going to (or should) throw the ball immediately.   If he still picks up his sunglasses before throwing the live ball into the infield, you have very little choice but to assume he picked up the ball.   

Yeah, as others smarter than me have pointed out, you could do things differently to give you a better chance in the future, but as a coach, if you call this safe, I'm not blaming you I'm blaming my fielder. (especially with a solo ump)

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4 hours ago, umpstu said:

I see absolutely no issues in asking a player to show you the ball.  That isn't creating trouble, it's removing all doubt about possession.  

Until he fails to throw out an advancing runner because he's doing what you asked.

The play will always tell you if there's possession. Be patient.

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5 hours ago, Matt said:

Until he fails to throw out an advancing runner because he's doing what you asked.

The play will always tell you if there's possession. Be patient.

How quickly do you think we're asking here? It's not like we're yelling it the moment the ball is caught or the tag is applied. If he's got possession of the ball and there's an advancing runner, we're going to see the possession fairly quickly.

For me, the asking is when the play is completed and it's obvious nothing else is going to happen, yet I haven't seen the possession yet.

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25 minutes ago, yawetag said:

How quickly do you think we're asking here? It's not like we're yelling it the moment the ball is caught or the tag is applied. If he's got possession of the ball and there's an advancing runner, we're going to see the possession fairly quickly.

For me, the asking is when the play is completed and it's obvious nothing else is going to happen, yet I haven't seen the possession yet.

Then what's the rush? It'll show up. 

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8 hours ago, Matt said:

Then what's the rush? It'll show up. 

On 4/16/2019 at 8:16 AM, yawetag said:

For the other side: What if he runs all the way into the dugout never taking the ball out of his glove? Then, as the next F9 jogs out there, he picks up the game ball that had landed in a hole in right field.

On the "show me" comment, in a HS Varsity game last year, I was BU,  2 outs with R1, routine attempted steal of second on a poor (thick dirt, dry, big dust storms on slide plays) infield. Throw was accurate and beat the runner by a mile. 2B catches ball cleanly, steps off 2B towards the head-first sliding runner to lay a tag on his backside a ways off the bag. BIG dust cloud, I wait... Guys are jogging off, 2B is two steps jogging off, I tell him to show me the ball, he displays his glove closed up, tucks it under his armpit and continues jogging...

I stand up to give the out hammer, but luckily look over once more at the prone runner, and see a ball half buried in dirt between his legs.. I stop myself half into my hammer, step closer, and sure enough its a ball! I stand high again and start signalling "Safe! Safe! Balls on the ground!"

I turn around to the 2B, who is circling back with a big grin on his face.. You almost got me number one-four!!

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4 hours ago, yawetag said:

 

 

A fielder isn't taking the ball with him off of the field, and in the real-world example, the request made the situation worse. 

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