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Guest Hydrant25

Outfield Catch / No-Catch Decision

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Guest Hydrant25

Baserunner on 2nd with 2 outs in a tied, extra-inning game. Two umpires are working, the base umpire is in position near 2B.

Batter hits a sharp liner directly at RF. Base umpire turns and moves towards RF with back towards infield. RF charges hard and attempts a catch around thigh/knee level. Ball hits glove and appears to be in the webbing, RF continues to the ground in the act of fielding, rolls, and comes up with ball in throwing hand. Base umpire signals safe / no catch. RF attempts throw to home plate, but runner slides in safely. Batter runner advances to 2B.

Defensive manager asks for time and asks umpires to confer on catch / no catch. Plate umpire now states he has the call on the fly ball, he had signaled out. Base umpire states he had erred in signaling safe / no catch, the call is not his to make, and the call is overruled to a catch, batter out, inning over.

Is this the correct application of responsibilities in a two umpire system?

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This is from CCA, and, I think, how most handle it.  So, the call belongs to U1.

 

Runner on second
Initial Positions and Outfield Coverage
The coverage is the same as with runners on first and second base (see
7.7.1, pg. 79).
PU: Has the left fielder moving toward the left-field foul line and the
right fielder moving toward the right-field foul line.
U1: Starts in the “C” position and has outfield coverage from the left
fielder straight in or straight back to the right fielder straight in or
straight back.

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@noumpere has given the appropriate mechanic on whose call it is.

That said, BU has this call until PU calls him off. As BU in this situation, if I don't hear my partner calling me off ("My call, Andrew!" or "That's mine, Andrew!" or "I've got the ball, Andrew!"), it's my call. And, if this situation occurred with me, my partner's getting a nice conversation at our cars afterward.

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Guest Hydrant25

@noumpere and @yawetag: Thank you for your replies!

A few follow up questions here...

  1. In your opinion, how should the offensive team's manager approach this situation with regard to discussing with the PU and/or BU? Once the PU had stated the call was his to make, the BU did not either seem to be assertive enough with information he had seen regarding the catch / no catch decision, or, was unwilling to provide it given the PU said he had the call.
  2. Changing the situation now and if the proper two-man umpiring mechanic was applied correctly in this case, and the PU still had seen something material which, in his judgement, would be helpful for the BU to know in making his catch / no catch determination (i.e. he 100% saw a clean catch, or, 100% saw ball on the ground), how should the PU handle this? Also, when reversing the as-played call, what is your approach to de-escalating a volatile situation when delivering the decision?

 

 

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Approach the umpire who made the call.  Ask him to get help. (In scenario one -- ask them to get together and decide which call was most likely correct).  Then apply the below (from NCAA, but it should *generally* apply to other codes -- or accept a "what would have happened" result).  Note that this applies to balls to eh OUTFIELD.  Balls in the infield often cannot be chagesd without causing further problems.  Sometimes, you have to accept what is (or seems to you to be) a "bad call."

9) Changing a call of “catch” to “no catch”: The umpires may conference
after a fair batted ball has been hit into the outfield or on any foul ball to
determine whether the fielder did or did not make a catch.
Note: If the ball is foul, it remains a foul ball.
a) The ball is dead.
b) The batter is placed at first base.
c) Each base runner is advanced one base from the base occupied at the
time of the pitch.
10) Changing a call of “no catch” to “catch”: The umpires may conference
after a fair batted ball has been hit into the outfield or on any foul ball to
determine whether a fielder did or did not make a catch.
a) The ball is dead.
b) All action prior to the ball becoming dead shall be disallowed.
c) The batter shall be declared out.
d) All base runners shall be returned to the base they occupied at the time
of the pitch.
Note 1: A call of "no catch" within the infield can be changed to a "catch" if there
are one or more runners on base and the change to a "catch" results in the third
out, or at any time with no base runners and the change affects the batter only.
Note 2: For the purpose of applying the changing of a call of "catch" to "no
catch" (Section 9) or "no catch" to "catch" (section 10), a fair batted ball shall be
considered "hit into the outfield" when it is hit into the outfield area beyond the
nearest infielder. A line drive hit directly toward an infielder shall not meet the
requirement for a potential change of the initial call.

 

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Ultimately, if the umpires got together and made a call, then that's how it's going to be called.

Mechanics don't dictate whose call prevails. It should dictate who makes the call, but sometimes things go wrong - umpires not knowing the mechanics, umpire forgetting the mechanics, miscommunication between umpires. Ultimately, there should only be ONE call. In this situation, if the PU thinks it's their call, they should pause and look at their partner prior to making the call, making sure he's not coming up with something. I say this because BU in B/C has all fly balls until called off by the PU, so a PU taking a call should (a) let their partner know, and (b) make sure their partner heard them.

 

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It would be unusual, though not impossible, for PU to have a better look at this than BU. He's at least 125 feet farther away and with a worse angle (straight line). So as PU, I would be quite reluctant even to offer information to a competent partner on this call.

I agree with applying the NCAA guidance to lower levels on balls hit to the outfield: for this play, if I were PU and somehow knew with certainty that it was a catch (contrary to the previous paragraph), I'd recommend that the BU put R2 back and call out the BR. Still his call, even if we fix it.

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8 hours ago, maven said:

It would be unusual, though not impossible, for PU to have a better look at this than BU. He's at least 125 feet farther away and with a worse angle (straight line). So as PU, I would be quite reluctant even to offer information to a competent partner on this call.

I agree with applying the NCAA guidance to lower levels on balls hit to the outfield: for this play, if I were PU and somehow knew with certainty that it was a catch (contrary to the previous paragraph), I'd recommend that the BU put R2 back and call out the BR. Still his call, even if we fix it.

 

I agree with that assessment maven ... the BU has the better look, even if the mechanic for a straight on ball drive belongs to the PU.  To me the fact that it is a line drive is going to give the BU priority.  As PU, I am taking a quick glance at my BU ... as soon as I see his/her back turned toward me (meaning he/she has gone out), I am off the call.

I know we didn’t see it, but I’m curious how many umps here are giving the fielder a catch if they go down with the ball in one hand, rollover, and come up with it in the other.

One last unrelated thought ... maven, I think you may have just made me understand why I take issue with some of the interpretations posted on here when they apply one code to another ... if I don’t work NCAA, how in the hell would I even know what the rule/mechanic is that somebody is saying to apply.  There is a fatal flaw in applying codes down.

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10 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

even if the mechanic for a straight on ball drive belongs to the PU

This is incorrect. PU has fly balls to RF ONLY when F9 moves toward the line.

Think of fly ball mechanics this way: we start with the basic principle of having the closest umpire make the call. Using that, BU positioned in the middle should have ALL fly balls to the outfield.

BUT: a ball hit near a foul line will need to be ruled fair/foul, and BU has a bad angle to make that call. So, we make an exception: for fly balls that draw the outfielder to the line, we'll have PU make both fair/foul and catch/no catch.

Those two pieces explain the "V" concept: fly balls that do not draw the fielder to the foul line ("in the V") belong to BU, those that do belong to PU.

I think some PU's operate by thinking that they should be making all the calls on the field, and they "allow" the BU to make a few calls on the bases as their "assistant" or some such. That's not how the 2-umpire system was conceived.

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10 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

As PU, I am taking a quick glance at my BU ... as soon as I see his/her back turned toward me (meaning he/she has gone out), I am off the call.

That's the correct mechanic when BU is in A position. In OP's situation, they're in B or C.

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48 minutes ago, maven said:

Those two pieces explain the "V" concept: fly balls that do not draw the fielder to the foul line ("in the V") belong to BU, those that do belong to PU.

And, it's why BU has all fly balls until PU calls him off.

45 minutes ago, yawetag said:

That's the correct mechanic when BU is in A position. In OP's situation, they're in B or C.

It's the correct mechanic for all positions -- although BU should also be communicating this orally.  That might be a little tougher given that it was a line drive AND the (assumed) relaative inexperience of the crew.

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11 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

I know we didn’t see it, but I’m curious how many umps here are giving the fielder a catch if they go down with the ball in one hand, rollover, and come up with it in the other.

One last unrelated thought ... maven, I think you may have just made me understand why I take issue with some of the interpretations posted on here when they apply one code to another ... if I don’t work NCAA, how in the hell would I even know what the rule/mechanic is that somebody is saying to apply.  There is a fatal flaw in applying codes down.

1) HTBT.  On the one hand, I saw the ball into the glove, and I didn't see it come out (or see it on the ground), so that gives the benefit of the doubt to a catch.  On the other hand, having it in a different hand, is evidence that *something* (may have) happened.

2)  That's why sites like this exist. ;)

Or, use this from OBR, which gets you to (roughly) the same answer:

(c) If different decisions should be made on one play by different
umpires, the umpire-in-chief shall call all the umpires into consultation,
with no manager or player present. After consultation,
the umpire-in-chief (unless another umpire may have been
designated by the League President) shall determine which
decision shall prevail, based on which umpire was in best position
and which decision was most likely correct. Play shall
proceed as if only the final decision had been made.

-and-

If the umpires consult after a play and change a call
that had been made, then they have the authority to take all
steps that they may deem necessary, in their discretion, to eliminate
the results and consequences of the earlier call that they
are reversing, including placing runners where they think those
runners would have been after the play, had the ultimate call
been made as the initial call, disregarding interference or
obstruction that may have occurred on the play; failures of runners
to tag up based upon the initial call on the field; runners
passing other runners or missing bases; etc., all in the discretion
of the umpires.

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1 hour ago, noumpere said:

It's the correct mechanic for all positions -- although BU should also be communicating this orally.  That might be a little tougher given that it was a line drive AND the (assumed) relaative inexperience of the crew.

I don't agree when BU is in B or C. BU is turning with the ball on any fly ball to the outfield - after all, all fly balls to the outfield are BU's unless PU calls him off.

PU can't look at his partner (when partner is in B or C) and say "Oh, I see his back - he's got the call." He has to determine if the fielder is moving toward the foul line - which makes it PU's call. Then, PU calls off his partner - the complete opposite to what you and @The Man in Blue has stated.

BU has nothing to communicate on fly balls to the outfield when he's in B or C. His assumption is that it's his ball until PU calls him off. Even then, his positioning will still put his back to PU, as he should be lining up the first touch with a runner tagging up.

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I read the OP as being on a small field, with BU outside.

"...Base umpire turns and moves towards RF with back towards infield. " Did I misread?

Doesn't that change the discussion? I haven't worked a small field in 40 years so I have nothing to help.

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20 minutes ago, LMSANS said:

I read the OP as being on a small field, with BU outside.

"...Base umpire turns and moves towards RF with back towards infield. " Did I misread?

Doesn't that change the discussion? I haven't worked a small field in 40 years so I have nothing to help.

At least in Little League taught mechanics on the small field, PU would have ALL catch/no-catch at all times.  (If BU turns, they've now abandoned the runners--they're supposed to be busting in the to the working area).

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Guest Hydrant25

Again, thanks to all of you for your responses and insight here! Definitely will be coming back to this forum if/when I have another umpiring question!

A final question if I may... does your interpretation of PU/BU responsibilities in this scenario change according to level? For example, the situation in question occurred on a 46/60 ("Little League") sized field. Would the two-man mechanic be different on 46/60 vs. 60/90 fields?

 

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18 minutes ago, Guest Hydrant25 said:

Again, thanks to all of you for your responses and insight here! Definitely will be coming back to this forum if/when I have another umpiring question!

A final question if I may... does your interpretation of PU/BU responsibilities in this scenario change according to level? For example, the situation in question occurred on a 46/60 ("Little League") sized field. Would the two-man mechanic be different on 46/60 vs. 60/90 fields?

 

Yes, as @stevis says above. LL and any other closed bases (not sure about softball) would have the base ump outside with runners on. Plate ump would have all outfield responsibility. If open bases on the small field it would revert to the same as 60/90.

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Guest Hydrant25

Got it!

This feels to me to be a suboptimal approach in LL. Could someone elaborate on why it would better to have the PU who is maybe 125 feet away attempt to make this difficult call when a BU can be around 30 feet away with a better angle? Additionally, I've been on a number of LL sized fields that have noticeable lips at the outfield grass line, or, a slightly pitched down outfield that later comes back uphill going to the fence line. Seeing a catch to the ground on these field conditions would be nearly if not totally impossible from home plate. 

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6 minutes ago, Guest Hydrant25 said:

Got it!

This feels to me to be a suboptimal approach in LL. Could someone elaborate on why it would better to have the PU who is maybe 125 feet away attempt to make this difficult call when a BU can be around 30 feet away with a better angle? Additionally, I've been on a number of LL sized fields that have noticeable lips at the outfield grass line, or, a slightly pitched down outfield that later comes back uphill going to the fence line. Seeing a catch to the ground on these field conditions would be nearly if not totally impossible from home plate. 

The PU makes those calls at 300' on the big field with no one on except for certain sits. There is a lot of sub optimal stuff with only 2 umpires.

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50 minutes ago, Guest Hydrant25 said:

Got it!

This feels to me to be a suboptimal approach in LL. Could someone elaborate on why it would better to have the PU who is maybe 125 feet away attempt to make this difficult call when a BU can be around 30 feet away with a better angle? Additionally, I've been on a number of LL sized fields that have noticeable lips at the outfield grass line, or, a slightly pitched down outfield that later comes back uphill going to the fence line. Seeing a catch to the ground on these field conditions would be nearly if not totally impossible from home plate. 

Like I said--if BU turns to the outfield, now they can't do anything with the runners since their back is to them.  Better for the PU to grab one catch--and they don't have to stay static either, they can get to the library, towards the mound, as need be--than try to watch one to four offensive players moving around the diamond, and get the angle on a tag play somewhere, when you can't anticipate where some kids will try to make the play.

Two-person mechanics (small or big diamond) is a dance of well-orchestrated compromises.  You do the best you can with your effort and vision. 

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