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JakeUmp

Please help me with situation handling

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I'll start off by noting my age -- 16. Because of that, I feel like I take more heat than older umpires.

Last night there was a close play at first base -- I called the runner safe, and I was entirely confident with my call. Coach comes out and asks for me to ask PU for help because he "had a much better angle than you." I said "she was safe" probably 3 or 4 times, because as I said, I was pretty much positive I got it right. Coach keeps asking, and I say "that's enough" while turning my back to him, which he responds with a "no, that's not enough" and follows me. I say "alright, please go back to your dugout" and he does, but while loudly saying "that's BS, that's BS" (no, not swearing).

I chose not to restrict/eject because 1) I didn't feel he crossed the line enough (though if he kept going I would've restricted) and 2) he wasn't swearing. But I am not sure if I should've restricted for this.

Can I have some tips on how to better handle situations like these, especially because I'm already disadvantaged because of my age?

Thanks!

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Unfortunately, you are probably right that you will take more flak because of your age.  But show them on the field that you “have it” and that will go away soon enough.

Sounds like you did a fine job to me ... though I would have restricted (if that was an option — keep in mind not all codes have that option) or possibly even sent him packing when he persisted.  When you provided your reasonable answer and turned to walk away, that should have been the line.  When he followed you, that crossed the line.  Him continuing as he walked away was also over the line.  Despite what announcers on TV say, there is nothing dirty about an EJ when the person is walking away if they are still continuing to cross the line.

Here are my observations to help in the future: Him coming out and asking you to go for help is not a problem.  Him saying “your partner had a better angle” is not a problem IF he asking about a pulled foot or a swipe tag.  In those cases, most of the time you should oblige him and go for help.  However, “I just think she was safe, could you go for help” is NOT a reasonable request from a coach. 

Ask him very specifically, “what is it you saw (or think I may not have seen)?”  Be very specific and make them be very specific.  “It looked as if she may have pulled her foot from my angle” is a good coach response.  “She was safe” is not. 

I’ve had plays where I would have gladly gone for a second look from my partner, but the coach just wanted to argue and never asked the right question, even when I tried to guide him/her that way.

The only other thing I might add is a small “verbal judo” suggestion.  When you say “That’s enough” you are directing that at the coach specifically.  While that is the intent, saying “That’s enough, we’re playing ball now” deflects some of that “perceived personal attack” by communicating that everybody is being held up and we are all ready to get back to the game.  You might even say “I’ve heard your view coach and now we are moving on with the game” as a way to give him acknowledgement but move things back on track.

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I have several suggestions for you.

  1. The main problem with your age is that it seems to be prompting a lack of confidence. Nothing but time will make you older (and I expect all the olds here will back me up when I say, please don't wish away your youth). But you can address the confidence issue with good training. If your state allows, get certified for HS baseball/softball (my state, for example, will certify 16-year-olds to officiate middle school sports, and upgrade to a full license when you turn 18; we have plenty of folks from CA here who can fill you in on Cali). 
  2. When coaches approach respectfully, entertain the notion that they are right. This can be hard to do. Was the play strange, so that it put you out of position? Is it possible that the PU really did have a better angle? If so, then our philosophy of "get it right" supports consulting the PU to see whether he had a better look.
  3. BUT, if the play was routine and your look was sufficient, then tell the coach that. (This should cover 95% of plays.) "Coach, that's my call, I had a great look, and we're not going fishing for a different call today."
  4. Never repeat anything "3 or 4 times," which is weak. Coach can ask his question, and we should answer it (which you did). If that's the only question, then we're done. When coach says he disagrees with your call, never argue: for one, it's futile, as he's not going to agree with you. Plus, he's entitled to think you're wrong. When you say, "she was safe," and he says, "no, she was out!" we should say only, "OK, coach. Let's play ball." Let him have the last word, and be content with being right (even though he disagrees, which is the force of "that's BS").
  5. Your "line" and sense of what's restrict-able and eject-able are developing. From your account here, I agree with you. When in doubt, let it go (but know the specific rules of the code you're applying: some leagues have, um, unique provisions about coach and player behavior). If a coach crosses your line, don't hesitate to enforce the appropriate penalty: line crossers generally get worse as the game goes on, so make the rest of your game better by taking care of business at the first occasion.
  6. Did I mention getting proper training? Go early and often. 
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Make friends with some a-holes and have them role play with you. I've got a number of friends that can roll off a string of insults if you wake them up in the middle of the night and when you laugh them all off, it's easier not to take it personally, or be caught off guard when you get it on the field.

 

Here's a good video:
 

 

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I think you did well enough! Keep up the good work...

It was a judgement call... Not something to go to your partner for.

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