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Feedback requested on restricting the assistant coach to the dugout


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This was my 6th baseball game as an umpire, and happened earlier this evening.  OBR with league modifications for age groups (none of the modifications are relevant to this discussion), ages 8-9.  

Runner on first, 1 out.  

The runner took off for second just as the batter swung (league modifications require him to wait until the ball reaches the plate before he can leave the bag).  The batter *barely* made contact with the ball; I heard a faint *ting* from the metal bat, and the ball went sharply and directly into the catcher's glove.  I GAVE THE MECHANIC FOR A FOUL TIP (swiping the back of my hand) AND SIGNALED STRIKE.  

The runner who was stealing made it to 2nd without the catcher even throwing the ball.  Then the DEFENSIVE ASSISTANT COACH started yelling for the runner to return to first.  He was yelling at the opposing team's player (who was 8 or 9 years old!), but I intervened.  "Coach, the ball is live on a foul tip.  He stole the base and gets to stay there."

The ASSISTANT coach (in my area, appeals must be made by the head coach; this is probably true in most places) stormed out of the dugout and started shouting at me about how a foul ball is dead and the runner must return.

I replied, "Coach, the ball is live on a foul tip.  A foul tip is different than a foul ball."  

He didn't use any of the "magic words," but kept shouting at me about how the ball was dead on a foul ball, not realizing the difference from a foul tip.  I told him, "Coach, we're not going to argue about this anymore," and when he kept yelling, I finally said, "Coach, you're restricted to the dugout for the remainder of the game."  Then I turned away from him and stood behind home plate.  He went into the dugout like he was told.  

I probably could have ejected him, but I'm satisfied with how I handled it.  Between 1/2 innings, he was in the dugout pouring through the rule book.  Then he yelled out to me, "Hey blue, come here, I want to show you this."

I said, "Coach, we're still not going to do this."  

"I want to show you this."

"Coach, stop.  That's enough, not another word."  Undoubtedly he was looking up the rule on how a foul ball is dead.  BUT IT WAS A FOUL TIP!  

I probably could have tossed him then, too.  But I didn't.  

My question comes from the next inning.  When that same team was on defense again, the head coach (NOT the assistant coach I had restricted to the dugout) came out with a catcher's mitt to warm up his pitcher.  The catcher was still getting his gear on.  As he walked past me, he mumbled, "You could learn a thing or two" under his breath.

I chose to ignore it.  I wasn't rattled by the assistant coach's idiotic behavior, but I have to admit the head coach carrying on the argument an inning later made me angry.  I almost gave him the heave-ho, but I chose to ignore it instead.  Here was my reasoning:

1- No one else in the ball park heard it, whether players, fans, or coaches.  I figured it would appear that I was taking revenge on the team for a different coach's behavior, since no one knew that the head coach had just lipped off to me, or that I was hot-headed.  

2- I figured if he needed to vent frustration, fine.  That comment was personal, but not severe, and if saying it let him vent his frustration then perhaps he wouldn't feel the need to express himself anymore.  Apparently I was right, because he didn't bother me the rest of the game.  

3- As a new umpire, I didn't want to make a name for myself as being "that guy" who escalates things.  I thought my approach served to de-escalate the situation.  

But, my question for you experienced guys:  Would you have ejected the HEAD COACH for making that comment?  I'm satisfied with how I handled the assistant coach who thinks a foul tip and a foul ball are the same thing, but what about the head coach who mumbled the insult under his breath?

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Our league requires umpires to ignore-warn-restrict-eject, if possible.  Using the "magic words," personal attacks, threats,  or other over-the-top behavior lets us skip steps, but our umpire-in-chief

Mac, I think you did a pretty good job handling this situation given the level and at least one coaching staff had no idea what they were doing. At this level I want to be patient and try to educa

He punched his ticket with "You could learn a thing or two". And I don't subscribe to the idea that he gets a little slack because only the two of you heard it. Only the two of you heard it.... until

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(The OP is in bold)

The runner who was stealing made it to 2nd without the catcher even throwing the ball.  Then the DEFENSIVE ASSISTANT COACH started yelling for the runner to return to first.  He was yelling at the opposing team's player (who was 8 or 9 years old!), but I intervened.

Good job shutting this down. Don't let an opposing coach talk to the other team's players.

 

The ASSISTANT coach (in my area, appeals must be made by the head coach; this is probably true in most places) stormed out of the dugout and started shouting

Restrict him right there. I know you did it after a little bit (good job), but for me, as soon as an assistant storms out of the dugout, put him right back in it.
 

When that same team was on defense again, the head coach (NOT the assistant coach I had restricted to the dugout) came out with a catcher's mitt to warm up his pitcher.  The catcher was still getting his gear on.  As he walked past me, he mumbled, "You could learn a thing or two" under his breath.

From reading your post, I believe this is the first time the head coach had said anything yet. If so, I don't think saying that under his breath is an ejection. However, don't ignore that statement. I don't know exactly what I would do when that's mumbled under his breath but I don't think its something that can be ignored.

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Restriction is pointless, especially for an assistant. What, now he's super-banned from doing what he wasn't allowed to in the first place? Do not engage him in a rules/judgement discussion. Do not give an answer to his comments. Tell him that he is not going to argue. Warn him if he continues. If he argues at all after the warning, send him. You may skip any of those steps if necessary.

You wouldn't be having the question you do if you had done that. He would have either shut up or been dumped, and the HC would have either had to confront you directly or taken a more risk assessment as to whether to be snide with you. He knew you wouldn't dump him, and if you did, he knew you had no leg to stand on--you let his AC go on for a while and tossed him over something only you could hear. 

Like you said, you're new, and you're here to learn. This is how you learn--I'm not trying to be harsh, but to be clear in what I say.

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Assistant coaches get no room for acting like an asshat. He begged for his all expenses paid ticket to the parking lot to be processed. You should have obliged. When he came charging out of the dugout would have be an opportune moment to engage the head coach to give him the option of taking care of it. In any level above coach pitch (my area of specialty) his behavior warranted an early dismissal.

When the head coach mentioned that you "could learn a thing or two" he deserved a similar low key response. Of course being a new umpire, you likely did not want to seem to be the aggressor or a wise ass so you did nothing. I might have engaged him in a similar manner indicating that we all have things to learn and that you learned some time ago that making a spectacle of one's self rarely achieves the desired results.  

YMMV

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Other possible actions (everything yo've been given so far will work in some instances but not in others -- the trick is figuring out whan to use / say / do what):

 

1) When the assistant comes out:  If your head coach (and maybe use names if you know them) has a question, I will be glad to discuss it with him in a respectful manner.

2) If he continues: I need you to return to the dugout now.  If you continue you will leave me no choice but to eject you from the game.

3) When the HC comes out: I'm sure we all have things to learn, but I have this rule correct.

4) Consider going to the side opposite that team's dugout the inning after a confrontation to avoid the spineless sniping.

 

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Was there league modifications that allow restrictions to the dugout? OBR does not have that option.

The runner who was stealing made it to 2nd without the catcher even throwing the ball.  Then the DEFENSIVE ASSISTANT COACH started yelling for the runner to return to first.  He was yelling at the opposing team's player (who was 8 or 9 years old!), but I intervened.  "Coach, the ball is live on a foul tip.  He stole the base and gets to stay there."

The ASSISTANT coach (in my area, appeals must be made by the head coach; this is probably true in most places) stormed out of the dugout and started shouting at me about how a foul ball is dead and the runner must return.

I replied, "Coach, the ball is live on a foul tip.  A foul tip is different than a foul ball."  

At this age group, I like what you have done so far. Any further argument from the AC, and it's "dump time." Even if there was a restrict option, I wouldn't have used it. Coaches at this level need to learn quickly about on field behavior. He was most likely going to be a problem for the rest of the game, and would have had to go sooner or later.

 

As far as the manager's comment, I would have dumped him. And as I was dumping him, I would have thought to myself, "and you'll learn something right now." 

I understand your rationale for letting it go, but you're just kicking the can down the road. As uncomfortable as it can be at times, school them early and avoid another umpire cleaning up the mess at a later game. As stated above, coaches at this age group usually are less experienced and don't know proper on field behavior. Let them know early what they can and cannot say. Any experienced coach that says "you could learn a thing or two", probably knows they are going to get dumped, or is testing an umpire.

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5 minutes ago, JonnyCat said:

Was there league modifications that allow restrictions to the dugout? OBR does not have that option.

 

Yes.  They even expanded it so the umpire has the authority to eject spectators!  My son's coach joked that he would buy me lunch if I eject a spectator :) 

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8 hours ago, Matt said:

Restriction is pointless, especially for an assistant. What, now he's super-banned from doing what he wasn't allowed to in the first place? 

Our league requires umpires to ignore-warn-restrict-eject, if possible.  Using the "magic words," personal attacks, threats,  or other over-the-top behavior lets us skip steps, but our umpire-in-chief has said, "try to keep them in the game if you can."  I had it in my mind the restriction wouldn't work, but I also wanted to be able to tell my UIC that I tried it first.  

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19 minutes ago, mac266 said:

Yes.  They even expanded it so the umpire has the authority to eject spectators!  My son's coach joked that he would buy me lunch if I eject a spectator :) 

Hahahaha! Sometimes I wish I had that option. I'd eject all spectators and we'd all have a fun game! :lol:

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1 minute ago, mac266 said:

Our league requires umpires to ignore-warn-restrict-eject, if possible.  Using the "magic words," personal attacks, threats,  or other over-the-top behavior lets us skip steps, but our umpire-in-chief has said, "try to keep them in the game if you can."  I had it in my mind the restriction wouldn't work, but I also wanted to be able to tell my UIC that I tried it first.  

With that kind of requirement, my usual answer would be, "it just wasn't possible to restrict!"

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OBR, unlike FED does not provide for restriction to the dugout (unless local league rules are in place).

Should have dumped the first guy who was arguing. Completely over the top to yell and address other players---and continue to argue. Anybody who wants to bring a rule book on or at the field to show an umpire up deserves to hit the parking lot.

1 hour ago, JonnyCat said:

Was there league modifications that allow restrictions to the dugout? OBR does not have that option.

The runner who was stealing made it to 2nd without the catcher even throwing the ball.  Then the DEFENSIVE ASSISTANT COACH started yelling for the runner to return to first.  He was yelling at the opposing team's player (who was 8 or 9 years old!), but I intervened.  "Coach, the ball is live on a foul tip.  He stole the base and gets to stay there."

The ASSISTANT coach (in my area, appeals must be made by the head coach; this is probably true in most places) stormed out of the dugout and started shouting at me about how a foul ball is dead and the runner must return.

I replied, "Coach, the ball is live on a foul tip.  A foul tip is different than a foul ball."  

At this age group, I like what you have done so far. Any further argument from the AC, and it's "dump time." Even if there was a restrict option, I wouldn't have used it. Coaches at this level need to learn quickly about on field behavior. He was most likely going to be a problem for the rest of the game, and would have had to go sooner or later.

 

As far as the manager's comment, I would have dumped him. And as I was dumping him, I would have thought to myself, "and you'll learn something right now." 

I understand your rationale for letting it go, but you're just kicking the can down the road. As uncomfortable as it can be at times, school them early and avoid another umpire cleaning up the mess at a later game. As stated above, coaches at this age group usually are less experienced and don't know proper on field behavior. Let them know early what they can and cannot say. Any experienced coach that says "you could learn a thing or two", probably knows they are going to get dumped, or is testing an umpire.

@Jonnycat nailed this. Don't kick the can down the road. Stand up for yourself, your partner, and other umps. Schooling them early will help all involved--including the coach. If you let this slide, the players see that it is acceptable and they start to mimick this behavior as well.

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10 hours ago, mac266 said:

The ASSISTANT coach (in my area, appeals must be made by the head coach; this is probably true in most places) stormed out of the dugout

I think you were right to ignore the HC's sotto voce comment.

But the AC? Good-bye, AC. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the parking lot. You gave him entirely too much rope, IMO. Although restricted, he kept shouting at you, then pulled the "rulebook" ploy. Nope, not today, coach.

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1 hour ago, mac266 said:

Our league requires umpires to ignore-warn-restrict-eject, if possible.  Using the "magic words," personal attacks, threats,  or other over-the-top behavior lets us skip steps, but our umpire-in-chief has said, "try to keep them in the game if you can."  I had it in my mind the restriction wouldn't work, but I also wanted to be able to tell my UIC that I tried it first.  

Far better to err on the side of ejecting early in your career than being a pushover. 

I'd (as in me if I ever got the chance, not that you should) call out that comment by the UIC. I don't keep people in the game; they do. I just don't push them off the ledge.

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Mac,

I think you did a pretty good job handling this situation given the level and at least one coaching staff had no idea what they were doing.

At this level I want to be patient and try to educate. With the AC I would have simply said. A foul tip is not a foul ball. If your HC, (use his name), has a question I'd be glad to explain it to him. If it continued to escalate I would warn the AC he would be restricted and what that means, including he could not talk to us anymore. No matter the rule set or local rules, participants must follow my directives. If then the AC called me to look at the rule book it's a simple, no fuss ejection. He was restricted from talking to us and he failed to compile.

With the HC, if it could stay between us without others knowing what was going on, I might have said something like come on Ray, you know a foul tip is not a foul ball. If you have a question about something, ask for time and come talk to us.

That approach helps educate and improves the relationship between umpires and coaches while still doing our job of keeping things safe and fair.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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48 minutes ago, KenBAZ said:

Mac,

I think you did a pretty good job handling this situation given the level and at least one coaching staff had no idea what they were doing.

At this level I want to be patient and try to educate. With the AC I would have simply said. A foul tip is not a foul ball. If your HC, (use his name), has a question I'd be glad to explain it to him. If it continued to escalate I would warn the AC he would be restricted and what that means, including he could not talk to us anymore. No matter the rule set or local rules, participants must follow my directives. If then the AC called me to look at the rule book it's a simple, no fuss ejection. He was restricted from talking to us and he failed to compile.

With the HC, if it could stay between us without others knowing what was going on, I might have said something like come on Ray, you know a foul tip is not a foul ball. If you have a question about something, ask for time and come talk to us.

That approach helps educate and improves the relationship between umpires and coaches while still doing our job of keeping things safe and fair.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

He pretty much did that.

No good deed goes unpunished.

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I have no problem with what you did. As you can see from above, umpires, like coaches, handle situations differently. One coach may wait until after the game to discuss the rule, others (despite not knowing the rule) want to argue with you on the spot. Some umpires are quicker to eject than others.  Unfortunately, at this age group you have dads trying to live through their kids and want only to win, as opposed to teach. Complicate that with there fact that NONE of them have even opened a rule book. So discussing rules with these coaches is pointless.

For me there is a difference between "arguing a call" and discussing what happened and why I ruled the way I did.  I will never eject a (head) coach for a heated discussion about my call. I will ALWAYS, and immediately, eject an assistant coach. Remember its not your job to teach them the rules, your job is to enforce the rules.

In your situation I may have said its a foul TIP, which is a live ball, not foul ball...... and knowing me, probably added "look it up on your phone" all loud enough so that all the moms and dads in the stands heard me and watch them all scramble for their phones...just to embarrass him.

We all have different personalities and those follow us to the field. There is nothing wrong with that as long as we manage the game in a smooth and respectful manner. If our games are not smooth and respectful we need to develop an alternative "diamond personality" quickly.

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Funny...I had almost the same situation the first weekend of umpiring with 8 year olds.
Foul tip for the 3rd strike.   I call the batter out.
Coach:   "That's a foul ball"
Me:  "No, that's a foul tip"
Coach:  "He hit it with his bat...foul ball."
Me:  "C'mon coach, you should know better than that"

I'm always (but probably shouldn't be) surprised on how many people actually don't know the difference between foul tip and foul ball.

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Another tool in behavior management toolbox is holding my hand up to my ear and looking directly at the coach or player and saying, "I didn't hear you...can you please repeat that?"

It's not a catch-all, nothing is. Different people, different situations, different levels of play all call for different "tools". But, by asking this question you are giving the coach or player an opportunity to catch themselves. You are putting them on notice that you ABSOLUTELY heard what they said and if they DO repeat themselves you are dumping them. It's also a way of establishing yourself and knowing where you stand with people. If they respond with anything other than, "Sorry..." or "Forget it..." then you know they don't respect you.

Also, I would avoid this technique above JV level ball. Coaches above that level know better than to be asked to repeat themselves.

~Dog

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He punched his ticket with "You could learn a thing or two". And I don't subscribe to the idea that he gets a little slack because only the two of you heard it. Only the two of you heard it.... until he gets back to the dugout and tells everyone what he said (and he probably brags about it after the game to anyone who will listen as well). 

Of course, I would have tossed the AC. The "keep them in the game" philosophy only encourages bad behavior. Those who want us to keep them in the game are probably also wondering why they never have enough officials. The more s**t they expect officials to put up with the fewer people will be willing to become and/or stay an official. Yes, we need to have a thick skin - it's in the job description -  but that doesn't mean we should ever have to roll over and take anyone's crap.

If you tossed the AC do you think the HC would have followed up with you like he did? Me thinketh not. Now you've got two jackhats who think they can get away with talking trash to an umpire - because they did.

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On 7/9/2020 at 10:51 PM, mac266 said:

The ASSISTANT coach (in my area, appeals must be made by the head coach; this is probably true in most places) stormed out of the dugout and started shouting at me about how a foul ball is dead and the runner must return.

Caution:  Red ass about to reply.

The above excerpt is where the entire tale probably started to go south.   THIS is the point where the AC gets launched into the Sun.  It's true in EVERY place that the only guy you listen to is the HC, and NO ONE gets to just charge out of the dugout at you.  I've seen others say - people whose opinion I respect - to say something to this guy as he's coming, to give him a chance.  But for my money, based on your description, I'd toss him, and sleep like a baby that night.

For all we know when the HC made his comment, he may have been telling you a *different* message - what you had to learn was to toss when needed.

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