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Judgement calls and HC requesting help


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Happened today to me.  I was PU.  Both first year umps.  My partner's first game ever.  My second game.

Play at 1B. BU was in 'B' and called the BR out.  HC visited the BU and the BU came and conferenced with me asking for help.  There wasn't a swipe tag or pulled foot and I wasn't asked if there was.  I was asked what did I see. 

Now, I saw the runner beat the throw.  But, I didn't tell my partner that.  I told my partner that we should go with what he called.  Mind you, I wasn't thinking 'judgement call' and I didn't specifically say that to my partner. I just said we will go with what he called. See my predicament?  (I was reminded it was a JC as the opposing 1st base coach came by and asked if that was legal that the HC came out and asked for a help on a JC.  That ringed my bell and I told him no, that wasn't permissible.)

Later in the game there was a play at 1B that I saw the F3 pull his foot but the HC didn't come out to ask for help.  I was waiting for the HC to ask for help on this one but he never came out. I would have told my partner what I saw on that one.

Questions: 

Can the HC ask for help on a judgement call?  I think no but I probably would have done the same as my partner did in asking for help.

Should I have told my partner that I thought the BR beat the throw?  I told him after the game that I thought the BR did.  But to get the call right on the field, should I have told him?

Thanks.

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Also, make sure to pre-game your possible conferences on plays at 1B...specifically swipe tags, pulled feet or running lane violations. Remember it's only HC's that can ask U1 to check with your partn

If you're looking for replies..... considering it's one of those traveling road-show coaches, "Go f--- yourself" is a classic.  An "Ol' Reliable," if you will.

I actually do disagree with this, to a certain degree. The optics are often more important than being "right".   Unless egregious, the optics of one ump being "overruled" by another on a simple j

Good questions.

Short answers, no, judgment calls should not be “conferenced about”.  BU are supposed to own their calls and only seek help when they get straight lined on a possible pulled foot or swipe tag, and that should be infrequent.

I had a game once where I was HPU, partner had a close tag play at third, coach asked him to get help, and he looked at me, and I told coach “that’s a judgment call, there’s nothing to get help on there”.  My partner actually thanked me in parking lot for not getting together on it. 
 

as for saying he beat it, I’d say no. We want to get calls right, but you shouldn’t have been conferring anyways, and if defensive team coach is savvy, you’re gonna be hearing about overturning a judgment call.

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Also, make sure to pre-game your possible conferences on plays at 1B...specifically swipe tags, pulled feet or running lane violations. Remember it's only HC's that can ask U1 to check with your partner. (I've had some 1B coaches who are not managers try and ask this. Depending on their tone my responses have ranged from, "Did you take the plate meeting today? No? That's a warning for you...and now I am issuing a warning to the manager, too." to simply..."Please check with your manager." Yes, it's clunky when they are respectful to ask them to go to their manager and then have the manager come out and ask us but, going forward they'll know to go to managers directly.

Back to pre-gaming...if you are U1 and a manager comes out to ask you to go to your partner, listen to what the manager has to say carefully. The manager might say, "I think F3 pulled his foot, can you please check with your partner?" If, however the manager says, "Hey, can you check with your partner...?" You need to say as respectfully and politely as possible, "Sure, (manager's name)...what about?" And make him tell you specifically what he is appealing. Before going to your partner, ask the manager to please return to the dugout.

Then, when you go to your partner, take what the manager gave you and ask your partner that and ONLY that. "He is asking about a possible pulled foot...what did you see?" Do NOT go to your partner with some vague question like, "What did you see on that play?" Once you've decided on the final call you deliver that to the negatively impacted manager first, then the opposing manager and finally point to first and give an out or safe call. And get the game going again.

You have returned the appealing manager to his dugout and you have rendered a final call. If anybody comes out to your further, they are likely questioning judgement and now you may be issuing warnings or ejections depending on the rules and or previously issued warnings in that game.

While spectating MLB and NCAA games, I have seen umpires preemptively say to managers coming out of the dugout, "Coach? You want me to go to my partner on that?" and then the crew gets together. I don't know where the cutoff for that is exactly but, I have only seen that mechanic in those levels of play.

~Dawg

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13 minutes ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

While spectating MLB and NCAA games, I have seen umpires preemptively say to managers coming out of the dugout, "Coach? You want me to go to my partner on that?" and then the crew gets together. I don't know where the cutoff for that is exactly but, I have only seen that mechanic in those levels of play.

The cutoff for that is when everyone knows what the request will be. You can tell when they're coming to argue and when they want help. It turns the temperature down if there's a situation where they have a legitimate request to just take care of it; the more they stay off the field, the less heated they get. On the flip side, they generally have a better grasp on when help is an option and don't ask nearly as much (at least formally) as in lower levels.

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6 hours ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

Also, make sure to pre-game your possible conferences on plays at 1B...specifically swipe tags, pulled feet or running lane violations. Remember it's only HC's that can ask U1 to check with your partner. (I've had some 1B coaches who are not managers try and ask this. Depending on their tone my responses have ranged from, "Did you take the plate meeting today? No? That's a warning for you...and now I am issuing a warning to the manager, too." to simply..."Please check with your manager." Yes, it's clunky when they are respectful to ask them to go to their manager and then have the manager come out and ask us but, going forward they'll know to go to managers directly.

Back to pre-gaming...if you are U1 and a manager comes out to ask you to go to your partner, listen to what the manager has to say carefully. The manager might say, "I think F3 pulled his foot, can you please check with your partner?" If, however the manager says, "Hey, can you check with your partner...?" You need to say as respectfully and politely as possible, "Sure, (manager's name)...what about?" And make him tell you specifically what he is appealing. Before going to your partner, ask the manager to please return to the dugout.

Then, when you go to your partner, take what the manager gave you and ask your partner that and ONLY that. "He is asking about a possible pulled foot...what did you see?" Do NOT go to your partner with some vague question like, "What did you see on that play?" Once you've decided on the final call you deliver that to the negatively impacted manager first, then the opposing manager and finally point to first and give an out or safe call. And get the game going again.

You have returned the appealing manager to his dugout and you have rendered a final call. If anybody comes out to your further, they are likely questioning judgement and now you may be issuing warnings or ejections depending on the rules and or previously issued warnings in that game.

While spectating MLB and NCAA games, I have seen umpires preemptively say to managers coming out of the dugout, "Coach? You want me to go to my partner on that?" and then the crew gets together. I don't know where the cutoff for that is exactly but, I have only seen that mechanic in those levels of play.

~Dawg

Dawg, that is fantastic information!  
 

If I may though, for a new umpire (the OP), the only thing I saw missing from your post is that umpires should not conference every time they are requested.  If you are 100% on your call, as you should be 90% of the time (that number I made up to emphasize a point), you do not need to conference and should own your call.

Otherwise a coach could simply ask you to get together every call in the hopes he may get a free overturn or two and would turn into a cluster

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To add to that, I was HPU for a D3 NCAA game a few weeks back and my U1 (three man) called a guy out at first.

Coach comes out and argues that F3 pulled his foot and could he get help.  He said “coach, I was looking right at it, I am 100% on it, that’s my call”

As coach passed me on way back to dugout, he said “I don’t think he’s allowed to not get help”.  I didn’t say anything.

Next game I’m U3 and he is 3B-coach and he’s still going on about it, so between innings, I calmly explained to him, “coach, we are taught to own our calls and seek help when we are unsure.  The only thing we are mandated to seek help on when requested is  half-swings (check swings). If he wouldn’t come to me, that’s bc he was 100% on his call”.

He still didn’t like my answer so I ended the convo as it wasn’t going to be an argument but I tried to educate him on it

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@ShaunH, yes I completely agree...no manager, no matter how respectful and polite he is, can ask an umpire at any level to conference purely on judgement. In addition to being a warnable/electable offense, it sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the game. A crew that conferences on any judgement call could now be conferencing on potentially any and every other one.

Your situation is an interesting one...there is NOTHING compelling an umpire to go to his partner. Again, I don't work college ball but, if you have received that direction/teaching then of course you go with that.

Outside of specific association/assignor guidance, I like the optics on pulled foot, swipe tag or running violation of conferencing IF ASKED by the manager even if I feel I was 100%. I guess you could then use my logic in paragraph 1 against me that managers are then coming out for conferencing requests on any pulled foot, swipe tag or running violation...and my only defense is to say, how many of those do we get a game?

Finally, I know we could never get to 100% compliance on this but, I really wish the leagues I worked for would talk to my association and then clarify to their managers when and what they can appeal. To have plays at the plate and have a manager come out and sweetly ask PU if he could check with his partner? No...just no...in 2-man he might have been 100 feet away and I was right on top of the plate.

~Dawg

 

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Dawg,

You are correct.  If it’s the first request, I could see just doing it to appease the masses; but like you said, theoretically they could come out on every play and say “I think he came off the bag” if they wanted to (doubt they would, but could)

I guess if I was BU, I’d probably conference on first request; and shut it down after that unless I got straight-lined or something

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1 hour ago, ShaunH said:

Dawg,

You are correct.  If it’s the first request, I could see just doing it to appease the masses; but like you said, theoretically they could come out on every play and say “I think he came off the bag” if they wanted to (doubt they would, but could)

I guess if I was BU, I’d probably conference on first request; and shut it down after that unless I got straight-lined or something

If U1 is in A, s/he should almost never go for help -- a good read step if needed will help U1 see the foot / swipe tag.

 

If U1 is in B, it can be hard to see (but too many make no effort to move) -- that's more likely to be when we should go for help.

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7 hours ago, ShaunH said:

Dawg,

You are correct.  If it’s the first request, I could see just doing it to appease the masses; but like you said, theoretically they could come out on every play and say “I think he came off the bag” if they wanted to (doubt they would, but could)

I guess if I was BU, I’d probably conference on first request; and shut it down after that unless I got straight-lined or something

What's the difference between the first request and subsequent ones? What if you have two, both of which do not meet the threshold to confer, but the second one is more substantial? 

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9 hours ago, ShaunH said:

I could see just doing it to appease the masses

This is almost always a questionable reason for doing anything on the field. 

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Man, people sure love to jump on fellow umpires on here...

The discussion centered around a coach being upset they refused to ask for help.  I’ve had many partners that have conferred to “preventative umpire”.  
 

Based on the last few responses, I should be ripping them a new one apparently 

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18 hours ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

Then, when you go to your partner, take what the manager gave you and ask your partner that and ONLY that. "He is asking about a possible pulled foot...what did you see?" Do NOT go to your partner with some vague question like, "What did you see on that play?

I can't recall where I learned it from, but I was taught to ask a partner a yes/no question whenever possible when asking for help. In your example, I'd likely ask my partner, "Was the first baseman pulled off the bag on that throw?" This lets your partner know what exactly you need help on and give you an immediate yes or no answer in reply.

I'll also agree that one should not ask a generic, "What did you see?" type question because it can easily lead to an answer that's not useful to the situation that prompted the request for help and unnecessarily prolong the discussion.

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1 hour ago, LRZ said:

Shaun, there is a difference between preventive umpiring and "appeasement."

And to add, going back to my previous comment, college coaches generally know when it's feasible and when it's not...and they may ask or comment about getting help anyway. Going for help when it's not warranted isn't going to go unnoticed and will make life more difficult as credibility is diminished.

There have been particular games where we have been told as a crew to be more liberal with our conferencing, even if it's just to agree we aren't changing it. However, that is for specific situations and not something to be applied as a guideline.

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“So you’re going to miss that one all by yourself huh?” 

If you are addressing me with this remark, let me clarify: there are non-confrontational ways to tell a coach it's your call and you're not "getting help." If the coach gets snarky (and personal), and, depending on circumstances, he might spend the rest of the game in his car.

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14 hours ago, ShaunH said:

Man, people sure love to jump on fellow umpires on here...

The discussion centered around a coach being upset they refused to ask for help.  I’ve had many partners that have conferred to “preventative umpire”.  
 

Based on the last few responses, I should be ripping them a new one apparently 

I've had many partners who thought a third out on appeal for leaving the base early was a force out and didn't let the run score.

I've had many partners use two fists for a full count.

I've had many partners who thought it was a balk to throw to second when R1 was stealing

etc.

In none of those cases did I "rip them a new one."   I have had some who didn't take the correction.

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This weekend I had both coaches come out to me on field calls. First one, B/R is safe on an overthrow at 1st. He starts toward 2nd and I drop step to move with him. Only then do they realize F2 did his job and was backing up 1st base. F2 and B/R dive back to first, and I have a great view of butts and elbows. From my angle, it looks like B/R got his hand to the base just before the tag, so I come up with an emphatic safe call. DHC asks for time, comes out and asks me about the play. He asked a specific question, I answered it, he said I think we saw it differently and then he went back to the dugout. He never asked me to get help (which I would not have on this play) and we moved on.

2nd play -  bases loaded, no outs. Ball hit to F4 who throws to F6 to start the DP. R1 comes sliding in direct to the bag and makes contact with F6 on the 1st base side of the bag. F6 makes the throw and they get the DP. DHC comes out, wants FPSR (pull the run off the board due to interference). He used the 'there is not contact in CIF baseball' to try and Jedi mind trick me... I explained what I had... R1 sliding direct to the bag, not over it, not popping up, just legal as can be, nothing there to get a violation.

Both coaches were respectful, did not ask for 'help' and we went on with no issues. Often times they want you to volunteer to get help... and then you have opened Pandora's box for the rest of the game.

If I do go to my partner for help, I make sure I ask specific questions. Did you see a pulled foot, did you see a swipe tag? Coach over there wants us to get together, so where are we grabbing beers after the game? You know... important direct questions.

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12 hours ago, LRZ said:

“So you’re going to miss that one all by yourself huh?” 

If you are addressing me with this remark, let me clarify: there are non-confrontational ways to tell a coach it's your call and you're not "getting help." If the coach gets snarky (and personal), and, depending on circumstances, he might spend the rest of the game in his car.

Wasn’t addressing you - it’s a common quip from travel coaches every time we don’t go for help, even when we rightly shouldn’t. 
 

I usually don’t try to react to it, but I’d love a good one liner back to a jackass travel coach. I’m much more loose there compared to a HS game. 

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3 hours ago, Thatsnotyou said:

Wasn’t addressing you - it’s a common quip from travel coaches every time we don’t go for help, even when we rightly shouldn’t. 
 

I usually don’t try to react to it, but I’d love a good one liner back to a jackass travel coach. I’m much more loose there compared to a HS game. 

If you're looking for replies..... considering it's one of those traveling road-show coaches, "Go f--- yourself" is a classic.  An "Ol' Reliable," if you will.

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8 hours ago, HokieUmp said:

If you're looking for replies..... considering it's one of those traveling road-show coaches, "Go f--- yourself" is a classic.  An "Ol' Reliable," if you will.

I toyed with the idea of offering this response: "That's funny. When I stop laughing, you're ejected." But I decided that would be a bad idea.

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On 4/17/2021 at 9:07 PM, BLWizzRanger said:

Can the HC ask for help on a judgement call?  I think no but I probably would have done the same as my partner did in asking for help.

Should I have told my partner that I thought the BR beat the throw?  I told him after the game that I thought the BR did.  But to get the call right on the field, should I have told him?

As a coach, if you entertain this all you're doing is teaching the coach(es) that they can start shopping for calls.

As the opposing coach, you've simply shown me that you or your partner are pandering to the other coach...and that one or both of you are likely easy to manipulate or bully.

And you've conveyed that there's a pecking order among the umps.

Unless it's something that could conceivably be missed by the BU's angle - pulled foot, missed tag, etc - or the ump specifically tells you a horsefly landed on his eyes and he didn't see the play, then "no", you shouldn't be inserting your judgment against his.  He shouldn't even be asking you.  Who's to say your judgment is more right than his?

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again - at this point I don't care if the call is right.  Unless it's blatantly obvious, you're throwing the game down the toilet by encouraging this kind of "help".

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On 4/17/2021 at 8:07 PM, BLWizzRanger said:

Should I have told my partner that I thought the BR beat the throw?  I told him after the game that I thought the BR did.  But to get the call right on the field, should I have told him?

 

My experience has taught me that as a PU, tight plays at 1st  often look like the runner beat it. When in fact my base umpire is spot on with his call. Give that some thought.

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