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how to determine judgement of intentional dropped ball


Umpire942

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Varsity HS

 

R1 on first,  ball line drive to F4, ball deflects , turns double play, runners never ran.

 

I saw:

- the ball go one direction the player going another , and it did not hit his web. (did not look like he set it up in my judgement, which was indeed the call that was made)

- there was no transfer

 

Other then the ball going in a different direction, or not looking like it was intentional.  What other judgements does everyone use?

 

I caught heat for the call.  But I was way close in B looking right at him.  Also not that it matters, 2 innings later,  i asked the kid, games over, did you drop it, he said no , i was hand cuffed.

 

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If you're asking for criteria or guidelines, you're likely to be frustrated. There are none. Judging this play depends on many different factors, including the skill level of the players, conditions, game situation, etc. It also demands experience with the game.

As a general rule, we don't want to call this unless we're quite confident it was intentional. A "cheap" double play should look really cheap to everyone who sees it. That's the one to prevent.

It's not possible to assess judgment calls without video. But based only on your description, if you did boot this one, the likely explanation is that you were too close and the play blew up on you.

Any umpire can call this, and PU is usually better situated to get it. 

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37 minutes ago, maven said:

If you're asking for criteria or guidelines, you're likely to be frustrated. There are none. Judging this play depends on many different factors, including the skill level of the players, conditions, game situation, etc. It also demands experience with the game.

As a general rule, we don't want to call this unless we're quite confident it was intentional. A "cheap" double play should look really cheap to everyone who sees it. That's the one to prevent.

It's not possible to assess judgment calls without video. But based only on your description, if you did boot this one, the likely explanation is that you were too close and the play blew up on you.

Any umpire can call this, and PU is usually better situated to get it. 

It was not booted,  i judged it was not intentional.  I was asking what people use in in their judgement.  yours seems to be just if its "obvious"  I choose if the ball goes in a different direction then natural, and where it hit the persons glove .  This in not a written rule.  But what I would use in my judgement.  PU was silent, I had to call something as runners stopped, but fielders continued a double play.

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1 hour ago, Umpire942 said:

Other then the ball going in a different direction, or not looking like it was intentional.  What other judgements does everyone use?

I think you're making it too complicated.

It's not much different than an infield fly "could be caught with ordinary effort".  The judgment I would use..."should he have caught it"...alongside, to a lesser degree, "would I have caught it".   That's not 100% - sometimes the kid just takes his eye off the ball - but it's a pretty good starting point.  You can use his reaction too to see if he expected to catch it...now he's looking for the ball around his feet, briefly surprised it's not in his glove.  But frankly, it should be blindingly obvious that he did it on purpose. 

You're not judging a lack of intent...you're judging intent...that may seem the same (just opposite) but it's not...if your perspective and starting point is "did he do this on purpose" it should be easier to judge.

3 minutes ago, Umpire942 said:

I choose if the ball goes in a different direction then natural, and where it hit the persons glove

Why?  Any different is different than natural...he touched it.  And sometimes, even when knocking it down on purpose it doesn't go exactly where you wanted it to.  Where it hit the glove might help, but the opposite way you're thinking...guy doing it intentional might use the palm...might use the back of his glove...in either case it would be easy to see his intent was to knock it down...frankly, he would rarely use the web, except maybe the outside, and would likely not really open his glove.

Age can factor in - most of the younger kids aren't savvy enough to try this...they just want to catch the ball...I find a lot of the teens/high schoolers aren't savvy enough to sell it as accidental...they end up making it obvious because they sure as hell don't want to drop the ball, have it get away, and not get any outs....OR, they don't know the rule and don't know they need to make it look like an accident.

 

If all else fails...get someone to throw or hit some balls at you...catch some and drop some...you'll start seeing what it looks like.

And in the end...if it's a close call, lean towards not giving the defense the cheap double play.  Nobody likes them, not even the defense.

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I can't add anything that wasn't already said, so I will just double down on the fact that this has to be obvious.  Calling an intentional act that wasn't intentional is very contentious...if you see it and believe it, call it.  If you don't see it or are unsure, let it play out.

One more thing...usually intentional drops aren't attempted on line drives (maybe the savvy pros but certainly not at HS and below).  One, the reaction time is much less, so less time to think and realize you can try it.  Two, line drives are much more unpredictable.  They can tail, knuckle, and can certainly ricochet far enough away that you get zero outs of it.  It would have to be pretty blatantly obvious to call intentional drop on a line drive, and to be honest, I am kind of surprised you got crap about NOT calling it, that is the far less controversial call.

In all the games I have ever done at levels ranging from 10u to college, I have called intentional drop one time that I remember, and I certainly have seen MANY balls dropped/not-caught in my time, and never once has anyone argued it should have been called intentional.

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2 hours ago, Umpire942 said:

What other judgements does everyone use?

 

Good judgment comes from experience.

Experience comes from bad judgment.

 

That said, the rule is to protect the offense, so if a double play is likely after the drop (and would not be likely if the ball had been caught), I'd give the benefit of the doubt to an intentional drop.  Even if it was an "error" the defense still gets the result they were trying to achieve (one out; runners return), so they shouldn't complain.

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9 minutes ago, SH0102 said:

It would have to be pretty blatantly obvious to call intentional drop on a line drive, and to be honest, I am kind of surprised you got crap about NOT calling it, that is the far less controversial call.

Depends...the call that ends up in the cheap double play will usually get more flak than the call that turns two outs into one - especially if everyone else on the field and in the stands sees what the ump didn't - an obvious drop. Especially on a line drive.  Now, if it's a high fly ball and the B/R didn't run it out, then that cheap double play is the offense's fault, and it's hard to get up in arms about it.   Coach'll argue the intentional drop, but it'll be half-hearted...in the back of his mind he's already planning the batter's punishment.

MAYBE with the 8-10 year olds everyone just lets it go as "SH*# happens" 'cause there's no way the kid did it on purpose...but the teens and up you're gonna get an argument.  Unless, perhaps, the coaches just don't know there's actually a rule to protect the offense here.   Even then, I find when they don't know the rule they'll try to argue IFF.

Both calls are going to get flak, usually.  But like I said, NOBODY likes a cheap double play.

 

15 minutes ago, SH0102 said:

One more thing...usually intentional drops aren't attempted on line drives (maybe the savvy pros but certainly not at HS and below)

It's only beneficial to the defense to do it on a line drive - it's usually the only way to get a double play...on a fly ball, and even a hump back, except in the rare cases where the B/R doesn't run it out, you're still only getting one out...the only other benefit is to trade a fast runner for a slow....and most players below the pro level aren't thinking like that.

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42 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

Depends...the call that ends up in the cheap double play will usually get more flak than the call that turns two outs into one - especially if everyone else on the field and in the stands sees what the ump didn't - an obvious drop. Especially on a line drive.  Now, if it's a high fly ball and the B/R didn't run it out, then that cheap double play is the offense's fault, and it's hard to get up in arms about it.   Coach'll argue the intentional drop, but it'll be half-hearted...in the back of his mind he's already planning the batter's punishment.

MAYBE with the 8-10 year olds everyone just lets it go as "SH*# happens" 'cause there's no way the kid did it on purpose...but the teens and up you're gonna get an argument.  Unless, perhaps, the coaches just don't know there's actually a rule to protect the offense here.   Even then, I find when they don't know the rule they'll try to argue IFF.

Both calls are going to get flak, usually.  But like I said, NOBODY likes a cheap double play.

 

It's only beneficial to the defense to do it on a line drive - it's usually the only way to get a double play...on a fly ball, and even a hump back, except in the rare cases where the B/R doesn't run it out, you're still only getting one out...the only other benefit is to trade a fast runner for a slow....and most players below the pro level aren't thinking like that.

Fair point, I was thinking about flare jobs more than high flys

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1 hour ago, Umpire942 said:

It was not booted,  i judged it was not intentional.

Maybe we're not using 'booted' the same way? Either the drop was intentional or unintentional. If unintentional, then that's "booting" it.

Baseball Monkey defines 'booted': scroll down 2/3 through this long page, under "Baseball Fielding Terms."

1 hour ago, Umpire942 said:

I was asking what people use in in their judgment.  yours seems to be just if its "obvious"  I choose if the ball goes in a different direction than natural, and where it hit the persons glove .

That's fine, but there are many other considerations. Skilled fielders can allow a soft liner to hit the back of their glove and then drop the ball to the ground from there. Others trap the ball briefly with both hands and drop it. In a play like yours, a tailing liner can "handcuff" a fielder so that it meets both your criteria (weird bounce + odd contact with glove), but it's not an intentional drop (I'm not assessing your call, merely using a tailing liner as an example).

It's worth mentioning in this context (for lurkers—the OP seems to know the rule) that an "intentionally dropped" ball must be touched by the fielder: a ball allowed to fall untouched, even if it results in a double play, is not an intentional drop under this rule.

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48 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

Now, if it's a high fly ball and the B/R didn't run it out, then that cheap double play is the offense's fault, and it's hard to get up in arms about it. 

That's not a cheap double play, it's an easy one. The offense richly deserved it.

But if the fielder intentionally drops it, he won't (or shouldn't) get a double play out of it. Same as if another fielder obstructed R1 during play: the defense has to earn its outs legally, even if the other team screws up.

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There is a simple and easy (two things that often are not correlated) way to tell if a fielder intentionally drops a ball and it involves our good friend and fundamental, timing. 

If you wait on this call and watch what the fielder does as the ball goes to the ground and once it hits the ground, it'll give you a pretty big clue if it was intentional. If the fielder looks like they're making a smooth play by immediately coming up with the ball and throwing it, you've almost certainly an intentionally-dropped ball. If they have to fiddle around with it or scramble, it probably wasn't--and even if it was, there's a good chance they won't get the DP anyway, so why call it?

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1 hour ago, Matt said:

There is a simple and easy (two things that often are not correlated) way to tell if a fielder intentionally drops a ball and it involves our good friend and fundamental, timing. 

If you wait on this call and watch what the fielder does as the ball goes to the ground and once it hits the ground, it'll give you a pretty big clue if it was intentional. If the fielder looks like they're making a smooth play by immediately coming up with the ball and throwing it, you've almost certainly an intentionally-dropped ball. If they have to fiddle around with it or scramble, it probably wasn't--and even if it was, there's a good chance they won't get the DP anyway, so why call it?

 

Is this something that is "supposed" to be called immediately (immediate or delayed dead ball?), or can it be determined after the play...like you said, if no DP happens no harm no foul, and frankly, if the defender screws up and ends up with nobody out, it'd be nice to just leave it as is.

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4 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

 

Is this something that is "supposed" to be called immediately (immediate or delayed dead ball?), or can it be determined after the play...like you said, if no DP happens no harm no foul, and frankly, if the defender screws up and ends up with nobody out, it'd be nice to just leave it as is.

It is an immediate dead ball. However, that means we can wait because we can kill it retroactively. It's really no difference than seeing everything before making an interference call or such and such.

My qualifier was to strengthen the idea that if the defense looks like they just screwed up, they probably did, so don't penalize the offense. Of course, even if they don't create a DP situation but it looks intentional, it still needs to be called.

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6 hours ago, SH0102 said:

In all the games I have ever done at levels ranging from 10u to college, I have called intentional drop one time that I remember, and I certainly have seen MANY balls dropped/not-caught in my time, and never once has anyone argued it should have been called intentional.

Yep. I called this for the first time in my umpiring career earlier this year. It was in an NAIA game, and nobody said squat because it was obvious what he was trying to do. And I've never had anybody ever try to get that call either.

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Immediately call "TIME!" and gather your crew.  Act as if you are discussing the play for several moments. You may want to take this time to catch up on how their families are doing or to inquire about any good craft beers they have tried recently.

Then call out the defensive head coach.  Explain to him that you are going to need an affidavit from the first baseman stating that it was not intentional.  Turn to the crowd and ask if there are any notary publics in the crowd ...

 

 

Or ... yeah, what everybody said up above.  😁

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35 minutes ago, The Man in Blue said:

Immediately call "TIME!" and gather your crew.  Act as if you are discussing the play for several moments. You may want to take this time to catch up on how their families are doing or to inquire about any good craft beers they have tried recently.

Then call out the defensive head coach.  Explain to him that you are going to need an affidavit from the first baseman stating that it was not intentional.  Turn to the crowd and ask if there are any notary publics in the crowd ...

 

 

Or ... yeah, what everybody said up above.  😁

Candlesticks always make a nice gift.

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