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Coach showmanship


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Mr. DramaKing here. With it being my first year, I did not think I would experience a quarter of what I have read on here.  But, with all of my incidences w/ 4 ejections and 3 warnings in around 35 games and me being the only constant factor, it must be me.  LOL Maybe it is me being older - 50 ish - that I have a shorter leash. I don't think that I do, but, maybe that is who I am.  I will go with that... Anyways....

Last night, 14U Pony game. Seven minutes from time to start a new inning, 2 outs, Home team R3 tries to score on a past ball.  He is dead to rights as the catcher was able to get the ball back to the pitcher.  The pitcher, in a common step, stepped in front of the plate blocking it while applying the tag.  The runner did not reach the base.  I was in the wedge 6 feet from the play.  Perfect positioning if I say so myself.  A large gasp from the 3BC and parents from that side with my call - but no argument.

However, he, 3BC, comes down and pulls out his watch and says to me, 'Congratulations, you now have to do another inning'. Which took me back a minute or so but I processed it as I was walking up the line.  He stands over the plate in the catchers box, looking at where the play was made.  He motions his hands, shrugs his shoulders, looks over to his parents, and shrugs his shoulders once or twice more.  The parents start laughing with him. 

At that point, after confirming how much time is left, I motion to him that we weren't going to do that with standing over the spot of the last play, the motions, and him looking at his parents and I told him to leave and go back to his dugout.  He claims innocence of course as I turn my back and walk to the home plate cutout.  He is still standing there when I get back to the spot.  I wait another 15 seconds  - actually looking for his catcher to come out - he never left but stood there with his hand on his chin.  I called the game at that point.

There were other things with this game on his side that contributed to this.  I didn't go to A-Z in one step but I had had enough. This included 85 degree temperature, swearing in his dugout (that I should have handled), warning his bench for hollering 'drop it' on a pop fly, warning his batter on a thrown bat hitting the catcher, and him arguing with a mother about hollering/instructing her kid (that I didn't have an issue with but still a drama incident). 

I guess you sometimes just get these types of coaches/players/ games.

Anything else I could have done other than eject/warn?

 

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Thoughts from reading your post…(in your order)

1) One ejection every nine games does seem extreme…a lot of us do 9 games in 2 days during the summer, so an ejection every other day is a lot.  The thing that stands out to me is you should *theoretically* have more warnings than ejections.  There are acts that skip over the warning step, but those should not be happening often, and if they do, you should be quitting that league and work for a different assignor or league

2) What was the offense coach and parents gasping about?  Seems pretty straight forward 

3) I rarely stoop to their level but with his smart ass comment about playing another inning, I might have said “you mean the kids get to play another inning, I’m sure that makes them happy”

4) Demonstrations are an absolute no-no.  For many, it’s an act that skips the warning , I myself would have at least warned him and said “go back now or you’re ejected”, do not let it continue, they are belittling you in front of everyone

5) Under what grounds did you call the game?  I’m sorry it was hot but that should have zero factor in your calling a game.  Was his team losing and by not sending kid out, they essentially forfeited?  Some leagues have penalties for forfeiting…you might have asked, “coach, are you forfeiting the game?” When he chose not to send his kids out. Was F2 the only one who didn’t come out?  

6) thrown bat is a team Warning, not individual; and next offender is ejected, though most leagues have and prefer an out over an ejection.  Don’t warn for “drop it”…can you imagine a basketball ref having to penalize every time said “miss it” when someone took a shot?  If they verbally interfere (“I got it!!” Or “mine mine!), then kill it and call batter out.  If it’s unsportsmanlike, team warning, but “drop it” is neither.

now, if they “drop it you pansy ass”, that’s unsportsmanlike 

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This gets to game management which, for me, is an issue.  My personality is such that when confronted, I will try humor first to avoid confrontation.  It gets me in trouble sometimes in both the real world and baseball.  A place where it helped was this past weekend when I was behind the plate and my partner in A calls an out on a banger at 1B to end an inning that most likely was safe.  It got a lot of feedback from the offensive dugout and parent as you might expect.  I head back to my water which was in the ball return tube next to their stands.  As I am taking my drink I say to nobody in particular "And that is why everybody hates us."  That got a laugh and seemed to defuse the situation. Was it showing up my partner? Might have been interpreted that way but if it had been, I would tell them I agreed with the call (no way would I overrule a partner's judgement to anyone except to my partner when asked) and it was an example of how we are going to get grief no matter what we call and that's ok, it's part of the game.  Yes, I shouldn't have engaged with the crowd, but it was said to nobody in particular and I finished my drink, turned and got back to it.

As I was reading your description of the coach at home and putting myself in your shoes, what I would probably have done is go join him at the plate and observe what he was doing with a smile on my face.  Then tell him "here is what I had..." and see if that wouldn't calm him down.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

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11 minutes ago, agdz59 said:

A place where it helped was this past weekend when I was behind the plate and my partner in A calls an out on a banger at 1B to end an inning that most likely was safe.  It got a lot of feedback from the offensive dugout and parent as you might expect.  I head back to my water which was in the ball return tube next to their stands.  As I am taking my drink I say to nobody in particular "And that is why everybody hates us."  That got a laugh and seemed to defuse the situation.

I'm speechless...

Actually I'm not, but I'm going to pretend to be.

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Well, the four ejections had one game with three. Slightly skewed the average but each ejection was warranted (Assistant coach not shutting up after being warned/player taunting/player arguing with me - all on the same team).  The other ejection had the assistant coach kicking dirt at me and bellying up me.

Oh, I agree he was trying to show me/us up.  The gasp I took it as a reaction of disagreement - no big deal other than noticing it.  You know, an umpire that is 6 feet away from the play and looking down the tunnel to the plate couldn't possibly have the better view than the ones 60-70 feet away blocked by the runners back as they slid into the plate.  As I said there was no argument but possibly foretold what was to come. 

I called the game because the game didn't matter, was really close to time limit, and I had enough of the shenanigans.  The heat only playing the part of ire.  We both know I could have warned him or ejected him but that wouldn't have done anything.  I already told him to go back to the dugout or away from the area (more succinctly) but he didn't move.  His catcher was on the way out but he wasn't there to talk to the catcher.

With this level, I don't think I could eject over a thrown bat but a warning is doable.  If it was a HS game, I probably could get to the level of ejection but this is rec.  A warning was warranted as it hit the catcher on the side of the knee. For the drop it, its more of a info warning.  To me, as in rec, the kids are getting the benefit of not knowing.

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13 minutes ago, Matt said:

I'm speechless...

Actually I'm not, but I'm going to pretend to be.

Aw go ahead.  These teams have seen me so much, it's youth ball, I felt comfortable.  Really, go ahead and tell me the other side because I KNOW there is one.   If I didn't know the teams as well as I do, I wouldn't have done it (I don't think).  

And here's another one for you.  There was a team with 'blue' in their name and I was hearing "Good job blue!", "way to go blue!" a lot during the game.  While getting a drink at the fence between innings I said "And all this time I thought you were talking about me."  Shook my head and got back to it.

Go ahead.  I'm listening.

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On 6/8/2021 at 2:46 PM, GreyhoundAggie said:

You threw your partner under the bus. I don't care how many times you've seen a team or what level of ball it is, that is never ok.

That's just my opinion.

And mine. While you, agdz59, might think a remark is humorous, coaches, players and fans might not think so, or might misinterpret it as disagreement or criticism. You probably recognize this, as you admit your attempts at using humor to avoid confrontation gets you in trouble.

Some degree of confrontation is inherent in what we officials do. Instead of humor, try silence, which has the virtue of resisting misinterpretation or misquotation. Take a look at the umpire ejections videos on the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League page--not always, but typically, MLB umpires let coaches have their say, up to a point, and don't engage them. 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@agdz59, please...do yourself, your partners and your crews a favor...do not talk to fences. It's not part of our job to curry favor or entertain spectators. Deep down, "way down inside" as Robert Plant would say, we all want to be liked. The path to "getting liked" is calling a good game.

And we certainly don't say things when our partners or the crew kick a call that is unsupportive in any way. Avoid sarcasm, avoid humor...please.

In closing, is it the end of the world? No, of course not...but these are easily fixable things that will greatly improve your game management and field presence. I firmly believe every umpire should aspire to work the highest level of baseball they can. There is an old expression in the corporate world...dress for the job you aspire to. I would also add...conduct yourself for the job you aspire to. It's the same for umpiring. Think about the best umpires you have worked with in your association. I'm guessing they are not conducting amateur hour at the fence in between innings.

If you are in any way uncertain about what your association's best umpires' work looks like, contact your assignor on a night off and ask them where the best high school crew is working that night and then go watch them work. You will learn a lot. I try to do this once or twice a month myself when I can.

~Dawg

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9 hours ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

The path to "getting liked" is calling a good game.

Dawg....I so wish this was true...I did a youth game a couple weeks ago (14 or 15u...can't recall) that I nailed everything...I mean everything.  I know I did not miss a call on the bases, my strike zone was consistent and big enough for that age that it kept the game moving without calling anything egregious, and I had to apply about 6 rules that the general populace knows nothing about.  Was one of those days where I felt good about myself because all of my studying of the rule book came through for me.

But because I was applying rules that the general person doesn't fully grasp, that made me a big a-hole in their eyes, and I was being screamed at for "making **** up" and "not knowing the rules".  Mind you, some of these same fans that told me I don't know the rules were yelling for infield fly on a pop up with R1 only, but I digress.

The truth of the matter is, the only way to be "liked" by a team is for every call to go in their favor.  And since that isn't happening, you might as well just leave the field knowing you called a good game and not worry or care about what the fans think.

I could be in a stadium with 999 fans, 1 partner on the field, and 1 evaluator in the stands.  If my partner and evaluator say I did a nice job, I could care less what the 999 think.  Because fans literally is short for "fanatics", they are biased towards their team, and they know 5% of the rules on average.

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Forget "liked." Instead, think "respected." Even then, the only people who matter are partners and assigners; the only people who might matter are coaches and players.

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@SH0102, you make a good point. We are primarily "evaluated" by coaches, fans and players by how many calls go their way.

And @LRZ used the more applicable word...respect.

One other game management technique I have started using at the urging of a recent senior partner...

If I am working the bases, introducing myself to the 1B coaches in the top and bottom of the 1st inning. My sample size may be too small but, I'm having fewer issues with 1B coaches since implementing this.

~Dawg

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There is a lot of very useful feedback here and I appreciate it. If I might, please allow me to provide a little more color on what was going on, and what happened after,  I talked to the fence. I am risking digging my hole even deeper than it already is, but giving the metrics you are providing in the recent posts here, I think I might be OK.

My partner that weekend is someone who has been an umpire in these parts for years and has a deserved  reputation for being hard to work with. He's been banned from different tournaments and assignors use him as a last resort because they are tired of dealing with angry coaches, parents and partners.

That weekend, the tournament organizer was a fellow umpire who gave my partner work because, as he admitted to me, he wanted to give him another chance.  Frankly, he had me work with him because I said I was willing.  

Saturday was typical. Balkfests at 12U for the slightest infraction, bizarre conversations at plate meetings and engaging coaches on trivialities that only served to piss them off. 

So early Sunday with that close play at first and I hear the grumbling behind me, I made the decision to try to ease the tension with my remark.  That's the context. I do not typically talk to the fence at all.

So what was the result with my assignor for that tournament? He called me Sunday night to thank me for helping keep things on our field under control. That he had heard from many people on both sides of the fence that appreciated my efforts. And, as I've seen other times, one coach told him that if my partner was going to be at the tournament next year, he would not be bringing his team.  We ended by talking about how to improve the tournament next year.

This last weekend I worked another tournament where two coaches talked to me personally and thanked me for how I handled things there.

So, from the feedback I have received from assignors and coaches, I think I made an ok decision given the circumstances. 

Again, I appreciate the feedback I've gotten here. You guys are awesome, really.

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3 hours ago, SH0102 said:

Dawg....I so wish this was true...I did a youth game a couple weeks ago (14 or 15u...can't recall) that I nailed everything...I mean everything.  I know I did not miss a call on the bases, my strike zone was consistent and big enough for that age that it kept the game moving without calling anything egregious, and I had to apply about 6 rules that the general populace knows nothing about.  Was one of those days where I felt good about myself because all of my studying of the rule book came through for me.

But because I was applying rules that the general person doesn't fully grasp, that made me a big a-hole in their eyes, and I was being screamed at for "making **** up" and "not knowing the rules".  Mind you, some of these same fans that told me I don't know the rules were yelling for infield fly on a pop up with R1 only, but I digress.

The truth of the matter is, the only way to be "liked" by a team is for every call to go in their favor.  And since that isn't happening, you might as well just leave the field knowing you called a good game and not worry or care about what the fans think.

I could be in a stadium with 999 fans, 1 partner on the field, and 1 evaluator in the stands.  If my partner and evaluator say I did a nice job, I could care less what the 999 think.  Because fans literally is short for "fanatics", they are biased towards their team, and they know 5% of the rules on average.

Luckily, this seems to be somewhat assuaged as you work higher levels of ball. Not always, but often. 

There's a Juco coach in a a conference I work who has a bit of a reputation (though it seems, and I've been told, he's cooled off a bit in the last couple years). First time I had him, I was on the dish at his place. His team is losing by a couple runs going into the bottom of the 9th. To keep a long story short (and hopefully unidentifiable), he came out, I thought there was a very non zero chance I might have to eject him, but instead he came out to compliment me and tell me he had texted my assignor telling him I'd done a good job. I was caught off guard, but it really changed how I see real coaches. Since then, I've had a number of college/summer ball coaches compliment the crew in games they've lost, and it really means a lot. 

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2 hours ago, agdz59 said:

So early Sunday with that close play at first and I hear the grumbling behind me, I made the decision to try to ease the tension with my remark.

agdz59, I'm nobody in particular, so my opinion may not mean much, so this is strictly an IMO response: I strongly disagree with you.

In the context you described, it was not your job to defuse tension. Whatever his faults, he was still your partner. Knowing what to expect, you volunteered to work with him, yet, when it got down to the nitty-gritty, you undermined him, essentially disregarding the basic tenet that we officials are a team, for better or for worse.

The approval of fans and coaches is of little consequence if earned at the expense of your teammates, fellow officials. I'd also take issue with your assigner, who, while correct to thank you for your efforts, was wrong to approve of your methods.

IMO.

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taking a tangent...

LL 10U All Star game ~5 years ago. I was PU and sweating chlorophyll. BU's years of experience >75% my age. Last out of the game, HT down by 1, banger at 1st, crowd erupts, OHC calls time to talk with BU.  I expected BU to conference and I say to the fence "relax, there's a process". OHC and BU finish, OHC marches back to his dugout unhappy. I hightail it out of there thinking "welp, I'll never do that again". lol

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

These ones are hard because it involves the crowd and you will be the perceived agitator in this instance.  Kudos on telling him to get back in the hole.  If he doesn't leave though, that's the critical action. Ejectable without any priors, maybe, maybe not, could go either way because of the perception aspect. Player or assistant, most definitely right now. After a long hot day of warnings, and cursing, green light all the way baby, make it a big one.  If I was the assigner, I would have taken either.  Certainly do not allow prior EJs or the amount of EJs spook you out of more, its a learning process that we go through always and forever.

And to the gentleman who cracked a joke to the crowd in that manner about his partner, the very next text out of my phone would be to my assigner saying for me to never work with you again.  If my assigner can't swing it I will turn back the games.  We got enough problems and bad partners shouldn't be one of them.  Take the above feedback from other posters and learn from it.  That one is pretty cut and dry.  Please excuse my flippant manner, but that is the numero uno umpire sin.  That's 1st degree murder on your partner.

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On 6/17/2021 at 8:43 AM, LRZ said:

Forget "liked." Instead, think "respected." Even then, the only people who matter are partners and assigners; the only people who might matter are coaches and players.

Agree 100% on the respect vs like.  I'll take consistency over perfection and will respect any ump who is pragmatic about their fallibility.

"Might" matter?  Careful on that one.  

Keep in mind where your fees come from...generally speaking, unless the facility costs are exorbitant, more than half a team's/player's league/tourney fees are to cover umpires - I've seen the books on my share of tournaments and leagues...so those people who "might" matter - the coaches, the players...or, more accurately, the players' parents - are your paying customers, either directly or indirectly.

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35 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

Agree 100% on the respect vs like.  I'll take consistency over perfection and will respect any ump who is pragmatic about their fallibility.

"Might" matter?  Careful on that one.  

Keep in mind where your fees come from...generally speaking, unless the facility costs are exorbitant, more than half a team's/player's league/tourney fees are to cover umpires - I've seen the books on my share of tournaments and leagues...so those people who "might" matter - the coaches, the players...or, more accurately, the players' parents - are your paying customers, either directly or indirectly.

I can't speak to leagues.  But it seems like tournaments are a whole different thing.  I just worked some games this weekend - haven't been paid yet, since the guy that "hires" me pays by Zelle later.  But talking to some coaches, they get guaranteed four games out of it.  Let's say they get two more in the knock-out stage, for the "Championship Of The World, *This* Weekend's Edition."  So, six games.  I get something like $50-$60 per game - call it $60 - so a team might pay $360 for umpires.  Maybe it's just quibbling, since it's likely pretty close, but I'm fairly certain the tournament entry fees are more than that, so we umpires aren't "more than half."

And it seemed like every team I talked to was from Austin or slightly further out.  So with travel costs, we're definitely not the majority on the budget.

Either way, they don't need to Karen us in the ways they do.

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1 hour ago, beerguy55 said:

paying customers

Careful on that one. This could easily lead to appeasement. One of the few partners I've ever blocked was so concerned about the paying customers--coaches, players, spectators--that he had zero regard for HIS teammate, the other umpire.

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1 hour ago, HokieUmp said:

So, six games.  I get something like $50-$60 per game - call it $60 - so a team might pay $360 for umpires.  Maybe it's just quibbling, since it's likely pretty close, but I'm fairly certain the tournament entry fees are more than that, so we umpires aren't "more than half."

And it seemed like every team I talked to was from Austin or slightly further out.  So with travel costs, we're definitely not the majority on the budget.

Again, depends on the facility costs...the entry fees cover basically the facility and umps...supplies and other items (eg. trophies) are nominal in the grand scheme of things...other labor is volunteered.   Like I said, financially, the vast majority of tournaments I've administered the biggest cost of running that tournament is umpires...in some exceptional places they're a close second to the fields...and our fees (league/tournament) are meant to cover those, aside from any sponsorship funds acquired.  Any tournament I ran also fed and watered the umpires, so that's part of the fees (or part of a sponsorship).   Mostly in the range of $500-$800 per team (though I've seen higher)...the more expensive tournaments typically means a combination of really nice facilities, more games and/or more/umpires per game.

There might also be gate fees for spectators...

And, I said "fees", not costs/budget.   Travel is definitely the biggest part of the overall budget for a club team - food, hotels, etc.  My teams, on multiple years, have dipped their toes into the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans two weeks apart.  So, yeah, when you're budgeting $6-8k/player/year the ump fees are mice nuts.   

But when my team pays $600 to enter a tournament more than half of that is going to the umpires.   When my team pays a $1200 league fee for 20-30 games, more than half of that is for umpires.

1 hour ago, LRZ said:

Careful on that one. This could easily lead to appeasement. One of the few partners I've ever blocked was so concerned about the paying customers--coaches, players, spectators--that he had zero regard for HIS teammate, the other umpire.

It could, but that's not the ask.  Just remember where your game fee comes from.   That's not about appeasing anyone, but it is about doing a good job and remembering who your customer really is...or, if you want to get technical...who your customer's customer really is, in remembering who is ultimately paying you to do that job.   

That doesn't mean throwing your partner under the bus, but might mean remembering that your team is only as strong as its weakest (or douchiest) member.

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I think the @agdz59 scenario lies somewhere in the middle ... I agree with @agdz59 that sometimes managing the game requires something unorthodox, such as a comment to the crowd.  I didn't take his comment as a dig at his partner, but I guess I see how others could.  I took it as "That was close, and he did the right thing instead of the popular thing."

While you might not agree with his exact comment, I feel it would have been a bigger "toss under the bus" to allow the crowd's animosity fester and ignore them like a red@ss.  You can allow that to continue, and now you have two horse's asses who are out to get them, or you can step in and redirect some of that emotion.  You absolutely should not jump ship on your partner, but a well-planned comment about how things look different from different angles or something about hustling to get into the right spot can take the heat off of both of you.

NOW ... to me, it is VERY MUCH a "read the room" strategy NOT to be used in all situations.  Like @agdz59, my thoughts on this have gotten me both into and out of trouble on the field and in life.

Like many coaches, they just want to know they are being heard.  In a very ugly state tournament to end my summer (story maybe coming soon), I had a parent late in the game yelling "I just have a question!  Can't I ask a question, Blue?!"  Without looking at the crowd or turning around, I just shook my head no.  He replied with "Thank you, great talk!" and was fairly quiet after that.  It probably wasn't the right game for me to do that in, but it worked just fine.  I knew that he just wanted to be heard.

I'm sure there are going to be different thoughts across the line between the pro-schooled and college guys and those who spend their summer 30-feet from the mob in youth ball.

 

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If you want to imply something, especially when doing it in an unorthodox matter (talking to fans in this case) it’s best to just say it.

I had a 1B coach get upset on a call, absolute banger, and I had to take my spot back in A position, and he said whatever he said (wasn’t anything horrible but clearly didn’t agree) and I calmly said “coach, if I had called safe, their coach would be having the same frustrations as you”.

He actually agreed and let it go.  

Now, that’s a coach and not the fans, but the point remains.  “That’s why everyone hates us” leaves room for interpretation, such as “yeah he missed it, that’s why you hate us”.

If you’re going to talk to fans (not recommended), at least be direct.  “If he called him safe, those fans would be just as upset” or something of the sort

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2 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

I think the @agdz59 scenario lies somewhere in the middle ... I agree with @agdz59 that sometimes managing the game requires something unorthodox, such as a comment to the crowd.  I didn't take his comment as a dig at his partner, but I guess I see how others could.  I took it as "That was close, and he did the right thing instead of the popular thing."

 @agdz59

Thank you TMIB, that is exactly what I meant.

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On 6/16/2021 at 8:46 PM, SeeingEyeDog said:

If you are in any way uncertain about what your association's best umpires' work looks like, contact your assignor on a night off and ask them where the best high school crew is working that night and then go watch them work. You will learn a lot. I try to do this once or twice a month myself when I can.

~Dawg

Going to watch other great crews and umpires work was something I routinely did my first few years if I had no game, a cancellation or even a rain-out when I knew other local fields (turf) would be playable. I still do it! And if you show up early, they'll probably let you be a fly on the wall of their pregame and post-game in the parking lot or locker room. You do that a few times, and you just might find some of those veteran umpires requesting games with you from the assignor. Guaranteed you'll learn loads and become a better umpire by just watching one game.

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