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Hard calls in Baseball and Softball


Guest Simer

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11 hours ago, Guest Simer said:

What is your hardest call to make?  

The “hardest” calls to make are the ones that separate the best umpires from average ones.  Those would be the calls you know are correct but are controversial to the team it goes against.

Sometimes you know the obscure rule that most don’t, and you know it’s going to be an argument, or it’s a call that isn’t popular (like batters interference of catcher, or runner left too early), and you make the call anyways.

I was at a camp last year being evaluated by high level umps, and our on field evaluation was 18u tournament games.  A batter was hit by pitch but I judged when he turned away, he stuck his elbow out.  I told him to stay here.  The fans went bonkers, I mean insane, I was being sworn at, screamed at, every call after was questioned loudly, I just kept being me.

Turns out, a D2 college coach was behind plate in bleachers scouting and he told evaluators “he got it right”, and they said “I know, good job”.

That’s just an example from my own experience, doesn’t make me great, but being able to make a correct call that you know will piss off a lot of people is the “hardest call to make”, and also the Most satisfying when you know you got it correct.

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2 hours ago, noumpere said:

When to end a game because of weather or darkness.

Couldn’t agree with you more. Especially when you’ve got a relatively large and/or paying crowd, and it’s not quite an official game (in length) and/or the score is tied. 

Compounding that is you have that sick feeling that you’re passing this on to another crew who will be just as miffed as you would be at having to pick up and complete your game, and catch all the grief that the two clubs probably are harboring at “the umpires” for suspending a “perfectly good game”. Sure, in the leagues I work, there is ultimately an admin that is making the final “action” call, but I still have to be the one that takes them off the field, and I’m the one that has to mitigate the coaches, groundskeeper, and that admin deciding what to do. 

12 hours ago, Guest Simer said:

What is your hardest call to make?

According to @Stk004, @KenBAZ, @The Short Umpire, @tpatience, @Tksjewelry and other guys who know me / have worked with me – “You’re outta here!” / “You’re done!” / “You’re ejected!”… hardest and rarest call for me to make. 😉

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I used to struggle with the weather/darkness thing, until I learned the sure fire response that absolved me of all guilt…your half an inning or win/loss or official game or not, is not worth my being sued for my entire life savings and net worth.

I will never jeopardize my ability to provide for my family in the interest of getting one more inning in for your rec/travel game

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Grazing HBP, grazing foul in the box, HBP when the batter hasn't attempted to avoid, HBP when the batter is HBP in the strike zone, uncaught 3K when the pitch skips in to F2, uncaught 3K when there's a possible trap by F2, calling the next inside pitch after getting hit in the face or groin because F2 didn't catch/block the pitch, under FED rules having to deal with players and their jewelry and finally FED managers who know it's ignore, verbal warn, written warn, restrict to dugout and ejection and everytime...they get themselves restricted but, never ejected because they want to "get their money's worth" (insert Mario grabbing the coin...DING!)...every...time.

More of a mechanic than a call but...in 2-man, from A with speed at the plate and a trouble ball to RF because once that ball is down fair and fully playable, U1 has to bust to the plate in the event of an attempt at a ITPHR.

~Dawg

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Ask Denkinger or Joyce about "most difficult" - soft flip to first base when you're watching the base and listening to glove...and never hear anything.

If all umpires are doing their job, calls around the batter's foot being out of box, or whether or not the batter was in the box when hit by their batted ball, should be very difficult to make....because they're watching something else.

I would imagine "hard" calls to make (or not make) would be avoiding the tendency to "make up" for prior mistakes.

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2 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

I would imagine "hard" calls to make (or not make) would be avoiding the tendency to "make up" for prior mistakes.

Not true at all.  I make enough misteaks (<-- see what I did there) as it is; I don't need to make a bad call on purpose (excepting, where appropriate, which is almost never, now, the FUC)

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19 minutes ago, noumpere said:

Not true at all.  I make enough misteaks (<-- see what I did there) as it is; I don't need to make a bad call on purpose (excepting, where appropriate, which is almost never, now, the FUC)

I wouldn't say a bad call on purpose (though I'm sure it happens here and there)...I'm thinking more about a bang/bang calls.   I've known umps who've said they'd give the next close call to the team that was a victim of the first mistake.   I agree with your position overall, but also understand the desire to be "correct mistakes" - which, IMO, is why the rule book explicitly and specifically mentions the practice.

It's more common (and easier to do) in hockey or football - mainly because holding could be literally called 100 times a game - so, holding/interference calls become equalizers.

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5 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

It's more common (and easier to do) in hockey or football - mainly because holding could be literally called 100 times a game - so, holding/interference calls become equalizers.

And this is precisely why I don’t do football or basketball, and am just fine working as a Linesman in hockey. 

How many times have you seen an offensive foul called at one end, and then, in the subsequent set, a traveling call? Or, defensive holding (5 yards and a first down) called on one play, and the next play, offensive holding or illegal block in the back (10 yards, but the down is replayed)? 

We have a saying, that paraphrased, goes something like, “Baseball balances itself”. Heh, it looks like the other sports need a bit o’ help.

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13 hours ago, MadMax said:

Or, defensive holding (5 yards and a first down) called on one play, and the next play, offensive holding or illegal block in the back (10 yards, but the down is replayed)? 

You might be interested to learn that these are not the penalties in HS football. Holding on offense or defense is a 10 yard penalty, no auto first down.

And in NCAA, defensive holding is a 10 yard penalty, and might or might not have an auto first down, depending on the type of play.

The penalties are different at different levels in order to promote offense/defense balance. For example, NFL pass routes are so precisely timed, with the ball thrown to a spot on the field, that defensive holding can easily negate a first down play. That's why there's an auto 1st down applied. In HS, none of that is true, so it isn't.

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41 minutes ago, BLWizzRanger said:

I just wanted to add that determining if a ball hits the hands or the knob of the bat or both is a difficult call as well.  I had about three of them...

I think I will just start calling HBP and send the batter on his way to first.

Wood bats make this much harder than metal bats.  I would hesitate to just blankety say “I’ll just send to first”.  Instead, slow down, call time since it’s dead whether it’s foul or a HBP, and process everything.

What did you hear? What was the reaction of the batter? Honestly, i had one this year, college game, guy got hit on knob, didn’t react, I hear from his dugout “didn’t that hit you ?” And he looked at me, and then started shaking his hand.  I laughed and said “nice try”

I have never seen someone get hit on the fingers and it didn’t hurt; so while a super savvy player can “act”, most give it away in that moment of human reaction.

It’s not foolproof but hope this helps.

I will agree that if after taking your time and processing everything, you can not determine it was a foul ball, then yes, award first, and if needed, ask partner if they have anything if it’s contested

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Home team down by 19 runs.

‘Last licks.

2 outs.

‘The worst hitter on the team gets a base hit.

He over runs 1B, turns right and is well into foul territory.

The throw to F1 is overthrown and the kids runs two feet towards 2B but stops when the ball is returned to F1 and is slowly walking to first base.

In my judgement I felt he made an attempt for 2B.

‘Pitcher throws to F3 and tags the kid before he reaches 1B—-I bang him out.

Bedlam follows.

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