Jump to content

Helping partner with strike zone


Umpire942

Recommended Posts

I know, I would never say anything to a coach, player, fan or anything standing in B or C , when a very frustrated pitcher is not getting strikes.  The situation was the game is a mens league that allows for up to 3 MiLB or higher players.  Although none were present on either side of this game.  I could see the pitchers frustration early, and what hes trying to say to me, but i do not respond, obviously.  But,  I could not see anything wrong with a good 5 pitches in the first 2 innings..i can see his argument but im not behind the plate, im not really seeing them.

I could kind of see it coming, Was there something i could have done or say to my partner?  Hey your squeezing them a little too much?  No umpire wants to hear about his strike zone, let alone from another umpire.  But i am his PARTNER.

First altercation happens, PU asserts back to the pitcher, "There balls!, there balls! " .
 

2 innings go by,  the pitcher starts saying things to the umpire, body language, and then, HERE WE GO throws the hat, says you suck, bang hes gone, they start to argue, im like ok, now i can do SOEMTHING,  let me do my job now and take over.  Not only do i have the pitcher to keep back , i have two others on the bench saying its not right.  Im de-escalating like crazy, told partner to just stay over there and relax.

anyway, in this Situation, would you want a base umpire to say, hey some of those are good and your too tight this is not MLB? and change your strike zone?  I dont think I would want to hear it.   Anything I could have done?  or was this a fire i could not stop.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's all gonna depend on the partner.  Some guys don't want to know, or be told.

If I'm not "feeling it" for some reason, I'll outright ask my base guy if I'm killing the pitcher or the batter, depending on my gut tells me.  Sometimes they agree, sometimes they say it looks good for the level.  I don't ask all that often, but it DOES happen.  I've had partners say something unsolicited, too.  THAT'S not a good feeling, but I personally would want to know.

My opinion?  It's good partner behaviour.  But you'd have to know your partner well enough to know how he'd take it.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting question and topic.

one part of me wants to say that I hate the old “no one can ever tell me I’m wrong” mentality and another part of me understands that just flat saying to someone they aren’t doing well doesn’t usually lend to positive outcomes.

I might do an in-between innings visit and “hope” he asks me “what did you think about that ball 4?” (or whatever pitches) and then can say something positive-negative like “if we were doing a CWS game, I’d want you on the plate bc you are spot on, but for this league, I’d call anything close”.

If he doesn’t ask, well then, it’s his zone to handle, and hope you brought water as it’s gonna be a long day.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me it will depend on several factors, including:

  1. How inexperienced is partner? At this level?
  2. How well do I know partner?
  3. How many pitches (percentage) is he missing?

The higher the degree of all 3, the more likely I am to say something. But that won't happen until a break between half innings.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a coach and player, there was a time when I had to realize that, over the course of several games, with multiple umpires in play, that when determining balls and strikes, and seeing so many umpires missing easy ball or strike calls, the common denominator in all this strife was me.   Things got so much better when I figured that out.

 

I would hope that, over some period of time, that an umpire, when hearing complaints/chatter from players and coaches on BOTH teams, especially over multiple games with different teams, maybe they might look in the mirror at some point and at least ask "is it me?"   

In areas of judgment, there needs to be a lot of self-awareness, and openness to it...if the ump isn't figuring this out on their own, I'm not sure if a chat between innings will do much...it might need a more expanded philosophical discussion in the parking lot and/or over beers.

Sometimes, they don't care enough to ask "is it me?" because they already know...they demonstrate by declaring that "that is my strike zone".   At that point, you know it's all about him, and there's no point in discussing any further.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

True Story:  1st 30+ Men's League game I worked a few years ago, I was on the bases. My partner had a pucker tight zone, and it turned into a 3+ hour game and a walk fest. The pitchers universally hated it, as did I. Didn't really hear anyone else bitching on either side, except the head coaches who were running thru pitchers. All the batters who still dreamed of playing MiLB loved it. Their batting averages were huge. They either got walked, or they got a soft toss over the plate they could yard or turn into an extra base hit.

A couple of days later, I had my 1st plate assignment for this league (a big/huge client of my local umpire association--they paid well--and not all of our umpires got to work the games). I endeavored that I was going to call a normal high school varsity type zone, and not a MiLB zone like my partner had earlier. So, I did. OMG, I was harangued by batters, the bench, the fans every time I called a strike that didn't fly over the white of the plate. I had thrown bats and helmets after punch-outs in the dugout, F-bombs. It wasn't fun. I warned batters, I called Time! and warned both benches. Should or could I have started yarding player managers, player coaches, and batters on both teams? I sure could have. But I didn't. I was, however, criticized after the game by a player-manager who was also the league president for talking down to his players like they were in high school:  "You can't talk to these men like that."

Regardless of how I handled the situation (I certainly could have handled it better), afterwards there was no doubt in my mind exactly why my previous partner (and other umpires who worked that league) had a pucker-tight zone. He needed the money, and it was far, far less un-enjoyable and less stressful to call the Rulebook zone. After my game, I called our Commissioner because I was concerned I had offended the league president and would get black-balled. He let me know I had learned exactly why umpires don't call strikes out there. It's not worth it. Fortunately over the next couple of years things got better with our Association leadership working with the league. 

I'm not saying the OP plate umpire wasn't just missing obvious strikes that any of us would have called. Just relaying my own personal 1st experiences working Men's League. It wasn't fun.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I usually don't volunteer feedback on my partner's zone. If they ask, I will generally tell them what I thought about their consistency. I don't believe that I have an adequate view to judge balls/strikes from A, B, or C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And that's precisely why I almost ALWAYS just go ahead and ask my partner for strike zone feedback after the game, I sometimes even write down certain pitches between innings I want to remember afterwards and ask about.

"For this game I was trying to keep the top of my zone at the belly button . . . just above the belly button . . . wherever I was trying to set it . . . where did you see the top of my zone?" Not unusual that my partner will let me know he saw it a bit above or below the level where I thought it was. Still great feedback.

"Remember that slider I punched out for strike-three in the bottom of the 3rd, and everyone gasped, and ___ said, 'Come on, Mike! ?" "Did that look low to you?"

I know I got the best view in the house, and my partner can't see up and down even as well as the coaches, but until I eventually have my perfect game where I know for a fact I didn't miss a single pitch, I'm going to ask my partner for strike zone feedback--it's always helpful. I do the same thing on the bases if my partner isn't volunteering.

"You remember that double-play banger in the top of the 5th when ____ came out and went ape-SH*# on me?" "Did it look like I got that right?" Confidence boosters, Baby! We all need them! Or, verification I missed or might have missed a call and need to slow down, fight for better position, . . . whatever. We all need that as well!

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Recontra said:

And that's precisely why I almost ALWAYS just go ahead and ask my partner for strike zone feedback after the game, I sometimes even write down certain pitches between innings I want to remember afterwards and ask about.

Interesting approach. This year I feel like I had a perfect game going into top of the 7th in a men's league finals game, but I started to lose it in the heat on a turf field. I might start writing things down too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good topic!

Personally, I would mosey in between innings and see how my partner is doing. What's his demeanor?

Just start by asking, how's it going? See what he says. 

That simple question may open him up to, "Am I missing those pitches?" Now you can have that conversation. I try to identify what I'm seeing...tracking or timing...that's why we miss pitches. We aren't seeing the ball into the glove before making our decisions. Head could be too low or too high. Maybe he's not in the slot. Whatever...but try to give him something besides, "Yeah, you're not very good tonight."

On the other hand, if he's mf'ing the pitcher, then probably just head on out to the outfield, get out your barrel and makeup and be ready to play rodeo clown. You tried...

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

45 minutes ago, MidAmUmp said:

but try to give him something besides, "Yeah, you're not very good tonight."

Seconding this because if they ask "how's my zone?" they may not genuinely be open to feedback - even if delivered delicately (analogous to a "do I look fat in this dress?" situation).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When my partner says "loved your zone" I translate that to: my zone was ... generous to the pitcher.  I usually ask for feedback, but I start with my self evaluation, and a discussion of challenges (finding a good view when it's crowded, poor catching, lots of movement, etc). Most of the time it leads to great feedback and discussion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, noumpere said:

I find that if you stand in B or C with your hands on your knees, drop your head and shake it slowly back and forth after a "ball" call, it really helps take the heat off your partner. /s <--- added for the humour impaired

Not the standard mechanic. Your old-school subtlety is passé.

From HOK, after PU calls "ball," stand up suddenly, throw hands in air, and turn to outfield, vocalizing "for füch's sake."

  • Like 1
  • Haha 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whatever happened to "as long as he's consistent we don't care what he calls" ?  I hate when coaches and players say this because its simply not true, and this post shows that.  If you call a very tight zone, or very generous" for the the level you're doing, but do it for the same for both teams, you're still gonna have a lot of unhappy participants.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last weekend, I worked a 16u game. The catcher on one of the teams had mentioned that their top 4 pitchers were at a pitching clinic. I started both teams with a fairly tight varsity zone. One pitcher was pounding it with well located fastballs. The other was struggling. He was walking about 4 per inning. During the 3rd, I decided to open the zone for him. I told the batter to let the team know that the zone just got bigger, so that we all wouldn't spend the majority of our Saturday, at a baseball game. 2 batters later, kid comes up and thanks me. He said he understood why I had opened it up and agreed, but he was happy that I let them know, so they could get a little more aggressive when hitting, instead of wondering why the zone was different all of a sudden. Kid went on to have a 12 pitch at bat, fouling off a bunch and doing a great job of protecting the plate. 

During the postgame, my partner had suspected that I had done that. He said, he wouldn't think about telling one team that they would be seeing more strikes, but it made sense, especially during fall ball. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/5/2021 at 7:00 PM, Recontra said:

True Story:  1st 30+ Men's League game I worked a few years ago, I was on the bases. My partner had a pucker tight zone, and it turned into a 3+ hour game and a walk fest. The pitchers universally hated it, as did I. Didn't really hear anyone else bitching on either side, except the head coaches who were running thru pitchers. All the batters who still dreamed of playing MiLB loved it. Their batting averages were huge. They either got walked, or they got a soft toss over the plate they could yard or turn into an extra base hit.

A couple of days later, I had my 1st plate assignment for this league (a big/huge client of my local umpire association--they paid well--and not all of our umpires got to work the games). I endeavored that I was going to call a normal high school varsity type zone, and not a MiLB zone like my partner had earlier. So, I did. OMG, I was harangued by batters, the bench, the fans every time I called a strike that didn't fly over the white of the plate. I had thrown bats and helmets after punch-outs in the dugout, F-bombs. It wasn't fun. I warned batters, I called Time! and warned both benches. Should or could I have started yarding player managers, player coaches, and batters on both teams? I sure could have. But I didn't. I was, however, criticized after the game by a player-manager who was also the league president for talking down to his players like they were in high school:  "You can't talk to these men like that."

Regardless of how I handled the situation (I certainly could have handled it better), afterwards there was no doubt in my mind exactly why my previous partner (and other umpires who worked that league) had a pucker-tight zone. He needed the money, and it was far, far less un-enjoyable and less stressful to call the Rulebook zone. After my game, I called our Commissioner because I was concerned I had offended the league president and would get black-balled. He let me know I had learned exactly why umpires don't call strikes out there. It's not worth it. Fortunately over the next couple of years things got better with our Association leadership working with the league. 

I'm not saying the OP plate umpire wasn't just missing obvious strikes that any of us would have called. Just relaying my own personal 1st experiences working Men's League. It wasn't fun.

 

 

Ha.  I call a high school zone for the men's league and they compliment me on my zone.  Of course we're in different parts of the country.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll provide feedback on setup, timing and head movement if asked. However, other than the general adminision that calling more strikes makes for a better game, I don't get involved in my partners zone. It's a completely different view from behind the plate.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...