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I **HATE** working youth games


mac266

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Like most of us, I started my umpiring career doing kiddie ball.  You guys have helped me a TON, especially at first.  I've been going to clinics and getting advanced guys (NCAA Division 2) to give me evaluations so I can get better, and I'm taking everything they said to heart.  This year, I worked high school in the spring, but this summer season I'm working in an independent minor league as well as college summer baseball.  The college summer ball has a lot of division 1 and 2 players, so the game is FAST, even faster than the indy league I'm in.

This is how far I've come:  I did two college summer games last week, one behind the plate and one on the bases (they are using just 2 umpires during summer league).  Between both games, I had roughly 12 **CLOSE** plays and four obscure/rare rules.  These games are livestreamed with a color commentator, and we were able to go back after each game and look at our close plays in slow motion and with a close-up zoom.  Guess what?  ******ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CORRECT!!!!!********  I'm jazzed. 

The coaches came out on EVERY close play and obscure/rare ruling.  Sometimes they were passionate, but at no time did I ever consider ejecting anyone.  They know how to approach umpires and make their case (even if they don't know the rules) without getting an early shower.  When viewing the stream after-the-fact, the color commentator said, "These coaches have been all over these umpires all night," but I didn't see it that way.  There is a difference between passion and being an azzhat, and azzhat gets you an early shower.

So my son, whose 16th birthday is coming up, is a high school player and umpires kiddie ball.  But those kiddie coaches and parents are off-the-rails crazy, and I won't let him umpire without me.  He's small for his age, so he looks younger than he is.  Throwing a kid out there without me would be like throwing a lamb to the wolves.  So when he umpires kiddie ball, I umpire with him.  Queue tonight's story.

This is a Babe Ruth league, 13U.  This is a "developmental" or "rec" league, hardly competitive, and the baseball is terrible.  The entire thing could be classified as a "travesty to the game."  They couldn't even play catch between innings. 

At the plate meeting, the coaches had asked that we warn each pitcher once on balks, and then call them every time afterwards.  Each got a warning for not coming set.  Then this happened: 

Runner on 2nd, I'm in C (my kid had the plate).  The pitcher was engaged with the rubber, took the sign, and came set with a clear and discernible stop.  Then he started his pitching motion and then STOPPED, and I mean STOPPED.  I balked him and awarded 3rd to the runner.

The coach came charging out yelling at me about how that's not a balk.  I explained the double set and how that's a balk in every rule set.  He argued (loudly yelling, not being passionate, but being an azzhat) that "IT'S JUST A WAY TO CHECK THE RUNNER!" 

I replied, "No, it's a double set in EVERY rule book."

This went back-and-forth a few times with him getting more and more animated.  Finally, when I repeated about the double set once more, he yelled, "SHOW ME!!!" 

I gave him a rather long leash up until that point -- charging, yelling, arguing instead of asking for a rules clarification, etc.  But when he demanded I show him where it is in the rule book, while knowing I don't carry one on the field, I tossed him.

He threw his hat and stomped off.  I held up the game until he left the area.  All game the idiot parents were heckling me about what a bad call the balk was, and how he shouldn't have been ejected. 

Even after working some high level ball all year, this had to be my first ejection of the season.  1- The guy is an idiot for not knowing a basic rule such as that, and 2- He's an even bigger idiot for thinking an imitation of Earl Weaver was going to get him anywhere but home early.

FACT:  I'm still going to do some youth ball when my kid is working, but that particular team is blacklisted.

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8 hours ago, mac266 said:

This went back-and-forth a few times with him getting more and more animated. 

You might consider not engaging in the "back-and-forth", as it only adds fuel to the coach's fire. Explain your ruling, let him respond and vent a little--a very little--then, "Coach, that's it. Let's play ball now."

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What we allow we condone. You allowed that coach to:

  • "come out on EVERY close play" [too often]
  • "come charging out" [must request time first]
  • "yelling at me" [must use a respectful tone]
  • "He argued" [no arguing]
  • "loudly yelling, not being passionate, but being an azzhat" [sounds like prolonged]
  • "went back-and-forth a few times" [spinning your wheels]

After all that, and from his viewpoint out of the blue, you dumped him.

Some suggestions for game management:

  1. Enforce good behavior first: I won't even talk to a coach who storms out yelling. Make him stop, explain that if he comes out again without requesting time you'll eject him, and require that he speak to you in a quiet respectful tone. This demand and threatened consequence should be uttered so softly that only the coach standing right next to you can hear it.
  2. Then: "what did you see, Bob?" I'm assuming that you announced the double set when you called the balk, so he knows why you called it. Letting him talk first allows him to say his piece. Stop him when he gets loud again or starts repeating himself.
  3. At that point, reiterate your ruling: "Bob, I hear what you're saying, but what he did is clearly a double set. Now let's play ball." Discussion over, turn around and return to your position. Send him back to the dugout if he follows you, and dump him if he persists (one of the 3 'P's'). There's no back and forth: what's the point of that? Don't mention "all codes," because only 1 is relevant. And I'm not listening to him disagree—he's entitled to think I'm wrong, but we're not going to postpone restarting the game so that he can rant.
  4. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you're going to convince him you're right. This desire is a function of lack of confidence: be right, and it won't matter so much to you that some daddy-ball coach thinks you're wrong .

Good luck!

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My situation handling improved greatly when I embraced the concept that there is no requirement for the manager/coach to AGREE with me.  Now I listen to his point, restate the facts("runner was tagged before he acquired the base"), reiterate the call("that's an out"), end the conversation.

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Maven fantastic write up and agree on everything you said. 
 

I absolutely get what you are saying. In 10 years of doing college baseball I have tossed 2 coaches. I have a good friend who runs a youth complex, it’s one step above rec ball. He ask me to do games here and there when he is in a pinch and since I grew up playing there and started umping there I feel obligated. In the 5 years I have been helping him out i have ejected well over 50 coaches (not kidding) These weekend warrior dads think they know everything and have no clue what the rules are or how to talk to an umpire. Most of it is a very week crew that allows them to act like an idiot so I get to clean it up. I go to every game thinking ok no ejections this game then First inning here comes coach running out the dugout saying no f**king way he was safe….you gone. My son wanted to ump and after watching a few games said no thank you and got a job at Culver’s lol. My friend had me at the mandatory coaches meeting this spring to discuss with coaches what we expect from them on the field. It went well and ejections are down so far this year but yeah it’s ridiculous how they act. 
 

 

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57 minutes ago, maven said:

 

What we allow we condone. You allowed that coach to:

  • "come out on EVERY close play" [too often]

Remember, that bullet referred to the college summer ball coaches, but the ejection story was about the youth coach.  I didn't give all the details on the college summer ball for that reason.  These guys did everything correctly -- asked for time, waited for time, and then came out to speak with me.  No one in these games was even remotely close to being out of line.  They were passionate, but not out of line.

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1 hour ago, elares said:

My situation handling improved greatly when I embraced the concept that there is no requirement for the manager/coach to AGREE with me.  Now I listen to his point, restate the facts("runner was tagged before he acquired the base"), reiterate the call("that's an out"), end the conversation.

👍 I've also found something along the lines of "I know you don't like the answer" helps moves things along.

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2 hours ago, maven said:

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you're going to convince him you're right. This desire is a function of lack of confidencebe right, and it won't matter so much to you that some daddy-ball coach thinks you're wrong .

that makes no sense to me.  Why would you lack confidence if you know you're right and would want to convince him?  (because if you're convincing someone you're right, you know you're right)  that's not lack of confidence. Unless of course, I'm totally thinking about this the wrong way .....which is possible🙄

You're first sentence is a GREAT tool to keep in the bag for sure.  Just not sure I understand the following...

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14 minutes ago, Thunderheads said:

that makes no sense to me.  Why would you lack confidence if you know you're right and would want to convince him?  (because if you're convincing someone you're right, you know you're right)  that's not lack of confidence. Unless of course, I'm totally thinking about this the wrong way .....which is possible🙄

You're first sentence is a GREAT tool to keep in the bag for sure.  Just not sure I understand the following...

I'm not talking about confidence in my belief or rules knowledge, but personal confidence—authority, field presence, that kind of thing. Newer umpires especially often confuse the two.

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On 6/30/2022 at 7:42 AM, Dottelife said:

Maven fantastic write up and agree on everything you said. 
 

I absolutely get what you are saying. In 10 years of doing college baseball I have tossed 2 coaches. I have a good friend who runs a youth complex, it’s one step above rec ball. He ask me to do games here and there when he is in a pinch and since I grew up playing there and started umping there I feel obligated. In the 5 years I have been helping him out i have ejected well over 50 coaches (not kidding) These weekend warrior dads think they know everything and have no clue what the rules are or how to talk to an umpire. Most of it is a very week crew that allows them to act like an idiot so I get to clean it up. I go to every game thinking ok no ejections this game then First inning here comes coach running out the dugout saying no f**king way he was safe….you gone. My son wanted to ump and after watching a few games said no thank you and got a job at Culver’s lol. My friend had me at the mandatory coaches meeting this spring to discuss with coaches what we expect from them on the field. It went well and ejections are down so far this year but yeah it’s ridiculous how they act. 
 

 

Our Little League District started hosting a umpire, manager, coach summit which we all call the 'how to work with umpires and not get thrown out of the game meeting'.  We discuss what the roles of the manager and coaches are as well as what our role in the process happens to be. We discuss how to interface with us, how to approach us and more importantly, how to remain in the game when they disagree with our ruling.

The histrionics which were so prevalent: rushing out of the dugout like a bull, waving the arms, pointing and gesticulating has gone WAY down and of course so have our ejections. The coaches are asking for time, coming out and having actual conversations. When they start to get animated, we are in a position to put the brakes on it, versus the old way where they were already turned up to 11 just coming out of the dugout.

No kidding... having this meeting and setting the bar BEFORE the season stars has dropped our ejection rate district wide from what use to exceed 20 per season to less than 5 last season and zero so far this year. I think if every organization set the bar prior to their seasons, especially for youth ball, the numbers would drop across the board.

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17 minutes ago, Mudisfun said:

Our Little League District started hosting a umpire, manager, coach summit which we all call the 'how to work with umpires and not get thrown out of the game meeting'.  We discuss what the roles of the manager and coaches are as well as what our role in the process happens to be. We discuss how to interface with us, how to approach us and more importantly, how to remain in the game when they disagree with our ruling.

The histrionics which were so prevalent: rushing out of the dugout like a bull, waving the arms, pointing and gesticulating has gone WAY down and of course so have our ejections. The coaches are asking for time, coming out and having actual conversations. When they start to get animated, we are in a position to put the brakes on it, versus the old way where they were already turned up to 11 just coming out of the dugout.

No kidding... having this meeting and setting the bar BEFORE the season stars has dropped our ejection rate district wide from what use to exceed 20 per season to less than 5 last season and zero so far this year. I think if every organization set the bar prior to their seasons, especially for youth ball, the numbers would drop across the board.

I've always wanted coaches attendance to be mandatory at our main camp every February (high school focused camp) to attend, join in the drills, listen and understand what we do , and what we go through.  Also, to LEARN, and see the game from our side ....  I try every year, but ... nothing has stuck yet

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3 hours ago, Mudisfun said:

Our Little League District started hosting a umpire, manager, coach summit which we all call the 'how to work with umpires and not get thrown out of the game meeting'.  We discuss what the roles of the manager and coaches are as well as what our role in the process happens to be. We discuss how to interface with us, how to approach us and more importantly, how to remain in the game when they disagree with our ruling.

This needs to happen more. There needs to be more coaches education.

I've been wanting to do this with our HS association forever. It's amazing how ignorant of the rules and protocols many coaches are. I know it's mostly a frame of reference for coaches and fans alike. Most everyone involved has grown up watching professional baseball, so they just naturally think that the way the pros act is the way they are supposed to act. They just follow along without any introspection to if this behavior is acceptable on a youth field.

Another thing I like to remind coaches, is that the rule-book is not a secret document only given to umpires. It's readily available for purchase by anyone. Depending on whom I'm talking to, and the circumstances, my tone may be dripping with varying levels of sarcasm.

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Our local LL asks Majors coaches to help umpire a few Minors games over the course of the season, so they're required to attend my preseason umpire clinic. We started this practice as a way to fill gaps in umpire coverage, but for most of them, it's been eye-opening and helpful to be in the umpire's shoes, even if only once in a while. It has opened conversations during the season with me about situations and rules questions they've experienced as umpire, so I can keep teaching them. I've definitely noticed a shift in mindset among those coaches over the past few seasons, so I plan to keep doing it. 

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3 hours ago, Thunderheads said:

I've always wanted coaches attendance to be mandatory at our main camp every February (high school focused camp) to attend, join in the drills, listen and understand what we do , and what we go through.  Also, to LEARN, and see the game from our side ....  I try every year, but ... nothing has stuck yet

This topic was raised a few weeks ago at a state playoff meeting I attended. While our state administrator agreed and said it’s an idea he’s been pushing for, he hits a major roadblock with teacher/coaches. Seems their contract contains language that limits the amount of mandatory meetingsthey need to attend annually. 

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15 hours ago, Richvee said:

This topic was raised a few weeks ago at a state playoff meeting I attended. While our state administrator agreed and said it’s an idea he’s been pushing for, he hits a major roadblock with teacher/coaches. Seems their contract contains language that limits the amount of mandatory meetingsthey need to attend annually. 

That's BS @Richvee.

Teacher contracts are with the board of education in NJ. The NJSIAA is not a local board of education. It is an independent corporation that has been empowered by the NJ State Legislature to oversee interscholastic athletics and is essentially answerable to no one

They require all coaches to take concussion training annually. If they wanted to mandate coaches training, just as they mandate umpire training, they could do it tomorrow. 

Teaching contracts are all about working conditions. They cover the salaries, hours, limits, health benefits, and more. Athletics contracts are not subject to the same statutory and negotiated limits that apply to the M-F 7:30-2:30 aspects of teaching in a public school.

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That's BS [mention=1964]Richvee[/mention].
Teacher contracts are with the board of education in NJ. The NJSIAA is not a local board of education. It is an independent corporation that has been empowered by the NJ State Legislature to oversee interscholastic athletics and is essentially answerable to no one
They require all coaches to take concussion training annually. If they wanted to mandate coaches training, just as they mandate umpire training, they could do it tomorrow. 
Teaching contracts are all about working conditions. They cover the salaries, hours, limits, health benefits, and more. Athletics contracts are not subject to the same statutory and negotiated limits that apply to the M-F 7:30-2:30 aspects of teaching in a public school.

I tend to agree on this. Although I’m not in education to know the workings of teaching contracts.

In Ohio, schools have “supplemental contracts” for athletic coaches. Seems they could put it in there.
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59 minutes ago, Catch18 said:


I tend to agree on this. Although I’m not in education to know the workings of teaching contracts.

In Ohio, schools have “supplemental contracts” for athletic coaches. Seems they could put it in there.

Those supplemental contracts include OHSAA licensing, training, and other requirements. 

Getting OHSAA to require this of coaches, however, is probably not going to happen. The coaches would scream bloody murder, because they "don't need it" and it would be a "huge waste of time."

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Those supplemental contracts include OHSAA licensing, training, and other requirements. 
Getting OHSAA to require this of coaches, however, is probably not going to happen. The coaches would scream bloody murder, because they "don't need it" and it would be a "huge waste of time."

I’d rather have them yell at OHSAA than me


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16 hours ago, Kevin_K said:

That's BS @Richvee.

Teacher contracts are with the board of education in NJ. The NJSIAA is not a local board of education. It is an independent corporation that has been empowered by the NJ State Legislature to oversee interscholastic athletics and is essentially answerable to no one

They require all coaches to take concussion training annually. If they wanted to mandate coaches training, just as they mandate umpire training, they could do it tomorrow. 

Teaching contracts are all about working conditions. They cover the salaries, hours, limits, health benefits, and more. Athletics contracts are not subject to the same statutory and negotiated limits that apply to the M-F 7:30-2:30 aspects of teaching in a public school.

I’m sure you have a good idea who told us that. 

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On 6/29/2022 at 10:15 PM, mac266 said:

The coaches came out on EVERY close play and obscure/rare ruling.  Sometimes they were passionate, but at no time did I ever consider ejecting anyone.  They know how to approach umpires and make their case (even if they don't know the rules) without getting an early shower.

They “know” how to approach umpires because there is a governing body they are beholden to for their behavior. Whether that be an Athletic Director, a Conference office, or a Board of Regents, if they act in a manner that paints the program in a bad light, they’ll get fined and/or dismissed. And in today’s viral Information Age, a dismissal under those auspices usually hamstrings a hiring elsewhere. 

On the other side of this dynamic, unlike professional baseball Leagues or High School associations, in college ball, the NCAA does not employ the umpires. Instead, the individual conferences employ the umpires, brokered through a relationship with an assigner (or assigning entity, where applicable). And who constitutes the conference? Right, the coaches. So, in a convoluted way, the coaches are our (umpires) “bosses”. Any interactions we commence with them – whether they be discussions, arguments, warnings or ejections – are channeled back to the assigner. And if a particular coach has a particular relationship with an assigner, and you (as an umpire) have a particularly intense interaction with that coach, and either make s#!t up, or misapply a rule, or embarrass him, you’ll likely find that the coach has beaten you to the assigner’s ear, and your follow-up with the assigner may not be as… beneficial… as you would otherwise expect. 

They’re coming out on every close play to test whether or not you’ll “show your hand”, wilt under pressure, or fold. 

By contrast, travel / tournament / academy / local ball coaches (typically) have no one to be responsible to. And we see how that manifests. 

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6 hours ago, MadMax said:

They’re coming out on every close play to test whether or not you’ll “show your hand”, wilt under pressure, or fold.

Yep.  I've now worked five games with that particular team and they haven't questioned a single thing since then.  I knew what they were up to so I just used my ex cop's de-escalation techniques :)

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On 6/30/2022 at 10:28 AM, Thunderheads said:

that makes no sense to me.  Why would you lack confidence if you know you're right and would want to convince him?  (because if you're convincing someone you're right, you know you're right)  that's not lack of confidence. Unless of course, I'm totally thinking about this the wrong way .....which is possible🙄

You're first sentence is a GREAT tool to keep in the bag for sure.  Just not sure I understand the following...

This is the old "Lions don't concern themselves with the opinions of sheep".

You don't have to convince him you're right.   You've made the call - the burden of proof is on him.   If he can make a compelling case in ten seconds that you may have missed a rule, then good for him.   It's not up to you to set him straight.  Coach - this is the rule, I've heard your point, if you disagree, protest.

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If one wants to know about game management, read Maven's June 30 post.  These are the exact reasons some umpires are more accepted than others...excellent game management skills.  Unfortunately, game management only comes after years of experience.  Read Maven's response.  And memorize it!!

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