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Unread 06-22-2018, 10:00 PM   #1
vegas_ump
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Default Where was the "ball"?

I saw an article in the new Referee Magazine about softball umps calling the plate. It seems that some of the associations want the plate ump to declare where the pitch was if it were not a strike. Example: "Ball! Outside!" [Unless it was obviously way high, in the dirt, outside, etc.]

I have noticed that most of the NCAA baseball umps in the CWS have been doing this for years. They are mic'ed up and you can hear what they are saying after the pitch.

I am old school, in that the pitch was either a ball or a strike--100% my judgement. Maintaining a sense of timing on the ball/strike call is easy if you don't have to spit out "low and away" every time the pitch does not make the zone. I do LL, and mostly the managers figure out my zone after the 1st inning.

But there is always one guy--usually in the 1B dugout--who sees the ball belt high, but he has no clue of the azimuth inside/outside, and he will ask "Where was that pitch?" We had a guy last year who did that on just about every pitch! [When he was 3B coacher, his batter would get a strike, and he'd yell out, "Call 'em the same both ways, blue!"] So later in the dugout, he's more and more animated about "WHERE WAS THAT PITCH?!!!" (Purple veins popping out his neck.....)

I can see where declaring the position of a ball could avoid these confrontations, but at the same time, I sometimes feel that he thinks he has the right to ask about every call! And he will!

I personally do not like to give positions like that because I am not the second "pitching coach" for the defense, and as long as I am consistent, I don't see what's the big deal. (The catcher can usually help if he's not got an attitude either. He knows where my inside/outside corners are.) I might tell a catcher that a curve ball broke late so even though the pitch hit the mitt, it was high over the plate, for example. But for me that's rare.

Seems to me extra statements like the article discusses are really for the "umpires" in the stands.......

Anyway, what do you all think?

Thanks.
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Unread 06-22-2018, 10:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

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Originally Posted by vegas_ump View Post
But there is always one guy--usually in the 1B dugout--who sees the ball belt high, but he has no clue of the azimuth inside/outside, and he will ask "Where was that pitch?" We had a guy last year who did that on just about every pitch! [When he was 3B coacher, his batter would get a strike, and he'd yell out, "Call 'em the same both ways, blue!"] So later in the dugout, he's more and more animated about "WHERE WAS THAT PITCH?!!!" (Purple veins popping out his neck.....)
Thanks.
I believe what you should do is what works for you. If calling the location of the pitch cuts down on the sniper fire, then do it. But, remember this, just because you call the location of the pitch doesn't necessarily mean that they believe it.

The above quote is strictly a game management issue. Between innings just tell the coach in a neutral tone of voice, "You aren't asking me the location of the pitch today. We're just not doing that." Tell him if he wants to know, to ask his catcher. "Ask me again where the pitch is, and you are done." This may seem a little heavy-handed but usually that is the only thing these guys understand. "..we had a guy who asked that every pitch?" Not in my game. Not even close.

As for the "Call them both ways," comment, between innings ask the coach, "When you tell me to 'call them both ways,' it sounds like you are accusing me of cheating" This will definitely put him on the spot. So, just tell him, "If I hear it again, you are done."

Stop this stuff immediately, the FIRST time it happens.
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Unread 06-23-2018, 02:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

I address this kind of stuff in pregame, "if you want to know where a pitch missed all your catcher". So far it's worked well for me.
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Unread 06-23-2018, 03:55 AM   #4
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

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Originally Posted by mark38090 View Post
I address this kind of stuff in pregame, "if you want to know where a pitch missed all your catcher". So far it's worked well for me.
Really??? You pre-game this with the coaches...amazing! That, my friend is not what the pre-game meeting is for.

As an aside, if I have a coach repeatedly asking his catcher where the pitch was, I, and probably many veterans here, will interpret that as a question to the umpire as well...just a work around getting tossed for questioning balls and strikes. If it persists, I will still squelch it.

I've been told "I'm asking my catcher. What's the problem?" To which I respond, then ask him when he gets to the dugout next time because my take on it is an effort to question my zone...loudly for all to hear at that.

There is always sniping...stay consistent and it goes away. And don't grow rabbit ears unnecessarily. Some coaches are trying to support their pitcher. Others are just ignorant...and others are truly being ass-hats. Learn the difference and manage them accordingly.

Aloha,
Mike
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Unread 06-23-2018, 04:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

It’s amazing how many secret communications there are between the coach and his players. But apparently none for: “was that pitch inside?” For some reason that signal is verbal, just loud enough for the umpire to hear it.
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Unread 06-23-2018, 06:39 AM   #6
mturman
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

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Originally Posted by typikon View Post
It’s amazing how many secret communications there are between the coach and his players. But apparently none for: “was that pitch inside?” For some reason that signal is verbal, just loud enough for the umpire to hear it.
Exactly!

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Unread 06-24-2018, 02:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

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Originally Posted by typikon View Post
It’s amazing how many secret communications there are between the coach and his players. But apparently none for: “was that pitch inside?” For some reason that signal is verbal, just loud enough for the umpire to hear it.
Not quite. In D-1 baseball, I'll guarantee you there is non verbal communication between the catcher and the dugout as to the location of pitches. One of the many ways of communicating this information is for the catcher to place his glove on the ground if he thinks it is a good pitch. He might tap his shoe with his glove to indicate location,. There are numerous ways of doing this and I promise you, it is done.
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Unread 06-24-2018, 04:21 PM   #8
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

I know that the college catchers around here often use signals to the bench to indicate if they think the pitch was missed by the umpire. It's a scrape of the mitt on the ground or bumping the mitt into the ground a few times as he sets up to signal the next pitch.


But that's doesn't prevent the occasional "Where did that one miss???!!" from the bench because the question is rhetorical. An experienced coach already knows where you thought the pitch was. He's not asking for information to help him direct his battery to pitch strikes. He's challenging the plate umpire to justify what the coach thinks is a missed call.


Several years ago I had the plate in a game where one of the teams consisted mostly of players from Mexico. The head coach spoke Spanish to his team throughout the game. I never heard the coach direct any player in English. That is, until I called a strike on a batter that the coach thought was way too low (in his defense, it probably was low but I called it a strike..) At that point, the coach walked down from his 3rd base coach's box and loudly, in heavily accented English, said, "That's okay. We don't want you swinging at those anyway because they're way too low!!!" I'm not sure the batter understood what the coach was saying, but I did...
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Unread 06-25-2018, 12:13 AM   #9
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

I do tend to call the location for the first innings or two. I figure that once I have established where my zone it for them I shouldn't have to keep it up. It doesn't stop me from vocalising the close ones later in the innings or responding to polite questions from the catcher.

Working with the same guys all season helps with managing these situations. We get to know each other pretty well. There are 8 teams in the division I officiate in and we have to get on because odds are I will have the same team again next week at a different ground.

I'm learning that there are phrases that coaches and catchers use to tell me I missed it. And I do miss a few in a game, who doesn't?

A "that's not yours" from a coach or "sorry I blew that one" from a catcher is letting me know to work harder and track the ball better.
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Unread 06-25-2018, 02:30 AM   #10
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

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Originally Posted by bigblue2u View Post
I believe what you should do is what works for you.

This is extremely great +1 (multiple times) advice. This topic is arguably two topics: (1) Arguing balls and strikes, and (2) Situation and game management. Clearly the coaches are arguing balls and strikes by their comments. By Rule, that’s illegal. But what do YOU do about it?

That’s where Bigblue has smashed the nail on the head. What works for one good, great, or even spectacular umpire probably won’t work for the next good, great, or spectacular umpire. And the reason is because they are two different men, they are two completely different accomplished umpires. We need to be ourselves out there. Sure, there are well established guidelines and basics and lots of do’s and don’t’s, but once those are mastered, we’re left with ourselves. I could tell you what I do, but that’s not germane, other than what I do is to be myself. It’s taken me several years to figure out how to be myself on the diamond, and I’m still very much a work in progress, but it’s working for me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bigblue2u View Post
I believe what you should do is what works for you.
BAM!!!
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Unread 06-26-2018, 01:55 AM   #11
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

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Originally Posted by mturman View Post
Really??? You pre-game this with the coaches...amazing! That, my friend is not what the pre-game meeting is for.

Aloha,
Mike
You don't think letting them know right up front that you're not going to let them ask all night is worthy of a mention? Maybe since we're a very small local league and community it must works better. I wish i had the opportunity to work with experienced guys but that's just not what my area provides me with. Thanks for the advice though.
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Unread 06-26-2018, 06:14 AM   #12
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

Mark, our colleague on the islands has been down the river, even if there aren’t many rivers on the islands. The thing I’ve learned is that the shorter your plate talk, the more respect you are showing the coaches. And the more experience you are conveying to them that you have. The Duke of Oahu ought to start a post about plate talks, because we all could learn something from that.

I had the distinct pleasure last week to work a AAA Legion Tourney double header with a partner who virtually every umpire in my state would unanimously agree is the unquestioned best amateur umpire in my state—at age 66-67, still runs around the field like a 20-something. We were playing at a local university field. Here was his pre-game:

Gets the lineup cards from both coaches, asks if all players are legally and properly equipped, confirms who’s DH’ng for who for HT then VT, asks if both coaches have played in this yard before, and after both say “yes,” he asks if there are any questions about the ground rules. After a dual “No,” he asks his partner if he has anything to add. I said, “Let’s have some fun.” He says, “O.k., after the anthem, let’s get to work.” We all shake hands.

The whole pregame took about 46 seconds. Best, most effective pregame I ever participated in.

FWIW, it was my 1st time at the field, so he and I went over the ground rules and field conditions in detail in our own pregame.
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Unread 06-26-2018, 06:23 AM   #13
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Default Re: Where was the "ball"?

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Originally Posted by msmith View Post
Mark, our colleague on the islands has been down the river, even if there aren’t many rivers on the islands. The thing I’ve learned is that the shorter your plate talk, the more respect you are showing the coaches. And the more experience you are conveying to them that you have. The Duke of Oahu ought to start a post about plate talks, because we all could learn something from that.

I had the distinct pleasure last week to work a AAA Legion Tourney double header with a partner who virtually every umpire in my state would unanimously agree is the unquestioned best amateur umpire in my state—at age 66-67, still runs around the field like a 20-something. We were playing at a local university field. Here was his pre-game:

Gets the lineup cards from both coaches, asks if all players are legally and properly equipped, confirms who’s DH’ng for who for HT then VT, asks if both coaches have played in this yard before, and after both say “yes,” he asks if there are any questions about the ground rules. After a dual “No,” he asks his partner if he has anything to add. I said, “Let’s have some fun.” He says, “O.k., after the anthem, let’s get to work.” We all shake hands.

The whole pregame took about 46 seconds. Best, most effective pregame I ever participated in.

FWIW, it was my 1st time at the field, so he and I went over the ground rules and field conditions in detail in our own pregame.
That's a good pregame...Mine is similar, as is most of our veterans...

Welcome, names, handshakes. Exchange line-ups, identify and confirm DH if present, accept as official. Confirm the rule set for the game about to be played (because so many of our players play for different leagues all year long: Legion, HS, BR, Pony, etc.). Identify and review ground rules if necessary, special seasonal rules, good lucks, handshakes...Perhaps a minute give or take...

Admittedly what works for some may not be the norm...but in my experience, not just in baseball but in my job and nearly all walks of life, the more professional you act or demonstrate yourself to be, the more you will be perceived as professional.

I have seen coaches roll their eyes when a rookie office begins his deliberations during the pregame...so many issues that are not necessary...A long pregame, IMHO, is about a PU that wants to be noteworthy...Sadly, they are, but for the wrong reasons.

Aloha,
Mike
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