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tales from behind the plate -- coach ejected!


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So there I was...

 

... I took a few days of vacation to travel to Omaha, NE to umpire a baseball tournament with my son.  Although he plays at the high school level, he umpires younger divisions, too.  I have all but sworn off the younger divisions because the coaches and parents are absolutely off the rails crazy.  When he umpires, I always ensure he is paired with me -- I will not let him work alone because the crazy coaches will physically try to bully or intimidate him.  In any event, he has actually gone through more umpire training than probably half of the adult umpires out there (especially at youth levels), and he ACTUALLY knows the rules.  

 

I'm here to tell you, 99% of coaches and 100% of players DO NOT know the rules of baseball.  Sure, everyone gets fair/foul, ball/strike, and safe/out, but that's 10% of the rules and 90% of the game.  No one but umpires know the 90% of rules that cover 10% of the game, and these are the ones that generally cause arguments because they THINK they do.  Keep in mind, there is no test to become a coach or player, but umpires have to pass one every year.  

 

The other thing he does well is called "timing."  If you watched baseball in the 1990s and earlier, you recall umpires making the call within a split second of the play happening.  You also saw umpires blow calls all the time.  Now we are being taught to delay the call -- see it, think about it, replay it in your head, make sure the baseman is still holding the ball, now call it.  Sometimes a banger at 1st base won't be called until 2 - 3 seconds after the play.  We're even being taught to slow down our ball/strike calls.  If the umpire is calling it as it hits the mitt, he's probably messing up.  Again -- see it, think about it, replay it in your head, and for this one judge the position of the catcher's mitt, and then call it.  

 

Anyway, we drove 8 1/2 hours to Omaha to umpire together for four days.  Due to my son's age, we could only work the younger divisions, which meant I knew right away I was going to have confrontations.  Travel tournaments are populated by rich Karens who think their little Timmy is going to get a scholarship today, or get drafted straight into the MLB out of 5th grade, despite the fact he's 10 or 11 years old, and the umpires have a personal agenda to make sure that doesn't happen.  They drive nuts.

 

Coaches are worse.  They all played baseball at some level but are new to coaching, and have no idea on how to interact with umpires productively.  Shouting, cursing, taunting the other team, and any other manner of poor sportsmanship is the rule of the day.  

 

On day 3 of our time together, we were umpiring a game for two teams we had umpired before.  Both of them had coaches that matched my description above.  In the case of the team from Dallas, all the assistant coaches were just as bad.  My 14 year-old son was behind the plate and I was on the bases.

 

Right from the beginning, the Dallas head coach began riding him about his strike zone.  Keep in mind, coaches are along the baselines  and cannot see if the pitch is inside, outside, or over the plate.  They do have a pretty good view of height.  But the plate umpire can see it all.  As the base umpire, sometimes I'm near first base, and sometimes I'm near 2nd base, either to the left or right, depending on where runners are (I won't get into all the mechanics).  When I'm near 1st, my view of the zone is almost the same as the coaches' view.  But when I'm near 2nd, I'm looking almost down the barrel and it's about the same angle as you see pitches delivered from on TV.  So I can tell if he's doing a good job.  He was.  He was very consistent and had a zone that was slightly larger than what the book says, which is what he has been taught to do for the age group.

 

But the Dallas head coach was riding him all game, shouting down the baseline like a toddler having a temper tantrum.  He argued calls, made snide remarks, etc.  In the bottom of the third inning, his team was pitching.  There was a runner on 1st, so I was near 2nd with that great angle into the zone I mentioned.  A pitch came in about 18" outside, clearly unhittable and half-way across the other batter's box.  My son called a ball, and the Dallas head coach went ballistic.  He was jumping up and down, screaming his fool head off about how, "HE'S BEEN CALLING THAT A STRIKE ALL DAY!!!"  He started charging down the line towards my son, which is an automatic ejection in every rulebook.  Arguing balls and strikes is an ejectable offense,  too, so he had two strikes against him.  But to try to avoid writing the report later, I tried to rescue the coach.  I put my hand up in the universal "stop" sign and interrupted him:  "Coach, it was this far [holding my hands 18" apart] outside.  He's never called that a strike."

 

The coach came even more unglued, jumped in the air and turned towards me while yelling, "I'M NOT TALKIN' TO YOU!!!"  Strike three.  I made the ejection mechanic and announced, "You're gone."  The Dallas parents were so off the rails and so inexperienced in baseball that they thought their coach's behavior was normal.  They audibly groaned at me having ejected this mental midget and several comments came from the crowd like, "Just let the kids play"  (umm...hello...I didn't eject any kids).  

 

Rather than get the game going again, the coach stomped onto the field towards me (which, in every league, gets additional games tacked on to your suspension).  In keeping with my training, and anticipating this ending up on YouTube, I stood in one place with my hands behind my back.  I didn't want to go stomping towards him to meet him halfway, because the perception would be of me being aggressive.  As I did it, he is the only one anyone could ever accuse of being aggressive.

 

When he arrived to my position, he kept on shouting.  I spoke in a voice almost a whisper, "Coach, you've been ejected.  You need to leave the premises now."  His voice came down to match mine, and he asked, "Is that how y'all do it in Colorado?"  I bit my tongue, desperately wanting to tell him that's how it's done everywhere, but managed to reply, "Yes, now you have 30 seconds to leave before I forfeit the game."  

 

Realizing I was serious, he said nothing more and stomped off the field.  Before leaving, he turned and charged toward my son again, and shouted at the top of his lungs, "THIS IS BULL$#@&!!!"  I almost forfeited the game right there, but he was leaving, so I didn't.

 

Two innings later, my son approached me and verified an ejected player or coach cannot be in the stands or hanging around outside the fence.  By rule, he must leave the field entirely.  So my son pointed him out to me, standing behind the dugout and giving directions to assistant coaches.  I spoke with him through the fence, and told him that if he didn't leave immediately it would become a police matter (the umpire is considered a property manager and at this point the coach could be arrested for trespassing).  He finally left and I never had to work any more of his games.

 

That said, when we went to pick up our paychecks, the tournament staff was talking about this guy.   Apparently at another game the day after I ejected him, he was pulling the same garbage.  He was actually flipping off the other team -- WHICH CONSISTED OF 10 YEAR-OLDS!!!  Holy Moses, I can't believe people let their kids play for this guy.  I would pull my kid from that team immediately.  

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As a past coach and umpire at times years ago, I agree with your assessment of some coaches and parents, I feel so sorry for the kids exposed to such poor judgement and sportsmanship. Im now watching my 6 grandkids play softball, T-ball and baseball and I can tell you things have not changed at all.  SCJ

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Actually, there ARE tests and certifications for youth coaches.  Sadly, most organizations don’t require certification because they don’t have enough willing volunteers to go around and often “take what they can get”, usually people that won’t or just don’t care enough or aren’t willing to get the instruction and go through the process of getting certified!!

 

When I ran the county youth baseball program, which included girls softball, we required all coaches to be certified.  It cut down on conflict and most of the coaches began to control their fans/parents!

 

We also required certified umpires for every game.  
 

You both did a good job.  I coached and umpired for close to 15 years before I moved on to other adventures with my son.  In my pregame instructions, I cautioned coaches as to their behavior and the ground rules.  My parting advice was “don’t turn your hat around” if you approach my umpires.  I wouldn’t allow a coach to invade my space or that of my teammates in blue.

 

Our organization had very few incidents and I only recall having to eject one coach.  He was ejected twice more and was invited to resign at that time!

 

I don’t think you could PAY ME to deal with the parents these days!!  Participation trophies and entitled brats are what we have come to and I’d probably wind up slapping the crap out of some snotty so and so and end up in jail!!

 

Again!! You did well!!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Cyrus Cassidy #45437 said:

voice came down to match mine, and he asked, "Is that how y'all do it in Colorado?"  I bit my tongue, desperately wanting to tell him that's how it's done everywhere,

 

Sounds like he is used to being allowed to bully his way through his local league.   You should have told him that is how it's done everywhere except maybe his league.  

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I attended the Wendelstadt Umpire School in 1990 and everything you said about "timing" is what they taught us.  I used to umpire local high school and Div. III college ball along with some men's AA fastpitch softball.  I got out of it largely because all my good partners were quitting or moving away and I was always getting paired up with anyone the AD could get.  They often didn't know the rules let alone proper positioning so I ended up doing my job and there's too.  CC, I would have loved to have worked with someone like you.

Players seldom know the intricate rules and just parrot what they hear the tv announcers (who hardly ever know the rules) say.  I'm always amazed when they claim an umpire blew a call when they have to look at slow-motion and stop-action replays from several different angles while the umpire is making a split-second decision with the naked eye.  Do umps miss calls?  Sure they do but its few and far between.

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1 hour ago, Taquila Tab, Sass #25048 said:

I attended the Wendelstadt Umpire School in 1990 and everything you said about "timing" is what they taught us.  I used to umpire local high school and Div. III college ball along with some men's AA fastpitch softball.  I got out of it largely because all my good partners were quitting or moving away and I was always getting paired up with anyone the AD could get.  They often didn't know the rules let alone proper positioning so I ended up doing my job and there's too.  CC, I would have loved to have worked with someone like you.

Players seldom know the intricate rules and just parrot what they hear the tv announcers (who hardly ever know the rules) say.  I'm always amazed when they claim an umpire blew a call when they have to look at slow-motion and stop-action replays from several different angles while the umpire is making a split-second decision with the naked eye.  Do umps miss calls?  Sure they do but its few and far between.

 

Taquila, I agree wholeheartedly that coaches and players (and TV announcers) don't know the rules.  I can't tell you how many times coaches have asked for an "interference" call on a play, which, if I gave them an interference call, would put their batter or runner out.  They're referring to obstruction, but I wasn't calling it anyway (unless I already did!).  

 

This past  tournament I called a no-pitch on a pitcher who quick-pitched the batter.  The tournament used the NFHS rule book, and the quick pitch is covered under rule 6-1.  I can quote it almost verbatim, but suffice it to say, quick pitching the batter who is not reasonably prepared to receive a pitch is illegal.  Both the head coach and assistant coach argued that one until I almost ejected both of them.  The assistant coach claimed to have coached for 27 years and also umpired.  I wanted to say, "Then you've been doing it wrong for three decades," but I held my tongue.

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We get those "parents" here too, ..... the junior Rugby League (football) started training 15-16 yearolds as referees.

  At one match a grandmother was removed because the (16yo)referees' decision was against her 'prescious' grandson..

 

     ............  so, she attacked him with her umbrella .........   :(

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My sons both played soccer, one on a traveling team in high school. Several players went to D1 schools on scholarship, and one is in the MLS. 
 

As much as I love my sons and the beautiful game of football, I was constantly embarrassed by the Karens and Brads who were parents. 

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