Thread: Making the call
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Old Mon May 07, 2007, 07:57pm
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: USA
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Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve
There is a major hullabaloo in our area, because of something that happened in an ASA 16A berth tournament. Regardless the ruleset, it has more to do with umpire protocol.

Three umpire system, they enter the 8th, a tiebreaker inning. Runner on 2nd, obviously; U1 in B, U3 in D. Batter bunts, play is made to 3rd to attempt to put out the lead runner. U3 comes up with a major sell out on a close play; and as the dust clears, U1 comes charging across and announces "NO!! I have obstruction!!"

With these contradictory calls, the PU conducts a crew meeting. U3 was right on top of the play, and U1 insists he saw F5 block the runner with a foot before the ball arrives. PU casts his vote with the original calling umpire, U3, right on top of the play, with only that responsibility (U1 is supposed to be watching BR touch first, take her into 2nd if she goes to draw a play, not watching the play at 3rd). PU announces the original "out" call will stand; U1 shakes his head and walks off the field in disagreement, since they "can't overrule him". I don't even want to discuss how I feel about him walking off the field at that point in the game.

Comments would be interesting, but I want to try this as a poll, too. How many of you take literally that any umpire can and should call obstruction or interference anywhere on the field, even if it is obviously an overrule of a judgment that there was no obstruction? How many believe U1 has no business making this particular call from 70', regardless the statement that any umpire can and should call interference? How many think is depends; but not in this case? And finally, how many think it depends, but would do it in this case?
To start, let me state that I don't believe this was a case of contradictory calls. This is not a safe/out call. U3 called what he saw. U1 called what he saw. That is not contradictory, but two calls on two different aspects of the same play, not much different than the missed tag, missed plate scenario. If the premise of the PU's stance was based solely on it being U3's call, the PU didn't do his job.

As the PU, I would have to ask U1 what he saw. Where was U3? Is it possible U3 wasn't in position to see this call? Or did U3 state that he saw F5's foot, but the ball was there in time, yada, yada, yada.

There is a lot more to this than who should be making what call where on the field. Just because U1's primary is the BR in this case, does not necessarily mean he didn't see what he called.

As an umpire, I would never make such a call unless it was terribly, terribly obvious and beyond a shadow of a doubt. Then again, none of us should be "guessing" those calls either. As a UIC, I would expect an umpire not to make such a call unless there was absolutely no doubt.
The bat issue in softball is as much about liability, insurance and litigation as it is about competition, inflated egos and softball.
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