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Old Tue Oct 24, 2000, 08:20am
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I posted this topic on another Forum but there are different umpires who solicit this Board so I though I would post here as well.

I read an article in referee magazine concerning umpire ethics and I believe the overriding theme was : Do you send Messages?

We are talking about men here (collegiate and above) not kids before you comment.

I think we all know what sending a message is but I'll give an example

I umpire mens leagues (over 30 / collegiate wood bat) and every now and then you get a pitcher who has played A ball and even did a stint or 2 in the BIGS. We had a pitcher this year in the mens league who played for the Mets.

F1 had a "major league" type curve and made this 1 particular batter look really bad on a pitch. I called it a strike and the batter starting saying you know those sarcastic gestures - Hey Blue, I would need a tree to hit that one and also drew a line with his bat on the outer edge of the plate.

I knew what he was doing. He was trying to divert his looking bad to my fault. The batter at this point had 2 strikes. The nex't pitch clearly outside - I "rang him up"
He just looked at me.

The next time he came up he said Hey Blue "Can we start Over" I said sure and did't have a problem the rest of the way. Also, at the end of the game he came up and thanked me. He said I know I was offbase and thanks for keeping me in the game.

These guys pay pretty good money for entrance into the league and while that factor alone should not determine whether or not we keep them in the game, IMO there are other ways before we actually toss.

I'm not saying this tactic works in all cases, like "hot heads" as it doesn't matter what you do when one "flys off the handle rather easily".

Also, in sending messges I'm not saying "taint" one's fair / foul calls or outs / safes calls, but in those areas that we can - SEND A MESSAGE.

As a side note this tactic has been taught to me by some veteran umpires.

So crew - DO YOU SEND MESSAGES? and if one does send a message do you feel it jeopardizes one's ethics?


Pete Booth
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Old Tue Oct 24, 2000, 09:50am
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clearly when our job is to call balls and strikes within a given zone set down by the rules of the game and we make a deliberate call going against those rules.......an ethical question is raised....now, that being said....has it/does it/ have I done it?.........yes...I have sent messages primarily to Coaches and Managers, but to some batters as well.....I have felt that a clear message sent with the call of one ball or one strike is better than ejecting that player or coach for the game..........lesser of two evils perhaps.........
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Old Wed Oct 25, 2000, 07:17am
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Thanks for your comments but I have to diagree here.
First as I said in my original thread - We are dealing with MEN here not children. By men, I mean anywhere from the age of say 25 - 45 yrs. old who have played in College / Semi-Pro and even in the Bigs.

Simply dusting the plate and making threats doesn't work, at least in my experiences in mens leagues.

Umpires, unfortunately, do not have an outlet, other than ejection as do our counterparts in the NBA and National Football League. In the NBA, an official can give a Technical Foul and in Football an official can penalyze a team 15 yards, but we do not have such "PENALTIES" in baseball.

When a player starts making a fool out of you, we have 3 choices1)We can as you say try to reason with them and issue a warning; (2) We can at that very moment eject him or (3) Send a Message.

As with all things, we all have our opinions on things and it all depends upon the brand of ball we umpire. I would not recommend sending a message all the time, but in some instances like the one I gave it does have it's effectiveness. Sending a Message:

'(A) Keeps the player in the game
(B) Lets everyone know you will not be made a fool of
(C) You will gain respect and IMO does not jeopardize one's integrity

Pete Booth





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Old Wed Oct 25, 2000, 11:45am
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By the way. I am certain that you do feel a little guilt or you wouldn't have made that post. Why did you ask this question if you had your mind so well made up?

What road are you going to take now Pete?

Thanks for your comments - Actually I do not feel guilty and the reason I decided to make a thread is that I read about it in referee magazine and wanted to see how others felt and what their tactics were in dealing with individuals who try and show them up.

You are correct and that I shouldn't have responded when I had my mind made-up. That's an excellant point on your part. I probably should just see what others have to say without trying to justify what I perceive.

I have discussions like this with my fellow colleagues and even as they say in "my house" we have varied opinions.

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Old Wed Oct 25, 2000, 12:43pm
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I am very pleased that you and I could have this going without the venom that often accompanies these kind of debates. Thank you!

Agreed - too many times people start that "KeyBoard Trash-Talking" if you will without sticking to the topic. It's nice to know that one can have a difference of opinion without getting bashed as has been the case on Boards such as McGrifths.

This Board has been very "User Friendly" and I too look forward to your comments and engage in a friendly debate every now and then - can't agree all the time otherwise Life would be Boring.

Again, thanks

Pete Booth
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Old Sun Oct 29, 2000, 10:52pm
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Drawing a Line



F1 had a "major league" type curve and made this 1 particular batter look really bad on a pitch. I called it a strike and the batter starting saying you know those sarcastic gestures - Hey Blue, I would need a tree to hit that one and also drew a line with his bat on the outer edge of the plate.

Pete Booth [/B][/QUOTE]

Just a quick opinion here. I've seen this situation from other boards and I've made the same comment....and I can't state this strongly enough. Drawing a line like that at ANY level of baseball is a no-no, and merits ejection without delay. I've heaved three high school players and yes, one adult when they thought a pitch was off the plate. This is one thing a player can NEVER be allowed to do.

Vern
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Old Mon Oct 30, 2000, 03:20am
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Quote:
Originally posted by Virginia Umpire
Hey Vern:

That is certainly an option you have. Ejecting the bad guys is allowed by the rules and you may be totally justified in doing so. This wanders slightly from the subject of sending messages. Can we assume from your post that you favor ejections over sending messages? Possibly you think that sending messages is a proper tactic, but not in this particular case.

From my previous posts you will read that I do not use messages. I do like to issue warnings for minor offenses before ejection. If I saw drawing a line as particularly inciteful, I would eject without warning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~`
Very good discussion, both you and Pete have some very good thoughts. I have my way for the "men's leagues". First off, usually it is the guys that can't play the game well that pop-off. How many idiot players have grumbled about the ball hitting the plate should be foul? The player getting a message sent is usually a hot-head trying to show his buddies how cool he is. I keep it simple, no warnings, see ya.They get the message early in the season, too.
I ran a guy twice in MSBL action, claimed he used to ump in the Ca. league and that interference by a R2 could only happen if R2 was in front of F6 when the batted ball reached F6. We had banged r2 on interference after he tripped F6 from behind as he was charging a grounder. I ended up dumping him in the second game that Sunday over an infield fly rule call, ball was hit a good 40 feet towards the rf gap, but F4 could have had a brew by the time he settled under and caught it, runners were holding up AND the INF protected HIS offense. This guy was the skipper, hung his own noose, IMHO
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Old Mon Oct 30, 2000, 01:31pm
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Re: Drawing a Line


Just a quick opinion here. I've seen this situation from other boards and I've made the same comment....and I can't state this strongly enough. Drawing a line like that at ANY level of baseball is a no-no, and merits ejection without delay. I've heaved three high school players and yes, one adult when they thought a pitch was off the plate. This is one thing a player can NEVER be allowed to do.

Vern, as I thought, there are many opinions out there concerning this issue. I posted this thread on the URC as well and Jon Bible mentioned he was going to author an article in referee magazine concerning this subject matter.

The reason (and I'm not justifying it) I send messages is because other than ejection, there is no other recourse we can use to keep a player in the game.

As I mentioned in one of my responses, in the NBA or Football, they have penalties such as a Technical Foul and unsportsmanlike conduct before that actually eject someone. In baseball we have no such "animal".

So I guess it comes down to style. I do not use this technique all of the time. It doesn't work on "hot heads" and I NEVER use in youth ball. At least in my experiences with mens leagues, I found this method useful.

The Team knows you are not going to take their guff and actually appreciates it when you keep them in the game. These guys play maybe once a week (normally double headers on Sundays), pay decent bucks to join
the league and if I can keep them in the game by sending a message I say OK.

Now if they keep it up thats another story but most of the time they indeed GET THE MESSAGE and the game continues smoothly from that point.


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Old Mon Oct 30, 2000, 09:00pm
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VU, very valid points. And you are lucky. Here in Ca., our over 30 leagues can get pretty bad. MSBL is the worst, thus I have a very high ejection ratio, most all have been a loudmouth who chirps all the time over something he has no clue about, or is trying to BS a rookie ump while I am his partner. One thing about MSBL is that we all gotta go to work on Monday, have some fun. But that does not happen here, the guys try to take cheap ass shots at each other all the time. I could not believe the language, very poor taste in that wifes and lotsa kids come to watch "DAD" in his moment of glory.
Now at our FED level, virtually no mouths from the players, 4 seasons(100 games, I'd say)and only 1 player ejection, for mouth on a call I know I nailed. I do not let kids tell me "that's bull****". Now the coaches are not too bad here, they'll chirp, but know where to draw the line.
Our youth leagues are generally chirped upon by the crowd, they know all, right? I try to interact with the local youths, as I have a couple of my own and take an interest in the community. I am one of a handfull of umps for 7 PONY leagues that are first-name basis with the kids. I don't get any flak from the kids, occasional coach, but for the most part, nothing. It is a blast watching them progress up through FED-ball.
The dusting of the plate and "chatting" with F2 works, used it once, oopps, twice. First time was a freshman catcher who I first met at the 9 year old level.He bailed on a curve that was gonna hit the dish, it did and I had hung in, right in the cup.
Second time I used the "chat", I totally bone the pitch. 3-2 count, #9 hitter(SBR game, area FED all-stars)F1 deals a great curve, BR looks at it and just starts to say "oh dam" as I am giving him first. Totally screwed the pitch, shoulda rung him. F2 walks to mound, comes back and sez" I really need that pitch, blue." I told him I boned him, no make up calls here pal, sorry. A few pitches later, he pulls an outside breaker back in, very obvious ball, and hold it on the corner, knee high.
If I did not bone him on the prior pitch, see ya. But a "don't even do that again" worked wonders. Although my actual verbage was a bit more extreme)







QUOTE]Originally posted by Virginia Umpire
Okay. So you like to eject early for such things as drawing lines. I defend your right to do that. I also feel that it is better than sending a message instead that could be interpreted as bad umpiring or petty. But here is another way to look at this. This is philosophy that works well for me and many others that work it:

The first offense of anything you consider unacceptable in a baseball game should be dealt with. How? That depends on how serious.

The second offense is also dealt with IMMEDIATLY! How? That depends on two things. 1) How serious was it? 2) How was he warned after the the first offense?

The third offense (if there is one) is always serious. If the offender has hung around long enough to screw up a third time he will be immediatly and publicly nuked!

Concerning seriousness, I am a strong believer in having a order of escalating responses to fit the level of the offense. Examples here are fighting, a physical deliberate attack on an opposing player (such as a batter/runner attempting to spike the first baseman), a verbal personal direct insult to the umpire, bumping or pushing anyone, and overt threat to fight with threatning body language are all things that would cause an immediate ejection.

The trouble here is I want to show a different response for a different level of behavior. If I eject everyone the first time they do anything then I have established a dictatorship that doesn't match our society or their expectations.

Minor offenses that I will notice and warn the coach or player about will include minor chipping or chirping about calls, minor chirping or taunting of an opponent, minor using of profanity that is able to be heard by spectators, minor physical displays such as throwing a bat, minor gestures by players or coaches designed to demonstrate disagreement with a call.

Medium level offenses will get a swift and public and humiliating response from me every time. They would include overt but unsuccessful attempts to injure, a loud and inciteful arguement from a coach, harsh use of profanity, a pitcher or a catcher verbally or by action disputing a ball call, a coach that feels the need to "protect" a player by defending a very susportsmanlike act, angry or reckless throwing equipment, and any coach or player that counts your misses such as saying, "that is two you have missed!"

Please understand that these examples are nowhere near all the things that I would notice or penalize in a baseball game. Ther are a few thing that I would actually call the police to handle that I didn't even touch on. I believe this is simple and direct and allows the punishmet to fit the crime.

I hear so many argue that certain things are more or less appropriate in men's leagues than youth leagues. Well, my umpiring covers NCAA, Mens, High School, teenagers and even 12 year olds. While the great majority is with the upper levels, I see few significant differences in how they shoud be treated. In fact men's leagues are the easiest to deal with because they are usually out to enjoy themselves, they are generally less consumed with winning, and the good guys on a team will have little sympathy for the one jerk that is making the day unpleasant for players as well as umpires.

Again my ideas are not rules. They simply work for me.
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Old Tue Oct 31, 2000, 07:22am
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by PeteBooth
I posted this topic on another Forum but there are different umpires who solicit this Board so I though I would post here as well.

I read an article in referee magazine concerning umpire ethics and I believe the overriding theme was : Do you send Messages?


+++++++++++++
Pete:

I've written on this subject before. The neo-romantic umpire always objects to an umpire who "sends a message." By the way: It's proper name is the FYC.

In professional ball it has been around since 1876. I have never spoken to a professional umpire who did not sanction its use.

Years ago (June 1985) I wrote: "On October 19, 1982, Lonnie Smith of the Cardinals tried to steal home in the sixth game of the World Series. The caption in Sports Illustrated is: 'Ump said out, but the camera said 'Safe.' I'm sure you remember the 'rumor' that went around: Smith had hotdogged it in the previous game, telling umpire Bill Haller that he, Smith, should have been called out on strikes instead of drawing a walk. Smith's fate may have been sealed as he trotted down to first. I'm not implying that a professional umpire crew would stoop to such low levels. (The crew flatly denied doing os, amind a few grins and winks.) I'm merely saying I so stoop."

The point is simple: When dealing with the big boys, you can (1) "follow the letter of the law"; or (2) you can "umpire the game." By far the better choice is number two.

Stick to your guns, Pete. Adult players are like the Missouri mules: You must sometimes get their attention. In the long run coaches always prefer the FYC to an ejection. I have had coaches ask me to send a message to one of his players.

As for "drawing a line": When that happens, tell the kid to draw the next line in front of the door to his bus (if he's a visitor). Naturally, if he's a member of the home team, you don't do anything. As someone on another Board says: "We have to let the coach's wishes decide what we call." (little grin here)

BTW: Pete, you suggestion about eUmpire having nation-wide clinics is still in the works.

[Edited by Carl Childress on Oct 31st, 2000 at 06:24 AM]
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Old Tue Oct 31, 2000, 01:14pm
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This is interesting. I do not know any of the characters on this board. I will try very hard not to offend anyone by my comments. I will not offend intentionally.

Now along comes Childress, another new guy on this, and he wants to eject the batter but is encouraging Booth to send messages.

Please do not accuse me of being too moralistic for a sports official, but I feel it is very important to offer a different point of view.

My perspective is a relavant factor here, so let me say that in addition to being an umpire I am also a coach. I have mostly coached at the high school level. Most of my umpiring has been at a very high level and I am currently a supervisor and evaluator at the NCAA Division I level.

Enforce the rules. Do not be tempted to compromise your integrity over such a trivial matter as drawing a line. If you feel that someone did something wrong, then handle it immediatly. Don't wait a few innings, but do it immediatly. If you feel that you need to wait for a more appropriate time to deliver any message, you have wasted precious time to make the point. Don't confuse the players and coaches from both teams by seeming to ignore some bit of bad behavior, only to lay in ambush and spring it later.

That type of message can be misunderstood. I also agree that often the message is understood quite well. If it is misunderstood nothing is gained. If it is understood, then the umpire has to accept the consequences of the ill feelings that can result. So send a message and you might be considered brilliant. Send a message and you just might be considered incompetent or petty. In the example, in major league baseball, the umpires were not even able to comment on their actions. One might ask where else might an umpire have done something so good and not be able to admit it? Where I come from, if you have done something you are ashamed of, you will have no comment when asked. You might even be forced to lie about it. This is something to be proud of?

In addition to coaching and umpiring, I have considerable training as a military officer. While this may not seem to fit the weaker behavior standards that seem so common in baseball, sending messages in this way violates most of the leadership principles taught to the men in our institutions.

Being totally realistic, I know that rules are broken. I know that the game of baseball is still a game. I know that umpires are no different than any others in our society that feel that they can be totally justified in breaking those rules and telling white lies. I have been in this game for over 20 years and I have observed many umpires arrogant enough to bend the rules just a bit. Many times it actually worked. Many times the umpire never recovered his reputation.

For Childress. I don't know your background and expertise to talk to strangers on this issue. I would feel much more comfortable with your advice if you were case specific and umpire specific. It seems to me that you may be empowering a very inexperienced umpire with a tool that he is not able to use and hasn't been trained to use. I beg of you to understand that the people reading your post may be innocent in the ways you are encouraging them to behave. They are not major league umpires working the World Series. For many young umpires that are all to willing to follow the hero in MLB, the professionals have proven over and over again not to be proper role models.

What I would have said is different. I would consider his experience level. I would caution him about the many alternatives we might have at our disposal to cope with a situation. He should weigh the consequences/results of his actions. He should then choose the best alternative. If the decision is then made to send a message, okay. After this type of analysis messages can be justified.

Now if all of this seems like too much of a mental strain on the umpire, consider this: Don't do it. There are some missions in life and on the field we were not supposed to accept. Sometimes the price is too high.

When Childress says to either follow the letter of the law or umpire the game, believe it. Make that choice intelligently and with the appropriate level of experience. Pitchers do it everyday. They send dangerous messages that are not authorized by the rules. This also happens in MLB. The world is full of people that do not respect others. Make no mistake about it. This is an issue of respect. Your respect for those players and their respect for you. Baseball is about fair play. Set an example to be proud of.

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Old Tue Oct 31, 2000, 01:38pm
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Ranger thanks for your candid response but the important issue here is: I do not send messages at the "drop of a dime" and I only do it when dealing with men.

I learned this technique from many a veteran umpire. As I said numerous times during this dialogue - NEVER use on "Hot Heads" or in dealing with youth ball but with men I say ok.

Since you said you are also a coach let me ask you something assuming the following sitch?

Your number 1 hitter (batting 385 with plenty of power), starts giving the PU the business on a particular pitch. This hitter will not let up.
What would rather have the PU do?

Ring him up (remember only the 2nd inning now), on a pitch clearly outside to SEND A MESSAGE or eject him leaving you in a deep hole for the rest of the game?

From MY OWN EXPERIENCE, I can tell you that coaches prefer the ump to send a message and keep their star player in the game as opposed to simply ejecting him.

This isn't the NBA or Football where we can actual penalyze a team. Again, it's a matter of style and I'm not saying yours is better than mine or vice a versa.

All I can say is that I use this technique on limited occasions when dealing with men's leagues. It has worked so far and I continue to get requests from the coaches to umpire their playoff games.

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Old Tue Oct 31, 2000, 01:48pm
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Ranger
This is interesting. I do not know any of the characters on this board. I will try very hard not to offend anyone by my comments. I will not offend intentionally.

Ranger:

Email me at carlchildress@rightsports.com, and I'll swap resumes with you. I note you didn't give us either a real name or an email address.

Frankly, I find it hard to believe you're a D1 umpire, an Internet user, and you haven't heard of me. (grin)

Concerning eject the batter: I don't know where you get that. I said -- and I stick by it -- that at the highest levels, the FYC is a necessary and potent method of keeping control of the game. It's not for everyone, it's certainly not for every level of play, and it's clearly not something you like.

But we are better off approaching the game with an open mind rather than a moralistic one. Morality has little to do with baseball. (That's a piece of a different sort.)
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Old Tue Oct 31, 2000, 01:55pm
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Exclamation

Ranger,

You might want to do a little checking before your call Carl Childress "another new guy".
1 He is deffinately not "new"

2 His experience and creditials are beyond what many of us can hope to experience in our carrers.

Roger Greene,
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Old Tue Oct 31, 2000, 03:01pm
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Wow what quick responses. My first post, too!

Carl and Roger: I guess I should feel bad for not knowing Carl. I am quite sure that he is a good man. I don't recall ever having the pleasure of meeting him. In my position I am quite focused on NCAA baseball and I don't recall him as a regional ump and he does not work the conferences I follow. Sorry, I am always open to be educated. I pray that you guys don't hold that agaisnt me. Perhaps we travel in different circles.

Carl: You see, even I must have gotten confused by the cute statement about the line and the bus. Naturally, that sounded like an ejection or a threat of an ejection. I myself never threaten a future ejection. Too many of these guys will feel like they will have to puff up and force the issue, if threatened. You did say something like that in your post. Did I misunderstand? What did you mean? Frankly, when I eject a person, I never tell him he is ejeced until he is ejected.

I am not sure about using names and email addresses. I am sure that you have heard about bad people and a criminal element that prey on unsuspecting internet users. I am not comfortable just yet in this forum. I hope you can understand.

About resumes. I am sure that would be fun. I am not bragging. I was simply trying to keep some young umpires from falling in a trap. I would be in a position to help umpires advance if either of you want to send me a resume. Please do not assume that I need to know your pedigrees. I have no interest in having unpleasant debates. I simply am one person that has a few experiences to share.

Roger: You signed using "UT." Is that your business? Is that something else I need to know? Sorry to be so ignorant.

Peter: I have to get to a game now. I will respond later about the coaching question. I will not be sending them any messages today.

Gosh, it has been great getting to know you guys. I feel like I made some new friends today.

Semper Fi
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