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Old Wed May 12, 2004, 01:09pm
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Question

I just posted this on the softball forum (I work both) but thought it might generate some interesting conversation here also.

High School district tournament games yesterday, NFHS.

I had two calls at home plate yesterday that have got me thinking a little. Maybe some of you have some words of wisdom or suggestions...

Unexpectedly close game (I thought one team was going to dominate but it didn't happen) of 1-0 in the top of the 5th. Pitch bounces and gets past the catcher. It hits me in the gut and drops straight down. Catcher turns to the left searching for the passed ball. I step back to my right and see the ball where my feet were. Catcher has not found it yet. Runner is coming from 3rd. Catcher finds ball and straddles baseline with the plate a foot behind her. I'm now realizing I need to get closer to perpendicular and to 3rd to see this play... too late. I'm at about a 45 degree angle behind the catcher as runner slides. Catcher has ball in plenty of time and is in great position to make an out. Slide is head first, very flat to the ground, with one arm extended at home between the catcher's legs. I see tag on forehead of runner (not on the arm) and hand extended touching home. I call the unexpected call and rule SAFE. Coach (of what I thought would be the dominating team) of course complains so I explain what I saw.

Now it is top of 6th and the score is now 3-4 two outs... still very close. Tag play coming at home - same teams are running and tagging. Throw is coming slightly late runner should be safe. Runner, as is typical, comes in standing up... no, no, tries to slide about 2-3 feet before the plate. Lead foot catches in the dirt and bounces up and over the plate - 6 to 8 inches in the air. Throw is caught and tag is made. Again, I make the unexpected call and rule OUT. Coach is livid; fans go nuts - of course they always have been and always will be nuts, but it is an emotional moment.

Later, the better team scores 1 in the bottom of the sixth and the game ends with 3-5 score. Actually had a fan come to me after the game as I and my partner are walking away... "Hey Blue!" And I'm thinking, Oh great here comes a disgruntled parent... but he says "You made the right call." "THANKS." Okay one out of 75 bystanders think it was the right call.

So here is the question. I've seen umpires that I know make the EXPECTED calls... either because they want to make the fans and coaches and possibly the players happy or because they don't make the effort to really see what happens (generally they are lazy umpires). I look back at both of these calls and know I could have just as well made the expected call, probably not effected the overall outcome of the game (maybe), and not taken any heat from either coach or any of the fans.

Nobody would have come to me after the game and said that I made the right call. Coaches would have been happy and I would likely get a call for state tournament assignments. Now??? maybe not.

But I wouldn't have felt good about intentionally making a wrong call, or intentionally being lazy and not seeing the correct call.

What is the umpire's job? Which is the right call, the one that leads to the less controversy and pleases the most people, or the right call according to what the umpire sees - which can obviously be influenced by the amount of effort the umpire puts into getting the correct call?

Surely some of you have had similar experiences - these were not my first controversial calls. But, what say you about your experiences and the umpire's responsibility?
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"There are no superstar calls. We don't root for certain teams. We don't cheat. But sometimes we just miss calls." - Joe Crawford
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Old Wed May 12, 2004, 01:39pm
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What is the umpire's job? Which is the right call, the one that leads to the less controversy and pleases the most people, or the right call according to what the umpire sees - which can obviously be influenced by the amount of effort the umpire puts into getting the correct call?

I think you are misinterpreting what an EXPECTED call is. An EXPECTED call is not a bang bang play at the plate.

An EXPECTED call is one in which the runner is out / safe "by a mile" and an umpire makes the opposite call.

It's like the "neighborhood play" If the throw is a good one and F4/F6 is in "the vicinity" ring up the out. It's the same way for both teams. Now if the throw is bad, etc. is a different story.

IMO, the plays you describe do not fall under the category of EXPECTED. They are close calls and it's the "nature of the beast" so to speak meaning one side will be happy and the other upset, especially if there are 2 close calls that go against them, but that's part of being an umpire.

In Papa C's book 51 ways to ruin a baseball game he explains the ramifications of the EXPECTED call by giving examples.

Generally speaking when a runner is OUT they are OUT and vice/versa.

Pete Booth
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Old Wed May 12, 2004, 02:06pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by DownTownTonyBrown
So here is the question. I've seen umpires that I know make the EXPECTED calls... either because they want to make the fans and coaches and possibly the players happy or because they don't make the effort to really see what happens (generally they are lazy umpires). I look back at both of these calls and know I could have just as well made the expected call, probably not effected the overall outcome of the game (maybe), and not taken any heat from either coach or any of the fans.

Nobody would have come to me after the game and said that I made the right call. Coaches would have been happy and I would likely get a call for state tournament assignments. Now??? maybe not.

But I wouldn't have felt good about intentionally making a wrong call, or intentionally being lazy and not seeing the correct call.

What is the umpire's job? Which is the right call, the one that leads to the less controversy and pleases the most people, or the right call according to what the umpire sees - which can obviously be influenced by the amount of effort the umpire puts into getting the correct call?

Surely some of you have had similar experiences - these were not my first controversial calls. But, what say you about your experiences and the umpire's responsibility?
If you honestly felt you made the right call and it seems like you saw the play develop reasonably well than you made the right call and that's the end of it. I wouldn't question how a play looks to fans or coaches too much, especially at the plate. Our job is to get it right. There are schools of thought that you should reward the defense, or the offense, on close plays depending on how the play developed. Some of these arguments are valid. All things being equal, however, you "gotta call what ya see."

BP
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Old Wed May 12, 2004, 02:15pm
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I agree with most of Pete's comments. Umpires will disagree on when we should make the "expected call" contrary to what we saw, but I'd think we would all agree that an "anticipated call" does not imply an "expected call". Participants and coaches have an "expected call" on the basis of what seemed to happen, not what should have happened. Sometimes these are the same, but not always.

It seems to me that "expected calls" come when a runner or fielder screwed up but looked like he was behaving routinely, not when something strange and easily noticable happens. Do you agree?
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Old Wed May 12, 2004, 11:12pm
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expected calls

the first call at home does seem to me an expected call. i have found that in softball you can go against the expected call and call what you see. in baseball i have found that good coaches expect you to make calls as expected. if the ball is there in plenty of time and the baserunner makes no attempt at a hook slide i will bang em out every time. and yes it is the expected call. i have never had a coach argue an expected call. however in my rookie years i would call the unexpected and cant count how many times all hell have broken loose.

just a thought.
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Old Wed May 12, 2004, 11:32pm
DG DG is offline
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I can not say that if the ball arrives in plenty of time for the catch and tag, that this fact does not influence my "perception" of what I saw. If a play looks routine, it probably is. So I am sure I have missed some plays at 1B where the 1Bman came off the bag an inch too soon, or some 2Bmen who missed 2B by an inch on a DP. I call 'em like I see 'em but there are lots of optical illusions out there.
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Old Thu May 13, 2004, 12:40am
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http://www.umpire.org/modules.php?na...rticle&artid=9

read this article on some of the same situations. dont become old smitty
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