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Old Tue Jan 09, 2001, 12:08pm
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Cool

JP in another thread wrote this:

---A balk is a judgment call. While I agree that, under most circumstances, the improper act by the pitcher would be a balk, I do not agree in this instance. A balk is a judgment call. Say it with me, "A balk is a judgment call.--

I see the basis for some good discussion. I disagree with this blanket statement.

What is Judgement? And what is a Judgement Call??

I've read (several times) Larry Gerlach's "THE MEN IN BLUE".
One of the umps called Judgment the ability to KNOW what you SAW. I like that one... so I'll steal it. On any play, or pitch, our eyes "see" the play, our mind forms an image. But then it has to "interpret" the picture.

I argue that in reality, physical space, time, etc, there is an actuality to what happened, the closer the umpire comes to calling that actuality, the better his JUDGMENT is... thus, knowing what you saw.

In the same vain, Judgment is "getting the calls right." If you interpret the reality as it is, you get the call right, simple.

Thus Judgment is exercised on every force play or tag play, the steal of 2nd, the catch or trap. Every pitch is a judgment call. On that banger at 1st, or that cloud of dust play at the plate, there is a reality, SOMEONE beat SOMEBODY. The umpire who is graded with EXCELLENT JUDGMENT has a very high percentage of calling these plays based on the reality.

Now back to JP's statement. I argue that not ALL calls are judgement calls. Some are simple black and white rules based, so based on occurance A, one must robotically make call B. There's no application of judgement.

Otherwise, how would there EVER be protests? You cannot protest my strike or ball call, or protest my call at 1st base, or the steal of second, no matter HOW WRONG I may have been. Although the runner BEAT the throw to 1st, my poor judgement says I "saw" the throw win, thus the OUT call. Bad judgement, c'est la vie.

Let's look at this BALK stuff. There are many applications of judgment in calling a balk... but there may be just as many where judgment doesn't play.

Examples: The lefty pitcher - how CLOSE is he to violating the 45 degree line on his step and move to 1st? Clearly judgment, 100%. If you don't balk this guy, you are saying that what you SEE is his stepping within the 45 degree triangle... even if the reality is you are WRONG!

But the pitcher who DROPS the BALL?? There is no judgment to apply... you must go to binary mode and call balk. In my 45 degree example, an offended coach "could" argue with you, but not protest, because your reality is what you called. But the dropped ball? IF you tried to not balk this, talk about the pitcher's intent, you have a protestable situation. You AGREE that the ball was dropped from the rubber in the appropriate position.. and at this time your hands are tied to a call.. no judgment applicable.

To save space and sanity, I won't use the "other" balk example. But there must be others.

Mike B
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Old Tue Jan 09, 2001, 12:57pm
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I will post with no fear of rhetorical retaliation by the Moose, despite my disagreement.

You have highlighted remarkably well the judgement aspects of calling the game within the limits of the book. Whether you like or not, or whether you even wish to admit it, ignoring the rules, at times, exists and it does so for the benefit of the game.

Now, Moose, to what you put so well I will add that the well trained and experienced umpire is typically better at knowing when to call that black /white interpretation and when not to. That umpire, without having any book to follow, usually has his own method to follow that maintains his consistency. Umpires calling within that common level of play and in working with others at that level, develop their own similar or even perhaps identical book. And that, because of man or Moose, is where the consistency develops within the unwritten book.
(Hey, I like that. The Unwritten Book!)

Judgement decisions are indeed applied to the rulebook, but those judgement decisions are also made to the unwritten book. Moose, I am hoping that you already don't call every little booger you see. I'm even going to suspect with 10+ yrs experience you may, at least upon limited occassion, have not called an infraction that you may have seen---probably because you deemed that infraction extremely minor with no advantage gained. Well, in doing so, you may have ignored an infraction written in the rulebook while, BTW, making the correct call on the field. Congratulations on your decision. The odds are, you are now just a little pregnant (I wonder if that could mean little Meeses)

Now, I hope you will continue on to the remaining chapters of the unwritten book-----because from there on out it is the same thing but just further learning of where and when to apply technique.

Just my human opinion,

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Old Tue Jan 09, 2001, 02:54pm
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Moose,

You said, "But the pitcher who DROPS the BALL?? There is no judgment to apply... you must go to binary mode and call balk."

Hmmm, Moose, was the pitcher engaged or disengaged at the exact moment he dropped that ball? See? Judgment!

There are no other examples. A balk is a judgment call - every time. Count on it.
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Old Tue Jan 09, 2001, 10:38pm
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Can this line of thinking be expanded to say EVERY call (not justs balks) are judgement calls?
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Old Tue Jan 09, 2001, 10:54pm
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Sure, all calls are judgement calls. Heck, almost any call is a judgement call, or at least involves some judgement. We see something happen, apply a rule, and make a decision based on that ruling.

Ground ball, throw to 1B beats BR. Rule 6.05(j) -- IN MY JUDGEMENT the bag was tagged by a player in control of the ball before the BR touched the base -- OUT!

Seems simple, so let's take our good friend, Mr. 8.05 the balk rule:

Pitcher from stretch, "bounces" and delivers. Rule 8.05(m) -- IN MY JUDGEMENT the pitcher did not come set before delivering a pitch -- BALK!

Pretty basic, so let's see the difference between judgement and interpretation:

Pitcher on the rubber drops the ball. Rule 8.05(k) -- a couple of possible calls:

1.) IN MY JUDGEMENT the pitcher was not on the rubber (or the ball did not hit the ground) -- NO BALK and not protestable, but obviously a bad call.

2.) IN MY JUDGEMENT the pitcher showed no intent to drop the ball -- NO BALK but grounds for protest.

(BTW, the "dropped ball" call did happen to me last year. My partner in the field saw it but didn't call it because he thought it was an accident; I never saw it because I looked away briefly to gawk at some cute mothers J/K! After the inning, the coach asked what happened. I told the coach that had he come out when it happened, we would have gotten it right, based on what my partner saw (a ball dropped while on the rubber) and what I knew the rule to be (intent need not be judged.))

So what's my point? Just because a call is a judgement call doesn't mean that it can't be protested. Even though call #2 was made based on a judgement of intent, the call was based on a misapplication of the rules.

Just to take an extreme example -- Ol' Smitty's working out of "B". R1, ground ball to F6. Flips to 2B for one, the throw to 1B beats the BR easily. Yet Smitty's waving his arms around yelling "Safe! Safe!" Manager is a little perplexed, so he goes and talks to Smitty. Smitty won't have any of it, and ejects the manager eventually for arguing a judgement call. Well, turns out Ol' Smitty had a brain fart and thought that the BR had to be tagged for some reason.

I'm just thinking it may be bad advice to make the blanket statement that "a balk is a judgement call," because the younger umpires will take that to mean that such a call can't be argued. The balk rule does involve judgement, some infractions more than others. As others have advised, when a manager comes out to argue, whether it be a judgement call or a ruling, take the following steps:

-- Ask him what he saw;
-- Tell him what you saw and why you called it that way;
-- If he feels a rule has been misapplied, get it right -- he's protesting a call; otherwise, send him back to the dugout -- he's arguing a call.

And this is where I think the "no-call balk" controversy causes problems. Carl says it's a balk but doesn't call it based on common sense, Warren judges the pitcher had no intent to pitch, therefore it can't fall under 8.05(a), and Rich and I use NAPBL 6.4(h) as an extention to 8.05(a), and only judge which foot he disengaged with.

Just a disclaimer -- I'm not implying that Carl's and Warren's calls may be wrong, but maybe bad advice for the younger umpire who is still learning the "science" and not yet the "art."
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Old Tue Jan 09, 2001, 10:55pm
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Certainly not, cmcallm! There are many purely rules calls which do not require judgment.

While the question of whether a short fly ball is an infeild fly or not can be purely judgment and unprotestable, the fact that the IFR is invoked with two outs is purely rules and open to protest.

There are many others. I'll let you think of them on your own.
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Old Tue Jan 09, 2001, 11:38pm
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Jim, as I stated in my previous post, I wouldn't make the statement that the IFR is "totally" unprotestable:

1.) R1, R2, 1 out -- batter pops up to F4, who in the umpire's judgement can field the ball with reasonable effort. He settles under the ball while on the outfield grass. The ball pops out of his glove; the umpire signals "no catch" and no IF.

2.) R1, R2, 1 out -- batter bunts one straight up towards the 3B line. F5 settles in underneath it in fair territory. Umpire calls "Infield fly, if fair!" Ball bounces off F5 in fair territory.

Jim, would you agree that each IF call could be protestable based on misapplication of the rules? "Blanket" statements just don't apply to the game of baseball; even the rule book itself makes such a statement we know not to be true after further reading. We know that the ball is not IMMEDIATELY dead on offensive interference (such as the case on a batter interfering with a catcher's throw), although the rules at one point state that the ball is dead at the point of infraction.

I'll agree that the "non-call balk" should be called at a certain level in a certain situation, but not EVERY time the manager yells it out, which is what I thought Carl was implying.
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 01:18am
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Dennis,

You said, "Jim, as I stated in my previous post, I wouldn't make the statement that the IFR is "totally" unprotestable"

I never argued such a point. In fact, an infield fly rule call might be protestable and it might not. It does depend on the situation.

But a balk call is always a judgment call. That doesn't mean that an umpire couldn't say something which turns it into a misapplication of the rules and cause it to become protestable. But the raw decision as to whether a balk occurred or not is purely judgment, and as such, not protestable.


You also said, "We know that the ball is not IMMEDIATELY dead on offensive interference (such as the case on a batter interfering with a catcher's throw)"

I don't know that. If interference, in fact, occurs, the ball is dead at the time of the infraction in every, single, solitary case.

It is only when possible interference occurs with a throw that we must wait to see if the throw reaches its destination and puts out its target runner. If it does put out the runner, then no interference occurred, and the ball never went dead. If it does not put out the runner, the interference is called and the ball is dead, retroactively, from the time of the infraction.

So, I repeat, if interference actually occurs, the ball is dead at the immediate moment of the interference - - even if that immediate moment must be considered retroactively.

So, then it becomes a question of mechanics. Learning to wait when the throw is possibly on target and the runner can possibly be put out. And if the intereference occurs, the ball was dead at the immediate moment the interference occurred.

That's what the rulesmakers meant. They didn't say it right, apparently, since so many umpires think it's some sort of mistake. But this is a basic idea that must be understood: If there's nothing to be interfered with, interference cannot occur. The throw put out the runner, where's the interference?
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 08:41am
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OK, so the interference scenario might have been stretching it a little. Bad example. But back to my point...

You say "a balk call is ALWAYS [my emphasis] a judgment call"; like I argued in previous posts, almost every call involves judgement, even if it's as simple as "did the batter hit the ball?"

But exactly how much judgement goes into a dropped ball while on the rubber? I mentioned 2 things to be considered -- did the ball actually touch the ground, and was the pitcher actually on the rubber (I suppose you could throw in whether the ball was live)? I don't think there'll be too many coaches arguing that "the ball never hit the ground, therefore it can't be considered 'dropped'".

Jim, I know what you mean when you say "such-and-such is always a judgement call." My brother, who will be beginning his 3rd season of umpiring, might take it the wrong way. "Coach coming out to argue my judgement call on that dropped ball balk," he thinks to himself. "Coaches can't argue judgement calls. I'm going to run him; I know his pitcher dropped it on purpose." It's not that far-fetched; I've seen the younger guys take statements like yours literally. I was one of them.

When you made the statement, and when Warren made the statement during the whole "no-call" discussion, I took it to mean that "a balk call is a judgement call" should be the entire basis of your argument with a coach or manager.
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 11:09am
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Hensley

If you're determining what happened, that's a judgement decision. It is sacrosanct, inviolable, inarguable, final.

Once you've decided what happened, then you decide what to do about it. That's the application of the rule. That decision is protestable.

Good definitions... I'll steal them for training.

As JP says... and others.. at the LIMIT (theoretical) all calls are "judgment" since one can argue they are simply blind, innattentive, or stupid.

The dropped ball sitch:
"Actually, he wasn't actually engaged on the rubber, thus..
or how about, "That ball never hit the ground, it levitated and returned to the pitcher's hand."
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