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DownTownTonyBrown Mon May 02, 2005 02:55pm

Worked some kids ball this weekend - not something I typically do. But surprisingly, the play was quite good for a couple of the games - better than the majority of my HS stuff this year.

13-14 yr-olds. Pitcher is rockin' !

Guess they were used to a larger strike zone than I was calling.

Pitch comes in high and out (just barely below top of shoulder and probably 4-6 inches out). "Ball." "Where was that, Blue?" I respond, "It was high." He responds to his pitcher, "That was a great pitch. Keep 'em right there."

This didn't feel like encouragement to the pitcher. It felt like arguing balls and strikes. While dusting the plate I responded, "If you're going to argue balls and strikes with me, you won't be here long. That pitch was high and outside." He looks away and gives no response. All is well.

Next half inning here comes the coach to say "My catcher tells me you threatened to kick him out." "Not really. I felt like he was trying to argue pitches with me. And I basically told him to knock it off." Okay. All is well again.

This pitcher's fast ball is really quite tremedous for his age. Batter's are not getting around on it. The coach starts telling the batters to scoot up in the box!? I'm thinking, what? (Somebody tell me what the coach was thinking.) So batters scoot up. Box is nearly completely gone. Same arrogant catcher now scoots up too - he easily has his mitt even with the back of the plate.

I call time and using the bat, draw a line where I estimate the front of the catcher's box should be. I explain that he can reach across but his feet must be behind the line. Again, he acts indignant. His coach has told him to scoot up as much as he can. "No. I'm sorry, you've got to be behind the line so the batter can swing the bat and so I can see the pitches."

Next half inning the coach comes out and wants an explanation. I explain. A little later the catcher requests that I draw the front of the batter's box because he feels the batters are getting too far forward.

I'm starting to get aggravated now but I'm trying to make everyone happy so I borrow the bat and draw the front of the box. Of course at this age the bats are short (not 36") so I incorrectly lay the bat down at the front of the plate and draw a front line that is probably 2 inches beyond the correct distance. The catcher now yells "Holy crap." I'm about two heartbeats away from tossin this smartass, 13 year-old peckerwood. "You're not going to start arguing with me again are you?" Again he looks away and silence. We continue. Batters don't even get within 6 inches of stepping on my too-far-forward line. Catcher of course is working his way toward erasing my back line and getting closer to the plate.

Obviously the catcher's box line is to protect the catcher from getting hit. Front of the batter's box is to prevent the batter from getting an extra step of a running start. One is safety. One is to prevent offensive advantage, or from their point of view, to give me opportunity to call an out in their favor.

Another inning or so later, the tournament director shows up to see how things are going - this is the first time I've ever met him. So between innings we are talking when here comes the coach again. He wants me to draw that front line in there again and in the correct position. He proceeds to tell me and the director agrees by stating the correct dimensions, that it should be 3 feet in front of the back corner. Not sure how we avoided any confrontation there - perhaps I had calmed down from the coach telling me how I should be calling things for him. By the time I was ready to make a response, he was gone. I drew the line. The batters were now standing even a little farther forward and probably within a couple inches of the now pretty close to correctly drawn line. Still no problem.

Rest of game went fine. Peckerwood's team won in the bottom of the 7th by scoring three runs. Final score 5 to 6.

So, somebody tell me why they wanted the batters to scoot forward when they couldn't get around on the fastballs anyway?

And as a veteran umpire, what would you have done differently in this situation? Besides not taking these pee-wee games. Some of the play was actually pretty good - and some was pretty poor. Oh well.

Rant off.

blueskysblue Mon May 02, 2005 03:56pm

Sounds like the catcher was baiting you a little. I usually ignore that kind of talk: if the pitcher continues to put the ball in the same location, I will continue to call it a "ball".

The catcher's box actually is bordered by the edge of the plate. Even though I think some catchers are too "up front" in the box, I don't attempt to correct it (12 and over). Eventually, bat hits the mitt: "catcher obstruction", further umpire action if warranted (FED 1-1e).

High School: Problems with a player, such as you have noted, I discuss with the head coach. It's up to him / her if he wants the player present or not. The problem with "threatening" is that sooner or later you have to execute the action threatened, or back down. Game management can really go to s*** if you back away from threatening to toss someone. Give the coach the warning and let him deal with it (or not).

In a game several years ago, I had a young HS catcher who had let loose a long string of expletives, tell me that I could not eject him because he was the only catcher the team had! The replacement catcher didn't do that bad, actually!

CALL ON!


blueskysblue Mon May 02, 2005 03:59pm

Sorry,

I forgot about all the line drawing. I don't draw lines. If the coaches feel the need, they can re-line the box between innings. Once the lines are "gone", it all becomes umpire judgement. I don't let players draw lines and I don't respond to them telling me to draw lines, either. Since they are usually the ones that have kicked dirt over the lines in the first place.

mcrowder Mon May 02, 2005 04:02pm

Other than incorrectly telling the catcher he had to move back, I don't think you did anything wrong.

DG Mon May 02, 2005 08:41pm

I can't explain why the offensive coach to move his batter's closer to the pitcher when they can't get around on the ball already. But if a catcher wants to crowd the plate I just tell him that if he crowds the plate he is going to lose strikes for his pitcher because if I can't see the plate I'm guessing where it is. If he does not move back call everything outside a ball, even if it was over the corner of the plate and he should get the message if he has half a brain.

I also remember a game once when I was having a little problem with the catcher. After a call he obviously disagreed with (body language), I called time, walked a couple steps towards the dugout and said "coach, do you have another catcher?" He said "yes", and I said "good, because you are getting ready to need him." The catcher's attitude changed pretty suddenly and I had no more problems.

Question - are you calling a varsity zone for a 13-14 game?

jicecone Tue May 03, 2005 07:03am

Can't explain why some coaches are even allowed to be there. Varsity game last night, no outs, runner on third, team ahead by 3 runs, 2-2 count and coach trys suicide squeeze. Batter bunts the ball foul.???????????

I am NOT getting into a pissing match with a 13 yr old. "It will be a long game if he keeps throwing the ball there son."

I will explain to the catcher the consquences if he interferes with the pitch, and I might also explain it to the coach, ONCE. After that, he can set up in Chicago for all I care.

I don't get into pissing contests because I'm the ump and I have the final say.

aevans410 Tue May 03, 2005 07:19am

Quote:

Originally posted by jicecone
Can't explain why some coaches are even allowed to be there. Varsity game last night, no outs, runner on third, team ahead by 3 runs, 2-2 count and coach trys suicide squeeze. Batter bunts the ball foul.???????????


Varsity game, Home team up to bat, down by 2. 1-2 count, hitter has squared and fouled off both of the first strikes. He squares off the third time, fouls the third one off. Im BU in A. PU calls the BR out. 1B coach says to me "blue he fouled it off". I say "yep sure did, on a bunt with two strikes". He says "AND?". One of the parents at the fence says "He can't bunt with 2 strikes". Coach says "Really? Maybe I shouldn't have called a bunt then!"

My jaw drops. I see where your coming from J.

Let the catcher sneak up there. When a hitter gets a freebie when he hits the catchers mitt, or a beautiful pitch on the corner gets balled because you couldn't see the plate, he or his coach should get the hint.

Maybe this kid was used to getting sub-par officials that he could work, and he ran into one he couldn't. It seems to happen to me when I work little league/pony ball where EJs get handed out regularly. I had 2 last night as a matter of fact.

bob jenkins Tue May 03, 2005 07:24am

Quote:

Originally posted by DownTownTonyBrown
I call time and using the bat, draw a line where I estimate the front of the catcher's box should be. I explain that he can reach across but his feet must be behind the line.
Where is the "front of the catcher's box" that the feet must be behind?

DownTownTonyBrown Tue May 03, 2005 02:09pm

Wow!
 
That is the second rule that I have found myself to be enforcing incorrectly in the last two days - no I'm too embarrased to tell you the other one.

Where in the smitzitz did I get that rule???

Is it ASA that has the front of the catcher's box coincide with the back of the batter's box? Somewhere I know there is such a rule... whose, I don't know.

So the catcher can scoot up as far as he wants in OBR and also in FED? It looks like they can in FED softball also... Where in the heck did I get that rule? It's got to be ASA; it's the only other rules set to which I've ever worked.
:(

bob jenkins Wed May 04, 2005 07:05am

Re: Wow!
 
Quote:

Originally posted by DownTownTonyBrown


So the catcher can scoot up as far as he wants in OBR and also in FED?

Generally, yes.

(There's a practical / safety limit, of course, but nothing specifically in the rules books.)


PeteBooth Wed May 04, 2005 08:50am

<i> Originally posted by DownTownTonyBrown

I call time and using the bat, draw a line where I estimate the front of the catcher's box should be. I explain that he can reach across but his feet must be behind the line. Again, he acts indignant. His coach has told him to scoot up as much as he can. "No. I'm sorry, you've got to be behind the line so the batter can swing the bat and so I can see the pitches."

Next half inning the coach comes out and wants an explanation. I explain. A little later the catcher requests that I draw the front of the batter's box because he feels the batters are getting too far forward. </i>

Tony we are not the "Grounds crew". I had a similar complaint about the batter's box in a Tournament Double Header Game about 2 weeks ago. Here in the East except for the first week of April the weather has been rainy and cold. In this particular game, the batter's box was gone by the second inning of game 1.

The lines were not re-drawn for game 2. During the second game, the coach of the visitors starting trailing in the 5th inning and comes to me complaining about the batter's box. I told him if he had a problem he should have brought it up at the Plate conference where he could have requested the TD to have the field re-lined.

I use my best judgement when there are no lines defining the batter's box. I have enough to do, I'm not going to draw lines all game long.

Side Note: I have found that the strike zone is that which is accepted for the level of play one is calling. If you are going to umpire this particular league on a regular basis and the pitch that you called a ball is EXPECTED to be a strike in this league, then start calling them strikes, after all it only helps you out.

Pete Booth


outathm Wed May 04, 2005 06:17pm

,
 
One of the many problems I have with this posting is the sentence "I normally don't" in reference to working youth ball. The kids in youth ball today are the varsity and AAU athletes of tomm. They deserve to get a good umpire just as nayone else. I wokred a 10u game last night and Im working a NJCAA regional tommorrow. We all owe it to the game to work at all levels. Remember where you started.

akalsey Wed May 04, 2005 06:30pm

I try to do one at least one Little League game a week.

I've been trying to get local umpires to volunteer their time for a couple of games a year for the local little league as a way to give back to the community. I tell the umpires that these kids are playing their hearts out and they deserve to have an umpire that knows the game.

Most umpires have told me that it's not the kids that bother them, it's the parents. If it weren't for the overbearing parents sitting five feet from the plate, right up against the screen, they'd consider doing some kiddie ball games. But between the coaches who have no manners, and the spectators who have no sense, most quality umpires won't help out.


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