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Old Tue Jul 02, 2002, 08:09pm
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Question

Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs, ball hit to the shortstop. I take a few cheat steps toward first and am set for the play. I notice that the throw is going to be high. The first baseman jumps up right over first base. I am focused on the base waiting to see if the first baseman comes down first, or runner gets the bag first. The runner hits the bag first. Here's the problem. Their was a tag also. I thought I might have heard it but was screened by the large first baseman's body. I called safe after thinking about going to my partner. I hear the uproar from the coaches whose dugout was 15 yards from the base. I then asked my plate umpire (2-man system) if he had a tag. He made a great call and called the runner out. My question is, would you go to the plate umpire when you know he is 90 feet away, not at the 45 foot line like he would be with nobody out, or would you live and die with the call? I was working with a good partner and he made a good call. Thinking back on it I might have asked first before making my call but it is a hard call to put on your partner who is 90 feet away. I would have a hard time making the tag call when I couldn't see it but heard something. Comments??

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Old Tue Jul 02, 2002, 09:55pm
Rog Rog is offline
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re: "I take a few cheat steps toward first and am set for the play"

Where did you start to move in from? Sounds like you crowded the play, and lost a better view from where you had been - closer is not always better!!!!!

Anyway, if you are screened on a particular play such as this, try to go to your partner first for help, "IF" they are in a position to help you out.
That will not always be the case; so, sometimes we have to settle for dying of our own accord.....
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Old Tue Jul 02, 2002, 10:03pm
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I was in Position C, and took a few steps forward on the hit like I always do and then was able to move a little towards the 45' line. Definitely wasn't crowsind the play, called the play from a few feet in front of B.
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Old Tue Jul 02, 2002, 10:52pm
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If you have reason to believe that your partner saw something that you did not, regardless of his position, and what he saw will have an outcome on the play, go to him before you make the call.

In your case, you thought there might have been a tag, but did not actually see it. I would have pointed to the PU and asked "Did you see a tag?". If at that point, he also did not see a tag because he was out of position, distracted or whatever, you cannot call it. You can't ever call a play because you think it happened. You can only call what either you or your partner actually sees happen.

Here is a Yogi Bearaism for you: If neither umpire saw it happen, it did not happen, even if it happened.
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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 08:34am
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  • On a poor throw to 1B, make them prove the tag to you. Don't call the out because you think they might have gotten the tag on him. The poor throw is not good play. When in doubt, do not reward poor play. When the poor throw occurs, consider the runner safe until proven out.

  • As PU, on plays to 1B expect that your partner may come to you for help from your angle. My expectation of this help is no different than the expectation that a PU may come to me on a check swing when I'm a BU. I expect to help if needed, and I look to obtain the added information by watching for the tag or a pulled foot.

  • When your partner potentially has a better angle (angle is more important than distance) and if you have doubt, ask him specifically "did you see a tag." You are not asking him for his judgment on the timing of the tag, only the mere fact of whether he saw the tag.
    Do so preferrably before any initial call.

  • If you have made a call and have doubt regarding the accuracy call, you'd better judge the impact of a reversed call before going for help. Going for help means you may need to reverse the call. Some calls are difficult to reverse due to play that may have ensued thereafter. While at times you may have to live with a missed call, there are many times when a missed call is easily correctable with the added information provided by your partner. It is not "illegal" to change an obviously blown call after you have made it.

  • OBR, PBUC, NCAA, and Fed all state or cite example supporting their desire to have the official get the call correct vs. the official's perceived loss of dignity in changing a call. When done properly before the initial call, gaining information from your partner's added angle shows great crew coordination and strength that is respected by all.

While it is idealistic to think that all calls made will always be correct, errors can be minimized. Using correct mechanics in gaining help will save you many headaches of argument, and can add respect to your crew strength. While weaknesses exist in the 2-man system that can be overcome by properly gaining help, those instances need to be minimized and should not be used as a crutch for poor mechanics or indecisiveness. Past arrogance of living with obviously blown calls is diminishing in all sport, including baseball. Although nobody likes being on the short end of a changed call, many still respect that the officials did what was necessary to get the call correct.


Just my opinion,

Freix

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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 08:41am
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Once you make the call, don't go to your partner! If you have the guts to make the call, have the guts to stay with it! If you need help from your partner, ask him before making your call!
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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 08:54am
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I agree with ALMOST everything Steve has said. Good insight. BUT . . . once you make that call of "safe", going to your partner to ask about a tag would, IN MY OPINION, be inappropriate. Reversing a call in the situation you described wouldn't be warranted. A call could be reversed if, for instance, you called an "out" but the ball was obviously laying on the ground or even out of play; that's a rule question as opposed to a judgement call. In your situation, you called him "safe" for a reason. If you didn't see a tag, you don't have a tag unless persuasive evidence is available to the contrary. Asking your partner after the fact puts him in a difficult situation. What if he didn't see it either? (Because he was watching R3 or R2 or removing a bat from the home plate area.) What if he said, "I didn't see it"? You'd be stuck with your "wrong" safe call anyhow. By asking, "Did he tag him?" doesn't answer the question of "when did he tag him"? Your partner may have seen a tag alright, but it could have been after BR reached 1st. You already made the "safe" call; live with the hoots and hollars and get on with the game. Get in better position the next time.
Jerry
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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 09:41am
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Quote:
Originally posted by ozzy6900
Once you make the call, don't go to your partner! If you have the guts to make the call, have the guts to stay with it! If you need help from your partner, ask him before making your call!
I have a problem with this philosophy of not asking for help after making the call. I do not call baseball or softball, only basketball, football, and volleyball, so I will concede that you are the experts. But, it would seem to me that on a bang-bang play, you may make a call based on what you saw, but a louder than normal uproar from the bench or crowd may indicate something you missed, i.e., a missed tag. I don't see any reason not to ask for help here, nor do I see the validity of pausing before making many of these calls and having a conference with your partner. To me, this is similar to an out of bounds call in basketball that happens on my line, I blow it and signal based on what I saw. If there is an immediate uproar from the crowd and players alike (more than the usual whining), it can very well indicate I may have missed something and I will make eye contact with my partner asking him if he saw something I didn't. JMHO.

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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 10:17am
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David, the greatest difficulty an umpire faces in this situation is the effect of his call on continuing play. When a basketball goes out of play, play stops and the officials can conference if unsure of whom should get possession. When a call is needed at 1B, it must be made---even if doubt exists. The call itself does not kill further play as it does in basketball. There is potential for continuing play following that call that is based on the decision of the original call. Thus, changing that original call becomes difficult.

Still, there are many times when that original call can be changed since it did not effect any ensuing play. IMO, those calls are candidates for correction, are the majority of calls missed at 1B due to a pulled foot or a swipe tag (no ensuing play develops), are a result of weaknesses in the 2-man system, and are directed to be corrected by the rulesmakers when known to be obviously wrong. Unfortunately too many officials who could correct an obviously blown call won't because of fear of loss of dignity. IMO, more dignity is lost in showing arrogance of maintaining a poor call when most (including your partner) know the call is wrong vs. gaining the needed information to correct the call when it can be done and had no effect on other play.

The age of arrogance among officials is disappearing.
The rulesmakers want the best effort made to get the call correct when the situation allows for an obviously blown call to be corrected. Sport changes, and with it so does officiating. Don't drive a Model T all your life or you'll be left in the dust of newer, better models.


Just my opinion,

Freix


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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 11:41am
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After reviewing what happened in my head many times I came up with the following conclusion on what I would do next time.

1. If I think there might have been a tag, I will go to my partner immediately if he is in a reasonable position to help and is a good partner.

2 In this situation I am glad I went to my partner after the play. There was 2 outs, and this was a force play and their was no continuing action. I have been umpiring for 8 years and this is the first time this has happened. I can usually see the tag, but this was just one of those times where I was clarly blocked and didn't think there was a tag, but after the entire dugout reacted, I went to the plate umpire right after my call. I didn't wait long. After the game, both coaches commended us on our teamwork and getting the call right. Which is the most important thing. My partner got the credit for the good call, but I'll have another day to show my stuff. I am my own worst critic.

Basically, I wish it didn't have to happen, and wished I went to the plate umpire first. But at the end, we got the call right and that is what is important.


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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 11:45am
Rog Rog is offline
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re: "Model T all your life or you'll be left in the dust of newer, better models"

Hmmmmm - the good ol' model T, first built in 1909. Many still operating in its original design. I wonder how many of those "newer, better models" will be able to say that almost 100 years later?????

Personally, I'd take a model "T" over a 2002 T-bird, any day of the week..... ; - )
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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 12:08pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry

If you didn't see a tag, you don't have a tag unless persuasive evidence is available to the contrary. Asking your partner after the fact puts him in a difficult situation. What if he didn't see it either? (Because he was watching R3 or R2 or removing a bat from the home plate area.) What if he said, "I didn't see it"? You'd be stuck with your "wrong" safe call anyhow. By asking, "Did he tag him?" doesn't answer the question of "when did he tag him"? Your partner may have seen a tag alright, but it could have been after BR reached 1st. You already made the "safe" call; live with the hoots and hollars and get on with the game. Get in better position the next time.
Jerry
Excellent point, Jerry, and in the situation originally posed I would probably not have gone for help. The timing of the play at 1B is too close. It was stated F3 went up for the ball, not toward home plate. That means all action is extremely close to 1B, and the judgment of BR touching 1B before any tag could be sold by the BU if he wasn't certain of the tag. With the poor throw, benefit of doubt goes to the offense. Yet, if the timing of the swipe tag is such that you know the runner is out if the runner was tagged, then attempting to obtain that information is not wrong. However, consider the runner safe until proven out when a swipe tag occurs.

However, if the throw pulls F3 toward home (a frequent occurrence), the timing issue then becomes little factor. The existence of tag vs. no tag is the primary factor. As PU, I frequently have a far better angle on that play than BU starting in B or C---even if I have moved slightly up the line toward 3B for a potential play there. BU's poor angle is NOT due to his poor positioning or lack of hustle, it's due to problems inherent in the 2-man system. BU can't move beyond the back of the mound until he's certain the initial play will not go to 3B or even back to 2B. BU is responsible for first call in the infield, wherever it may be!!!

As stated, I believe PU should be watching for the foot and swipe tag at 1B. Aren't you watching that when moving up the 1B line when the play started with nobody on? Furthermore, I support my partner---I was taught the importance of that as a newbie. I am prepared to help in situations of difficulty---knowing the weaknesses of the 2-man system.

Sometimes supporting my partner may mean putting other responsibilities secondary, yet not ignored:
  • Seldom does the action at 1B occur at the same time as the touch of home plate or 3B. Far more instances of argument occur regarding the play at 1B vs. appeals of a missed bases at home or 3B. I go with the odds in supporting my partner---that's my choice.
  • As for covering a play at 3B, I can move slightly up the 3B line and still maintain angle to 1B that my partner is unable to achieve. I read IF the runner is moving to 3B and I read the quality of throw to 1B---of which both will provide indication of a potential play at 3B. A poor throw to 1B seldom results with a play being made to 3B. Still, I am able to see the play at 1B and still obtain adequate coverage for the call at 3B, although not optimum. I've never in 23 years had a complaint of not being in proper position to make the call at 3B when needed. Too often I've seen officials (typically newbies) hightail to 3B for a play that never occurs---abandoning the potential of providing any help to their partner if needed.
  • (Unrelated to play at 1B) I'll also support my partner in watching plays regarding difficult catch/no catch decisions should he look to me for help. IMO, it's more important to know whether the catch occurred than to watch for a missed base or one left slightly early if occurring simultaneously. That is not meant to imply that the watching of bases is totally ignored.
  • Supporting my partner in these ways has saved far more grief than it has ever caused.
    Bottom line being that if my partner needs help, he knows I'm there.

Additionally, I'll never request my partner to change his call at 1B unless I feel absolutely certain about the information he is asking of me that would result in the call being changed. If asked for information before he makes a call, I'll not consider F3 off the base unless certain he was off, and I'll never state I saw a tag unless certain it occurred. Still, once my partner has drawn me into his call, I expect him to accept that which I feel is appropriate. Don't call a partner into a judgment call that's not his and expect him to live with judgment he doesn't agree with. The purpose of going to your partner is to obtain help; the purpose is not to appease the complaining coach at the expense of your partner.

I'm becoming a believer that the best 2-man mechanic with R2 only is to allow BU to handle all potential plays at the bases, and for PU to stay at home and watch for added information at 1B. Although that mechanic is not advocated by the Fed, it is advocated by other sets of mechanics. That allows BU to know what PU is doing and to be able to expect assistance if he needs to go to PU before making a call. That is, BU would know that PU won't be running to 3B and not watching occurrences at 1B. If BU moves to allow a throwing lane to 1B, he can very adequately move to cover subsequent play at 2B or 3B.


Just my opinion,

Freix



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Old Wed Jul 03, 2002, 10:22pm
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Originally posted by devdog69

To me, this is similar to an out of bounds call in basketball that happens on my line, I blow it and signal based on what I saw. If there is an immediate uproar from the crowd and players alike (more than the usual whining), it can very well indicate I may have missed something and I will make eye contact with my partner asking him if he saw something I didn't. JMHO.

You can't compare basketball or football to baseball and here's why.

Sitch: r1/r3 last inning 1 OUT HT up Game tied.

B1 grounds to F4 who attempts to apply a tag on r1.

Let's Freeze for a moment. This call by the umpire is CRUCIAL in determining F4's next move. If U2 calls R1 out, there's a real good chance F4 will flip to F3 for the inning ending DP and send the game into extra innings.

However, if U2 calls Safe, F4 will fire home and try to get R3 or the game is over.

Now after dust settles, U2 missed the call. At this point because of CONTINUOUS action an umpire has to LIVE with the call. It's almost impossible to go back in time and fix - that's why under certain circumstances you LIVE with the call.

On the play in question, this BU got lucky in that the PU could help him, but in most situations with r3, the PU cannot help you especially if r3 is heading for home.

No matter what sport we officiate we are NOT going to get'em all correct - it's part of the game. Now it's more common in football and basketball for officials to get together, but most of the time it involves a dead ball type situation and not a continuous type action play as the one I described.

The proper mechanic is to go to your partner BEFORE you make the call and also Do not hang your partner out to dry because you were the one out of position.

When we have r3, for the most part the BU is on his /her own on plays at first. One develops bad habits by constantly going to their partner when they shouldn't.

Pete Booth
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Old Thu Jul 04, 2002, 03:40pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by PeteBooth


You can't compare basketball or football to baseball and here's why.

Sitch: r1/r3 last inning 1 OUT HT up Game tied.

B1 grounds to F4 who attempts to apply a tag on r1.

Let's Freeze for a moment. This call by the umpire is CRUCIAL in determining F4's next move. If U2 calls R1 out, there's a real good chance F4 will flip to F3 for the inning ending DP and send the game into extra innings.

However, if U2 calls Safe, F4 will fire home and try to get R3 or the game is over.

Now after dust settles, U2 missed the call. At this point because of CONTINUOUS action an umpire has to LIVE with the call. It's almost impossible to go back in time and fix - that's why under certain circumstances you LIVE with the call.
Pete, in this play the BU knows the PU is NOT in position to help. He does not have an known angle where he'd obtain better information than the responsible official. Little help should be expected on this play.

Still, it is a good example of an experienced official recognizing a situation where it would be difficult to change a call. IMO, this is far more the exception than the plays that occur with BU starting in C position and resulting in a pulled foot or a swipe tag on the 1B line. PU's are trained to watch for those in case help is needed. Weren't you?

Do you throw away the bushel because of one bad apple?
Many, and I hazard to say most, errors on a pulled foot or swipe tag are candidates for change if obviously blown. Still, proper mechanics will help get the call right to start with.


Quote:
Originally posted by PeteBooth

On the play in question, this BU got lucky in that the PU could help him, but in most situations with r3, the PU cannot help you especially if r3 is heading for home.
I totally disagree with this statement. The PU was doing his job.
Most PU's will still be watching the play along the 1B line in order to aid their partner if needed. Most can chew gum and walk at the same time. Far more problems occur along the 1B line than with an uncontested R3 scoring. Pete, most PU's are aware of that and are prepared to aid their partner in a 2-man system. Weren't you? Would you care to post about the numerous appeals you've had at home on this play?


Just my opinion,

Freix




[Edited by Bfair on Jul 4th, 2002 at 03:42 PM]
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Old Thu Jul 04, 2002, 10:56pm
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Originally posted by Bfair

Most PU's will still be watching the play along the 1B line in order to aid their partner if needed. Most can chew gum and walk at the same time. Far more problems occur along the 1B line than with an uncontested R3 scoring. Pete, most PU's are aware of that and are prepared to aid their partner in a 2-man system. Weren't you? Would you care to post about the numerous appeals you've had at home on this play?

Steve, yes in a 2 person system, the PU has to help out, however, not with R3, especially if R3 is coming home.

When we have r3 the PU's job is as follows:

1. The tag up if there is a fly ball

2. Any action around third base ie, interference by R3 or obstruction by F5

3. Then there's the play at the plate. Is F2 obstructing R3? Did R3 actually touch the plate? Did F2 apply the tag.

It is not a good idea to make calls some 90 ft. away. The reason we go to clinics is to learn proper positioning and timing. When we have r3, the BU should know that he /she is on his / her own.

The PU has enough responsibilities with R3 already, let's see (1) call the pitch, (2) Fair / Foul (3) Any action around the plate area ie; Catcher's / batter's interference and some others, (4) DBT - it's the PU 's call to watch for ball going into DBT, (4) The tag up at third base and finally the call at home. If the BU cannot make this call why have a BU. Steve the BU has to earn his / her paycheck also.


IMO the play in question worked this time, but if as BU you get in a habit of pointing to your partner when your partner is some 90 ft. away, you are asking for trouble.

With nobody on that's different, because the PU is supposed to come out and be in position to aid his partner, however, the PU isn't 90 ft. away either.

Suppose the PU couldn't help on this play in other words he didn't see the tag and now your partner points to you. He /she just hung you out to dry Now get ready for holy he** to break out. This call belongs to the BU - PERIOD and it's the BU's job to get into proper position. If he /she can't then sell the call the best you can.

We just differ on this approach which as they say makes the world go around. In fact, I often tell my partner I'm watching 3 you are on your own so that ahead of time my partner knows I can't help them.

Don't know what schools you attended, but I haven't heard of one that condones this. We had a HS clinic this past year taught by minor league umpires and they stressed the importance of the BU making this call and selling it. Can't expect the PU to help you out with R3. What next the PU will make the call at second base on a steal attempt also? Might as well work solo and get the extra half FEE.

Pete Booth

[Edited by PeteBooth on Jul 5th, 2002 at 08:22 AM]
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