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Old Wed Apr 12, 2006, 02:15am
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Dilemma - Dropped ball during rundown

Two of my recent games...

R1 in rundown bewteen 1st and 2nd. Defensive player catches ball and forces the runner toward 2nd (okay so there's the first mistake). The defensive player carries the ball in his ungloved hand for at least 30 feet and then tags the runner in the back. I call an immediate out two steps before the runner reaches 2nd and make the appropriate signal. As the defensive player drops his hand with the ball, he hits something (his own leg?) and the ball drops to the ground. I let the out call stand and said that the dropped ball was a separate act from the tag. No questions from players or coaches but I hear a fan saying "But he dropped the ball."

R3 in run down between 3rd and home. Same defensive mistake - forcing the runner towards home. Again, the defensive player carries the ball 20 feet and tags the runner in the back two to three steps before homeplate. Again, I call an immediate out and begin the signal ... as the ball drops to the ground after touching the runner's back. I change my call and sell the safe call yelling "You dropped the ball. You dropped the ball!!!" Again, no questions from players or coaches and nothing but groans from the fans.

Is there a better mechanic for out and safe calls during a rundown? Should I be waiting longer - to wait would have meant that the runner would have reached their objective (2nd, or home in the last scenario) before I made my call. I really think the immediate call is needed during a rundown but I may be mistaken.

To make the immediate call before they reach the base surely helps sell the call. And to wait until after the runner has reached their objective will surely create some nay sayers that I got the call wrong (when they don't drop the ball).

Maybe it's just a damned if you do and damned if you don't? Comments? Suggestions? Proper mechanic?
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Old Wed Apr 12, 2006, 02:56am
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I think you're overestimating the negative effects of waiting a second to make the call. Take the time to make sure of what you have, then sell the call.
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Old Wed Apr 12, 2006, 06:51am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DownTownTonyBrown
Two of my recent games...

R1 in rundown bewteen 1st and 2nd. Defensive player catches ball and forces the runner toward 2nd (okay so there's the first mistake). The defensive player carries the ball in his ungloved hand for at least 30 feet and then tags the runner in the back. I call an immediate out two steps before the runner reaches 2nd and make the appropriate signal. As the defensive player drops his hand with the ball, he hits something (his own leg?) and the ball drops to the ground. I let the out call stand and said that the dropped ball was a separate act from the tag. No questions from players or coaches but I hear a fan saying "But he dropped the ball."

R3 in run down between 3rd and home. Same defensive mistake - forcing the runner towards home. Again, the defensive player carries the ball 20 feet and tags the runner in the back two to three steps before homeplate. Again, I call an immediate out and begin the signal ... as the ball drops to the ground after touching the runner's back. I change my call and sell the safe call yelling "You dropped the ball. You dropped the ball!!!" Again, no questions from players or coaches and nothing but groans from the fans.

Is there a better mechanic for out and safe calls during a rundown? Should I be waiting longer - to wait would have meant that the runner would have reached their objective (2nd, or home in the last scenario) before I made my call. I really think the immediate call is needed during a rundown but I may be mistaken.

To make the immediate call before they reach the base surely helps sell the call. And to wait until after the runner has reached their objective will surely create some nay sayers that I got the call wrong (when they don't drop the ball).

Maybe it's just a damned if you do and damned if you don't? Comments? Suggestions? Proper mechanic?
Why would there be a specific mechanic for a call after a rundown? What is different between an out or safe here than as a result of any other play?

Even for an "immediate" call, as you put it, the umpire still needs to see the entire play. You see the play, make the call. Trying to do anything different will only get you in trouble.

BTW, who really cares what the fans think?
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Old Wed Apr 12, 2006, 08:01am
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If it helps with the timing for you, point at the tag when you see it, and then make the call. This gives you the extra half-second you might need to say safe instead of out if the ball comes out (as in your 2nd scenario), and you are already pointing at the drop in that case. The delay is NOT a negative, and will keep you from making too early a call.
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Old Wed Apr 12, 2006, 08:12am
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Glad to hear you are still on the planet, assuming Idaho is.
As long as you are counting mistakes, add "I hear a fan ", especially as you are usually more confident than that.
You must have been busy with two other runners coming home and then a rundown on the same play.
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Old Thu Apr 13, 2006, 12:08pm
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Thanks, all.

I posted this dilemma on the baseball site also. Concensus there, and here, is to SLOW DOWN and see the whole play.

To be slow and make the right call is always acceptable. (The alternative of fast and wrong would never be acceptable.)

Tony

P.S. I did hear the fan but I didn't react or even look up. It was a rather cold, windy day and perhaps that one comment just happened to get blown directly at me?
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Old Thu Apr 13, 2006, 12:33pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DownTownTonyBrown

P.S. I did hear the fan but I didn't react or even look up. It was a rather cold, windy day and perhaps that one comment just happened to get blown directly at me?
There is nothing wrong with hearing the fans as long as you don't listen to them.
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Old Thu Apr 13, 2006, 01:15pm
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I agree with everyone else here....SLOW DOWN! I still have to tell myself that every game to slow down, I have gotten better with plate mechanics thud...ball or thud...strike. But still want to make a rush call in the field...it all happened so fast I should call it fast, right??? Wrong. I worked with a new partner lastnight, good official, works college a couple of state finals under his belt. Had a play at 3rd ball coming in from outfield runner hook sliding and I got a feeling of what good timing was and it is a lot slower than what I would have called it. The slide was done runner had stopped moving and he came in with a sell safe call that left no doubt! Just like a call at first when you call out when the runner is a couple of steps past first there is nothing wrong with waiting till the play is "done" to make the call.

And on another note I guess I am getting better at not listening to people I did a game Tuesday night where one player was a daughter of a co-worker. This lady came to me yesterday at work and asked if I was deaf. I guess she was heckling me from the whole game, to a point where her husband even told her to be quiet, and I honestly never even heard her. But I also have had a case where the wind blew just right when that one fan seemed to yell!!
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Old Thu Apr 13, 2006, 02:03pm
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I kind of liken it to reading in front of people. You can get caught up in the reading and even if you start slow it is easy to start picking up the pace too fast. A priest of mine told me once if you think you are reading at the perfect speed you are still reading too fast, SLOW down. Same holds true for making a call. Give yourself some time, and then add on some more time and you should be about right. When you are on the field, 2-3 seconds seems like an eternity. Dave
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