19 Smart Moves For The Baseball Umpires (16-19)

16.  Should you ever admit you missed a call?

        Confession may be good for the soul, but not in baseball.  For some reason, many coaches think it’s a complete cop-out for an umpire to admit he missed a call.  Why?  Because there isn’t much more a coach can do with that argument.  But there is plenty more he can do the rest of the game, like yell at you on every close call.  “Hey, blue, did you miss that one, too?”
        So what can you say if you know you’ve kicked one?  First let him have his say in a reasonable manner.  Then you can do a number of things.  One good response is, “Coach, right or wrong that’s the call and it’s not going to change!”  Or you can say, “Coach, if I saw it from where you did, I may have called it differently!”  You don’t want to say, “Coach, I didn’t get a good look at it, but this response will surely get a comeback such as, “You’re getting paid to get a good look at it!” Don’t set yourself up to get buried on a coach’s comeback.


17.  The proper way to go for help

        There is probably no bigger area of discussion among amateur umpires than the topic of going for help.  One philosophy is that if you are not sure, such as on a sweep tag or pulled foot at first, you should go to your partner before you make a call.  That’s fine, but you’d be surprised how many umpires make a career of going for help on tough calls.  You can just make the call and take the heat with the idea that if you don’t change it, you’ll make one coach mad.  That being said, let’s discuss a workable solution.  First, you and your partners must understand that if a call is obviously missed, and someone can help, they’ll get to the involved umpire before the coach.  Therefore, if you make a call and your partner doesn’t get to you before the coach, you can assume you either got it right or your partner can’t help you.  An example would be a play where the catcher obviously drops the ball on a tag and the plate umpire, not seeing it, calls the runner out and everyone on the offensive team goes nuts.  That’s the tip-off to the plate umpire that he may have missed something.
        The first thing a base umpire should do in that situation is to prevent any coach from coming on the field.  Then he should go to the plate umpire and say something like, “Did you see the catcher drop the ball?”  What you are doing here is not changing the call, but providing your partner with information he may not have.  He may or may not change the call.  Another type play is where and umpire is blocked out or is straight-lined and badly misses a call.  Your question here should be, “Did you get a good look at that?”  If he says “No,” provide him with the information.  If he says, “Yes,” the discussion is over.  Again, be careful how you handle these situations.  Remember, these techniques should be discussed in your pre-game meeting and should apply only to obviously missed calls.


18.  Watch what you say

      One area that gets umpires into trouble is their use of profanity on the field.  Regardless of how it’s used, profanity can cause you problems about as fast as anything you do.  The biggest reason is that profanity, and the context in which it is used, is often misconstrued.  You might say something that may be humorous to you, but if it’s misunderstood you will have a difficult time convincing coaches, players or fans.  Watch your language.
        Keep in mind that whatever you say on the field will probably get back to the dugout.  If it’s a negative comment you can count on it.  If you engage a player in a conversation on the field, it will be picked up from the dugout and someone will ask the player involved about it.  That is why plate umpires should be very careful about how they handle situations involving a batter.  Why?  Who is a couple of feet away, well within hearing range?  The other team’s catcher, who is more than happy to report any interesting tidbits to his coach or teammates.


19.  Realize you are in the people business.

        Think of how many times over the years you have had to come up with a rule interpretation on a particular play.  Now think of how may times you’ve had to settle down an unhappy pitcher, catcher or coach.  That by no means implies you should forget the rules.  What it does mean is that, hopefully, when those times occurred where you’ve dealt with a problem, you’ve been able to calm the situation rather than inflame it.  Whatever you do during a game, try to be approachable and be reasonable.  Some very good umpires are not welcome by a lot of teams because they are perceived as being arrogant.
        If you think for a moment about the most successful people in your organization, chances are, they are very good at handling people and situations.  That is a goal for which all umpires should strive.

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