Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coach tries to enforce rules

Wow - it's been over a month.  Sorry, I'll try to update more frequently, but I've been busy updating the main Baseball Rulebook Edge site and in the offseason it's hard to think of a lot of content.  Since I'm not on the field seeing situations to give me inspiration to write about them, I'll dig into my mental archives and talk about a situation that occurred a few years ago that ended with justice being served.

I'm the plate ump and I have no partner in a little league game of 9-10 year olds.  Early season game, a lot of these players hadn't played a lot and it showed.   Head coach of one of the teams is being really annoying - subtly questioning every call, and being somewhat verbally abusive to his players - never saying an encouraging word, just constant criticism, even when they made a play.   I can hear his own parents in the bleachers complaining about him.   Anyhow, as his team is batting and they get a runner on 2nd base, he starts yelling(!) at the shortstop of the other team to get off the base line.
I probably should have said something, but I let it go as the SS moves back a few steps.  A couple of pitches later, he does it again, but this time he runs out towards the player and tells him to his face(!)  "Hey - you're on the baseline - you can't do that - my baserunner won't be able to get to 3rd base, blah, blah, blah".  I QUICKLY sprint out there and get in front of him so he's not in the player's face, and tell him to get back to the coaches box.
"But he's obstructing my player!"
-- "No!  He can stand anywhere he wants until there's a runner in the vicinity", I tell him while coaxing him towards the foul line
"Well, I'm just trying to help by teaching the players!"
-- "Teach your own players, let his Coach instruct him"
"But their Coach obviously hasn't teached (sic) his players properly or they wouldn't be standing there"
-- "Doesn't matter.  You coach your own team, please don't talk to the opponent's players"
"But he's obstructing my runner by standing there and you're not saying anything!"
(This conversation would have ended long before it started if this was at any higher level, and/or if the Coach wasn't just some player's dad who was likely volunteered by the league to coach the team.  It took every ounce of willpower for me not to eject him).
I quickly reiterate that there's no obstruction until something actually happens - I can't call obstruction because a runner didn't run because he thought a player might have been in his way, and remind him to coach his own team, and I'll take care of the umpiring.
A couple of uneventful innings later, his team has a player bat out of order.  More surprisingly (to me) the opposing Coach caught it and made a proper appeal.   So I enforce it, and the improper batter who got on 1st base on a hit goes back to the dugout.  And the batter who should have been up previously comes up to bat.  I can almost see the opposing Coach snickering.  Sure enough, he gets on base, the Coach appeals, and he too is out.   (I plan on writing a page on the batting out of turn rule, but basically if Batter #2 leads off, and that's appealled, the batter who should have been up is out (i.e. batter #1).  Once that at bat is over, the proper batter is now batter #2.  So, if #2 bats first, #1 is out for not batting in the proper order.  Then when #1 bats, #2 is out for not batting in the proper order).
Well, as you can imagine, I had a real fun time explaining this to the charming Coach that already thinks he needs to enforce the rules since I wasn't!   Again, I was real close to ejecting him when he implied that I was making up that rule to screw him because I was angry at him.
Anyhow, by the middle of the season the league had so many complaints about this guy (from opponents, Umpires, and parents) that he was removed as the Coach.  


  1. Check out this page for details on the batting out of turn rule: https://sites.google.com/site/rulebookedge/get-the-edge/out-of-order

  2. Shame on you for not dumping this fool.

    I don't care what level it is, as soon as he runs onto the field to yell at an opposing player he should be gone.
    As soon as the rule has been explained and he is told the conversation is over and he continues is he is gone.
    And during the BOO situation, as soon as he implies that I am making up rule i.e. cheating he is gone.

    While you may have been able to handle it, not dumping him implies what he was doing is ok and will cause problems when other umpires have to deal with this "coach". I appreciate you explaining of the rules, and you do so very well, but letting youth coaches get away with this crap is the type of stuff that causes us to loose umpires every year.

    Who knows maybe there is an assistant who knows how to behave like an adult and can coach his team properly.

  3. You are 100% correct. Not an excuse but this happened several years ago, when I (a) didn't have all the confidence that you need to have as an Umpire, (b) I can't remember the details but it's possible there wasn't another coach there and I wanted to make sure the kids could keep playing and (c) I didn't want the league executive thinking that I was trying to show up coaches by tossing them willy-nilly. In retrospect I realize these are all poor excuses, and the team and the league would have probably been better served if I had ran him immediately.
    As I mentioned there were many more complaints about him during the season and these might have been avoided if I had dealt probably with this the first time.