Friday, May 20, 2011

Coaches still don't know the rules

yeah, I know.  And in other shocking news, the sun is still hot!

I’ve been umpiring for about a month now, and I finally have some spare time to post another update.  I’m going to use some of my recent experiences to highlight some rules situations that I witnessed first hand.

Junior Little League game:  I’m doing the bases to help guide a new umpire who is doing the plate for the first time.  Had a couple of tricky plays:
R1,R3, nobody out.  R1 is stealing on a pitch.  A pop up behind the shortstop.  He catches it, and R1 realizes it’s caught and starts going back to first base.  The shortstop fires a bullet towards first… and throws it over the first baseman and out of play.  I call “TIME!”  (note: this all happened before R1 returns to 1st base).  PU awards R3 home, and R1 second base.  I try to catch PU’s attention and point to 3rd, and he gives me a quizzical look, I nod my head, and he says “runner – 3rd base”.  Well that brings out the defensive coach to question the rookie ump.
 Usually, I’ll stand back when a coach approaches another member of the crew, but since he was unsure of the base award initially, I get in close to listen and step in if necessary.  “He was going back to 1st – how does he end up on 3rd base?  You were right when you said second base” I hear the coach tell the ump. “Um, well, I, uh…” Ok, I heard enough and politely stepped in.
“Coach – he gets two bases from where he was at the time of the pitch.  He had been on 1st, therefore he gets 3rd.”  
“No, no, no”, he says” it’s 1 and 1 – he was going back to 1st base, so he gets that, plus he gets to go to 2nd”. 
“Sorry coach, rule is 2 bases.  Period!” And I’m emphatic enough to imply that the discussion is over.  But he wants to continue.
“There is an interpretation manual which covers this specific example – he only gets 2nd!”. 
There is no such interpretation manual.  Actually, there is – the Jaksa Roder manual - but I guarantee it does not say this about this situation.  So, I tell him,
“Ok, coach, this discussion is over.  You can decide to agree with me and sit down, or you can decide to disagree and play this game under protest.  Either way we’re continuing as is”. 
Unfortunately (I’d love for him to file a protest and have it turned down), he decides to go back to the bench.
Lost in all this was the fact that the runner had never touched 1st base (i.e., tagged up after a fly ball), and all he had to do was have his pitcher throw the ball to 1st base and I would have called him out.  Didn’t really matter what base he was on.
Here's my article on The Full Windup explaining base awards, which covers this exact play.

Another one in this same game:
R1,R3 1 out:  R1 is stealing on the pitch.  Deep fly ball to RF.  R3 tags up and scores, R1 is on his way to 3rd, and by the time the ball is caught he doesn’t make much of an attempt to get back to first.  He’s easily doubled off there.   My partner advises the scorekeeper that the run counts, and lets the coach know that as well.  The coach comes running to ME  (I guess he figures I’m the senior guy and I’ll overrule the other one?)  “It can’t count!  No run can score when the 3rd out is a force play, blue!”  Wow – sounds like this coach read the rulebook.  Well, some of it anyways, because a failure to tag up is not a force play, but rather an appeal play.    So, I patiently explain this to him.  He seems sceptical,  (i.e. he thinks I’m full of shit) but lets it go with a “well, if that’s what you’re going to go with, that’s fine”.
I'm going to add a page on the Rulebook Edge Site to cover runs scoring on the 3rd out. Eventually.

Another situation, different game, I’m PU:
R1,R3 2 outs.  R1 is stealing on the pitch.  Throw has him beat by a mile.  He gets himself in a rundown, while R3 crosses home plate.  He gets tagged out and the defensive coach, says “way to get out of the inning without giving up any runs”.  I don’t say anything to him, but point to home plate to let everyone know that the run counts, and I went to the official scorekeeper and made sure she knew and had counted it.  But I don't think the coach saw any of this.  Should I have said something to the him?  I'm really not sure what the correct protocol is here.  I felt bad that he might have thought the score was something different than it really was and might have strategized differently because of it, but I don't think it's my job to let the coach know every time a legal run crosses the plate.

I have a few more scribbles on my notepad that I'm going to turn into posts.  As soon as I have some free time.  If the weather holds up that might not be for a while.  Until then - "PLAY!"


  1. I have a new favorite I'd love for you to cover. I've had this situation several times this spring, but don't remember having it before. R1 breaks to steal with two strikes, batter swings at one in the dirt and heads to first. I call the batter out, and the coach protests because he thinks that sending the runner makes first no longer occupied.

    Plus, we actually nailed a hidden ball trick last night. 9U no less!

  2. Thanks for you comment.

    I covered 3rd strike passed ball here:

    which refers to an article I posted here:

    as well as the rulebook edge page on this here:

    and in NONE of them, do I mention the fact that the position of the runner is defined as at time of pitch! I will update the blog entry and web page shortly to re-enforce that point!

  3. The only problem I have is how are you helping a new umpire when you have only been umpiring about a month? Just kidding! I enjoyed the informative posts very much. Keep them coming!

    Don't settle for a "That's just the way it is answer". Question everything until you get an irrefutable or understandable answer. Mr. Umpire