How to Handle That Pesky Umpire
Last week, Insane Mcnutly was suspended – for the third time – by the BOD for arguing with the umpire. He was reinstated after completing an unusual punishment. If he agreed to read Chapters 1-3 of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, he could come back and play. We’ll wander down to the field to see what he’s learned as he has just been called out at 2B on a close play. Here are the last wisps of the conversation:
“Hey blue, did you leave your glasses home today, I was safe by a mile,
you cross-eyed, blind, mutt, whose mother had one too many pups.”
Looks like Insane is not going to influence anyone OR win friends today. Yup, there goes the ejection thumb by the umpire.
Dejectedly, Insane returned to the dugout to collect his bat bag, Oz, the manager, decided to make this a learning moment, his final words were: “Look Nut, you gotta keep your mouth shut and just walk away, nobody wins an argument with an umpire”.
We’ll come back to the scene in a moment, this story isn’t over.
Umpires are trained from day one to adhere to a strict set of tenants:
Decide on a play, stick with it, and NEVER back down. You are ALWAYS right.
That's right, on the field, umpires are omniscient and judgment calls have no chance of reversal.
Such calls include balls and strikes, out or safe at any base, fair or foul ball, as well as interference or obstruction. Judgment calls are purely subjective and cannot be argued by any player.
The brotherhood of umpires is so tight it would be a violation of etiquette for a home plate umpire to overrule a call by a base umpire and vice versa. It does not preclude one umpire from consulting the other over an obstructed vision call but rule #1 dictates it will rarely happen with experienced umpires who know how to position themselves on any play.
Consider this, if nothing else:
With a few exceptions, our umpires are volunteers.
They are doing a job most of us won’t.
They are friends and at times- teammates.
Why risk the alienation of a friend?
“I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to
get the best of an argument – and that is to avoid it as you would a rattlesnake.”
Now back to the field:
“Oh jeeper-creepers,” Oz said to Nut. “Here comes the BOD Prez with a pink card. I’ll bet you’re going to be reading a few more chapters.”
SSUSA rules specify only two situations where rules or actions may be questioned, but only by a manager. Rule 1.1 lists six types of APPEAL PLAY(s) and rule 1.55 allows two PROTESTS.
Types of appeal plays:
1. Missing a base.
2. Leaving a base early on a caught fly ball before the ball is first touched.
3. Batting out of order.
4. Attempting to advance to second base after making a turn at first base (umpire's judgment).
5. After the third out in order to nullify a run.
6. Illegal substitute – must be made while they are in the game and before the umpires leave the playing field.
Types of protests:
A. Misinterpretation of a playing rule
B. Ineligible player
Most recently a clash with an umpire surfaced, which many of you witnessed. This provided a tantalizing exception to the “don’t argue with the umpire“ recommendation.
The first game on January 22, 2024, ended in a tie at exactly 10:15 AM. The Head Umpire, unaware time had elapsed, ruled, quite clearly, another inning would be played in an attempt to break the tie.
Animation was suspended and gasps were heard as an objection was issued by the Head Scorekeeper whose firm commanding voice thundered across the infield as she read, with a high degree of conciseness, from a page of our local rules:
" 10.0 TIE GAMES
Games that end in a tie will play one extra inning if time is remaining on the game clock."
This ruling held the day.
It is believed, but not verified, that when the Head Umpire returned home that evening and started grumbling about having his decision overruled – while reclining in his Barcalounger – he experienced a wife holding a frying pan in the “ready” position from the kitchen doorway.
Last chance fellas, you make the call.
In summary, when it comes to arguing close umpire judgment calls your choices are: the frying pan, a snakebite, or walking away.
Flowers may be sent to Sherry and comments to me at email@example.com.
February 2, 2024