Getting the Call Right

The first responsibility of an umpire is “Getting the Call Right”. Our ultimate goal as a Baseball Umpires is to get the call right. Your pride as an umpire is very important. However, your dignity is not as important as making sure you are making the correct call. All umpires, at any level, should have the attitude that we should always desire to get the correct call. You may in some instances have to reverse previous calls. But the correct decision and getting the call right, not our pride, are more important and should prevail. 

Here are some issues to ponder about getting the call right:

A.  Never criticize or interfere with your partner(s) call. If the umpire making the call asks you, that would be proper protocol. Otherwise, keep quiet about it if you disagree. Remember, we all see plays differently and from different angles. However, if there is an interpretation of a baseball rule that needs to be made right, it should be brought to the attention of the umpire-in-chief (in baseball the plate umpire). In  baseball we usually have a two-man team and do not hesitate to ask for help. You cannot see everything. Remember, the umpire making the call is the one that should ask for assistance if he wishes. Be sure when you discuss getting the call right or if it is a rule that needs the proper interpretation, that you keep players, coaches and managers at a distance. Why? They may try to interject their opinion and the other team may hint of fraternizing.

B.  When should you seek the help of your partner(s)? When your view is blocked or you are out of position and have trouble seeing the play develop in making the correct call. If you have any doubt of your call and you believe your partner(s) has information that could be of assistance to have the proper ruling, ask him. If asked by a coach, it is your option. It is not a bad idea to check.

Example: A tag at first base. If you are the base umpire, the plate umpire sometimes has a better view. Also, if a first baseman seems to have pulled his foot, the same applies. Never be too proud to ask!

C.  Below are some situations of a partner being 100% sure he has additional information that the other umpire making the call does not know. He should approach without asking and bring it to the attention of the calling umpire. 

However, the ultimate decision to change a call rests with the calling umpire!

  1.  Deciding if a home run is fair or foul

  2.  Deciding if a batted ball left the field of play for a home run or a ground-rule double

  3.  When a foul tip is trapped or dropped by the catcher

  4.  Cases where a foul fly ball is caught or not caught

  5.  When an umpire makes an error in judgment because he did not see a dropped or juggled baseball after a fielder make a tag or force play

  6.  Interference of spectators

  7.  Balks called when a pitcher’s foot was clearly off the pitching rubber

  8.  Changing a call of a “foul” to “fair

D.  Do not seek help on plays that you are 100% sure that your judgment and view were correct. Remember, coaches and players are not afforded a second opinion when the umpire making the call is sure he got it right. It is about getting the call right.

E.  If you seek help, do it quickly after the call is made. Don’t get into long conversations with players or coaches and then ask your partner(s). Remember again, the conversation with other umpires takes place away from others (players and coaches). All umpires should meet right away and don’t have more than one meeting. Don’t delay the game. The umpire-in-chief should make sure and have priority that the rules and calls will be made right. As umpires, if you deem a conference on a call necessary, direct all coaches and managers to the dugout.

F.  Remember, judgment calls have always been subject to being reversed. This includes stolen bases and other tag plays (except if the ball is dropped and the ump doesn’t know), force plays when a ball is dropped, or a pulled foot from a bag, balls and strikes (except check swings). Also some calls cannot be reversed without having greater problem. Example: catch/no catch with multiple runners on base

In conclusion, all things considered, umpires should seek help to reverse a play that they may have not seen and is part of a crucial play. Having a meeting, while necessary, should not take place all the time and not be used for umpires not being in position. Have the conviction and sound judgment to stay with a call that you believe was made correctly. However, getting the call right is the ultimate goal.

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