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Awesome Play - "That's 3 Calls You've Missed!"
When a coach comes rushing out yelling, "Come on Blue, that's three calls that you have missed," you have to take at least a bit of personal inventory. Of course, your first knee-jerk reaction is to say, "Coach, you're gone," but seasoned officials are better about taking a bit of abuse after a huge game-changing play did not go the coach's way. But how did you get to that point of the game? Is the coach really keeping a tally of plays you missed? Where were they on plays one and two? Did you have a chance to diffuse this earlier in the game and handled it poorly?
NOTE: If you really did blow three plays in that game, then umpiring may not be your best choice of expensive hobbies.
It may be that you have been clueless to the coach's building ire and you thought all was well. If this is happening to you on a regular basis, then you need to consider pulling your head out of the sand and attempt to see what is really going on around you. Being a good umpire is considerably more than just calling balls and strikes, safe and out.
Check out this video that led to the coach outburst...
YOUTUBE LINK: https://youtu.be/kYQOydncLX4
NOTE: The following opinions are regarding game management in general and NOT an indictment on each point of our crew performance during this particular game. It is a more global opinion, on my part, while dealing with this particular play.
Think about these questions...
Has everything been smooth up to that point?
Have there been other plays that you could have blown?
Have your partners blown calls and you are getting the abuse of the coach's pent up anger?
Has this team just been blasted all game?
Is this coach really just upset with his own team's game performance?
Is the extreme heat of the day or multiple games affecting the coach's judgment?
Is the heat affecting your judgment?
Has this play just reversed the momentum of the game?
Or is this a game-changing play that ultimately is sending the team home?
How much of this do you really have to consider when a coach blows up during a game?.... You must consider all of it!
Also, consider, is this a league game, pool game, bracket game, or championship game? This makes a huge difference as to how an umpire should comport themselves. If you are a Chatty-Cathy, then the deeper you get into a tournament the less chit-chat there should be during the game. I know that by the time I get to the championship game, then its all business with very little discussions or talking after the plate meeting. Why? Because this game means everything to the players, coaching staff, and the fans. It is their World Series game 7. They rarely need to hear anything from me during the game. This means I am hustling between plays, being attentive, always being in a credible position, while exuding confidence and poise throughout the championship contest.
As for personal inventory, that is a bit tougher. What kind of rapport have you developed with the team up until that point? Do they already know you coming into the game? Is there any carry-over bad blood? Have you been a jabberwocky chatting them up throughout each inning (and giving away your credibility)? Have you been excessively talking with fans between innings? Have you been diligent in keeping your base, or bases sparkling clean throughout the game, so that when a big play does happen everybody can see what really happened? Is your uniform sharp and clean, or dirty, sweat-stained, and wrinkled? Have you been in a credible position on every call? What can you, as the umpire, take ownership of regarding the temperament of the game up to that point? It may be that you have done everything correctly, and this is just the way the coach deals with those tough play situations. Or it may be that there is either a short or long list of items you could have been doing better and you kind of earned the abuse you are being dished out.
I was proud of my partner for not ejecting this coach for his after play outburst. The bunt, the face-first slide into first, and the resulting chaos was out out of control. This call was a game-changer and the defensive team ultimately lost the game with the next batter. Being brutally honest, I think the events of the game led up to the powder keg and crew evaluation performance should also be considered. How did we get to that point, and what could we do in future games together to prevent giving away our crew's credibility? Yes, it easier to just leave the ball field and move on to the next tournament, but our ultimate goal should be to be able to leave each contest having the best of feelings for the coaches and our umpiring partners.
So if you are in a game and really did blow three calls, own it and apologize to the coach with a personal vow to get better (we did not blow three calls). If you gave away your credibility earlier in the game with the stories you told to the first or third base coach throughout the game, then think twice the next time you want to chat during the game. If you don't look sharply dressed, then buy an iron, wash your clothes, and invest in some new uniform components.... And don't forget; shine those shoes before the game. Our commitment to excellence should be to walk away from each game with personal goals of how to improve your game... Others don't need to know, but our next assignment should be more than just another game. And if the coach comes justifiably out of the dugout yelling, "That's three you have missed," then figure out how to not let that happen again.
Make it a great game! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah