Northern Coast Officials

Gerry Davis
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Getting the Call Right

 

Introduction

The first priority of an umpire is to must be to make the correct call. Umpire pride is important, but never as important as getting the play right.

 

It should be the philosophy of all umpires to seek to get the call right. This may involve the reversal of a previously rendered decision. However, the correct decision—not the pride of any umpire—must prevail.

 

Do Not Criticize or Interfere

No umpire shall criticize or interfere with another umpire’s decision, unless asked by the one making it.

 

However, if there is a misinterpretation of a rule, it should be brought to the attention of the umpire-in-chief. Therefore, except in special situations such as those outlined in the next paragraph, the umpire making the call must be the one to seek assistance of a partner.

 

Urged to Seek Help

An umpire is urged to seek help when his view is blocked or positioning prevents him from seeing crucial elements of a play.

 

An umpire is also encouraged to seek help in instances when he has any doubt and a partner has additional information that could lead to the proper ruling.

 

When to Seek Help

Umpires are not to seek help on plays on which they are 100% confident in their judgment and view of the play.

 

Head coaches are not entitled to a second opinion when the calling umpire is certain his decision is correct.

 

On the other hand, and contrary to past practice, umpires are not to “die with a call” in cases where the calling umpire is not 100% certain he is right; and another umpire has additional information which could lead to a proper ruling.

 

Seeking Help

When an umpire seeks help, he should do so shortly after making his original call. He should not have a lengthy discussion with the head coach or others and then ask for help.

 

If the calling umpire seeks help, he should include ALL the other umpires. This conversation must take place away from players or coaches. Meeting with ALL umpires will eliminate multiple meetings that will unnecessarily delay the game.

 

Judgment Calls

Judgment calls, which have traditionally not been subject to reversal, include:

Steal and other tag plays (except if the ball is dropped without the umpire’s knowledge as discussed above);

Force plays (when the ball is not dropped and foot is not pulled);

Balls and strikes (other than check swings).

This practice shall continue.

 

When to Provide Additional Information

In the situations listed below, a partner who is 100% certain he has additional information unknown to the umpire making the call should approach unsolicited and alert the other umpire to such information.

 

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

Deciding if a homerun is fair or foul.

Deciding whether a batted ball left the playing field for a homerun or ground rule double.

Cases where a foul tip is dropped or trapped by the catcher.

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

Cases when an umpire clearly errs in judgment because they did not see a ball dropped or juggled after making a tag or force.

Spectator interference plays.

Balks called by an umpire who clearly did not realize the pitcher’s foot was off the rubber.

 

Conclusion

Overall, umpires are urged to seek help on reversible plays in which they may have erred by not seeing a crucial element of a play.

 

Such meetings, while necessary, should be infrequent and not become a substitute for umpires seeking proper angles, exercising sound judgment, and having the conviction to stay with a call that an umpire believes was properly made.

 

It takes tons of courage to rise above it all and do the right thing. Doing what is right – versus what’s popular or safe – takes strong will and conviction. You’ve got to believe in your heart that what you’re going is the right thing. When you do make a mistake (an you will make mistakes!), it takes great strength and courage to bounce back and learn from it. Give it your best at all times, never stop learning and stand tall through adversity – all life lessons shared in officiating.

 

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