Thursday, June 26, 2014

worst ejection ever

I umpire amateur baseball and I was working the dish at a game for 17 yr old's the other night. The game was going really well and was tied in the 6th (it's only a 7 inning game) when a lefthander for the Sox attempts a pickoff at 1st. My partner would have the primary call on the balk/no balk view and he saw nothing to indicate that there was any problem with the move. We have an instant rundown and the 1b promptly throws him out trying to go into 2nd. The 1st base coach then goes to my partner to argue that he broke the plain with his leg and therefore balked and he's out there demonstrating to my partner what the guy had allegedly done. Normally just the demonstration itself is enough to get my trigger finger itching since I wouldn't want any coach out there putting on a show in an attempt to show me up but my partner didn't react to his histrionics. The coach wanted him to go ask me for some help, which he isn't obliged to do in the least since it's his primary call and he doesn't need to seek help on it. Now when your partner comes to you to ask for help in any situation your only job is to answer whatever question is asked of you, you don't elaborate or give opinion, just answer the question. My partner comes to me and asks "Did you see a balk?" to which I simply answer "no" and we each return to our positions. Once coach hears that he isn't going to get a balk and he's going to be getting an out he starts to come unhinged. His first mistake was to call my partner "pathetic". He didn't call the play pathetic nor did he call the decision pathetic, he called my partner pathetic and that's a huge difference since he's now made it personal. Just like that, my partner coolly and succinctly dumps coach from the game. As coach is leaving the field he's still bellowing about how my partner is pathetic and then he looks at me and says "and you're not much better". All I could think was "what did I do?" but whatever he's leaving so it should settle now right? Not so fast. Coach left the field and stood right beside his dugout outside the fence. I wait one pitch and then turn around to address the coach and say, "You can't stay there coach, leave the park." Coach insists "I have left the park" and all of a sudden we're into a grade 3 "no you didn't/yes you did" argument. Eventually I say "No you didn't Sir, now leave the park PLEASE" and I think a note of civility made him realize that he should probably go stand somewhere else so he heads down the 3rd base line and stands with his arms folded outside the left field fence to watch the rest of the game. As he's walking however he needs to get a few more cents in so he's yelling about how we owe the league reimbursement for our game fees because of how bad we are. I personally didn't much care what his comments were at that stage, I just wanted him to go so that hopefully the game could settle.
The game did not settle.
In a tie game in the 8th (so we're already into extra innings) the starting pitcher for the A's (now playing 2b) complains that a strike call on him was too low and I hadn't called that all game. I pretty much brushed the comment off by saying actually I have called that there tonight. The guy swings at an obviously low pitch on the next pitch and pops out to 2b. After the play I can still hear him complaining to his team about "he hasn't been there tonight, right?". In the bottom of the 8th the A's catcher complains to me that I didn't give him a strike call on a pitch that I thought was high. I try to keep a good relationship with a catcher because he's your only protection back there and if he ever wanted to get retribution he could pull a glove and you'd end up taking an 80 mph fastball to the head. Something like that would definitely get a catcher ejected and likely suspended but I'd still have to endure a fastball to the head, so be nice to your catcher. Anyway, I did my best to explain to the catcher that I had thought that pitch was high. In the meantime however I had his pitcher flapping his arms at me like he's trying to take off and giving me the WTF attitude. Pitchers don't need to be coddled although they too can be dangerous if they want to hurt you. We managed to get through the 8th and 9th with the score still tied and nobody else required to watch the remainder of the game from the parking lot.
And then the other shoe dropped.
During the inning break after the 9th while the Sox warmed up for the 10th the A's only remaining coach came out to talk to me on the 3rd baseline. There are things that you cannot say to an umpire and the most hard and fast rule in umpiring is that you cannot argue a strike zone, arguing balls and strikes gets you turfed faster than Billy Hamilton going from 1st to 3rd. Anyway, the first thing out of coach's mouth is "So what happened to your strike zone? You were calling it here and now you're not calling it here." I don't want to stir things up, I don't want for any more grief in this game so I simply say to the coach, "Coach you need to go back to your bench" and I keep repeating that while he kept meandering on the same topic. The coach kept talking about it but had taken a couple of steps from me when he dropped his first F-bomb in the conversation and that's something that I just won't ignore. You can swear around me if it can't be heard elsewhere but you don't swear to or about me in the course of trying to make your point. I won't let you disrespect me because you want to enforce your will on a moment. So, I dumped him and coach not only went over the line but the line was a dot on the horizon from where he ended up.
Coach took three steps toward me, got right in my face and purposefully bumped me. I was so surprised that I actually said, "Did you just bump me?" Coach didn't stop there though, he bumped me another 2 times and responded to my question with a "I'm going to hit you." It got to the point that I simply needed to raise my voice a little and be more directive with a simple "GO!" and a point off the field. Coach refused to leave at first before realizing that it'd be in his best interest to limit the issue as much as possible and leave the field.
At this point we had to decide if the game could continue since both of the A's coaches had been ejected from the game. We didn't know of a reason why not until actually one of the coaches from the Sox contacted the league's Senior Umpire who advised me on the phone that the game could not continue if all of the certified coaches for a team had been removed from the game. So the game officially ends as a forfeit since an end result was never officially determined.
The story doesn't end there however. I left the field and I was standing behind the backstop chatting with the umpire going on the field for the next game and waiting for my partner to join me when the first ejected coach came up to me, threw a quarter in my direction and said, "here, that's all you're worth". I said as he walked away, "that's classy coach".
One of the pains from a situation like this is all the paperwork involved. I had to fill out 3 reports from this incident alone, an ejection report and 2 umpire abuse reports. I'm assuming that each coach will get a suspension from the league although that's not my decision. The general reaction when I've told this story is one of "what has the world come to when people behave like this over a game?", and that continues to be my own general reaction.

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