Darrell Moody: Making the call
July 29, 2017
By now, everybody has seen video of the recent ejections of Adrian Beltre and Bryce Harper.
Harper's was a no-brainer.
The guy threw a major tantrum after striking out. He should have been tossed after his first mini outburst when a borderline strike was called. Then, after he swung and missed at a pitch for strike three, he got into the umpire's face.
The called strike was borderline; bottom of the knee. In watching hundreds of games on television every year and five or six in person, that pitch has been called a strike a lot. I think the umpire showed great restraint in not tossing him right away.
Harper has a nasty habit of trying to show up umpires all of the time. I think in his mind he has a great eye and should never get called out on strikes.
Sorry Bryce, there are no perfect hitters nor are there any perfect umpires. Hitters make mistakes and swing at balls out of the zone, and umpires, even the best ones, will miss 4-5 pitches a game.
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Beltre's ejection was interesting; one I've never seen before.
Beltre was on deck at the time, and he was nowhere near the on-deck circle. Crew chief Gerry Davis motioned Beltre to get closer to the circle. Beltre decided to pick up the material used as the on-deck circle and move it where he was when Davis told him to move. Davis immediately ejected him, and with good cause.
Beltre was indeed trying to show up Davis, and any baseball player, from high school to pro, knows the consequence if that happens.
Davis has been taking a lot of heat on social media, but I've seen many posts blaming Beltre for the ejection, too. Simply put, if you tell a player to do something, and he refuses, and you don't do anything when he does it again, you lose credibility with everybody on the field. One thing I learned at an early age of umpiring, never let the inmates (players and coaches) run the asylum.
While we're on the subject of umpiring, it's amazing some of the stuff I've run into over the summer working girls travel-ball tournaments.
I'm the first to admit I'm not the perfect umpire, but I take it seriously and do my best to give everybody a fair and consistent game. I wish, however, coaches would learn even the basic rules a little better which would avoid a lot of issues that seem to come up all the time.
I was working a 12-year-old game recently. With a runner at first, the batter hit a high pop fly in the infield. The ball was misplayed, and the defense was able to get a force out at second. The coach of the defensive team wanted to know why my partner behind the plate and myself didn't call an infield fly.
I explained to the coach in question the only two instances when an infield fly can be called — more than one runner has to be on base, in this instance. I still don't think she was convinced, and I told her to look it up in a rule book after the game.
The next play in question came the following day. A Nevada team was playing a team from the Bay Area. The Bay Area team had a right-handed hitting girl who had to be 5-8 or 5-9, and she never got a pitch to hit all day. The first time she came up against the team, the catcher lined up behind the left-handed batter's box which is illegal and when it happens an illegal pitch is called and baserunners advance a base. I told her she could move once the ball was released, but not before. She obviously didn't understand the rule, but complied with my request.
The one thing I've found in softball is when a coach doesn't like a call he/she ALWAYS wants you to get help, whether it's a judgment call or otherwise. You don't find that often in baseball. In baseball, the coaches just yell at you, sometimes on the field and sometimes from the dugout if they think you missed a call.
In regards to the call in question, there was a throw back to first after a caught line drive, and my partner called the runner safe. The coach came out and wanted her to get help from me on a judgment call. I told the coach I wasn't going to do that. In my mind, that opens Pandora's Box where coaches will start questioning every judgment call. I told the coach between innings a first-base umpire should only ask for help on a swipe tag, a pulled foot or if there was a question on whether the fielder had possession of the ball. By rule, judgment calls aren't supposed to be questioned, yet that doesn't stop coaches.
A third instance happened last weekend when I called a swinging strike on a batter, and the coach on offense wanted me to get help. I explained to her if a swinging strike is called the call can't be reversed. She obviously didn't quite understand. I told her between innings it was an umpiring mechanic, and only when an umpire calls no swing can the pitch be appealed.