Let's see how the kid reacts

Let’s see how the kid reacts…

The title of this piece is a bit misleading, but nevertheless it is a question that’s asked repeatedly by pro scouts, college coaches and other interested parties of a youngster who’s trying to tough it out. And one of the most grueling “tough it out” situations is not getting calls at the plate.

For a youngster with any hope of being considered beyond the moment… the self discipline of thinking beyond that moment can mean all the difference in the world. Sounds easy I know, but it’s not.

So, who is this person that’s going to give you reason’s for tempering yourself? Perhaps a closer look at who these people arewill help you understand the playing environment that your in and hopefully how to rationalize some of your reactions to their work.

First of all, I honestly believe that there is no sports official that’s vilified more than the baseball umpire. No matter what the call. if there’s fifty thousand people in the stadium… including players and coaches… there’s got to be at least forty nine thousand opinions contrary to every call made. And if that wasn’t enough, the rules of baseball are so complex at times… pending proximity and timing plays… it’s amazing that anyone would want this job to begin with.

And let’s not forget the human condition. Sprinkle in a pinch or two of those fine qualities like shallowness, selfishness, egotistical, pettiness, sore loser, and good ole me-myself-n-I.

To prepare oneself for this kind of @#%!!, an individual starts off as a rookie umpire. He/she joins a local “board” as its called and receives a basic course in rules, umpire positioning, or mechanics as its called, and some of the protocols of officiating. Then their tuned loose on youth ball… and the learning curve begins. By the way, think it’s easy… forget it. I know of no other job, things being equal, where a person has to be absolutely perfect, right out of the gate.

Now the only way to hone one’s skills is to umpire at the basic spots as often as one can. There’s the plate – for the umpire in chief, then there’s the base umpire(s) – infield, and the outfield umpire. And on that note… the plate is a special skill that has the dubious job of dealing with you. Unfortunately, these amateur plate umpires are judged too quickly, unfairly and criticized for a skill level that they can rarely achieve. Being an amateur means just that… an amateur. And like you, they don’t have the opportunity to practice like the pros, nor is baseball the only thing in their life.

So when your in a game and you’re not getting the calls … tough it out, even if the game goes against you. BECAUSE, if you have any kind of talent, your going to progress up into a level where the officiating will be much better, and not bringing a bag full of antics with you when things don’t go your way, will serve you well.

Now, let’s say there’s a group of recruiters and scouts that have come to watch you pitch… their nested away from the crowd. As they take out their notepads and watch you perform … pitch after pitch doesn’t go your way. The main question that will be answered only by your performance will be:
“LET’S SEE HOW THE KID REACTS”. No scout, recruiter, coach recruiter is going to risk their job by recommending a hot head.

Be reasonable with your umpires… they’re amateurs just like you and
your coaches. And there really nice guys once you get to know them.

Coach B.

i once umped a softball game, and let me say it was hard as hell. this was like the littlest leagues of softball, pitchers were learning how to pitch, and batters were learning to bat. i left that game with people hating me. the other teams crowd was a load of drunken fathers without a clue, and my teams wasnt much better. i took a bat to the ribs, gave the girl a warning, then took the same bat to the thigh. called her out. then the coach gets up. once he gets out i tell him get back in there or ill throw you out. he was pissed. then i get a load of boos and cursing from the crowd and i say shut up or your all gone. the game then progressed to a mercy rule after the 3rd inning, so i got out of that pretty quick. i thought the crowd and the coaches were a joke.

some parents :roll:

The bad umps make you respect the good ones. I can think of all the games we had very good umpires. Actually when I was pitching the other day in my first summer game, it was some kid behind the plate. Around 18 I figure. He missed 2 calls when I was pitching. One was a cutter inside was a strike and he almost punched the kid out then called it a ball. Then I threw a cutter down the middle to the outside for a ball that he called a strike. I was surprised that he called such a good game especially when I was throwing a pitch with a lot of movement on it almost every time.

There are a fair share of good umpires.

yeah, you have it completly right, Bower


My alstar coach umps also while coaching and on practice the other day he talked to usabout when a kid steps in the box and puts his hand in the umps face and acts all cocky the kids strike zone just got bigger but when a kid gets in the box and is ready to hit right away there strike zone just shortenned

I’ve umped a fair share in both school and recreational, I likely won’t do it anymore…The truth is that 90% of games that you ump, you are invisable if you do your job…which makes it immensely fun and fulfilling…man I can’t express what a hoot it is when everything clicks and you have repore with the kids, coaches and the fans just enjoy the game. The other side is like 5% coach agenda issues and 2.5 % kids with attitude and the other 2.5 is nasty fan interaction…these take in many cases years for a decent ump to grow tiny ears and just hunker down and get through it (Which has led me to believe my constitution just isn’t cut out for it…it really has an effect when folks are really pissed off at you and you know they are wrong…I think it made me a much better coach though). Now I will be the first to say I’ve blown calls…several…mostly to do with balls and strikes (Safe or out is fairly easy if you understand positioning). The best you can hope to do is have a short memory, try to be consistant and get the next one right.
I never shrunk the zone, but if a pitcher showed me up, he had better have been right in the zone…there are a whole buch of umps that do shrink it though and as a kid gets and shows more frustration it does get harder to get calls…put yourself in his place…what would you do with some defiant punk kid up there rolling his eyes and using body language to throw a fit.
The very best approach is to do your job without emotion and let the blue do his…most times you can get along and even have a nice game if you just worry about the next pitch instead of the last.

Not sure how old the "kid’ is that you refer to Coach B. but it is possible that normal human growth and development of pre-teen to late teen influences how kids react to situations. I’d be bit more concerned with reactions in 16-18 year olds than their younger counterparts.

I saw a 13 year old this past weekend have a total meltdown on the mound after he threw away to 2 pick off attempts and then a wild pitch that allowed the runner to score…he hit the next batter and that was it…he yelled for the coach to yank him…not sure I would have yanked him but his coach did. On the other hand, my 9 year old had a strike called on him that was about a foot wide of the plate and the second pitch around his eyeballs was called a strike…he stepped out of the box,smiled and looked at the third base coach while gesturing with his hand that the pitch was high, the 3rd pitch he cranked for a double…I thought to myself what a mature response. It will be interesting to see if he will continue to react that way when he hits puberty. Time will tell.

Coach B., I think you highlight a very important aspect of coaching that I suspect is overlooked i.e., helping players to manage their thoughts and feelings when things go astray.