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Discussion: How to call a tag play when view is obstructed

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July 14, 2021
franjan
18 posts
How to call a tag play when view is obstructed
Runner trying to stretch a single into a double. The ball beats him to the bag. My view is blocked but I thought he was tagged before reaching 2nd base. I called him out. When your view is blocked and you can't actually see the tag should you go with what you think and call the runner out or under these circumstances should the call be automatically safe and immediately ask for help from the home plate ump?
July 14, 2021
DaveDowell
Men's 65
3516 posts
I'm a firm believer in the "You can't call what you didn't see" school of umpiring ... If he's alone, it's NO CALL ... If he's got a partner, by all means talk it over and call it if EITHER of you saw it ...
July 14, 2021
B.J.
901 posts
franjan.. if you don't see the play you can't make an out call.. because of your lack of movement and proper positioning and not being able to actually see a tag you should immediately point to your partner (HP ump) and hope that (with no other runner scoring) that he moved out into the infield toward the pitchers mound to get a view of the play and let him make the call... if he never moved from behind HP it would be an almost impossible call for him to make therefore the runner should be called safe..

one other thing on making a call NEVER say I thought or I think... use the phrase IN MY JUDGMENT
July 14, 2021
stick8
1904 posts
Franjan, the situation you describe is your call and even though your view was blocked you made the call based on what your judgement was. Nothing wrong with that. That being said I would not defer to my partner unless I was asked to ask for help. I will always ask my partner if im given something specific. Examples being: did he drop the ball, was he juggling it, did he come off the bag early, was he on the bag, and there are others. Simply asking if the runner was safe or was he out is not enough.
If by chance you didnít make a call on this play you can point to your partner to get help. Nothing wrong with that.
In a one man you obviously have to make a call and like BJ correctly points out donít say I thought, I think or Iíll add Iím not sure but... If that happens, ďyouíre gonna get crushedĒ like mr wonderful sometimes says on the show shark tank.
Unfortunately, (you know what) happens but the objective is always to try and get it right.

July 14, 2021
rmp0012002
Men's 50
44 posts
I think you make the call as you feel it happened. Donít waver from that and if youíre part of a two man crew and the defense challenges it then discuss it with the other ump.
July 15, 2021
B.J.
901 posts
stick.. every umpire clinic Iíve ever been to they would always instruct you to get into proper position to make the call and also if you donít see the play because of being blocked then call the runner safe or defer to your partner and if neither of you got a good view then the your original safe call standsÖ
You can only use your judgment if you actually see the fielder putting his glove/ ball onto runnerÖotherwise you are just guessingÖ how did the umpire know that the fielder actually did tag him?

Tell the defense sorry but I didnít see the tag, then take your beating (lol) and learn from your mistake
July 15, 2021
Mikelmart
93 posts
Franjan if you were a witness for the prosecution in a criminal trial the defense attorney would eat you for lunch.
You cannot make that call on what you thought but on what you actually saw.
July 15, 2021
stick8
1904 posts
BJ, youíre correct. We say the same things in the clinics Iíve been to and have instructed at. I donít believe franjan was necessarily wrong as long as he made a firm call and sold it. I agree if you didnít see the tag you call him safe. He did have the luxury of having a partner he could defer to.
If he was doing a one man he might have to eat that one!!
Iíve never totally believed the idea that if the ball beats you to the base youíre out.
July 16, 2021
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
1376 posts
I agree with all of this. Stick8, you are right on about some people believing that if the ball beats the runner that they are out. Of course that is not really true. The only other advice that I would offer to franjan is to pause and look for clues. There are a few good actors but not many. If a runner drops his head and starts to walk away, they certainly think that they were out on the tag. In that case it is best to call them out, otherwise you have another situation. Also if the fielder goes for the tag twice, they think that they missed the first tag. These are things that I have never heard in clinics but seem to help if you can't decide. Like the boys said be firm and decisive in your calls.
July 17, 2021
stick8
1904 posts
Nancy youíre correct, you certainly donít hear those ever mentioned at a clinic. It has happened to me less than a handful of times. I call it a bail out!!
This dovetails into what BJ correctly pointed out about positioning. If you get into the proper position you should be able to make the call without any impediment. But saying and doing it can be two different things!!
It happens to everyone but in some cases certain umps think like players instead of thinking like umpires.
July 18, 2021
franjan
18 posts
Looks like more that one opinion on how to handle this situation. I am going to pick this option------If I can't see the tag, see how the runner reacts and make a call. If he gives himself up, he know he is out so call him out. If runner continues to the bag but in my judgement he was tagged, I call him out or safe if in my judgement the tag was missed. If an appeal is lodged, I will ask for help from partner. BJ seemed to think that I was out of position but how do you anticipate a play where the fielder is in your direct line of sight and the runner is on the other side of the fielder?
July 18, 2021
DaveDowell
Men's 65
3516 posts
This just a single honest opinion (mine), but you are destined to have a major confrontational occurrence if you employ a "guess method" on faking a call you didn't see ... It's not a matter of "if" that unfortunate confrontation will happen, the only question remains "how soon" it will ... Good luck ... I suspect you're going to need it ...
July 18, 2021
franjan
18 posts
Dave, I don't understand the attitude. All I am saying is that if I see the tag, I call the runner out. If I don't see the tag, before making any call I would look for the runners reaction and if he walks off the field, I know it was a tag and he is called out. I do not have to make the call instantaneously, I have some time to replay it in my head. Regardless of what the call is, right or wrong if there is an appeal I will ask for help.
July 18, 2021
DaveDowell
Men's 65
3516 posts
It's not an "attitude" at all, franjan ... It's more accurately characterized as a well-founded Tournament Director philosophy developed over the past couple of decades ... Simply, an umpire who "guesses on calls he didn't see" is highly likely to result in the Director (that would be me) having a largely indefensible problem that's not of my own causation ... Thanks ...
July 18, 2021
B.J.
901 posts
franjan.. my reasoning of you being out of position is from your OP you stated batter/runner was trying to stretch a single into a double... so obviously the ball was hit out of the IF to the OF and with no other runners on base your starting position should be either in foul territory off 1B or about 10' to 12' off the 1B line in fair territory about 10' deeper than the base line .. as soon as the ball is hit to the "OF" you should IMMEDIATELY move into the IF and head toward 2B peeking back as the runner touches 1B.. the runner has to run 70' therefore you should have ample time to move inside and end up between 1st and 2nd base (about a 20'/25'span to move) .. now when you see the runner making the turn you continue on toward 2nd and should end up in front of 2B to see the runner slide and the tag... most times you see bad calls from umpires who "TRAIL THE PLAY" from lack of movement or as I call them in my umpire clinics PALM TREE UMPIRES they never move except to sway back and forth in the mild Florida breeze... I always tell my umpires when the ball is hit in the IF you belong on the OF side of the play... when the ball is hit into the OF you belong on the IF side.. and if you do not want to or can't move we need score keepers...

I also TOTALLY agree with DD's last post..(and that doesn't happen to often)lol

MOVEMENT not guessing or seeing how the runner reacts is the key to umpiring

July 19, 2021
stick8
1904 posts
BJ consider this play I had last weekend at a menís tournament.
Championship game. 2 man system, Iím in the field. Top of the 7th, visiting team is down by 2 runs. Man on first, one out. Left handed batter is up who is extremely fast, a single is usually a double for him.
He gets a base hit up the middle. Runner at third scores. I get to the infield side of second and turn to watch him touch first which he did. Here comes the throw, second baseman scoops it up and turns to make the tag. The batter runner is jogging and easily gets tagged out. I ask myself what the heck is he doing. I look at my partner to see if he had a delayed dead ball signal. He did not. Then the arguing starts. F bombs galore by the batter runner. Heís tossed, good bye.
Coach (a good friend) comes out and asks if I saw what happened. I said I saw him touch first and I got into position fo call a potential play at second.
He says can you ask your partner if he was obstructed going to second.
Ok, I talk to my partner. He says he saw the whole thing. He wiped out after touching first and rolled right into the leg of the first baseman, nearly taking his knee out. I asked if was sure he didnít run into him first. He said he was 100% certain. No obstruction.
I didnít see it happen but what my partner saw is not obstruction. The batter runner tried to sell an obstruction call.
Whatcha think?
July 19, 2021
B.J.
901 posts
stick.. I'm not sure where the runner that scored was from from 1st or 3rd?? either way I think your partner did a great job watching your back side and continuing to watch the play.. knowing that there was no play at HP.. and you guys worked the 2 man system to perfection..


July 19, 2021
stick8
1904 posts
BJ, I should have stated there was a runner on third, not first, my mistake. Good catch!!
July 20, 2021
B.J.
901 posts
stick, since runner was on 3rd I hope your partner moved out from behind HP and into the IF and then peeked back as the runner scored.. so he was in good position to see the rest of the play
July 20, 2021
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
1376 posts
Franjan, I was not suggesting that clues would override the call. I do a lot of one man except in tournaments. I just know taking a little time is sometimes the best and to wait but not anticipate. Watch the runners and fielders though. It hopefully doesn't happen often, but it can provide you some information. There are a few players that are extremely good actors and never give you a clue and actually sell the opposite of the truth. BJ is right on in what he says. He conducts clinics as well.
July 20, 2021
stick8
1904 posts
BJ, he did come out. Whether he looked back to see if the runner that came in from third touched home I couldnít say.
July 20, 2021
stick8
1904 posts
Nancy what both you and BJ correctly point out dovetails into another issue that I sometimes encounter. Rookie and newer umpires who are players commonly make the mistake of thinking like a player instead of thinking like a umpire. A lot of times they get themselves in trouble doing that. Experience is the only teacher formthst.
July 22, 2021
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
1376 posts
Stick8, amen.
July 27, 2021
franjan
18 posts
Been away, so late too respond. According to B.J's description, I probably was out of position on that play as I was not on the infield side of 2nd base. In my defense, I don't recall any ump at my level of play ever making that position change. That said, I will make an effort to be the first as it makes good sense.
P.S. If I was positioned correctly and the phantom tag was made on the runner avoiding to the right field side, I still would have had my vision obstructed. It that case the home plate ump could not see the tag either. Damned if you do Damned if you don't.
Again, thanks for all your input.
July 27, 2021
B.J.
901 posts
franjan.. you never said what the level of your play is.. but that is a HUGE problem with umpires especially with tour. ball .. I have worked with some guys for almost 20 yrs. and I was 50 when I started playing and umpiring senior ball.. I always asked for the 50's THEN

very few guys that I umpired with can now do the 50's "PROPERLY" when they work tournaments they now do 65/70's because of the speed of the game..

I myself struggle getting inside with the 50's so I don't ask for them anymore but when I do have to fill in I do not start as deep in my starting position...

aside from tour. ball I tell new umpires that do rec. ball umpire the age group that you can keep up with
July 27, 2021
DaveDowell
Men's 65
3516 posts
B.J. ... He's apparently a neighbor of yours in FL and was last registered with SSUSA on a 70-AAA team in 2014 ...
July 29, 2021
franjan
18 posts
Quite right Dave,
Haven't played tournament ball in too many years. Would like to come back but at 81 I don't have the same skills (I wonder why)? The biggest hurdle is that I live in area #4 which has only 1 79 team playing and maybe 2 teams in the 74 division. Who needs or wants such an old man anyway?
Maybe it is time for the league to make an effort to give us old guys a chance to play longer.
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