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The Best Seat in the House:  Manager-Umpire Relations

Geoff Robertson

9 December 2015


Three main principles are at the basis of Manager-Umpire relations.


1.   Both coaches and umpires are necessary to the proper progression of a baseball game. No serious game in a serious league can do without one or the other.


2.   Each confrontation brings about different situations. This statement thus supposes a total absence of prejudice on the part of one or the other.


3.   Decisions or tactics must be made according to playing situations and not according to the people who are managing or playing the game.


These three main principles apply to coaches as well as umpires.


But what, specifically, should be the guidelines or elements of behaviour in an umpire's relations with a coach?




Respect for people, teams and organisations as well as leagues and managers is a fundamental element in the behaviour of umpires.


How can an umpire expect to be respected if he shows little respect for others?




An umpire must try to accept certain situations such as a slight delay when a pitcher goes back to the mound after running the bases. Above all, an umpire is there to see that the spirit of the rule is applied and not necessarily apply them to the letter. This flexibility, however, does not indicate a weakness and is a reflection on the spirit of the game.




An umpire must show that he is in charge without proving it every chance he gets.


Arguments often provide the best situations where he can show both flexibility and firmness.


A firm umpire is always a calm umpire. He is in control of his emotions; capable of evaluating a situation from all the available information. A firm umpire is also capable of humour in an exchange with a manager, and knows how to make drastic decisions in difficult circumstances.



The main failings that can threaten manager-umpire relations are these:




People who umpire with their heart should stay in the stands: it is the only place where they will not hurt the game. In the same manner, a manager who wants everybody's sympathy for himself or his team does nothing to help baseball by staying in the game.




There are so called adults who voluntarily spoil games, at all levels, by holding personal prejudices. They sustain these prejudices through biased interpretations of all actions and/or prejudices. They sustain these prejudices through biased interpretations of all actions and/or statements.


Too many managers and umpires maintain these types of prejudices without wanting to frankly admit it. These prejudices lead directly to tense situations such as, "I never want to see this umpire again at any of my games" or "I will throw him out every time I umpire".


Settling of Accounts


The settling of accounts, no matter who is right or wrong, always leaves scars that, sometimes, go on for several generations of managers, umpires or administrators. The settling of accounts are the dregs of baseball as well as the agitation of useless quarrels where the athletes are always the losers.

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