2023 Questions from Membership for Board Election

  1. Board membership has remained largely unchanged for several years. What is your position on diversifying the board?

Terry Granillo – Pro! Who asked this? Run for the board next year!! We haven’t done a great job recruiting board candidates. We need to start the process early in the season to get people thinking about it early. We all work our butts off during the season just to cover games, and I can understand how taking on a board commitment on top of that can seem daunting. However this is a great organization, worthy of diligent stewardship by dedicated and committed members on the board of directors. I think taking a more intentional approach to identifying and opening an ongoing dialogue with potential candidates would be a good way to get to the point where we have some more choice in our candidates. Four candidates for four seats is not ideal.

Dale Wilson – Diversity is always the best option and with each board position a 2-year limit I believe this keeps it open for new members and diversity.

Brian Rooney – I am 100% in favor of diverse voices on the NBUA board. We all have different backgrounds and experiences that lend value to the association.

Thom Denholm – Membership of NBUA is not terribly diverse either, unfortunately. We should take some steps to encourage diversity in the membership first.

  1. Verbal abuse from fans, coaches, and players continues to be a hot topic. What steps would you take to address such behavior?

Terry Granillo – This is, has been, and remains a training issue. It is also an ongoing point of emphasis with the WOA and WIAA. For players and coaches, we are the officials for the game. We need to focus and direct training on how to manage situations before they develop, as they develop, and after they’ve blown up despite our efforts. Training must be more focused on role playing in that regard. We already meet with Coaches and ADs annually to review rule changes, and we emphasize in those meetings the importance of and national emphasis on sportsmanship. We need to continue that. To emphasize to Head Coaches and Game Management (ADs) that they are ultimately responsible for policing the behavior of players, team personnel, and fans.

Dale Wilson – Over the last year we have been contacting Leage Leadership regarding any abuse or non-acceptable fan behavior. We have shared with the leaders of the leagues of issues and that reduction and canceling of service if violations continue. If elected I will continue to push this process.

Brian Rooney – We have addressed this topic with our clients and made them aware that we have a zero tolerance policy. During my time on the board, we have ended relationships with teams due to unacceptable behavior by fans and coaches.

Thom Denholm – Document abuses and then work with the individual leagues when they exceed a threshold, whether of repetition or of severity. Encourage our umpires to utilize the incident reports to that end. Remember, a lot of our games are recorded, officially and by fans. These can absolutely be used in our favor!

  1. What would you think about treating Little League Umpires applying to the NBUA as transfers rather than simple apprentices? We know that most LL umpires are just dads with very little training but, recently, we have received applications from Little League umpires who have a great deal of training and experience, and it makes little sense to disregard that when we are in such desperate need of higher tier umpires.

Terry Granillo – We do consider such experience, on a case-by-case basis. Because so many LL umpires come in with something less than national tournament experience, and because not all national tournament experience in LL really prepares umpires for games with NBUA, we cannot treat LL umpires as transfers. NBUA has already in many cases considered such experience for active members in terms of promotion. All apprentices are evaluated in their first year, and exceptional umpires are recognized, as warranted, with tier-skipping promotion. LL experience, along with all experience, does come into consideration in that process. The Little League model is so unique, in particular the 12U model, that we cannot treat new umpires coming out of LL the same as HS Varsity or College umpires transferring from another location.

Dale Wilson – I think this is a good idea and something that can be shared with the training and evaluation chair. I do believe that NBUA has the best training, and we don’t want any of our umpires to miss that opportunity.

Brian Rooney – As the Director of Recruiting for the Association, I am torn by this question. I came from Little League and joined as an apprentice and was so glad that I did. Because while I thought that I had all the answers, I soon found out how much I didn’t know. And I know I am not alone. Our training is too valuable to be put aside and believe that all of our new members regardless of past experience should begin as an apprentice. If there are extenuating circumstances then those should be addressed by our Eval committee.

Thom Denholm – Anyone who has umpired baseball before should be evaluated as a potential transfer. Unless they worked varsity or other high-level baseball in their previous location, this will probably mean the difference between “apprentice” and “C”. We should also document our tier system clearly so incoming umpires can understand what it means.

  1. Will you commit to looking into replacing WisleyPay with Direct Deposit or another payment app that offers more significant fraud protection? 

Terry Granillo – Yes. There’s a significant cost/benefit advantage to ADP/Wisely, as it’s free to NBUA and members (when used as recommended). Direct Deposit is an add-on banking feature, and banking at Bank of America means that’s going to be a significant additional cost. There is ArbiterPay, which has a lot of advantages, and I will be assessing the costs and benefits of such a switch.

Dale Wilson – I am always wanting to find the best option with regards to payment to our umpires. I know I have not had any issues with the app or the security.

Brian Rooney – I believe that we should always be looking for new ways to improve the association. If there is a payment app that would address issues in a more productive way than yes, we should look at it.

Thom Denholm – The fact that this question has been raised is probably sufficient to bring it before the board. I have minimal experience with WiselyPay and comparative fraud protection. If Wisely is tied closely to Arbiter, this may be a difficult task.

  1. Short Term Cash Flow issues have again cropped up.  What will you do as a board member to ensure that we no longer get in a cash flow crunch again?

Terry Granillo – Several things. First, adjust the distribution of payments from our largest customer to more closely align with the distribution of work. Second, renegotiate timing and terms with other customers to ensure we have the funds for games completed well in advance of the date we pay 70% out to umpires each month. Third, recruit. More members available to work big weekends solves this problem.

Dale Wilson – This will be one of my key topics if elected to the board. We have made good progress with our cash flow from where we were, but the last month has proven we have more work to do with regards to budgeting and planning.

Brian Rooney – We should work with our main customer to make sure that payment is made in a timely manner that aligns with when we pay our umpires. Also, it is the responsibility of our association to continue to recruit more umpires so that we don’t have the need for outside umpires to come to our aid during tournament weekends.

Thom Denholm – While I understand the desire to fill positions, I do not believe single game bonuses are a good idea. The board needs to work with the assignor to have a documented policy that rewards umpires for working on very busy weekends – the higher weekend rate is a sample of this. Beyond this, I believe we have policies in place to handle late paying leagues and the like. It sounds like you are suggesting a review of these procedures is in order.

  1. We are way too short of umpires to perform the number of games we have without a significant drop in the quality of the game we provide our umpires.  Will you commit to decreasing our game assignment numbers till we can build back up our umpire numbers?  Will you commit to no one-man game assignments?  Which customers will you be willing to prioritize for games coverage?

Terry Granillo – This is an annual discussion, and yes, I will commit to doing what I can to balance our game counts with our available umpire numbers. I cannot commit to no 1-Umpire games, as we have school customers who only book 1-Umpire games. I can however, commit to continue to advocate for allowing 1-Umpire games on an exception basis, and not as a regular practice. I will not name customers in this context.

Dale Wilson – The shortage of officials is tough for not only the umpires but our youth athletes. I want to make sure we can balance both as it is so important that the youth are able to play sports. I know that if umpires direct the assignor with key restrictions such as no more than two games a day or no one man game he has insured that these requests are met.

Brian Rooney – The shortage of umpires is tough not only on us but also for the players. However I will not commit to decreasing our game assignments at this time. For example, if an umpire wants to work only two games a day or does not want to work one man games than all he needs to do is let our assignor know. If an umpire wants to work more than two games a day or work solo than it is not up to me to prevent that

Thom Denholm – I am a strong believer in customer service, and for most games, this means two umpires. However, when I joined NBUA 30 years ago, all JV was one-man. I believe for younger leagues (e.g. 12u) and non-competitive games (Freshman, C tier and Junior High), one umpire is sufficient. A minimum of two umpires should be mandatory for Varsity baseball. I would like to understand how the schools are charged for single umpire games and how the WOA pay factors in. I believe we should also increase the pay rate for a single umpire game. Finally, we must somehow factor illness and injuries into our assignment calendar.

  1. NBUA has some senior umpires who look complacent on the field and have become so “relaxed” or thinking they do not have to exhibit proper and expected engagement that it does not reflect the supposed high standard of NBUA’s customer service. This does not set a good example to newer umpires and encourages emulation of a too-casual attitude and body language that appears they are officiating from a self-centered standpoint. If you agree with this assessment, how will you address it?

Terry Granillo – I have not witnessed this behavior personally, so I can’t confirm the assessment. In terms of senior umpires, I presume you mean long-standing A- or T- tier officials. My commitment, as ever, is to be honest and receptive in giving and expecting feedback. I have seen guys have off-days, and wind up chasing plays, running through tags or catches, etc, and I tell them about it. I’ve had those days. At those levels we are pretty self-policing, and we depend on the frank and honest feedback we get post-game to ensure we’re keeping our games sharp. As an administrator for the association, we as board members must always take this sort of feedback on members seriously, which we do. Ejection reports, notes from coaches or parents, etc. are assessed for validity and need-for-action in terms of training, evaluation, or occasional disciplinary action.

Dale Wilson – Sorry but I can’t speak to this statement as I have not worked or seen what this question is describing.

Brian Rooney – I cannot speak to this statement as I have not witnessed any such behavior.

Thom Denholm – This can be a fine line to adjudicate, especially for inexperienced umpires. Is the game more casual in nature, or is a crisp professional demeanor the best? We work far more of the latter type of game. This should be taught in training (all tiers). I think there would be value in approaching the leagues and stating we have a “point of emphasis” this year on a more professional demeanor. On the flip side, senior officials should be prepared to observe umpires who have received complaints.

  1. There are some umpires who attend no training (though given credit for outside training) and therefore have lost engagement with the Association. None of the newer umpires know who they are and never see some senior umpires they can learn from. They then want to come in mid-season and cherry-pick games and tournaments that more NBUA-dedicated umpires are perfectly capable of officiating. This causes some resentment among some umpires who work all season-long with and for NBUA. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to address this?

Terry Granillo – I understand this sentiment completely, as I felt the same way when I was coming up in the association. We all want the big games. The umpires you refer to spend their Winter and Spring working college schedules. Many umpires cannot work high school ball due to work restrictions and the fact school games typically start at 4pm. This is the case for those few Tournament Tier umpires who show up out of the blue in June and start getting assigned to high level PIL and 18U games. I won’t say they cherry-pick, as they do get assigned to lower age groups too. I agree the high-level assignments can cause resentment. I don’t agree it needs to be addressed any more than it already is managed. I want our best available umpires on our highest level games. In our 3-umpire games, we can, and do, give opportunities to developing B and A tier umpires with experienced partners.

Dale Wilson – I know that Camps and Pro School can apply towards the yearly training. Not sure if that is what the question is asking. Not meeting the training by level would result in not being eligible for promotion.

Brian Rooney – It has long been an NBUA policy that any sanctioned outside training can go towards the umpire’s training hours for that year. Per NBUA policy, the board should direct the assigner to assign the appropriate tiered umpires to each respective game.

Thom Denholm – With COVID, we reduced in-person training, and this is a direct casualty. We should encourage a few all-tier training sessions per year, with a directly focused topic and a healthy break to mingle. Perhaps we could have an incentive for tournament tier officials talking with C tier and below. As far as “cherry- picking”, this is a discussion to have with the assignor.