Baseball Umpires’ Learning Blog

Our Place to Share the Game

Situation: Awarding Bases

Game Situation NF Rules:

No runners on base, 2-2 count on the batter, batter swings and misses, the ball glances off the catcher, and the ball rolls out of play.  Where do the umpires place the batter-runner?  Why? If the plate umpire places the batter-runner on the wrong base, what should the base umpire do?  How might it be best to get involved to get the play right?

What rules apply and what generalities can you share to help other umpires better understand how to best award bases and cover baseballs going out of play?

Happy Blogging!

May 31, 2007 Posted by | Knotty Problems, Rules, Sharing Game Situations | 8 Comments

No Call or Interference?

Rob Curtis offered the following situation in a comment in another section of the blog. Thanks for sharing your sitation and your decision. Interference and obstruction and the decision to call one or the other, or neither, must be part of our learning. The discussion and learning shall now begin (and it isn’t about Rob being right or wrong).

Here’s a situation that I had in a game.

Runners on First and Third one out.

Runner from first takes off for second, pitcher steps off the rubber and looks at the runner as he’s running. Pitcher throws the ball to the second basemen who’s about 25 feet from second base. The runner, at the time the second basemen gets the throw, is about a stride away from the second basemen. Runner gets tagged as he runs into the second basemen that he’s attempting to avoid, but there’s nothing hard or anything. The contact causes the throw to the plate to be off target and the run scores.

Defensive coach comes out and wants interference called. I didn’t call interference on the play simply because the runner didn’t have a chance to avoid the second basemen by the time he stopped and the second baseman was in the act of fielding the ball. The runner didn’t change his course to second base. Anyone call anything different?

May 23, 2007 Posted by | Knotty Problems, Sharing Game Situations | 21 Comments

How you can become an umpire!

Several people have come to our learning blog trying to find out how to become an umpire. I am very aware that virtually all umpire associations would enjoy having a fresh batch of umpires every year. For this reason, we should answer this not so simple question when we are communicating with a world full of baseball leagues. However, we welcome your comments on other ways to become an umpire. Once the season has begun, the best way to learn how to become an umpire is to introduce yourself to the umpires shortly after a middle school or high school game (generally in the parking lot).

Beginning your experience as a volunteer Little League umpire in a local league works well for many people and truly makes a difference for children and families despite your beginning ability. Little League has excellent local and regional training programs. Go to the Little League Baseball Official Website (http://www.littleleague.org/findingaleague.asp) to locate a league near you and/or click on “UMPIRES” here or at the top of the page for more information.

The best thing to do is go out and watch games and meet umpires. Introduce yourself and ask the umpires who to contact and give your name to the plate umpire who can write down your name and number on his lineup card. Hopefully all umpires will pass this information along to the proper member(s).

Prior to the season watch the sports pages in your local newspaper 6-8 (?) weeks before the high school season begins or contact an umpire that you know or met. Ask the people you think are good umpires where they are working their next games and go to additional games. Find a mentor. This can be an important first step for true beginners and green umpires.

Mentoring programs are proven to have profound effects on all professional groups that utilize this model. Most umpires could also benefit from a structured teaching and feedback system so the entire officiating group can focus on a short list of specific topics and national points of emphasis to standardize the learning. This is an important function of Executive Committees in conjuntion with the local rules interpreter.

I presume that every state that uses National Federation rules also has a state umpire-in-chief. I hope some readers can confirm this presumption and give us a resource where we can all find state-by-state information. In the process, active umpires from around the country/world will discover who they can contact to answer their toughest rule questions. Asking only questions about rule situations that actually, almost, or might really happen will make this a productive exercise for you and your state umpire-in-chief (and they won’t hate me for telling you to call them!).

May 22, 2007 Posted by | Association Improvements, Commentary, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Just for Fun! “Baseball-Wiki”

Here’s something that might be fun. I have created a “wiki”. Yes, I am utilizing some more technology (that I would also love to introduce to you). I request that we learn a bit about fellow bloggers. Go to the “Baseball-Wiki” (http://kimball-wiki.wikispaces.com/baseballwiki) and leave your first name, state, and level of games that you work (or are associated with). Coaches are welcome as some of our best umpires were coaches and vice versa. Click on “Edit This Page” and just type your information in the document. You must click “SAVE” near the very bottom of the page for your information to be published with the rest. Please do not “EDIT” the page for more than is necessary. Click save and then read! Thank you! Anyone can edit this page, so don’t mess with anything else or I will tell umpire war stories about you in “the Baseball Wiki”. Wiki fun!  Ayuh!

May 22, 2007 Posted by | Baseball Wiki, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Coach’s Perspective on Balks

This comment appeared originally as a comment but has now become its own post. Every day balks dominate the list of search terms that direct readers to our learning blog. For this reason, “Balk” now has its own category.

Dear Coach & Umpire Rob,

Thank you for taking time to share your game situation and not mentioning names or location. By doing so, you have presented an excellent learning opportunity. In turn, umpires involved in this game or any other game situation should not turn comments meant to help all of us learn into an argument.

The gray area surrounding the balk rule comes into play all too often. Is it a balk only if someone is deceived? Why do some interpretations allow for deception (ie. fake to third with direct throw to first without full disengagement from pitcher’s plate)? Do we or should we as umpires rule balks the same despite the level of play? Do the National Federation’s new rule interpretations for this season leave no room for judgement (ie. ball changing hands after engaging pitcher’s plate, etc.)? Is a change of direction, a complete stop? How long is the stop for a complete stop?

Here is Rob’s umpire/coach learning situation:
I am a coach and occasionally an umpire. Yesterday I was coaching a team of middle school boys in a city semi-final game and my son was on the mound. We were leading the game 5-4 with 2 out in the bottom of the seventh inning, a runner on third and 2 strikes on the batter……..the umpire calls “balk” and the tying run scores. I run out and the umpire was telling my son “you did not come to a complete stop”, my son and team were devastated. The next pitch was strike three. We lost in extra innings.

I handled it like a gentleman but feel my son and the team were dealt a long lasting blow that took away all their efforts of the previous two and half hours (not to mention the previous two and a half months that got us to that point).

My son is feeling like he let the whole team down.

The ump may have been technically correct but I don’t believe he served the game of baseball any justice by the timing of his call. I am still upset but know the game is over and the outcome won’t change. As a coach and an adult, I can deal with it but the boys and mostly my son, I want to find the words to best explain it all.

Kimball Comments:
Being a city semi-final game, I wonder whether there may have been a higher level umpire assigned who calls your described balk whenever he sees it. Unfortunately we often see this all too often in local sports. I support middle school regular season officials working middle school playoffs and championships for a wide variety of reasons.

In response to your personal frustration and emotion, I must first applaud you for acting like a gentleman and not blaming others for your team’s loss. This could not have been easy. You apparently modeled excellent behavior. However, I do question how long a this “lasting blow” will last. Players usually rebound much faster than coaches/parents as long as winning and losing and the true benefits of participation are shared throughout the season. Coaches are some of our most important teachers. The difficulty of your role was compounded exponentially by having your son not only on your team, but also on the mound at the time of incident.

Maybe the rule makers will better communicate how the balk rule should be interpreted in its umpire manual. Or, even better, local school leagues can work closely with local umpire associations to set their own ground rules for teaching proper pitching techniques as is done for some of the other sports.

Click on the title of this article or click on “Comment(s)” below to share your comments. Now the discussion continues!

May 20, 2007 Posted by | Balks, Commentary, Rules, Sharing Game Situations | 7 Comments

Sharing feedback with your peers

It is so easy to catch poor mechanics on your partner’s part, but not at all easy to detect your own deficiencies. Because I want so much for all umpires to give their very best to the game, I always ask my partner for some feedback on areas where I need to work. With luck he’ll give me some good morsels on which to chew. Hopefully, he’ll ask me the same question so that I can share with him what I saw him do and ask him why he did it that way. Maybe he wasn’t aware of what he was doing, or perhaps he has a good reason for doing it that way. If we can get a discussion going, great! We can both learn from that.

But what if he doesn’t open the door to a discussion about his performance that day, either good or bad? What if he tells me he has nothing for me and that he thinks he had a great game? I’ve tried the approach, “Would you like to know what I saw out there today?” and when he responds with, “Not really”, I bemoan the fact that a learning opportunity has just gone out the window.

When you work with an association that has no formal evaluation process where an evaluator sees you once or twice a season and provides you with written feedback at the conclusion of the game, the only way you are going to get feedback is from your partner after the game or perhaps from a peer who happened to take in your game from the stands because he was there to watch a relative or a neighbor’s kid play ball. On those occasions where I have been the peer in the stands, I have had the overwhelming desire to share all my observations, both the strengths and opportunities, with the crew after the game. I think that is my part of my responsibility to make my association as competent as it can be.

Human nature being what it is, though, when I have offered my observations, sometimes the crew isn’t interested. I want to believe that they were rejecting my approach, but not the content. By that I mean, had I approached them differently, they might have wanted to listen to what I had seen from outside the foul lines.

Can any of you give me some help here? Do I just butt out when I see something that needs correcting, or is there a way I can slide the information in without appearing to be the almighty know-it-all? There are just so few opportunities to get constructive feedback that I want to maximize every one of those opportunities. How do you get through to someone who, in essence, is saying “Don’t confuse me with the facts.”?

May 18, 2007 Posted by | Association Improvements, Knotty Problems | 2 Comments

Preparing to call the foul ball (in the air)

Yesterday, I had an eye opening situation.

How many times in a career do you see a foul ball that goes straight up at the plate? We always see the coach trying to put the foul ball for the catcher (during pre-game infield) on the plate. Well yesterday, I saw it happen in the game – More on that later…

We all seem to get a good view of the every day foul balls that are in the air.

#1. We head down the baseline for anything down the line in the outfield.

#2. For anything going back to the backstop or towards the deadball areas – we get the angle to see if there is any contact with the fences or spectators.

But where do we go to gat the best view for the ball straight up? At the time I didn’t know.

As a catcher for many years, I understand the mechanics of what the ball will be doing. For any ball hit staight up or slightly back – there will be incredible back spin on the ball. Therefore the ball will arc up and slightly back – then as it reaches the top of the arc it will start to arc back towards the pitcher. This is why the catcher should be facing the backstop to make this catch. The movement on the ball is subtle, but after many years of catching, I can tell you that it does this everytime, and it is hard to judge.

So knowing this as a player, I thought that I would put this knowledge to good use.

The play: Batter hits the ball straight up. The catcher stood up – I let him clear – he took 2 steps straight back. I then found the ball and moved to his right. The ball was high enough for me to get at a 90 degree angle to the plate. The ball comes down and the catcher attempts to catch (but misses it) it using a basket catch. From my angle, it appeared as though the ball was behind the point of the plate (but it was very close), so I called it foul. I got no arguments from either bench.

After the inning my partner, who has a lot more mechanics training than me. He said that it looked fair to him (from the A slot). I asked him where I should have been to make that call. He told me to use the baseline extended. He said that this angle would give me the best view.

Well next time I will do that. I was wondering, does anyone out there have a different approach to this call?

Thanks for your help.

May 18, 2007 Posted by | Mechanics | 9 Comments

Timing

I have seen many umpires make a call too fast. I have been accused of being too slow.

Just in the past week – I have had 3 calls, that if I made a quick call (they appeared to be obvious outs – on a tag) I would have been wrong.

#1. A play at the plate, catcher catches the great throw from the outfield, and during the tag the ball is lost from the glove and goes to the backstop.

#2. Same game – I am covering third (I was the PU) and another great throw into the base. Runner slides in head first and there is a cloud of dust. Originally it looked to me like the runner has gone right over the glove. I waited a second – asked the third baseman for the ball – and surprise – it was gone.

So my thought to myself – see the play (the entire play) make the judgement in my mind – call the play.

May 18, 2007 Posted by | Baseball Bits | 2 Comments

Message Boards at ETeamz.com

For those of you who like to really love to test your rules knowledge and continually be presented with challenging rules situations, you may enjoy visiting eteams.com message boards (http://eteamz.active.com/baseball/boards/). Please do not assume that all the suggested rulings are official rule interpretations, but these discussions can certainly get your mind moving. Overall, message boards/discussion forums may present situations that you may not have seen or heard about previously. For this reason, your perusal of this site should be worthwhile. However, if you get emotionally involved in the discussing topics in a forum online, be aware that you may be attacked if you mistate something or leave something out. Those who write there remind me of those who delay umpire group meetings arguing over situations that will never happen.

Probably the best resource at http://eteamz.active.com/baseball/boards/ is the “Rules” section in the left sidebar. In the twenty or so minutes that I looked over a few topics there, I found some good clear, supported rules information. There are three choices under Rules: OBR rules, FED rules, and Basic rules. Make sure you know which section you are reading because rule differences can overwhelm even the best students of the umpire/rules game. Many dedicated umpires who work different leagues and levels annually purchase publications that provide the information necessary to move between high school, college, American Legion, Babe Ruth, and Official Baseball Rules (aka pro rules).

This might also be a good time to share a neat feature of this blog. Hold your cursor over any active (blue underlined link) that will take you to a related internet site. The “Snap” mini window feature should appear showing an image of the site before you click to go there. Try it below on the eTeams message board and rules site. Happy Surfing Fellow Umpires!!

http://eteamz.active.com/baseball/boards/

May 14, 2007 Posted by | Knotty Problems, Rules | 3 Comments

Perfect or Perfunctory; What kind of equipment check do you carry out?

Last week in our area we had a potentially tragic incident take place that has made all us umpires who heard about it reevaluate our approach to the equipment check prior to the game. I hope it will do the same for you. Under Federation rules, umpires must inspect the bats and batting helmets before the game to ensure that both meet specifications and are free from dangerous defects.

During his last time at bat in a high school varsity game this week, the batter took a direct hit on the ear hole of his batting helmet. The batter did not go down, but his batting helmet had a big spider web covering the ear flap and there was blood on the side of the batter’s head. Examination later at the emergency room revealed a ruptured eardrum.

The helmet was a new one, complete with NOCSAE sticker as well as the warning label, but just imagine the further damage that could have been done if if the helmet hadn’t met inspection standards and its poor condition hadn’t been noticed during the pre-game check of equipment.

When we look at helmets, we need to see the NOCSAE seal stamped into the helmet as well as the warning sticker. The rubber compression pads cannot be born, deteriorated, or missing. Duct tape on a helmet is a dead giveaway as to the condition of the helmet under the duct tape. Nothing irks me more than to have a coach tell me, as I remove a helmet from play, “What’s the problem? The last umpire let us use the helmet that way.” That tells me that either we are not being thorough enough in our pre-game inspection, or that the coach has a substandard level of concern for the safety of his players. Neither of those two possibilities is acceptable.

The Federation makes coaches and umpires responsible for promoting safe conditions for play during the game. Let’s be sure we are doing our part to uphold that responsibility by being alert and discerning during the equipment check. That way we can be sure that we prevent noncompliant equipment from causing injury, or should an injury occur, we can be certain we did not exacerbate the injury by allowing an unsafe conditions to exist during the game.

May 13, 2007 Posted by | Equipment, Rules | 2 Comments

Link to Maine HS Sports Standings

Now that our state has published the first round of the team standings, you might like to be able to access this information from our blog.  Click below or on the MPA Standings in the “blogroll” where other links are located.

 MAINE PRINCIPALS ASSOCIATION HEAL POINT STANDINGS   http://www.mpa.cc/hpmenu.html

Don’t forget to check out the Umpire Photo Gallery.  All pictures are used to teach some aspect of umpiring.  Local Bangor area (EMBUA) umpires are featured most of the time.

CHECK OUT UMPIRE LEARNING PICTURE AREA http://picasaweb.google.com/ShawnKball/OfficiatingBlogPics

also known as Umpire Photo Gallery in Blogroll

 

May 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lefty Pickoff at First Base (NFHS)

As you continue to explore additional ways to help you rule on left handed pitchers’ move to first base, make sure that you do not forget the rules and mechanics that govern the declaration of a balk.

  • Rule Reference: Rule 6-2-4 (b, d, f apply most specifically to the lefty pickoff)

Rule 6-2-4 Balk Rule

  • Mechanics — Immediately call time using both hands above head while verbally communicating “Time”!
    • (NFHS Rule 5-1-1k) Ball is dead immediately when:
      • NFHS 5-1-1k

Some things to help you decide from “B” or “C” positions:

  • (Article 4f) Can you see the bottom of the pitcher’s foot swinging back over the pitcher’s plate? This is a pretty good indicator that the pitcher’s “entire non-pivot foot passes behind the perpindicular plane of the back edge of the pitcher’s plate”. If the pitcher throws directly to any base other that 2nd base, he has committed a balk (and he can only throw to 2nd if he is making a play on a moving runner.

Some help from the “plate”, “A”, “B”, or “C” positions:

  • (Article 4b) Since “to step with the non-pivot foot directly toward a base” has been interpreted as no more than 45 degrees (half way) to home plate, we can visualize where half way is drawing a mental line extending at a 45 degrees from the midpoint along the front of the pitcher’s plate. If the pitcher’s foot lands on or beyond this imaginary line, a balk has been committed.
  • (Article 4d) The pitcher cannot stop his motion once he begins to pitch. Part of his body must continue to move. If he stops his body and his non-pivot leg, it is a balk.
    • Pitcher must not stop after beginning motion to plate.

Another tip to help you from plate position:

  • As the left steps towards first base and lands, if they step legally, you should see space betweens the pitcher’s legs (in contrast, no space when he steps directly towards you.

From the “A” position in a 3 or 4-person system, you have the best look available. Position yourself so that a direct throw by the pitcher will go just over your left shoulder (closer to first base than most umpires work with a runner on first). This gives you a better look on that swinging non-pivot leg. Study the pitcher on all pitches knowing whether he breaks the plane of the back of the rubber. When the pitcher does something different, there is a good chance he is coming to first. You do not want to be surprised because any time that we are surprised, our timing and judgement are compromised. Know where that imaginary line on the ground is located. Be ready to pull the trigger on the balk!

TIP: If you are unsure and possibly get fooled on the first questionable move to first (your gut and coaches/fans will let you know), go to the mound at the end of the half inning (act like you are checking the ball) and look for the footprint. If a balk should have been called, you then know that if the lefty’s foot lands there again, you will enforce the balk. Get fooled once, but never twice!

Remember to keep your balk discussions with coaches brief. There really isn’t much to say. “He stepped to home.” “He broke the back plane of the pitcher’s plate.” “He deceived the runner(s).” “He hung and stopped his non-pivot leg.” As I said in an earlier post, do not start showing what the pitcher did. You are not a pitcher and the whole crowd doesn’t need you to keep them focused on the coach questioning your call.

All of the help on this topic and throughout this umpire learning blog requires mental and/or physical training. Work on these things while you are at home, on the field, or on the ride to/from the game. You may not get this tough balk situation until you are in the playoffs and you want to shine.

May 9, 2007 Posted by | Balks, Commentary, Mechanics, Rules | 1 Comment

Crazy Appeal Situation–Official Baseball Rules

2 outs, Runner 2 on 2nd base; Batter 1 singles. Runner 2 scores on a close plaly at the plate as the Batter-runner takes second on the throw. The defense annouces it will appeal the batter-runner for missing first base. Batter-runner (on second) starts back to first after the pitcher has the ball on the rubber.  The pitcher throws to second.

a)  The first baseman catches the ball before the runner gets back to 1st base.  How do you rule?

b) The batter runner beats the throw back to first base.  How do your rule?

Rule Reference: Official Baseball Rules 7.01

Share your ruling by clicking on “Comments” below.  It is alright to guess or even research the right answer.  Let see if we can get you involved.

May 8, 2007 Posted by | Knotty Problems | 19 Comments

On the road: Comments on local umpiring

After watching a couple weeks of baseball, I have a few thoughts that I hope will help you think more thoroughly about your on-field work. If I can make enough of an impression, some of you will take the risk and make adjustments. Most of these are small changes, but require concentration, practice, and an all-game commitment to create new, improved habits.

Here are some of my early season concerns:

  • Many base umpires are still moving and not set for plays at first.

When the ball is hit, start by moving quickly to your spot, slow down, settle into your spot before the ball is released by the fielder squaring your body to the base, follow the flight of the ball more than half way, move your eyes to focus on the action about to occur at the base (you may need to adjust to an errant throw and/or tag play), and focus on the leading edge of first base to see the out/safe. After taking in all the information, keep your eye on the ball, confirm the catch, and then make a good looking, strong out or safe call.

  • Fast timing–See it, feel it (Did it really appear as I thought?), and call it.

Anxiety causes one’s timing to speed up. Give time for the instant replay to run in your mind. Stay relaxed and rehearse your body and head position/movements during plays at all bases and calling pitches. Using some of the warm-up pitches or throws to first between innings to practice your movements and timing. Good timing is a mental routine. Make sure your routine becomes a habit that you can do without thinking.

  • Most plate umpires are positioned too deep behind the catcher.

Can you see a ball on the outside corner at the bottom of the knees? Can you see the pitch all the way into the mitt. Move towards the pitcher and adjust into the slot (towards the hitter) and up (higher head height) if you are having trouble seeing pitches. We all want our catcher to be a backstop, but we cannot see through a backstop to see if the ball catches the corner at the knees. If you are calling some pitches strikes that are too low (many of your are!), adjust your head position.

  • With a runner on first base, base umpires in the “B” position are too deep/close to second base.

We all need an angle to get the play right at first base on a pickoff throw. Being deep and ready for the steal is only a luxury for 3-man or 4-man umpire systems. Calling pick-offs accurately requires concentration and a quick two steps (left, right) towards the starting point of the running lane squaring your body to the play.

  • Plate umpires should leave the plate area (with speed) as recommended by your mechanics manual.

Few plate umpires seem to want to show everyone how hard they are working. Bust your butt and burn those calories. Remember that you also want to consider angle as you attempt to get the best look at catch/no-catch situations. If the ball is going down the line, get closer and stay on the line. After your call and other related oversight of the ball (going into dead ball area, spectator interference), run back to home plate as soon as your partner(s) assumes coverage of the base runners.

  • Plate umpires need to be heard.

Plate umpires are given the big title “Umpire-in-Chief” so make sure that everyone can hear you throughout your game. You have a voice so let teams know the count, outs, and whatever it takes to manage your game. Make sure that your partner(s) knows when you leave home to cover one of the bases. If the count is wrong on the scoreboard, show and verbalize the count so there is no doubt. Your voice will keep your partner(s) and the players in the game. Keep players running in and out! Speak kindly to coaches if player are reluctant.
Overall, the umpiring continues to be very good. We all know that umpires rarely affect the outcome of a game. Improving one of your mechanics is the quickest way to become a better umpire. In the worst case scenario, you miss a call and you will learn from your mistake. Let’s try to improve our mechanics before we miss that call. Review your mechanics manual(s) regularly and discuss situations with your partners.

The umpire crew is always the best team out there. Keep up the good work.  Despite what you may hear, your hard work is appreciated.

May 7, 2007 Posted by | Association Improvements, Mechanics | 1 Comment

“19th Century Baseball” Link

Unlike most of the other sports, I believe that baseball umpires overall share the strongest bond with their sport (especially here in the Maine where the first baseball is played between snowstorms with spectators dressed like football fans in Green Bay).  For this reason, I assume that our readers will enjoy learning more about the history of our great game of baseball.

Recently I received a copy of an email in which Steve Johnson, our local baseball affectionado, asked a prominent baseball historian how baseball arrived at the 60 feet 6 inch distance between the pitcher and the batter.  After reading the response, I could not keep myself from diving deeper into the history of America’s national pastime.

After a quick search and a couple clicks in my web browser, I discovered that Eric Miklich has produced a wonderful website where the world can learn about baseball’s opening century.  Being busy as always wearing and wearing so many different hats, I have just scratched the surface of the available information, but I anxiously await the opportunity to learn more.   19th Century  Baseball http://www.19cbaseball.com/ has separate content areas (with pictures and sketches) about each of the following: the game, the field, the equipment, the rules, the leagues, the players, and the legacy.  I am simply amazed at the details provided about baseball in the 1800’s.

The site also provides an opportunity to purchase baseballs produced matching the specifications throughout early baseball history.  I may become more interested in the baseballs as I learn more, but the game is so much more than the ball alone.

As a side note, I cannot help myself from sharing that one of our own, a renowned, local umpire and historian, has a precious and rare “Doubleday baseball”.  Maybe this fellow umpire will be interested to share some of his vast knowledge here in the blog for others to enjoy as part of our “Baseball Bits” category.

May 6, 2007 Posted by | Baseball Bits | 7 Comments

Positioning for Tag Plays at Home–Advanced Mechanics

Here are some suggestions to prepare yourself to make calls at home plate on all balls thrown from the outfield toward home. As soon as you can, move back behind home plate in foul territory and put yourself in line with the catcher/home plate and outfielder. (You may be rushing back after lining up a tag at third!) I believe that by being in a straight line with the throw, you can better determine how and where to stand to see what you need to in order to make the proper call.

If the thrown ball tails in either direction, move in the opposite direction to open up your view of the impending tag play. You now can see between the catcher and the runner coming home allowing you to see the tag. If the ball comes straight to home plate, swing around and take the call on the front corner of the plate closest to 3rd base. Do not get too close as you may become part of the play if the runner does a fade slide trying to sneak his hand in to touch the plate.

May 2, 2007 Posted by | Mechanics | Leave a comment

From the BDN about umpires

I found this in the Bangor Daily News. Read it over and let us know your thoughts and ideas – how to keep control. Any level would help. We do at times hear stories, but let’s see if we can learn something. Perhaps Shawn has some great insight from his pro days?

Umps need to practice prevention

By Larry Mahoney
Wednesday, May 02, 2007 – Bangor Daily News

Retaliation is an unfortunate part of sports. Some will insist it is necessary to save face or ensure aggressive actions are put to a swift halt.

During Saturday’s first game of a doubleheader between Husson College and Castleton State (Vt.), there were a couple of ugly incidents that nearly led to brawls.

Husson pitcher James Gray instigated the ugliness when he delivered a forearm shiver to Castleton State’s Billy Bruneau, who had grounded back to him and was running to first.

Gray insisted that the hard tag he applied to Bruneau was a reaction to Bruneau’s dipping his shoulder. Gray anticipated that Bruneau was going to try to bowl him over and knock the ball out of his glove.

He said he didn’t mean to hit Bruneau as hard as he did. Still, Gray could have thrown to first or slapped a tag on Bruneau’s thigh.

In the top of the next inning, Spartans pitcher Jeremy Gilcris retaliated. First, he threw a pitch up near the head of Husson’s Adam Sheehan, forcing Sheehan to duck out of the way.

Two pitches later, Gilcris hit Sheehan in the helmet.

That resulted in the pitcher’s ejection.

It should also result in a suspension.

Fortunately, Sheehan wasn’t hurt and jogged down to first base after voicing his displeasure to Gilcris.

I can understand Gilcris wanting to send a message to the Eagles that Gray’s forearm shiver wasn’t going to be tolerated. He was justified.

He was sticking up for Bruneau and his teammates.

Gilcris wouldn’t comment when asked about the incident.

The fact he had thrown 70 strikes among his 92 pitches entering the inning probably ruled out a sudden case of wildness or the pitch slipped out of his hand.

But you should never throw at somebody’s head.

He could have thrown the ball behind Sheehan or thrown an off-speed pitch at his legs or body.

His message would have been loud and clear.

When you throw at somebody’s head, you are not only endangering their careers, you are endangering their lives.

We all remember Tony Conigliaro and his beaning and how it all but ended his career.

We all do things in the heat of the moment that we sometimes regret.

When you are in that situation, you have only a split second to make a decision.

The umpires may have been able to prevent the beaning by stopping the game and warning both benches after Gilcris’ first pitch sailed up by Sheehan’s head.

I have always maintained that one of the most important jobs of an umpire or a referee is controlling a game.

If emotions are running high, umps and refs need to address that. They need to diffuse a potentially volatile situation.

Even if it means stopping a game and laying down the law to both coaches.

There hadn’t been anything remotely volatile in the Husson-Castleton State game until the Gray tag on Bruneau.

To the credit of both coaches and both teams, there was no carryover in the second game. The teams simply played baseball. They put the hard feelings from the first game in the past.

I’m sure both Gray and Gilcris learned from their mistakes. And if they face each other in the NAC tournament this weekend, I don’t envision any repercussions.

Hopefully.

May 2, 2007 Posted by | Commentary | 6 Comments

Game Situations

The situation: 2 outs runners on first and third.

Batter swings at strike 3, catchers catches the ball – but it is dropped after the bat hits his glove on the back swing(Cecil Fielder like swing). The batter/runner runs to first, the catcher picks up the ball and overthrows first base into deadball territory. Where do you put the runners?

May 2, 2007 Posted by | Rules, Sharing Game Situations | 5 Comments