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    Speeding Up Your Games

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      Here are my suggestions for having quicker games (when you are the plate umpire).

      This stuff works.  I have the game times to prove it.

    Here are my suggestions for having quicker games (when you are the plate umpire):

    (1)  Stock up on your baseballs between innings.  At the time of the first pitch of the game, I have 6 baseballs (3 in each ball bag).  I make sure I start each half inning with 6 baseballs.  If I run low during in an inning, I look at the home dugout and say, "I need (insert number) baseballs, please."  I then make sure that someone runs out to me with the baseballs during a natural break in the game.

    (2)  Stand on the foul line a few feet up from the dirt circle between innings.  Stand in front of the dugout of the team that is coming to bat.  Except for the first inning (or when there is a new pitcher), quietly tell the catcher after the pitcher has thrown 3 warm-ups, "he has two more, (insert catcher's name)."  After the pitcher throws his fourth warm-up, hold up your right hand above your head while giving the "number 1" signal, and look at the pitcher and say, "last one!"  Then, turn to the on-deck batter and say "one more!". Usually when I do this, the batter immediately removes the weight from the bat and starts strolling toward the plate...even before the catcher has thrown it down to second base.  Saying "one more!" usually causes the third base coach to start moving toward his coaching box, too.

    (3)  If someone doesn't come out to warm-up the pitcher, sternly say to the coach, "coach, I need someone to warm-up the pitcher or your pitcher is not going to get any warm-ups this half-inning."  Usually the coach turns to the kid who is supposed to take care of this and says, "Johnny, pay attention.  Go warm up Mike!", or an assistant coach trots out.

    (4)  Have a short-hand system for quickly notating substitutions.  [All substitutes are required to be listed on the line-up card.  So, if the head coach comes up to me and says, "I have number 14 for number 22 in the ninth hole,"...and this is his first substitution of the game...I go to the bottom of my line-up card (where the substitutes are listed) and I put an "A" next to number 14.  Then, I go up to the ninth spot in the line-up and write the "A" again.  I also make a "22" through the starter's number.  If the starter re-enters later, I just strike through the "A" and write a "Re" next to the "A".  For the second substitute, I write a "B", etc.  However you do it, having a short-hand system for substitutions will shorten your game.]

    (5)  We always say, "don't signal or verbalize obvious foul balls".  (For instance, if the batter hits a rocket straight back to the backstop behind home plate, we shouldn't throw our hands up and yell, "foul!".)  I suggest that you take this a step further: don't watch obvious foul balls!  If a batter hits a towering fly ball that is going to land in the softball field behind the first base dugout and well out-of-play...don't stand there and watch it.  I guarantee you that if you watch me (and most, if not all, pro and college umpires), F1 will have a new ball before the foul ball even lands.  This can literally knock 5-10 minutes off of your game time.

    (6) If your state uses the FED batter's box rule (mine doesn't) enforce it.  Even in my state, I will tell a batter, "let's go" if he is strolling between pitches.

    (7) Call strikes.  I know that there are some games we all have (especially in high school) where neither team has an F1 who can throw it in the ocean standing knee deep at high tide...much less throw it in the strike zone.  But, if you want quick(er) games, you must enter each game with the mentality that every pitch is a strike until it proves to you that it is not a strike.

    (8) Unless it absolutely gets buried in dirt, don't brush the plate off except when there is a natural break in the game (for instance, between batters.).  The plate doesn't move.  If you've been umpiring for more than a few games, you know where the corners are located.

    (9)  Break up mound visits in a timely manner.  Here is what drives me crazy:  after deciding that it is time to go to the mound to break up the defensive conference, some umpires take an eternity to get to the mound.  I watch some guys, when they start walking to the mound, walk up the first base foul line to the 45-foot line.  Then they turn left and actually walk toward the mound, but they go to the back of the mound.  Then, they walk up the back of the mound.  It is like they are afraid to get to the mound; they take the most non-direct route possible while strolling.  When a defensive conference occurs, I immediately note it on my line-up card.  By the time I put away the card, it is just about time to break up the visit.  I walk directly and with purpose in a straight line from the plate to the mound.  Once I am sure that the coach and players (other than F1) are leaving the mound, I jog back to the plate area.  As i am jogging back, I glance over my shoulder to make sure that the coach and/or catcher isn't trying to return to the mound.

    (10)  Hustle.  When you hustle, it will encourage others to hustle.  If you are "popping out" from behind the plate and trailing the batter-runner on grounds balls (with no runners on base), or having a crisp first-to-third rotation...it encourages the game participants.  This won't work for all teams, but it will work for many.

    This stuff works.  I have the game times to prove it.

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    User Feedback

    Excellent advice! And call tight outs as well when on the bases. Don't call time when theres a base hit to the outfield when the ball comes back to the infield & the infielder asks for "Time" to throw the ball to the pitcher.  When pace of play seems to drag, clap your hands together several times and say something like "ok guys, lets pick this pace up". 

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