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#1 UmpJM

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 01:00 AM

So, tomorrow kicks of the annual USSSA 15, 13, and 11 International World Series in Crystal Lake, IL.

The association I belong to has been providing the umpires for international tournaments there since sometime in the mid 90's (before I was a member).

I've got 12 games on my schedule through the first 6 days of the tournament.

My two games tomorrow feature a team from Brazil vs. an Illinois team and a team from the Dominican Republic against an Illinois team.

I always look forward to this tournament because it more or less puts a "wrap" on summer ball for the season, and it's a great chance to work some pretty decent youth baseball and hang out and catch up with my umpiring brethren.

Things kicked off yesterday with a golf outing followed by a "procedures and rules" meeting for the umpires working the tournament (golf outing was optional, rules meeting mandatory).

At the main complex hosting the site, we have a small building (concession stand for the football fields at the park), along with the adjacent parking lot, reserved exclusively for the umpires. It's stocked with tons of water, gatorade, and food. Everybody hangs out there before games, after games, and often, well into the wee hours of the morning, telling war stories, having "animated" rules and mechanics discussions, and just catching up with everybody.

Off duty umpires ferry water deliveries down to the fields where guys are working games, and any time a crew comes off a field, somebody fires up the grill and cooks some burgers and brats for them. Some guys bring their "specialties" on certain days which range from deep-fried turkey, to pulled pork, to Hungarian Goulash, to who knows what.

It's a truly wonderful time.

I'll let y'all know if anything interesting comes up.

JM
"Finally, be courteous, impartial and firm, and so compel respect from all."

#2 semper_fi_72

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 08:18 AM

JM

Have fun.
We are having the USSSA Western World Series this week.
Just worked 8 games, 6 13U and 2 12U games since Tuesday.
2 Tuesday, 2 Wednesday and 4 Friday (Yesterday).
It was good youth baseball and even got a invite to CDP for next year with a organization.

Sounds like your location may be a little more fun.
Our games were held at three different Big League Dream facilities in the area.

Enjoy brother

Moved to Salina, Utah.  Time for some fishing and hunting.


#3 scrounge

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 03:42 PM

Sounds awesome...and close to my old home in Hoffman Estates (before I got into umpiring).

#4 Dannytheman

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 11:27 AM

I love the idea of having a nice quiet place to chill out between games. I am going to recommend this to our League for our 3 week tournament run next year. I can have a air conditioned trailer rented with bathroom and changing locations, maybe a couch or two. Food delivered from our snack bar. I like this a lot!!

Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it! :meditation:

 

 


#5 Jocko

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 02:47 AM

I love the idea of having a nice quiet place to chill out between games. I am going to recommend this to our League for our 3 week tournament run next year. I can have a air conditioned trailer rented with bathroom and changing locations, maybe a couch or two. Food delivered from our snack bar. I like this a lot!!

they can use your game non-fees to pay for it! :fuel: :wave:
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#6 Umpire in Chief

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 11:46 AM

Have a great time!

Warren


#7 Dannytheman

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 03:34 PM


I love the idea of having a nice quiet place to chill out between games. I am going to recommend this to our League for our 3 week tournament run next year. I can have a air conditioned trailer rented with bathroom and changing locations, maybe a couch or two. Food delivered from our snack bar. I like this a lot!!

they can use your game non-fees to pay for it! :fuel: :wave:

Living in an affluent area has it's perks. Trailer will be donated by a building contractor. :meditation:

Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it! :meditation:

 

 


#8 UmpJM

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:13 AM

Update, three days in....

So, the tourney started Saturday and today is an "open" day left in the tourney schedule to allow for making up any rained out games during the first three days of "pool play". No rain-outs so far, so I'm off today.

Saturday I have a DH with an 8:00AM start working with a young guy in the association who is about half my age and one of my favorite umpires to work with. We're at one of the satellite locations at a park called Veterans Acres. Kind of a cool field that sits down in a bowl and Joe Dimaggio (not the same guy who's famous from the coffee-maker commercials, but the same name) is the Site Director and game announcer. Joe's son Joe Jr. and his buddy Jesse, both recent graduates (2 yrs. ago) of UNLV where they were both Varsity baseball players, drag and reline the field between games and do an impeccable job of it. Being in the same conference, they had the opportunity to face young Mr. Strasbourg when they were in college, and according to them, it's actually kind of hard to hit a 100mph+ fastball. Joe Sr. is a bit of a character and keeps up a running patter throughout the game, complimenting the players on nice hits and defensive plays, and even compliments the umpires on good calls & such. He's enough of a baseball guy that he knows when it's OK to talk and when it isn't. Joe JR and Jesse make sure the umpires are supplied with baseballs and water throughout the game. It makes for a fun atmosphere and, as an umpire, it kind of makes you feel appreciated.

http://goo.gl/maps/HJRIi

In the opener we have the Brazil team against a local team from Palatine, IL, and I'm on the dish. Ends in a "mercy" after 4 in about 1:10 with Brazil the winner. Brazil's pitcher has a no-hitter into the bottom of the 4th with two outs when the Palatine batter rips a double into the RCF gap. The Brazil pitcher has a decent fastball and a nasty curve, both of which he can locate. Then he's got an "extra gear" fastball that he only shows the batter once he's got two strikes. I think he got six kids swinging in a 4 inning game.

Seems like the whole Brazil team can hit. During the change in the third inning, the Palatine coach comes out and tells me that his catcher told him the Brazil kids are using illegal bats. (The tournament switched to the FED BBCOR standard for the 15Us this year. We're instructed NOT to do a pre-game bat check, but to check if it's questioned.) He's almost apologetic about bringing it up, and I assure him it's a perfectly reasonable request and go check the bats. Sure enough, Brazil's got about 6 BESR bats (all illegal this year) and one legal BBCOR bat. I throw out all the BESR bats and tell them they can only use the BBCOR for the rest of the game. I go back and let the Palatine coach know that the only penalty is to remove the bats and everything to this point stands. (If an illegal bat is discovered prior to a following pitch or play, the defense has the option of the result or the batter is called out and runners returned, a la BOOT). Again, the Palatine coach is perfectly gracious about it, says that he understands there's no penalty, and says something about it's his own fault for not catching it sooner. (Why can't ALL coaches be like that?!!?). Anyway, we resume and the Brazil hitters are still crushing the ball with the one BBCOR bat, so I doubt it made all that much difference.

One interesting thing is that most of the kids on the Brazil roster have Brazilian first names and Japanese last names and are of Japanese or mixed Japanese/Brazilian ancestry. Think "Felipe Takahashi" or "Guillermo Ito". Apparently, there was a large emigration from Japan to a number of S. American countries following WWII. In Brazil, the Japanese emigre community are pretty much the only ones who play baseball, because everybody else plays so%$er (excuse my language).

Both catcher's were a pleasure to work with, knew how to show pitches and kept the ball off me all day. About as pleasant as a lop-sided game can be, and mercifully short.

The second game is a great game between two different area "baseball factory" teams, Pro Player v. Illinois STIX. One area HS where I work a fair number of games has 4 or 5 players on each team. Visitors put up 2 in the top of the 1st, Home comes back with 2 in the bottom. A couple of scoreless innings, with both teams getting runners on, but some nice defense and pitching prevents any scoring. In the fourth HT puts another pair on the board, Visitors come back with 2 in the top of the fifth. We're tied going into the 7th and the Visitors score 3, the HT gets a couple of runners on in the bottom, but can't score - 7-4 final in about 2:00 even.

Very competitive game with some good baseball. I get a pick-off out at 1B and a caught stealing at 2B. Only "controversy" I remember is the at bat team has a hit and run on with an R1, and the batter hits a dribbler in the direction of F4. F1 fields it and trows out the BR at 1B, as the R1 tries to advance to 3B. I make the call at 1B from the 1B side of the working area and start moving towards 3B for the play there. F3 makes a nice throw, but the sliding R1 just gets in under F5's tag on a close play at 3B. I come up with a big "SAFE!" from just to the 3B side of the pitcher's plate in the working area. Def. HC is not happy and comes out to talk. I ask him what's up, and he starts out with something along the lines of "Which bag do you HAVE on that play?!?" I say, "Rick, In that situation I have the play at 1B and the play at 3B. (My partner and I had pre-gamed that BU has everything if the ball doesn't leave the infield.) I then say, "I had a really good look at it Rick, and the runner had his foot on the bag when you're third baseman tagged him on the right thigh." He still didn't like it, but he said "OK" and went back to his dugout.

Anyway, quality baseball and a fun game to work.

Then it was back to the umpire hangout (henceforth known as "The Swamp") at the main complex, Lippold Park.

http://goo.gl/maps/jUNRJ

The Swamp is at the small building just south of the SW cluster of fields, and the adjacent parking lot is reserved umpire parking. Rookies man the grill during the day and cook burgers and brats to order fo rthe crews coming off games. Had a cheeseburger and a gatorade, then went up to the big field in the NW cluster to watch some of my buddies working and make sure everybody had enough water. Saw a younger guy I've worked with a number of times on the plate who was trying out a new plate stance - he looked pretty solid, but his head height was WAY low; his eyes were probably about 4 inches higher than the catcher's helmet. I called him over to give him a water between innings and let him know, and he fixed it right away. Later at the Swamp he thanked me and told me he thought he was seeing the low pitches much better after I talked to him. Hung out for awhile swapping stories and stuff, then back home to get some sleep before the next day's games.

To be continued...

JM
"Finally, be courteous, impartial and firm, and so compel respect from all."

#9 BRUMP

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:29 AM

Update, three days in....

So, the tourney started Saturday and today is an "open" day left in the tourney schedule to allow for making up any rained out games during the first three days of "pool play". No rain-outs so far, so I'm off today.

Saturday I have a DH with an 8:00AM start working with a young guy in the association who is about half my age and one of my favorite umpires to work with. We're at one of the satellite locations at a park called Veterans Acres. Kind of a cool field that sits down in a bowl and Joe Dimaggio (not the same guy who's famous from the coffee-maker commercials, but the same name) is the Site Director and game announcer. Joe's son Joe Jr. and his buddy Jesse, both recent graduates (2 yrs. ago) of UNLV where they were both Varsity baseball players, drag and reline the field between games and do an impeccable job of it. Being in the same conference, they had the opportunity to face young Mr. Strasbourg when they were in college, and according to them, it's actually kind of hard to hit a 100mph+ fastball. Joe Sr. is a bit of a character and keeps up a running patter throughout the game, complimenting the players on nice hits and defensive plays, and even compliments the umpires on good calls & such. He's enough of a baseball guy that he knows when it's OK to talk and when it isn't. Joe JR and Jesse make sure the umpires are supplied with baseballs and water throughout the game. It makes for a fun atmosphere and, as an umpire, it kind of makes you feel appreciated.

http://goo.gl/maps/HJRIi

In the opener we have the Brazil team against a local team from Palatine, IL, and I'm on the dish. Ends in a "mercy" after 4 in about 1:10 with Brazil the winner. Brazil's pitcher has a no-hitter into the bottom of the 4th with two outs when the Palatine batter rips a double into the RCF gap. The Brazil pitcher has a decent fastball and a nasty curve, both of which he can locate. Then he's got an "extra gear" fastball that he only shows the batter once he's got two strikes. I think he got six kids swinging in a 4 inning game.

Seems like the whole Brazil team can hit. During the change in the third inning, the Palatine coach comes out and tells me that his catcher told him the Brazil kids are using illegal bats. (The tournament switched to the FED BBCOR standard for the 15Us this year. We're instructed NOT to do a pre-game bat check, but to check if it's questioned.) He's almost apologetic about bringing it up, and I assure him it's a perfectly reasonable request and go check the bats. Sure enough, Brazil's got about 6 BESR bats (all illegal this year) and one legal BBCOR bat. I throw out all the BESR bats and tell them they can only use the BBCOR for the rest of the game. I go back and let the Palatine coach know that the only penalty is to remove the bats and everything to this point stands. (If an illegal bat is discovered prior to a following pitch or play, the defense has the option of the result or the batter is called out and runners returned, a la BOOT). Again, the Palatine coach is perfectly gracious about it, says that he understands there's no penalty, and says something about it's his own fault for not catching it sooner. (Why can't ALL coaches be like that?!!?). Anyway, we resume and the Brazil hitters are still crushing the ball with the one BBCOR bat, so I doubt it made all that much difference.

One interesting thing is that most of the kids on the Brazil roster have Brazilian first names and Japanese last names and are of Japanese or mixed Japanese/Brazilian ancestry. Think "Felipe Takahashi" or "Guillermo Ito". Apparently, there was a large emigration from Japan to a number of S. American countries following WWII. In Brazil, the Japanese emigre community are pretty much the only ones who play baseball, because everybody else plays so%$er (excuse my language).

Both catcher's were a pleasure to work with, knew how to show pitches and kept the ball off me all day. About as pleasant as a lop-sided game can be, and mercifully short.

The second game is a great game between two different area "baseball factory" teams, Pro Player v. Illinois STIX. One area HS where I work a fair number of games has 4 or 5 players on each team. Visitors put up 2 in the top of the 1st, Home comes back with 2 in the bottom. A couple of scoreless innings, with both teams getting runners on, but some nice defense and pitching prevents any scoring. In the fourth HT puts another pair on the board, Visitors come back with 2 in the top of the fifth. We're tied going into the 7th and the Visitors score 3, the HT gets a couple of runners on in the bottom, but can't score - 7-4 final in about 2:00 even.

Very competitive game with some good baseball. I get a pick-off out at 1B and a caught stealing at 2B. Only "controversy" I remember is the at bat team has a hit and run on with an R1, and the batter hits a dribbler in the direction of F4. F1 fields it and trows out the BR at 1B, as the R1 tries to advance to 3B. I make the call at 1B from the 1B side of the working area and start moving towards 3B for the play there. F3 makes a nice throw, but the sliding R1 just gets in under F5's tag on a close play at 3B. I come up with a big "SAFE!" from just to the 3B side of the pitcher's plate in the working area. Def. HC is not happy and comes out to talk. I ask him what's up, and he starts out with something along the lines of "Which bag do you HAVE on that play?!?" I say, "Rick, In that situation I have the play at 1B and the play at 3B. (My partner and I had pre-gamed that BU has everything if the ball doesn't leave the infield.) I then say, "I had a really good look at it Rick, and the runner had his foot on the bag when you're third baseman tagged him on the right thigh." He still didn't like it, but he said "OK" and went back to his dugout.

Anyway, quality baseball and a fun game to work.

Then it was back to the umpire hangout (henceforth known as "The Swamp") at the main complex, Lippold Park.

http://goo.gl/maps/jUNRJ

The Swamp is at the small building just south of the SW cluster of fields, and the adjacent parking lot is reserved umpire parking. Rookies man the grill during the day and cook burgers and brats to order fo rthe crews coming off games. Had a cheeseburger and a gatorade, then went up to the big field in the NW cluster to watch some of my buddies working and make sure everybody had enough water. Saw a younger guy I've worked with a number of times on the plate who was trying out a new plate stance - he looked pretty solid, but his head height was WAY low; his eyes were probably about 4 inches higher than the catcher's helmet. I called him over to give him a water between innings and let him know, and he fixed it right away. Later at the Swamp he thanked me and told me he thought he was seeing the low pitches much better after I talked to him. Hung out for awhile swapping stories and stuff, then back home to get some sleep before the next day's games.

To be continued...

JM

enjoy it JM its always fun to be at tournaments where the umpires arent an afterthought....any reason you pregamed that you would have all calls in the inf if the ball stays in.. IMO it would be easier to have the PU come up the 3BL to make that call if there was only one runner....just wondering even though it seems like you were able to get the call right from afar?

"If you can't umpire hungover, you can't umpire." - American League Umpire Don Denkinger


#10 mstaylor

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 03:57 PM

That is the traditional mechanic and one I prefer. NCAA threw a kink in that thought last year but I still don't like it. It is very easy to make the call at first and bounce back for the call at third.
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#11 dmdhiker

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 06:47 PM

Great updates UmpJM. I too am working the same tourney. Being a rookie, it is an honor to be asked to work these games. Did 6 games last weekend, 3 DHs. Hung out each day before and after at the Swamp. What a great bunch of guys, very enjoyable spending time with such experienced umps. Seems that everyone goes out of there way to help a new guy. Learned so much about 2-man mechanics. Have a game tomorrow then back to the Swamp and will be there Sunday also to support a great crew of umpires. See you in the next couple of days JM.

#12 UmpJM

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 09:49 AM

Just to expand on what dmdhiker said....

Working this tournament is "by invitation" - out of 300+ umpires in the association, only about 120 get invited to work the tournament. The first year you get invited is when you are first assigned an umpire number. The "rookies" who are at the tournament for their 1st or 2nd year are expected to carry the load on manning the grill, bringing water out to the fields, taking out the garbage, policing the area, etc. dmdhiker has attracted very positive attention from the association "big dogs" for his efforts in those respects. Reportedly, he's not half bad as an umpire, either! :wave:

At this point, fatigue is starting to set in for yours truly, and the games are starting to blur together. A couple of highlights include....

Worked a 10-inning game on Weds. that was 0-0 through nine. GREAT game working with a partner I'd never worked with, he had the plate, I was on the bases. Both teams were getting runners on base practically every inning, but some great defense kept anyone from plating a run. Had three all out run diving catches in the outfield, a couple of successful pick-offs and caught stealings, both teams turned a couple of double plays, and a missed swipe tag on an R3 diving back to the bag in the eighth inning. Finished in 2:20 and despite the tension and quite a few close plays - and a balk for dropping the ball while on the rubber - never heard so much as a peep from either team.

Next morning I'm at another satellite field working with another younger guy (late 20's) who I really enjoy working with, and we have a nine-inning game. I'm on the dish, kids are swinging the bats, defense is making plays, and both catchers are great to work with. One of the team's catcher's actually gets a put out at 3B on a bunt with an R1 where the R1 tried to stretch it to 3B and the F2 hustled up to take the throw from F3 after the put out at 1B because the F5 had been pulled out of position.

HT goes into the bottom of the seventh chasing 2. They get a runner on 2B after one out, and the batter crushes a slicing fly ball into RF. F9 is balls out to get it and the ball just keeps on slicing. I'm reading could be a HR could be foul, could be a diving catch, so I'm busting up the 1B line. F9 in an all out run just gets his glove on the ball as it crosses about 6 inches foul of the line, while both of his feet are still in fair territory, and, naturally the ball pops out of his mitt and lands fair. I come up with a big "FOUL!! FOUL!!!" and then point it foul as the R2 crosses the plate and the BR pulls into 2B. As we put them back, there's a huge collective groan from the HT crowd and I distinctly hear from one of the fans "That's an absolutely TERRIBLE call! The fielder was still FAIR!!". I think to myself, "Yep, I saw that too." and get ready to put the ball back in play. To his credit, the HT head coach didn't whine or chirp or even come out to talk about it. The HT goes on to subsequently plate the R2, and get a runner on 3rd with 2 outs.

Next batter rips a hard grounder up the middle, and the F6 makes a spectacular diving catch just shy of 2B, comes up and fires to 1B, but the throw is in the dirt and F3 tries to scoop it but comes up with air as R3 crosses the plate with the tying run. After a scoreless 8th and top of 9, HT loads the bases and the game ends with a walk-off single. We finish 9 in 1:45. Couldn't have been a more fun game to work.

Today I've got a 1:00 elimination game in the "gold bracket" between Team Japan and a quality team from Texas. Should be a great game.

To be continued....

JM
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#13 dmdhiker

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 08:13 AM

With the rain yesterday, games got shuffled and I am doing Santo Domingo vs W. Bloomfield, MI, on Sporel Park today at 11am. Should be some good baseball. Then back to the Swamp. As a rookie I try not to correct the vets, but JM there are 500+ umps in our association.

#14 UmpJM

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 09:55 PM

So, final installment on this thread...

As dmdhiker says, there are over 500 ("ish") umpires registered in the association we belong to, but there are really only somewhere around 350 ("ish") that are "active" in the sense that they are regularly working games. (Rookies, sheesh! :wave: )

Anyway, pretty exhausted after finishing the week and trying to get caught up on my day job this week. A few final moments.

The elimination game btwn. Japan and Texas on Saturday turned out to be a pretty good game. I'm working with a guy I've known for a few years - very good umpire, but never had the opportunity to work with before. Texas jumps out to a one run lead, Japan comes back and ties it up. Japan starts to get to the Texas pitcher in about the 5th, they make a switch, but Japan goes into the 6th leading 5-2. Texas can't score in the top, Japan plates 2 more in the bottom of the 6th, and, with runners on 2B & 3B and 2 outs, the %#@$in' Thorguard goes off. We're about 1:45 into the game at this point at 2:45PM. All the fields are cleared and the umpires head back to the Swamp to wait it out. After about 45 minutes we start to hear thunder and see lightning, 45 minutes later the wind starts gusting to 60 MPH and then, shortly after, the deluge hits. Only lasts about 15 or 20 minutes, but dumps a LOT of water. Finally got back on the field at 7:30PM to finish the game (which started at 1:00PM). Takes about 7 minutes and 5 batters to complete the last 1 1/3 innings.

Sunday morning I'm back for an 8:00AM 13U game which was pretty crappy. The kids seem exhausted and like they really didn't want to be there. First inning takes 35 minutes. Second inning takes 40 minutes! I'm not liking the trend here. Finally, things start to pick up a little and we get out in a 5-inning mercy at something like 14-6 in 2:10 (eight after 5 mercy rule). Probably the least enjoyable game of the whole week.

Change into street clothes and go watch the 15U Championship between Brazil and Japan, which Brazil wins something like 5-2. Brazil pitches this kid (turned 16 during the tournament) for the first six innings that is allegedly getting signed by the Mariners, looks about 6' 2" and 220 lbs., was regularly clocking pitches over 90 MPH, and had kinda' "scary" eyes (think Bob Gibson in his prime). Good game.

The back to the Swamp to do the final clean-up and shutdown. Sitting around with about 20 or so guys and we go around the circle and everyone gives his "best" and "worst" of the week. Kinda' fun. Tomorrow we have the annual golf outing and banquet where awards (e.g. Rookie of the Year, Best Plate Umpire, Most Improved, etc.) are handed out.

I worked a total of 14 games this year over 8 days, and managed to have a couple of "firsts". Had 4 games with guys I'd never worked with before, and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. All veteran, quality umpires and it felt liked wed worked together numerous times before. After one of these games, while changing out in the parking lot afterwards, a fan came up to my partner and I and handed us each an ice cold beer! He told us he appreciated our professionalism and the quality of our umpiring. I'm guessing he was from the winning team, but I've definitely never had THAT happen before. (Unfortunately, it was a MIller Lite instead of a Warsteiner or something, but still...)

Had one game where the entire half-inning consisted of three consecutive ground outs to the pitcher - on 5 pitches. My kind of baseball, and I'm pretty sure I've never had that before. Probably called about a dozen balks over the course of the week, but my favorite was the one that wasn't. Runners on 1st and 3rd and the ball slips out of the pitcher's hand as he delivers. Bounce...bounce....rolling, rolling, barely crosses the foul line, and comes to a stop about 2' in foul territory. I believe I may have been a bit "overfocused" waiting to see if it was going to make it across, because I apparently called "BALL!" kind of loud when it finally did. Which the fans thought was HYSTERICAL! They crack up and I start hearing, "You GOTTA be KIDDING me!", "You've been calling that a strike ALL DAY", etc., etc. It was actually pretty funny.

All in all, a very fun week, and I look forward to doing it again next year. dmdhiker was an absolute shutterbug out there, so maybe he'll post some pix. No more games for me until about mid-September when Fall Ball kicks off, maybe another dozen games then into October before it's time to put the gear away until next spring.

Later.

JM
"Finally, be courteous, impartial and firm, and so compel respect from all."




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