This is my first post to this site, I'm not too web savvy and not the greatest computer guy but I have been umpiring for over 13 years and have graduated from Jim Evans Academy. I am an evaluator for my local association, we work mostly high school, rec and have a few small colleges on contract. Our umpires also work NCAA Div I through affiliated assignors. Our association has a clear cut ranking system from levels 6 through 1, and a stair step career pattern to reach all the way up to College Conference status. I see a very wide range of talent as the season goes along, working with NCAA conference level umpires all the way to first year PONY guys doing 8-10 year old games. I wanted to put out there for all, some of the things I see at all levels that we as umpires need to improve on. Game management is the number one area for improvement. By this I mean simple things to move the game along.
- Plate guys: get the ball back into play immediately, throw a baseball to the pitcher ASAP, did a 3 hr 20 min NCAA game, plate man never once threw a baseball and catcher was chasing balls all game, so it is not just PONY and youth guys.
- Get enough game balls, if they give you 2 ask for 3, youth guys keep a few spares in your car use them to move games along better.
- USE TWO BALLBAGS and have 6 baseballs in your possession in the better levels before every inning, do what you can at youth levels to get baseballs from the coaches and press box guys.
- Record changes more effectively, key point here is that the game NEVER waits for the Umpire, we are always ready to go, too many of us take 5 minutes to get the card out, find our writing implement, figure out who we have, change should be only this "5 for 15 in the 4 spot" thanks coach got it. That's about 2 pen strokes, putting one line though 5 and placing 15 on the line in the 4 spot, we don't care if he is short stop, center or anywhere else, only the batting position is of importance to us.
- Base guys, DO NOT CALL TIME EVERY PICKOFF or after every play, if the first base guy holds the ball to try to get a cheap out I tell him right away, "get the ball back to the pitcher we are not getting any outs like that today" set the tone in the first inning that's BS baseball, not playing that today.
- Make the fielder on the wings after a foul ball leave the ball. Get a new one in play, have non-player or coaches chase fouls, not my right fielder who is running 400 ft away when I have 5 balls in my bag ready to go.
- Pay attention between innings for warm up pitches, if one is thrown wild, see number one above, GET A BALL TO THE PITCHER, let catcher catch, you or on deck chases wild pitch. Remember reliever gets 8 same guy gets 5 to be completed by rule in 1 minute!
That's all of my rant for now, managing your "dead time" in a game is a huge plus for an umpire wanting to move up to a higher level. I see a lot of chit-chat with coaches and fans between innings, remember you are there for a paid job, they are paying us to manage these games and get them in. A professional is attentive at all times on the field not just when ball is in play.