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VolUmp

Spray-Chalking bases, pitcher's plate, home plate.

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I call almost exclusively 15- up to 19-year-olds between high school ball and senior American Legion ball.

The best field crews start the day with a batter's box, a graded infield, a raked and tamped mound and home plate area, and bright white sprayed bases, pitcher's plate, and home plate.

Several years ago, it dawned on me that when really good field crews are in hurry-up mode between games, or are shorthanded, the one thing I can always do to help is spraying the bases, and the plates.  I bring my own spray chalk, and if everything is sprayed, it stays with my cooler and gear. If I can help them out, and they don't have spray chalk handy, I grab my own, and I've never asked to be reimbursed. After all, it is probably more helpful to me as the plate umpire than anyone else on the field.  One time a Groundskeeper snuck a brand new can into my gear bag which was kind of him 

I've got it down to an art where I spray the inside corner of each base, so that the base umpire and I can see all the plays, touches, and tag-ups, but I don't need to waste spray chalk on the entire base.  Of course, I paint the entire pitcher's plate and the entire home plate, and usually get a couple of chuckles from parents or coaches who ask me to make the plate a couple of inches wider.

I have those in the brotherhood who think I'm brilliant and generous for doing this, and those who think I'm a damnfool for bending over five extra times and spending my own money on chalk.

Today, we were battling the rain water from overnight and just trying to get the tournament started on time. The crew painted the plates, but not the bases. I noticed it too late, so I didn't bother for game 1.

When game 1 ended and the teams were shaking hands at home plate, I went immediately to 1B as the crew was coming out onto the field.  I brushed all the dirt off and sprayed my half-base-triangle in about ten seconds when we all heard a thunderous, " I DON'T WANT THOSE BASES SPRAYED!"

I turned around and saw the local Varsity coach on the tractor. I think he thought I was one of his crew guys, or there's no way he would have yelled at me like that.  He's known me for 16 years.  I'm 53. He's 56  

I walked over to him and asked WTH the problem is with me chalking the bases. I've chalked his bases several times and I'm prepared to do it everywhere I'm assigned.

"This is MY field. I don't remember you spraying my bases — I haven't chalked a base in 16 years! If you want something done, just ask, and we'll be glad to do it!"

"OK," I said, "I'd like 2nd and 3rd bases chalked please. You can use this can (handing it to him)."

He waved me off and said, "We'll take care of it. We'll make sure you can see them."

So ... a young man (20 or so) was told to get down on his hands and knees and scrub those bases with a brush ... which took about ten minutes, and improved the visibility by 10%.

Gotta love it.

They argue balls, strikes, and the ability to see the bases.  And they wonder why we use the term "rat."

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1 hour ago, VolUmp said:

I call almost exclusively 15- up to 19-year-olds between high school ball and senior American Legion ball.

The best field crews start the day with a batter's box, a graded infield, a raked and tamped mound and home plate area, and bright white sprayed bases, pitcher's plate, and home plate.

Several years ago, it dawned on me that when really good field crews are in hurry-up mode between games, or are shorthanded, the one thing I can always do to help is spraying the bases, and the plates.  I bring my own spray chalk, and if everything is sprayed, it stays with my cooler and gear. If I can help them out, and they don't have spray chalk handy, I grab my own, and I've never asked to be reimbursed. After all, it is probably more helpful to me as the plate umpire than anyone else on the field.  One time a Groundskeeper snuck a brand new can into my gear bag which was kind of him 

I've got it down to an art where I spray the inside corner of each base, so that the base umpire and I can see all the plays, touches, and tag-ups, but I don't need to waste spray chalk on the entire base.  Of course, I paint the entire pitcher's plate and the entire home plate, and usually get a couple of chuckles from parents or coaches who ask me to make the plate a couple of inches wider.

I have those in the brotherhood who think I'm brilliant and generous for doing this, and those who think I'm a damnfool for bending over five extra times and spending my own money on chalk.

Today, we were battling the rain water from overnight and just trying to get the tournament started on time. The crew painted the plates, but not the bases. I noticed it too late, so I didn't bother for game 1.

When game 1 ended and the teams were shaking hands at home plate, I went immediately to 1B as the crew was coming out onto the field.  I brushed all the dirt off and sprayed my half-base-triangle in about ten seconds when we all heard a thunderous, " I DON'T WANT THOSE BASES SPRAYED!"

I turned around and saw the local Varsity coach on the tractor. I think he thought I was one of his crew guys, or there's no way he would have yelled at me like that.  He's known me for 16 years.  I'm 53. He's 56  

I walked over to him and asked WTH the problem is with me chalking the bases. I've chalked his bases several times and I'm prepared to do it everywhere I'm assigned.

"This is MY field. I don't remember you spraying my bases — I haven't chalked a base in 16 years! If you want something done, just ask, and we'll be glad to do it!"

"OK," I said, "I'd like 2nd and 3rd bases chalked please. You can use this can (handing it to him)."

He waved me off and said, "We'll take care of it. We'll make sure you can see them."

So ... a young man (20 or so) was told to get down on his hands and knees and scrub those bases with a brush ... which took about ten minutes, and improved the visibility by 10%.

Gotta love it.

They argue balls, strikes, and the ability to see the bases.  And they wonder why we use the term "rat."

Just wow. How often do you throw batting practice?

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1 hour ago, VolUmp said:

I have those in the brotherhood who think I'm brilliant and generous for doing this, and those who think I'm a damnfool for bending over five extra times and spending my own money on chalk.

 

I definitely agree with one side of that. In the interests of civility, I will refrain from saying which one. :D

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Let them take care of their fields - We have field bosses that ONLY allow their people on the field.

Our job is to call the game - and let them know if something is wrong (lines are off etc)

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1 hour ago, maineump said:

Let them take care of their fields - We have field bosses that ONLY allow their people on the field.

Well,  we don't  ... not until College  

Our job is to call the game - and let them know if something is wrong (lines are off etc)

And what if they use bases that can't be seen, and they won't spray them when asked?  This, after claiming they'll do whatever we ask?

 

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14 hours ago, VolUmp said:

 

 those who think I'm a damnfool for bending over five extra times and spending my own money on chalk.

 

I disagree.

 

To be clear, I disagree that this is the (only) reason they think what they think.

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Do what ya gotta do, @VolUmp, but don't ever, EVER make fun of a base ump smitty taking out his plate brush and sweeping off the pitcher's plate. I mean, we're just talking different shades of groundskeeper at that point, amirite? What's the difference.

 

By the way, they could use a bit more diamond dry behind the plate....you don't mind, of course, right?

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2 hours ago, VolUmp said:

Let them take care of their fields - We have field bosses that ONLY allow their people on the field.

Well,  we don't  ... not until College

So no one maintains any of the fields where you live?  

 

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1 hour ago, Rich Ives said:

So no one maintains any of the fields where you live?  

 

Of course we do.  We don't have "Field bosses that ONLY allow their people on the field" until the College level.

Most crews would be crazy to turn down any extra help, and although I'm not gonna rake, or drag, or tamp, or water a field while in uniform between games, I'd gladly spend a few seconds to chalk up to 5 objects — for my sake and my partner's.

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You'd get dismantled by Facilities Managers and groundscrew here, and then derided by "those in the brotherhood", after they collect themselves from laughing their collective a$$ off.

High School facilities are the purview of the AD; some have a staff, while others charge the Head Coach with those duties. Most of the high school -age tournaments and leagues here are played on either the Major League Spring Training facilities, or on city -owned venues that themselves used to be Major League facilities. In the former, you will incur mighty wrath and will be chastised or removed if you mess with anything under their domain, regardless of you being an umpire. In the latter, you are treading on someone else's job. Despite the oppressive heat, maintaining a city park, as a city P&R employee, is not a bad gig, and you stepping into it to do "your thing" ain't going to sit well with those workers, or their supervisors. These tournaments and leagues command so much capital here in Arizona, the various facilities want to keep the TDs and LDs happy.

LL and their facilities are another monster. In these events, the board members and the coaches go to great lengths to maintain their fields, themselves. If you were to show up, as an umpire, and start laying down chalk and cleaning bases, you've just screwed every umpire of LL games in the whole valley. Why? Because not only are you denying these parents and kids the opportunity to learn and be responsible for something, but you're setting the expectation that umpires may (or worse, will) do that in the future for them. We're already getting paid a pittance to get beat up, bruised, and verbally berated for 2 hours of babysitting, do I really want to have to show up 30-45 minutes earlier so as to chalk, spray, line and groom a field that should otherwise be done, by a community effort (at that)?

NWIH.

Oh, and you said something about college ball...

Yeah, we really could have used you this summer, with your spray cans and sand castle play-tools... Arizona College Woodbat League, while one of the venues is a Major League facility, the other, just down the road, is a local (but very affluent) community college. Read this twice if you must – there wasn't a single speck of chalk nor spatter of paint anywhere within the entire ballpark. No foul lines, no 45' running lane, no batters boxes, no catcher's box, 3 beaten, anchored bases, a pretty sketchy hump of clay for a mound, and one of the most pathetic, scoured, brown plates you've ever seen. Also, the home plate circle was an island, lacking connecting dirt running paths to 1B or 3B. Once the regular season ended, the college left the field to go fallow, and mowed the grass unilaterally as if it was any other tract of grass on the premises. Know what was even more shocking? The HC of the college program was the coach of the summer development team in the league, and when questioned prior to the plate meeting, replied with an unapologetic, "So? Who gives a SH*#? It's just summer baseball."

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And to think that the last tournament I worked, the TD almost fell off his chair when I asked if he wanted me to rub up a dozen baseballs prior to the start.    "You guys still do that?" :o

And now we're supposed to be groundskeepers?  Hell, I don't get my own lawn mowed as much as I would like due to the summer season.  Maybe I could contract out for cutting the grass at the local fields...... hmmmm.....  

  Like the man said, "NWIH."

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7 hours ago, VolUmp said:

 

Sorry, didn't mean to open a can here, but places generally take pride in their fields and the folks who take care of them - volunteer or not. It isn't our place to tell them their bases need to be painted or their lines need to be sprayed - if that is the way the field is, then play with it. Most of the batters box is gone in a couple of innings, foul lines are not always straight we have to live with that. If I see something that looks odd, we bring it up in the ground rules, we don't redo it ourselves.

Personally, I have never had a base that I couldn't see - and we don't have any that spray their bases. We have one place that has 2 or 3 sets of bases that will wash the bases, but never paint or spray them. Remember, I come from a state with a lot of mud in the spring and dust in the summer/fall - so dirty bases are part of life.

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3 hours ago, VolUmp said:

Of course we do.  We don't have "Field bosses that ONLY allow their people on the field" until the College level.

Most crews would be crazy to turn down any extra help, and although I'm not gonna rake, or drag, or tamp, or water a field while in uniform between games, I'd gladly spend a few seconds to chalk up to 5 objects — for my sake and my partner's.

I have volunteered to work as part of the field crew in world-wide tournaments we have held. Granted it takes a lot of folks to turn a field over, but not everyone can just do what they want to the field - everyone has a job.

I have great respect for the guys that do the fields, and would not 'make my mark' on the fields unless I was TOLD to do so or ASKED to do it.

Like I said - we have a job, let them do theirs. Talk to the TD, field boss or whomever you need to see if you have a problem with their work, before you just spray a base or two.

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It has been my experience that ground crews are made up of one old grumpy guy and a bunch of 16 year old kids. Fields are what they are and while I think what you are doing is noble there is no way I am buying spray paint and painting bases. 

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5 hours ago, maineump said:

Personally, I have never had a base that I couldn't see - and we don't have any that spray their bases.

That was my first thought as well.

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On 7/28/2017 at 5:31 PM, VolUmp said:

Gotta love it.

They argue balls, strikes, and the ability to see the bases.  And they wonder why we use the term "rat."

Who was it who told another member, "you don't live in the real world. It must be sublime"?

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This would come under o.o.o. Or being a smitty like wearing a red ballbag, do the best you can with what you got. Even those drunkenly drawn baselines, play the line up to the bag, then let the bag take over, and then after the bag let the drunkenly drawn line take over again.

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I can understand VolUmp's actions. There is something poetic about a pristine ball field, its lines laid out straight and true, the grass mown to the right height, the infield dirt dragged and smooth, the bases and pitching plate sparkling white. But I've never umpired on one.

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12 hours ago, LRZ said:

There is something poetic about a pristine ball field, its lines laid out straight and true, the grass mown to the right height, the infield dirt dragged and smooth, the bases and pitching plate sparkling white.

Undeniable. But the umpire is not the appropriate person to make it so.

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Looks like a Zen garden :wave:

I have had schools and youth groups paint home, the pitchers plate and the bases for opening day or some other meaningful event but other than that... Dirt is part of the game. 

There is no way I am dragging the field, watering, lining, painting or in any other way prepping the field other than kicking caked mud off home plate and then brushing it clean... that is my entire donation to their field maintenance program. My job when at a field to officiate is just that, to officiate.

 

Worked a game with a guy a year or so back... Pony playoff's. Team one only had 9 so between innings my partner (PU) goes to that team and asks them for the catchers glove. I did not think anything of this until he got in a crouch and started taking preparatory pitches! Walked up the line and told him if he pulled that again he would be working a solo game. His reply was they only had 9 and he was speeding up the game. I reminded him that he was right, they had 9 which meant one of the players could grab a helmet and do the job... or a coach. NOT HIS JOB! Bottom line is you prepping the field is in the same vein as this... Don't be this guy. Just be the umpire.

 

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26 minutes ago, Mudisfun said:

Looks like a Zen garden :wave:

I have had schools and youth groups paint home, the pitchers plate and the bases for opening day or some other meaningful event but other than that... Dirt is part of the game. 

There is no way I am dragging the field, watering, lining, painting or in any other way prepping the field other than kicking caked mud off home plate and then brushing it clean... that is my entire donation to their field maintenance program. My job when at a field to officiate is just that, to officiate.

 

Worked a game with a guy a year or so back... Pony playoff's. Team one only had 9 so between innings my partner (PU) goes to that team and asks them for the catchers glove. I did not think anything of this until he got in a crouch and started taking preparatory pitches! Walked up the line and told him if he pulled that again he would be working a solo game. His reply was they only had 9 and he was speeding up the game. I reminded him that he was right, they had 9 which meant one of the players could grab a helmet and do the job... or a coach. NOT HIS JOB! Bottom line is you prepping the field is in the same vein as this... Don't be this guy. Just be the umpire.

 

 

zen_garden.jpg

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2 hours ago, Mudisfun said:

you prepping the field is in the same vein as this

Mud,

I want the bases sprayed ... for MY sake.  If you go all the way back to the OP, you'll see I stated I found ONE WAY I could help is by spraying the items I wanted bright white.  I specifically stated it likely benefits me more than anyone else.

I wouldn't warm up a pitcher, hop on a tractor to mow grass or drag the infield, grab a rake and start raking, grab a hose and wet down the infield dirt, grab a tamp and start tamping, all of those things are important, and appreciated, yet nothing I should do nor willing to do.  I've never sprayed plates or bases when someone on the crew was gonna do it.  I've only done it when I could tell (or was told) that it wouldn't be done.

And someone mentioned a "Smitty" using a brush in the field to dust off bases.  No, I'd prefer he didn't wear a ball bag, but if my partner either between innings or before the game pulled out a brush to do that, I wouldn't give a rip about the "Smitty" label ... who cares?  I'd think, "Well, that was nice of him ... it helps both of us and maybe the players."

Those who live by the letter of the law die by it.  I'll die of cardiac arrest, most likely, but not because someone told me I broke the precious protocol of the umpire's duties.

Do you make sure there's a rosin bag behind the mound before every game?  And if not, why not?  What does the Rule Book say about that?

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1 hour ago, VolUmp said:

I want the bases sprayed ... for MY sake.  If you go all the way back to the OP, you'll see I stated I found ONE WAY I could help is by spraying the items I wanted bright white.  I specifically stated it likely benefits me more than anyone else.

Well, you know, it is all about you, so...

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