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Everything posted by MadMax

  1. MadMax

    Future Nike Apparel?!

    Shirts? Meh. At this point, I could take 'em or leave 'em. I'm just convinced that the more modern they get, the harder the eastern states will cling to the navy with red & white trim stripes shirt as the "official shirt" of their high school / American Legion / Little League / whatever associations. And Nike putting the swoosh on the chest will just fuel their anti-corporate, anti-marketing contempt. Pants? As in, athletic slacks made of Dri-FIT in ready-to-wear styles and sizes? Engineered to not fade (as rapidly), and not costing $80 per unit? Yes please.
  2. MadMax

    Transaction Experience Thread

    FIFY. You missed a word that... well... changes the meaning.
  3. MadMax

    Visor in Nike Ti

    Oh, best practice for polycarbonates... First, flip it over and remove the two screws holding the lens to the bracket. Remove the bracket and keep til later. Then, with just the lens, you can place it in a bowl of mineral spirits, and then wet-sand off the glazing (mirror finish). Do this a couple times, but especially do it once before spray painting it. Use "plastic fusion" spray paint for best results. Once completed and dried, reattach bracket.
  4. MadMax

    Jim Evans School

    The operative word in the question is "20". My advice (notice I say advice... not a directive or an order, which sooooooo many guys are too quick to give) is to consider and exercise that which is a core fundamental of umpiring (and a word you'll hear a lot while being instructed) – timing. While there isn't an exact number given by the League or the schools, the "window" appears to be between 22/23 and 30. @Radwaste50 is correct in that the only way into "the pipeline" (the path to The Show) is through either or both of the two schools (Wendlestedt or The MiLB Academy). However, there are several other ways to prepare yourself, structure your tools and skills, discipline your on- and off- field activities, and gain experience prior to (a) School so that your enrollment and attendance is the most effective for you. Jim Evans' clinics, or those put on by equitable experienced umpires, are examples of these steps. Another is to locate big-time baseball events, such as CBUA Showcase, USSSA Winter Nationals, MSBL World Series, Perfect Game Classics, etc. – events that are in need of competent umpires for game coverage and which are coordinated by top-level umpires with proven track records and connections. For example, one of the MSBL World Series events is held here in Phoenix (they also have others in Florida, Las Vegas, and San Diego). It is always looking for umpires. It is coordinated and administered by a professional umpire JB. JB is extremely well-connected, and is deeply involved in college baseball throughout mid-America. One of the reasons I relocated to Phoenix from Wisconsin (besides @KenBAZ elbowing me to do so) was JB serving as my evaluator at the CBUA Showcase event held in Iowa. Another option to explore is the MLB Umpires Evaluation (Day) Camps. The locations vary year-by-year, but they are free to attend, structured in a curriculum that is only positive and beneficial to you, and present to you an opportunity to impress and warrant a scholarship to attend one of the Schools! I attended one 3 years ago in Chicago, and it was wholly beneficial. (see here for 2018, as reference; 2019 is not published yet: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/umpires/camp/index.jsp?content=mlbuc_clinics ) One more recent option to consider is going through a placement in an independent pro/summer league. @jwclubbie has established an Umpire Placement Course/Camp to serve as a training, evaluation and connection portal through which to work in one of several independent pro/summer leagues (he has the details). As part of their payment structure, some of these leagues offer scholarships to attend one of the two Schools of your choice. So not only are you getting trained and evaluated by professional umpires, but you're also working alongside other established umpires, in games which will begin to relate to the speeds and talent levels that the Minor Leagues possess, all while earning money and credits (scholarship dollars) towards enrolling in a School. The alternative route is to just pay the $3,000+ tuition, walk in to a School, and see if you sink or swim. And even if you swim, have someone tell you, "You're good, kid, but... ", and have that "but" followed by "you're not old enough yet", "your fitness needs some work", "you need more experience", etc... any number of things that you could have been told now, in a setting that doesn't leave you financially, psychologically, and emotionally spent, or precarious.
  5. MadMax

    Visor in Nike Ti

    If any of you fellow gear junkies are wondering where I and my comments are on this... I'm over here, sitting in the corner, rubbing my temples and humming "take me out to the ballgame..." And yes, @JDavis225, most of the visors are just simple brown or grey. The visors from Markwort are available in what they call Silver, which is mirrored, and then the lens color is dark grey, while the other option is what they call Rainbow, which is mirrored again, but the lens color is very blue.
  6. MadMax

    Austin Hedges' Force3 HSM

    Lo and behold, guess what made an appearance... Here in Phoenix, we host the month-long Arizona Fall Classic, which not only involves the Major and Minor League talent, but also collegiate and high school -aged talent from throughout the country. Week to week, starting with Freshman, then Sophomores, and so on, teams square off in structured, strictly-showcase games that behave more like scrimmages. It's all about showing off pitching arms, skills with the bat, speed on the basepaths, Pop-times for catchers, and the occasional oh-so-slick turned DP. Well, during the Senior FC week, I had a catcher trot out from the dugout completely decked out in... Force3 gear. Including this: Ain't it pretty? Obviously, the cage has been completely reworked. It's noticeably better executed, seeming to wrap around instead of just jutting out into space like the previous model. Of course, the new forehead cage extension is the obvious improvement, significantly reducing the number of direct on-shell impacts. But notice, too, that the shell shape, or planform, is completely different than the previous model. I had been critical of Force3 for lazily employing a rather common planform that had been used throughout the baseball industry by a number of manufacturers, including the likes of Easton, Louisville Slugger, Worth, and Rawlings. That shell screamed "cheap, cheap, cheap", and was likely used so as to get immediate NOCSAE approval. This latest shell, though, is of a planform only used by All-Star (UnderArmour), and is more... well... planned, and thought out. Personally, as a "Gear Guy", I'm not too keen on equipping this to the majority of amateur catchers yet... simply because this thing is an investment, and far too often, amateur catchers are "coached" to unceremoniously dump the mask on a ball merely being put in play, leaving the bat, or getting just a foot or two away from their mitt. HSMs are constantly getting dumped on the ground, or ending up smacking the Plate Umpire as they're being hurled off. So too, I'm not sold on this for umpires either. I think more can be done in regards to utilizing the Traditional Mask (TM), and supplementing it with a hard hat. Umpires have to take a mask on and off much, much more often than a catcher does. There just simply isn't a helmet-mask designed for umpires. But as to what is currently available to umpires, my "professional" opinion is that this, the Wilson Shock FX, the All-Star MVP2500+, and the Easton M-series are the only real options to consider. Anything else isn't going to cut the mustard.
  7. Happens quite often. And, as umpires, we cannot put or compel a pitcher into a Balk call or situation. The same can be said regarding the Hybrid stance, as an example. If I’m about to make the ball live (call/point “Play!”), and I’ve got a F1 staring back at me in the Hybrid stance, I should not, indeed cannot, make the ball Live until F1 is in a legal stance. It would be improper of me to make the ball Live only to immediately yell “Balk! Illegal stance! Gotcha!”. A similar, typical thing happens with amateurs. The pitcher hastily, absent-mindedly toes the rubber. With ball in either hand, he stamps his foot a few times, making a new trench for his foot. He then adjusts the brim of his cap. Then he acknowledges which middle infielder he’s “got” on a come-backer, by raising his pitching arm back towards 2B and giving a point or waggle. Then he rolls his shoulders, settles in, and looks in towards his catcher. All during this, R1 is still taking his batting gloves off or putting his oven-mitt sliding glove on, talking with his 1BC, standing atop 1B, while the next batter hasn’t even gotten into the box yet! Where is there an act of deceiving the Runner in there??? So yeah, there may be, somewhere in there, an umpire (whether PU or BU) quietly telling F1 to tuck his shirt in. And, that kid doesn’t think to “legally disengage” so as to comply.
  8. MadMax

    Runner intentional interference

    It’s not possible to get two outs from this, with this being a ground ball (pop fly is different, see below), and R2 only. With no force play, there isn’t a DP to turn. Thus, either we are calling the R2 out for Interference or we’re not, as @maven was alluding to. If we have Interference in this case, then the ball is Dead – it’s the same as if the ball touched R2, or if R2 makes physical contact with the fielder making a play. Since this isn’t an Interference to break up a DP (such as a FPSR violation), then what the fielder does with the ball next is irrelevant... that ball is already Dead, and R2 is out. BR is placed on 1B. If we choose the other option, and interpret that act as not hindering or impeding (and the fielder’s successful fielding of the ball is borne out by that), then we have BR out at 1B anyway, right? There is a belief amongst some amateur umpires that we (as umpires) need to punish, and thereby prevent further, inappropriate baseball behavior and shenanigans. That it’s our way of “policing the game”. Thing is, there isn’t rule support for it. So, from instances like the above situation, we’re only able to get 1 out. Lastly, two outs can be the result of a pop fly. You’ll see this most often near an occupied base. Pop fly, and the protected fielder is interfered with by the Runner. We cannot ignore this, and the penalty of Out is applied to the Runner. The ball is successfully caught by the defense, thus the BR is out, too, as would be expected.
  9. MadMax

    Nike TI

    I’m still waiting to hear how Thailand figures into the equation, and where and how a Nike Titanium was purchased. They’re not for retail sale here in the US. Because they’re imported, surely, they have to have a declared value and a tag, but Nike has not made them purchase-able through retail, or even wholesale, channels. From what I’ve researched, the Titanium frames are produced in a single shop, likely in Taiwan. This shop is not responsible for the pads, nor the harness, so it is entirely likely that the frames are combined with their accoutrements in Thailand (where a number of Nike -brand fabric products are sourced), or that was shifted to China so as to bypass tariffs, taxes, and limitations. In either case, until I/we hear where and how the new Nike Ti Icon was purchased, we really can’t speculate as to its authenticity... again, because they’re not available to the domestic public.
  10. Dunno... Halloween special? ALSO... Feedback on what was discussed. Perhaps it's not good form to say "discard it" or "get rid of it" when it comes to accessories on this unit. At least Diamond has the courtesy of including bicep guards and a hard-plated abdomen extension within the purchase price of the overall CP! If you don't need them, then perhaps we say, "leave them off" or "put them aside"... by saying "get rid of it", it really cheapens the product. The Diamond may be a less expensive copy (knock-off) of the Wilson Platinum, but it certainly is just as good as the (overpriced) Platinum, if not better because of the included accessories! ... and it doesn't have that stupid billow pad. That should be removed and discarded immediately from any Platinum. _Useless_.
  11. MadMax

    Nike TI

    From where and how? Where did a previous one note or disclose that it was made in Thailand? Where does this current one disclose that it's made in China? There has been a difference in the masks of the "Icon" family over the past 10 years, as the planform has been refined, experimented on with different gauges of Titanium, hollow steel, and lately Titanal (pronounced Ty´-tin-ahl), and been shopped around to different fabrication shops.
  12. MadMax

    Problems with Plus POS Orders (again)

    3 of my 5 masks are +POS ZRO-G's, as are several of my Vulture colleagues. For a hollow-steel mask, emulative of the revered Icon, complete with decent pads and a harness, and priced at $49, you cannot beat it. I have never had a problem ordering from +POS (Dan), and I think it all has to do with Emailing him first, prior to ordering. In this way, it introduces your email to him as a "trusted" customer. He got absolutely torched by PayPal a few years ago, mostly off scammers ordering and cancelling stuff. So if you contact him before ordering, indicate what you're ordering and use the email / ID you're going to pay with for PayPal, it seems the process goes as it was intended.
  13. Pardon me, then. I just distinctly remember a topic thread on here about Ohio changing that logo three times in as many years, and I read that the distinguishing difference was the particular year. Maybe I misread it, maybe it was misinterpreted, maybe it was maligned... maybe I just fixated on it because of how much I, a Sconnie and Badger-alum despise Buckeyes. Anyway, that aside, I find it... odd... that if a state as individualistic as Ohio, in this case, is instituting a thorough revamp of its uniform code such that you must buy and use a particular shirt (or other uniform article), why would you choose the most outdated and arcane style of said shirt? Hmmmmm....
  14. MadMax

    New Diamond CP

    I wouldn't say that... I just need to point out that some CPs – the WestVest Platinum and even my preferred Schutt XV – tend to be broad across the chest. They become a flat wall where a more cylindrical shape could have its advantages. By segmenting the plates, the CP achieves that cylindrical, wrapping shape for those with slimmer builds. If you're a larger build, where the effect is lost, it's of no consequence. Where you'll really like the fit is at the top of the chest, where that stupid, unnecessary billow pad has been eliminated.
  15. MadMax

    All Star FM4000MAG

    That was likely the top pad "bottoming out", compressing flat such that the mask bars made contact with your forehead. Stu, I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you... hope you're AOK and unaffected long term. This just steels me to get my hard hat out and in production.
  16. MadMax

    New Diamond CP

    @BT_Blue, @acpar72 means the extension (tummy guard) doesn't look good under the shirt. With that hard plating backed by 1" sofa cushion foam, of course it's going to look odd. "foam throat area extension"? You're giving it more credibility than it's worth. That billow pad is stupid and purposeless. @tpatience, with the seams laid out like that, does it achieve a better cylindrical fit (ie. wrap around you) than the Platinum? It looks like it would suit a narrower, slimmer build.
  17. MadMax

    NFHS changes 2019

    Here's the thing that gets my goat, @lawump (and please understand, I'm corresponding with you as a form of rhetoric, not specifically griping at you)... With all your experience, when you do a 2-man Fed game, then a 2-man College game, then a 2-man OBR game (whether it be amateur adult, actual Minor League, or teenaged tournament, such as USSSA or American Legion), all in the same weekend, even with the same partner, are you specifically altering your positioning, mechanics, and partner interaction to suit the specific game you're doing, from one to another? Likely not. I'm not talking about rules application, I'm talking who-has-what-and-how during a play. When you work with someone long enough, you each understand how the other reads and reacts, you know each others' capabilities, and you certainly don't need much in the way of signaling or pre-game discussion. Certainly, if you're partnered with someone you're not familiar with, you have to establish that working relationship. That takes a foundation, a lexicon, a language. So, I don't mind that there are different manuals for advisement and education. What I have a problem with – what gets my goat – is when an evaluator, pundit, association staff person, somebody "official" criticizes me and/or my partner on an apparent lack of adherence to "the" manual, or an association's prescribed method. Case in point: My fellow Vulture is not only my usual partner, he's also my roommate. We've spent the last 2 years working together. We work everything from MLB/MiLB Spring Training thru Adult thru College thru Showcase thru High School thru various tournaments. At a fairly prestigious weekend tournament, we had these "guest evaluators" making the rounds. One in particular made it a point to track us down in the dressing room postgame to "demerit" us because "we don't signal pre-pitch and between batters". After the both of us gave him a spooked look, my partner replied with, "So you know, he's (me) my housemate. We know what each others doing all the time." Thing is, I can arrive at the same summary for each of "my" Vultures, as well as the other colleagues I work frequently with. But associations and their evaluators have to justify why they are there. In my Arizona experience, most of those who are in the positions of merit or that matter know, or at least trust, that those 2-4 guys they place together on a game, as a crew, will perform well together and call a quality game, regardless of their specific adherence to a specific set of mechanics. That experience, adaptiveness, and cooperation-to-goal will trump (or win out over) strict adherence to this, that, or whatever mechanics guidelines. I've stated this several times before on U-E – You succeed as a crew, you fail as a crew. My point is, if you – whether you're an umpire in-game or an evaluator outside the game – are so scrutinizing every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed, you invariably miss that the sentence doesn't fit the context, or that you have misspelled words.
  18. Ohhh wowwww, @wolfe_man, Ohio actually had the foresight to make it available in long-sleeve??!! I commend you (guys). And that's hard for this Sconnie to do. My utter disdain for jackets-on-plate has to do with seeing guys in Wisconsin wearing a navy-with-red-shoulder-inserts jacket, on plate, oversized such that it rivals a drag chute. Since we're playing show-and-tell: So yeah, that's... our.... hat. And it is available in navy or black! And customizable, cuz you can get the center "I" in red or white! Wooooooooooo... errr... what is that shape? I know it's supposed to be representative of our state, but...
  19. @scrounge, I distinctly remember that Ohio, over the span of 3-5 years, had instituted that the navy shirt must have the OHSAA emblem embroidered on the shirt, and that the logo included the current year. In order to be compliant (or eligible for postseason, perhaps?) the umpire had to have that shirt, with that year on it. Not the 2013, not the 2014... but I could be wrong on the years... it may have been 2012, 2013, I don't remember exactly. There was a thread about it here on U-E, now deep in the archives. It was just an rhetorical example of the nitpicking lengths associations go to, once again, control their members. Another hoop to jump through that, in the grand scheme of things, has utter trivial purposes. Is a coach going to dial down his anger and waive his protest when an umpire boots a ruling (not judgement) because – wouldja look at that? – the umpire is wearing the current standard, state-approved shirt? Ohio might be thoroughly training and re-evaluating their officials. I don't know. I could have used the example of Wisconsin, wherein the WIAA hat is the "official" piece. It could be navy, it could be black, but as is usually the case, umpires end up wearing it for everything from teeball to softball to college scrimmages, and it invariably gets filthy and faded. Then, in keeping with the state motto – "Forward!" – they use the navy shirt . However, if the umpire is a "Level 5 Master Umpire", they're allowed to wear black. Look, I get it, associations are cheap (read: frugal, if not miserly), and state-HS organizations doubly so. In Arizona's case, we use the 2010 Vertical-stripe black, but (ready for this?) it's a dye-sublimated shirt (meaning, it started out white) with the AIA logo (which looks like something from NASCAR) in it. Honig's and Smitty used to make it, until Honigs dropped out (or was not re-invited). The problems with that shirt? Doesn't breathe as well as other "real" shirts, gets brittle when it dries, because it started life as a white shirt it fades noticeably, and... (drumroll please!)... it costs $49!!! That's on top of the $80 annual fee you must pay to be an AIA umpire. Again, I could give a rip about what color or style shirt you use. My well-documented hatred of the navy shirt has, as I've stated before, nothing to do with the color navy – it has to do with what it represents, relative to (state) associations. When you put a greater emphasis on making sure all your umpires or officials are in the same uniform, rather than all your umpires or officials implement and apply the Rules and standard practices in a similar, consistent way, you've got your priorities backwards.
  20. What I’m about to say might derail the focus on “the shirt” or “the uniform”, but bear with me please... I’ll knit the topics back together again. It has nothing to do with the specific shirt style or color, or the color of pants, or the way we hem them (sorry @BT_Blue ), or if we wear black, blue, grey or green ball bags (... but why would you?)... it has to do with control and conformity. And, it begins at the association level. There are two things in particular that associations love to do: Stratify their members Determine the group’s uniform And yes, it’s in that order, because how else does the resulting uniform get to be so pedantically defined as some of the examples we see? Right from the commencing phrase, “Let’s start an association”, most founding members immediately start haggling over structure – who’s going to be in charge, who’s going to be associatively in charge, who has seniority, who has “final say” over this, or that, or any number of things. So much effort is invested to avoid “true democracy” because if true democracy existed in the association, then how would anybody get their way, what they want, and their preferences implemented? And, furthermore, if it was a truly democratic association, how could anyone ensure that everyone else acts, behaves, or looks the same? Variety scares some people; and, relative to our topic here, it terrifies some umpires (and other sports officials) especially. I will never argue that your appearance as an umpire is not vitally important – it unequivocally is. But what so many associations do is use it as a tool (then, a weapon) and metric of conformity and stratification. And they always reinforce a directive with, “Well, that’s what the association dictates.” And again, in the absence of true democracy – or even majority / minority polling – the authority to dictate those directives breaks down to that stratification of whatever kind they can find. Seniority, tenure, appointment, etc. A great deal of parallels can be made between the military / law enforcement / firefighter service uniform codes and sports officials (ie. Umpires) uniform codes. When the shooting and shelling starts, does it really matter the particulars of your uniform? No. When there’s a civil crisis happening, does it really matter if that LEO has a navy service blouse on or that LEO has a black service blouse on? Short of having a means of identifying that that person is in fact a LEO, no. How about if a multi-structure, five-alarm blaze breaks out, is a firefighter going to be chastised if they happen to be wearing a FR overcoat with yellow stripes instead of orange stripes? No. In point of fact, firefighting is most similar to umpiring, because if a firefighter doesn’t wear the proper equipment, correctly, then they risk serious injury or death, and make the job of firefighting perilous. So too with umpiring, if you don’t wear the gear you have correctly, you’re making the job perilous for yourself. But far too often, we have “senior” association members putting unfounded emphasis on what brand or color or style of uniform or equipment another member must should wear, instead of mentoring that member on how and why to wear it. This speaks towards a problem that appears throughout society, and will continue to challenge us in the sports officiating community – the perception, respect, and challenge to authority demonstrated between generations. “Because I said so” doesn’t cut it any more. Neither does, “Because we (the association) said so”, really compel today’s generations to compliance. Associations need to get their heads (their leadership, primarily) out of their ass(ociation) and start to foster and develop relationships between their members and the Rules, then the proven practices (mechanics, game management, procedures, etc.) that administer those Rules most effectively. And “proven” does not necessarily mean “time honored tradition”. How I conduct myself as an umpire, how I manage a game’s progression, and how I administer, interpret, and apply the Rules speaks magnitudes of volume more to my performance as an umpire than what color or style shirt I’m wearing. From my own experience, participants and fans alike figure out pretty quick who’s the guy in charge, barring a cohesive crew of equals (of which I have gratefully been a member of many), regardless if I’m wearing MLB 2016 Panel black or pink with polka dots. Rightly so, though, the game participants and fans fear variety and inconsistency of calls and rulings. Unfortunately, the old school of thought (and the one that most associations subscribe to) is that uniformity of uniform connotates uniformity and consistency of calls and rulings to the participants, and demonstrates conformity to the association’s standards. It does not. If you look in the fine print of the NFHS Rulebook, Rule 10.1.9, it states “Umpires shall wear gray slacks, and navy pullover shirt or state association-adopted shirt.” So what difference is to the Fed if the pants are heather or charcoal? What matter is it if the shirt is just a plain navy polo shirt (Nike, UA, Russell Athletic, Rawlings, or heck... LL Bean), a Navy shirt with a single trim stripe of red (which TOC makes, BTW, and looks fabulous), or is the hideously antiquated red-&-white trimmed smock (I say smock because of how some guys wear it)? It isn’t and doesn’t. Fed doesn’t care! ... But the associations care because this is their opportunity to exert control. Heavens forbid that you are evaluated and tested and corrected at several times during the season, to make sure that you’re keeping up with Rules interpretations, that you’re still able to discern a strike, or that you’re not saying “stupid things”! But as long as you conform, and wear the instituted uniform (of that particular year, Ohio)...
  21. MadMax

    New Diamond CP

    Thanks for finding this... Even when I have been my most adamant and dogmatic that the WestVest hasn't changed in 15+ years, I had a shred of uncertainty. This seals it. The Sofa Cushion hasn't changed in 23 years. Yeeks.
  22. MadMax

    New Diamond CP

    That wasn’t always the case. 20-30 years ago, when the WestVest was in its infancy, Wilson had a significant presence in football, alongside Bike (who partnered with Adams), Riddell, Douglas, All-American and Schutt. Football was becoming a cash cow, and while the production of new gear every year was the thing to do, All-American really doubled down and established that it was lucrative to refresh and recertify gear, especially for small colleges, high schools, and youth programs. Shops nationwide formed a network of rejuvenating equipment for football, hockey, baseball, and a variety of other team sports. As is the case today, the majority of it was fueled by football. Baseball, on the other hand, has always been very frugal (almost miserly) in its expenditure on protective gear, since only 1 of the fielders needs it, and only 4-5 batting helmets are necessary. So, if you as an umpire, already operating under a budget, needed to clean and rejuvenate your gear, and had to take it to a shop to do so, you’d be a bit miffed and put-out, right? Well, what if you could take the gear apart, and clean it yourself? You’d prefer that, wouldn’t you? And that’s where the patent drops into the game. If you notice, the Riddell Power, All-American CP, and the Wilson WestVest Gold all look remarkably similar, but the WestVest has that Velcro tab fastening System patented. I’m sure Wilson was grinning ear to ear, envisioning mighty Riddell and All-American having to grovel and pay licensing fees on each and every CP they wanted to have that system on. I don’t know the details, but at some point, Riddell and All-American just gave up on baseball and consigned themselves to football, while Douglas was restricted (? don’t know for certain) to their established design using “floating” plates with Velcro backing. If I was to investigate and research deeper, I might be able to link the patent and the exclusive-MLB supplier relationship Wilson has/had. During that heady time, remember that Riddell had the exclusive-NFL supplier contract with “Lord Football”, and perhaps Riddell had to decide to let Wilson have the less-lucrative baseball.
  23. MadMax

    New Diamond CP

    If I had to venture a "professional speculation", I'd say they either have a license / waiver from Wilson, or they just defy / ignore it, because Champion isn't a direct rival to Wilson in the arena it matters – football. Champion doesn't have a presence in football, while Wilson still has a toehold, with its chief rivals Riddell, Schutt, Douglas, and All-American. So, with Riddell, Schutt and Douglas squashing Wilson in football, they get their revenge in baseball. Champion's not worth the court filing fees.
  24. MadMax

    New Diamond CP

    You don't. Its riveted clean through. The black "hooks" you're seeing on the inside are polyurethane "bumpers" covering the rivets so that A) your shirts don't get snagged on a rivet burr, and B) so the rivets don't blatantly corrode from all your sweat. Many CPs have these, including the first Schutt AiR Flex I.
  25. MadMax

    New Diamond CP

    They're not just going after the West Vest crowd... they copied (I'll use the term "China-fied") the WestVest Platinum! The Platinum specifically. Look at it – the same layout of the chest piece with the center sternum plate attached and flanked by pectoral-to-shoulder arch plates. The same shoulder pauldrons and ailettes ("gap plates"). Same T-hook securing parts. Same open-cell – the antiquated, dreaded sofa-cushion – foam vest. Same (or damn similar) harness. And it's even in the same color! And you can't even get the foam vest separated (easily) from the carapace plates! They're riveted together! Why? Oh, you'll love why – because the velcro tabs through the carapace plates method, thus allowing you to separate the vest from the carapace, is the bloody patent that Wilson holds! Could we get the plates and vest separated? Surely, if you've got a drill to kill the rivets and then replace them with Chicago Screws. I do commend Diamond (with a courtesy golf-clap) regarding a few things. First, the unit appears to be narrower, along with being more form fitting because of the articulated carapace plates. That main transverse seam, instead of being arbitrarily straight across like the Platinum, looks intentional and planned. Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that this is the first real step at designing a hardshell CP for a female umpire. Consider that this thing is not being offered in 2-3 various sizes, but merely one size. Diamond does cater more to the softball crowd than the baseball crowd, after all. Second, Diamond attached and included a plated abdomen extension – an appealing accessory part that Wilson has utterly neglected to put, or even make allowance for, on their Platinum. The included bicep guards are also a nice Value Added Feature (VAF). Most of us "hardcore" umpires have (at least been told) to "suck it up" and deal with arm and abdomen hits. Some of us just take them as they come. I myself acknowledge their benefit on CPs like this, including my much-loved Schutt/Adams XV-HDX, but I myself would still leave them off – to each their own. But if it helps to alleviate amateur umpires' fears, and keep them more protected and engaged with umpiring, such that they aren't discouraged by umpiring and opt to leave, citing the risks and pains, then let's heap on all the extra guards possible! We need more umpires! I will never ridicule or demean an umpire for wanting to attach an abdomen guard extension, or wear bicep guards, on their CP. I will chortle and deride anyone who wears a CP – especially a Wilson – incorrectly, drooping down like a shop apron so as to protect their tummy. You fool! Why didn't you get a CP that offers an extension to begin with??!! Oh, because that's not what the Big Leaguers wear on TV??!! Oh, because your association evaluator / trainer / poobah harumphed and said, "This Wilson is all ya need!"??!! Anyway, thirdly, Diamond was also so kind and smart to leave off that stupid, asinine, unnecessary billow pad!!! About time someone used their grey matter. The cost is somewhat appealing, but still not differential enough to cause me to leave my Schutt. Especially when the foam vest is still archaic sofa-cushion foam, and cannot be (easily) removed.