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  1. Since baseball is played on such a wide variety of fields and parks, there have to be a wide range of "features" and travails that become part of our Plate Meeting reviews of the Ground Rules. What are some that you've encountered? ---- I'll go first... The field in question is the "JV" field of a local high school. It is situated in one corner of a large, rectangular field that hosts three football fields side-to-side-to-side used for practice (only). The 1BL fence actually ends and the imaginary line continues to become the back of the football end zone. A set of uprights are on that line. It turns out that the 1B-2B line is the sideline for the nearest practice field, and therefore, there is a faint, vaporous line extending from 2B into LF. In a moment of foresight, a set of uprights was _not_ placed 120 yards away, opposite the 1BL DBT fence uprights, but to make matters even more challenging, about 10 feet beyond the end zones is a formidable drainage ditch. Not too abrupt, but about about four foot deep at its deepest point, shaped like a bowling alley gutter, running parallel with the 1BL. Got all that? Here's the fun part. Like a true sandlot game, there are blocking / tackling sleds (plural... 1-man, 3-man and 5-man) in right field and center field. We're about to have a 13U game on that field, and its a tournament game ta boot... which means neither team is responsible for these obstructions in the outfield, or their removal. Since I'm a "big tough guy" and former "football player", I summon my rusty strength and wrap-and-drive the 1-man sled off the field of play, careful not to reveal to the youth that I may have forgotten a degree of form and technique, or may have thrown out my back doing so. There is no time to even consider moving the 3-man and 5-man sleds, so they have to stay where they sit, about 350 - 400 ft. away from home plate in right-center field, and we address it like this... "Ground Rules... Fully enclosed backstop, with a gap under it there, and two doorways for the dugouts there and there. Fence line extended that way (3BS), and fence line extended that way (1BS) for dead ball territory. Those uprights are Out of Play. Contact with them is an immediate dead ball. Through the uprights are 3 points (we had a mild chuckle about this). Now, here's where the fun starts (I actually said that)... There is no chalk line defining the first base line beyond the bag. Those lines you see are not our lines. Therefore, my partner and I have the call on fair or foul beyond the bag, and it is our judgement. Next... (and at this point I gesture towards right-center field, and everyone starts chuckling and groaning)... we have our Adventure Baseball Course. Please caution your players, but as much as we don't like those sleds being there, there's nothing we can do about 'em. If a ball hits one on the fly directly, it is a home run. If it hits one off the bounce or the roll, it is a dead ball, as if it hopped an outfield fence. Lastly, the trench... Yes coach, there is a trench out there. If the balls rolls to the trench, we are going to consider it live until we see the fielder go to retrieve it. If the fielder goes down into the trench, the ball is dead. Our judgement. If a ball lands in or beyond the trench on the fly, it is a home run." We had 4 games on that field that Saturday, and we had 4 home runs that were called / deemed as such. We had 3 "live ball" home runs off some cannon shots to deep center. But no, no-one got three points on a field goal.
  2. Tonight I begin a journey into the season in a different uniform at the ballpark. Instead of the powder blue and charcoal grey, I'll be donning khaki and hunter orange... with a giant snake on my back, and instead of wielding the power of judgement, instead I'll attempt to harness the power of... the microphone. That's right folks, you're lookin' at the new PA announcer for the Southern Ohio Copperheads, a college developmental league team. While I would occasionally work in the booth for my local Little League and Pony League football, those gigs were little more than "now batting" and "no smoking" announcements. Tonight's script is 55 pages. 55 pages of sponsors, PSAs, entertainment, and many words that I'm not sure how to pronounce. Oh, and did I mention that our team has about 3 names that are remotely familiar, and I don't get a pronunciation guide until a few hours before the first pitch? And that half the stuff in the script is carbon copied from last year, including names, dates, and times? And that no matter how hard I try and practice, I can't say the word "philanthropy" under pressure? I went to the Cleveland Indians spectacular last night and for the first time, instead of watching the center fielder and the umpires do their job, I focused mainly on "the voice," and boy am I in for a ride tonight. Wish me luck, fellas. I just might need it.