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  1. 5 points
    I Hate Shorts By Carl Childress My teaching career lasted 33 years, 10 and a half in college. When summer ended and I had to return to "work," what I hated most was having to wear long pants. Nowadays, I wear long pants only when I go to the doctor or a funeral. At my age, I’m doing a lot of both. But the summer is for shorts. I love ‘em. Except when they’re in a baseball game. Here are four "shorts" that you may have run into on your umpiring road. Short book Back in July I showed up at a game as a replacement for a friend who had to go out of town. At the pregame meeting, the home coach said: "We’re playing high school rules." OK, it was a game sanctioned by Pony, Inc., but they had agreed to NFHS rules. OK. In the third, the coach goes to the mound, returns to his bench, returns to the mound. Two conferences, I mentally note. Screams the offensive coach, when the defensive coach left but the pitcher stayed: "Hey, the pitcher has to come out." "C’mon, that’s only his second trip. High school rules, Eddie." "Yeah, but two in a half inning ..." "... is nothing." Said the defensive coach: "My bad. I forgot. We agreed we’d use OBR for pitching. Hey, Billy...," motioning to his shortstop .... Everybody knows that to me, rules is rules. I live by ’em. I call by ’em. I just wish I knew what they were playing. Early June in a USSSA sanctioned championship game: At the pregame. Coach Red turns in his lineup, and he has ten listed. "Joey is the extra hitter." Not a DH, now. The Red team is simply batting 10. OK. The Blue team coach had twelve listed, with a space between the nine and ten hitter. "Substitutes?" I asked. He said, "Yeah." OK. My bad. I didn’t ask if the two listed were his subs. I simply assumed .... His team was struggling. They were three and out in the first three innings. But when the tenth batter in the top of the fourth stepped into the left-handed batter’s box, I knew something was up. We hadn’t had a lefty yet. Naturally, I thought he was an unreported sub. I had no idea I might be swimming in uncharted, shark-infested waters. Me: "What’s your name?" He: "Tomás." Amazingly, Tommy’s name was already on the lineup card. Turned out, Blue was batting the roster with the approval of the other coach: "Oh, that’s always an option in this league. Didn’t anybody tell you?" Silly question. This past summer, I umpired a: Legion game using "modified" high school rules: Teams couldn’t play with eight. Pony game with a "special runner," borrowed from Little League’s Junior division. Pony game with a "must slide" rule, borrowed from anybody other than Pony. USSSA game with a "can’t-swing-during-a-steal-of-home" rule: Penalty: Runner returns, batter is out, head coach is ejected. Junior League tournament with time limits! Lucky for me, I knew about that one in advance. Summer rule books are short: "We play OBR except...." Leave your BRD at home. It won’t help. Short game I mentioned the Junior League tournament with a time limit. Well .... Concerning time limits for summer ball: I’m like the guy who watched his mother-in-law drive his new car over the cliff. I’m awash with mixed feelings. Baseball is a leisurely game. Adding a clock destroys one of the premises on which the game is built. But not adding a clock might mean you’re outside in the Texas heat for three or four hours, just to play one game. And don’t think the mercy rule will help. By the time you reach that point in many summer leagues, you’ve already given away three hours of your life. There’s a strange rule here in South Texas. It’s called the "no-inning-shall-start-after-________" rule. (Fill in the blank.) I umped in a Palomino League, made up of high school varsity kids. Two-hour time limit but no inning could start after 1:50. Home team is down, 9 to 8, and batting in the bottom of the fourth. Boom! Three outs. Two hours had not expired, so.... Start the fifth? Nope. Clock on the scoreboard said 1:51 had expired. Can’t start the inning, visitors win. Yuk! So why not call it a 1:50 time limit? You know why already. Some creative soul would say: "1:50 time limit, no inning starts after 1:40." Yuk! Unlike high school, the kids are paying to play. They should get some playing time for their C-note. Further, games played on the clock inevitably bring out the worst in coaches and players. "If I’m ahead," the coach says to himself, "I’ll use any tactics I can think of to slow down the game. I want time to expire." About two weeks before the season ended, we approached the time limit. In the bottom of the fifth, a home-team batter, whose team was leading, requested time to tie his shoes. I looked down. Too bad for his coach: The kid was wearing velcro fasteners. Yuk! When I motioned the kid to get ready to hit, his coach came tearing down from the third-base coaching box. "What’s the big idea? He can tie his shoes." I pointed to the kids’ feet. "And I’m adding three minutes to the clock," I said, "to compensate for this unsportsmanlike delay." Oops! The kid struck out. I checked my watch: 1:52. But I had extended the game, so – in effect– it was 1:49. Start the next inning. The visitors scored eight runs to take the lead, and .... Short players Something I don’t quite understand: Kids’ parents are shelling out lots of dough for them to practice their skills in the summer. But then, the kids don’t always take advantage of that. My journal shows that I umpired 61 games in June and July. Twelve of those games involved teams playing short-handed. Twelve! Rules is rules, right? You have to have nine to start. True or False. Answer: True AND False. Depends on the League. Depends on the local board. Depends on the agreement of the coaches! I went to one Colt League game (equivalent to high school jv). The visiting team had driven 43 miles to play, and they had only seven players. "Two are on the way," the coach said. He lied. Fifteen minutes after game time, I announced to the coach as per League rules that Harlingen had forfeited. "Not exactly," home town team’s Coach Nick said. "I’m lending them a couple of players. Hey, it’s for the kids." I’m always worried about that: Does my insurance cover such unsanctioned games. It happens so often, I’m afraid to ask. It’s not relevant to the story, but I’m hoping my area is unique. Game time is 6:00 p.m. I’m there at 5:00. I always beat the players. Their arrival time is somewhere around 5:45. Short umpires At 5'7", I’m a short umpire. (I was 5'8 1/4" when I registered for the draft in 1954. Fifty-eight years have taken their toll.) But I show up – on time. On the other hand, many summer umpires don’t take the games seriously: "Hell, it’s just Junior League, for cryin’ out loud!" Our high school association, when umpires skip a game or show up late, always assesses a penalty. But in my area, there’s no association for summer umps. Catch as catch can: Every town, every league gets its own umpires and from wherever they find them. Every umpire has his own pet peeve. Mine is the umpire who can’t get there on time. Too many summer umpires I know are perfectly willing to arrive at the park perhaps 20 to 30 minutes before I say "Play ball." Back in early July I was to pick up an umpire and drive thirty miles to the game, which was scheduled for 6:00. I told him I’d pick him up at 4:30. "Nah, too early. I’ll just go on my own." At 5:10, the freeway shut down because of a major accident. I arrived at the park at 5:50. My partner, who set out later, was stuck longer and showed up in the third inning. I always caution umpires: Get the reputation as an early bird. Be a lark, not an owl. Always save some time for an emergency. And umpires who know me generally do when they’re calling with me. Except in the summer.
  2. 4 points
    p.ex1 {margin-left:2cm;line-height:150%} p.ex2 {margin-left:4cm;line-height:150%} p.big {line-height:250%} p.normal {line-height:150%} Umpire-Empire.com Outstanding Umpire Tools (OUT) Awards Warren F. Workman January 28, 2012 Umpire-Empire.com is dedicated to the overall benefit of the umpiring community. Keeping with that goal we would like to recognize the following as the best products and services available to umpires in 2012. So what makes this list better than any other "best of" list? We took a different approach and created a panel of experienced umpires who have shown their knowledge and dedication on the site and are well-known and respected for their views on umpire gear as well as their extensive collection. We took a look at products available on the market as of October 1, 2012 for each category. We debated the merits of each and through discussion chose our winners. Winners of the categories were notified ahead of time to inform them of the award and allow them the opportunity to reply. Best Accessories: This was such a broad category covering so many items of varying types we could not choose just one winner. So we picked a few: NuttyBuddy: The NuttyBuddy has won wide acclaim over the past few years for its outstanding level of protection, comfort and innovative design. Our panel agreed. While the Nutty Buddy does come with a premium price tag for athletic cups, you can rest assured that the boys are safe. What other athletic cup manufacturer literally stands behind their product taking a fastball straight from the machine to the jewels and living to tell about it as in their viral YouTube video. Eric Scherer, Sales Manager for Battle Sports Science said: We would like to thank Umpire-Empire.com for the honor of receiving this year's OUT Award for the NuttyBuddy Protective Cup. Here at Battle Sports, our goal has always remained the same, not just to make great products but to make innovative products that address today's greatest sports safety challenges. We take our job of keeping your "boys" protected very seriously and we are honored to continue to protect the umpire community in the years to come. Dry Low Ball Bags: Our panel liked the Force3 Dry-Lo Ball Bags. These bags are roomy, functional and are effective at their goal keeping the baseballs inside free of moisture from perspiration on those hot days. These ball bags are also true to color. Jim Evans responded: Necessity is the mother of invention. Mark Lollo, one of the senior instructors at the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring, worked in the hot and humid climes of Florida during his journey through the minor leagues. Perspiration soaking through the ball bag onto the baseballs was a constant problem. Mark and his talented, seamstress grandmother teamed up and developed the sweat proof Dry-Lo Ball Bag. This product is now being used by thousands of umpires at all levels throughout the world. American ingenuity...you can't beat it! Stay tuned. Force3 Pro Gear has more innovative products ready to hit the umpire marketplace. Team Wendy Pads: Since the Team Wendy mask pads became readily available in early 2011 they have been very popular as replacement pads for traditional masks. They are lightweight, comfortable and affordable. Another factor our panel liked is that they are machine washable because nobody likes funky pads. Tom Prodouz, President of Team Wendy, LLC said: Team Wendy® is honored to be recognized by Umpire-Empires OUT Awards as Best Accessory. Team Wendy's® main focus has always been to offer the most protective products available. Our UMPS Pads continue in this tradition. The UMPS Pads use our patented Zorbium® foam. This is the same material used in the US Army's helmet liners for the past seven years. It is always great when we can offer the same level of impact protection to the guys behind the plate as we do for the guys serving the country. As we further our research in head impacts and TBI, we will continue to offer innovative solutions and materials to the market. Thank you again for the award and continue to watch for more protective products from Team Wendy® coming soon. Best Base Shoes: This category probably had the most nominees of any category. We looked at the traditional line up of base shoes along with other shoes used by umpires for base shoes. Through the discussion the New Balance 950 came out ahead. These shoes are light weight, nice looking, comfortable and clean up easily. One thing that was also discussed is that these shoes are made in wide widths while some competitors don't offer that option. Best Books: We wanted to take a look at books which serve as great training aids, eliminating books read for personal pleasure. There are many great books out there so this was a particularly tough category. The panel agreed that the CCA Manual was the winner. In discussing the CCA manual the panel agreed that the best part about this book is its simplicity. It is what it is and it does it well. The CCA has become the go to source at the amateur level for mechanics. Even many high school associations use the CCA over the NFHS mechanics book. The CCA is a clear easy to read guide for mechanics with little room for discussion. Best Chest Protector: This was a category the entire panel was eager to debate. There are a number of great products on the market today. It was not an easy decision, but the Wilson West Vest Gold came out ahead living up to its reputation as the gold standard of chest protectors. Our panel liked the combination of large solid plates, and thick padding. The coverage area is excellent and it does come in multiple sizes to not only give the best fit but the greatest comfort. Almost as important as the physical protection offered by the Gold is the mental confidence of knowing how well protected you are. While still more expensive than many of its competitors, prices have come down making it an even better value. Also, the Gold retains a lot of its value fetching great prices on the resale market. Best Electronic Training Aid: In this category we looked at a wide variety of items from blogs, to training websites and more. And our winner was the Virtual Umpire Camp CD. Our panel liked the combination of the depth of information and the ease of use. It is interactive and you can see the designed play unfold. One advantage of this is you can clearly watch the positioning and see where the umpires go. Rick Perko, President of Immersion Media in accepting the award replied: We are really honored to be recognized by Umpire-Empire. Our team often toils in relative obscurity, but still doing really great work. For me, this award shines a light on the strength of our team, our commitment to do great work and the high standards evident in the world of umpiring. I believe the OUTS award will strengthen our resolve to create even better products and to continue to serve the umpiring community with the best products possible. Best Plate Shoe: Reebok Field Magistrates win this category. We felt these offered not only top-notch protection but are the most comfortable shoes currently available. The Field Magistrates clean up easily and hold up well over long periods of time. Best Retailer: The panel selected Ump-Attire.com due to their incredible commitment to customer service as well as your involvement in the umpiring community through participation in the forums, social media and the Good Calls Baseball and Umpiring Blog. Ump-Attire.com has also proven themselves as a good corporate citizen through their involvement in UMPS Care, Blue for Pink and Stay in the Game. Jim Kirk, owner of Ump-Attire.com, replied: We, at Ump-Attire.com are honored and humbled to be selected retailer of the year. We express our deepest appreciation to our customers and friends at Umpire-Empire who share in our vision for sports officials to achieve greater satisfaction, safety, wellness, and respect. Best Umpire Pants: Honig's Poly-Wool Slacks. The fit, correct color, durability of these pants impressed the committee. These pants have set the bar high when it comes to making the professional appearance. When notified of the award Aaron Frame, Company President of Honig's responded: Umpires have a wide range of options when sourcing their equipment and uniforms. The material, craftsmanship, and attention to detail that go into every pair of our poly-wool slacks results in a premium price, so it's especially rewarding to have these quality American-made pants recognized as the best. Best Traditional Mask: Wilson Titanium. Our panel liked this lightweight and comfortable mask. This mask offers great protection, a great view and we like the overall look of this mask. Best Hockey Style Mask: It is probably no fluke that our winner is the All-Star MVP 4000. After all All-Star did create the first HSMs and have continued to lead the industry. This mask offers great protection, an incredible view, is light weight and breathable. Another factor which people like is the padding is not only comfortable, it is removable, washable, and replacements are easy to find which all extend the life of this mask. Best Shin Guards: All-Star's System 7 shin guards get the nod. These shin guards not only offer great protection, but rate high in comfort too. Like other All-Star products the padding is adjustable so you can give yourself the perfect fit. The Delta Flex Harnesses are the most comfortable, hugging the shin guard to your leg. Like many of the other All-Star products the padding is removable and washable. Which is always good news for umpires. Best Jacket: We found the Majestic Therma Base really targeted and met the umpire's needs. It is a sharp looking comfortable jacket that does its job in keeping you warm in style. Best Umpire Shirts: There are so many choices and so many things to consider in terms of shirts. We selected the Majestic Cool Base Shirts as our winner. These shirts have the sharp look an umpire needs, are lightweight, cool and comfortable. They also are durable and last through all umpires put them through. Trent DeMore representing Majestic replied when notified of the awards Majestic received: Majestic is very honored to be recognized as being a leader in umpires apparel. Being included in the OUT awards is a huge honor because this is voted on from the umpires that wear our items day in and day out. Majestic will continue to strive to provide the very best umpire items as we can in the future. Best Gear Bag: After some discussion we ended up going "out of the box" in this category and selected the eBags Mother lode eTech 29. This is not a specifically designed umpire's gear bag, but fits the bill quite nicely. Our panel commented on the heavy duty nylon material, the ease of adjusting the compartments, but one feature that really stood out was that the bag comes with a lifetime warranty. Best Under Apparel: Proper under apparel is being recognized as an important part of an umpire's equipment and uniform. These items can provide support, moisture management and even additional protection. Not to mention adding to the professional and polished look umpires are striving for. The days of just a simple jock or a cotton t shirt of the appropriate color are quickly fading. Our panel selected the Nike Pro Combat shirt. The Pro Combat offers products for both the heat and the cold, is durable, colorfast, comfortable and gives the appearance umpires are seeking. Most Innovative Product: It is amazing to see how rapidly new technology is making its way into the world of umpiring and improving our jobs. The RiteTemp Athletics Officially Cool Endurance Pad Set are definitely a product that is making umpiring better. It's keeping people from getting heat exhaustion and it's increasing stamina and recovery in hot weather. MLB has dedicated a set at every MLB stadium and now some MiLB leagues are doing the same. It's becoming as much of a must have as other protective gear in some ways. Kate Doherty of HTFx Inc replied: Since introduction of our RiteTemp Athletics products to Major League Baseball, MLB has NOT had one heat stress incident with their professional umpires since the employ of our products used for the umpires. Our mantra is to thwart the onset of heat illness altogether and maximize performance, regardless of the level of exercise or venue. We are extremely proud that HTFx has the only technology that can boast a 22% increase in performance, yet maintain normal body vitals in extreme conditions and under metabolic stress. An unheralded feat. The Alamo Medical Research test scientifically and independently tested our technology in the form of cool vests (body management) in very harsh conditions. While Umpire-Empire has voted our Officially Cool Umpire cool pack worn under the chest protector, our technology reaches more than umpires.... it helps all athletes, young or old wearing baseball caps to keep their face fresh... to our Icy Towel replacements to be used on any part of the body for quick cooling with no fear of germs.... to our cool sport vest to be worn before, during or after events or exercise. Please feel free to visit the website: ritetempathletics.com or ritetempmedical.com to view the instructional videos. I would like to thank all the providers who took the time to respond to our announcements of the awards and I would also like to thank our selection panel. The selection panel was comprised of the following members: Chris Hickman, Fittske24, HCKYOSGOOD30, JaxRolo, Kylejt, Tjtresh, Thunderheads & Umpire in Chief. Thanks to all for their help.
  3. 2 points
    Time marches on, and we've got some new offerings in masks for the upcoming season... Hockey -Style Masks (HSM) All-Star is still the iconic HSM producer, but several rivals have made significant improvements to their product lineups. All-Star: Showing focused refinement, the MVP4000-UMP and MVP2500-UMP models get updated padding and (supposedly) better paint jobs. In fact, the MVP2500 "Molded" is now black through-and-through, meaning that a ding or knick isn't going to discolor the shell. The MVP4000 is now offering a titanium cage, to keep pace with Wilson (see below). The System 7's, showcasing their I-Bar Vision construction, really allow the best sightlines of the HSMs on the market. Diamond: The brand-new iX5 system is now on the scene, featuring a much more sculpted shell and 3D-formed cage. Unique to Diamond, the iX5 is the only HSM with a "shovel-front chin" on the cage. Looking like a throat-guard on a TM, this adds another deflective geometry to the mask, especially for those that drop the chin. The iX3 name has been dropped, and the previous model (the iX3) received some tweaking and has been released as a value-price-point named the EDGE Core. Of course, because umpires get much less "love" from the manufacturers, the "for-umpires" HSM is an EDGE Core labeled as DCH-EDGE-UMP. While it doesn't have the curves of the iX5, it still has the pronounced chin cage guard. Easton: Made some needed improvements to the Mako, and are heavily marketing it as their flagship unit. For 2015, they've introduced the M7 (in two finishes "grip" (matte) and "gloss"), which is a less-technical, slightly-lighter-weight unit that is posed to be their workhorse. It has a 3D-formed cage and a sculpted shell, indicating that is concentrating on deflective properties instead of mass and bulk, and appears to be so much more comfortable than the elder Rival. With the M7 now on the scene, Easton looks to be consolidating the Rival and the Stealth into a mask named Black Magic, and is aiming that more on youth (ie. 12U) baseball, and the budget price points. Mizuno: Nothing new to report in their Samurai G4 line. It has the largest standoff and padding concentration in the crown of an HSM. Nike: ... (sigh)... uh... Yes, Nike makes a HSM. It's called the De3539, and is made more as a branding piece (see? We're in baseball!) than as an advanced piece of protective gear. Unlike rival UnderArmour, who re-branded All-Star units, Nike... you can't tell who produces the Nike unit. Rawlings: The Slowest-to-Update-Baseball-Company-In-the-World finally, finally introduced a new HSM after All-Star kicked their keester all down the 1BL. The CH1 (which, undoubtedly, stood for "Catching Helmet One") saw its shell redesigned, outfitted with new CoolFlo pads, and stuck with a curvy, sleek new cage that, strangely, looks like the negative (opposite) of All-Star's System 7 geometry. Hmmm. But it does look impressive! Debuting as the CH950 (so what happened to the 948 other versions?), look for this to be on a Molina near you soon. The entire lineup received CoolFlo pads. Schutt: As one of the premier football helmet manufacturers, Schutt took their AiR technology and (finally!) applied it to their baseball HSMs. The catcher's HSM gets the AiR treatment first, labeled the AiR Maxx 2966. Unique and intriguing, Schutt extended the cage back along the temples, covering the ears and flanks of the shell. That means that's even more protection on the sides, and the cage carries and dissipates more energy before it reaches the shell. No one else is doing that! If you don't need the customizable comfort-fit of the AiR system, the 2966 is offered as an "umpire" version, but it (appears) to not get quite the cage treatment, still using the fall-2014 cage. UnderArmour: UA is really trying to make headway in baseball, and they partnered up with one of the best in the business to do so in All-Star. UA's "Pro", though, is a re-branded All-Star MVP2300, which has the same shell, but doesn't have the iconic System 7 cage. Wilson: Having already seen a significant improvement mid-season in 2014, the Shock FX 2.0 returns to the field, this time showcasing a titanium cage. The most technologically-advanced HSM of the bunch (for now, unless and until Force3 debuts a HSM entry), the SFX 2.0 is the apex protector for umpires; it just gets kinda haughty about it with the ... ahem... particular paint-job Wilson loves to show off. If you can't afford a Shock FX, but still want an HSM with the... Wilson paint job... look for the Prestige. Traditional Masks All-Star: With a trimmer, more defined lineup, All-Star presses forward with the FM25Ti, FM25, FM4000 and FM2000. All four are offered as "umpire versions" with a hat-harness (instead of the Delta-Flex helmet harness), and give All-Star some distinction between itself and Wilson. This is noteworthy with the FM25Ti, which may be physically (titanium alloy and double-wire, more difficult to deform) and financially (titanium alloy, less costly) more appealing to a mid-level umpire than the pure-titanium show ponies Wilson and Nike trot out. Besides that, the FM4000 and FM2000 are instantly recognizable because of their bar layouts. Diamond: How can you mess with one of the best-selling TMs in the industry, but still make it more appealing? Fix the pads! The iX3's geometry didn't change, but Diamond now offers new, improved pads on a re-labeled mask called DFM-UMP-BL (for "Big League", woo woo). This, and the venerable iX3, are one-in-the-same mask... one's named Ed, the other Fred. Oh, and you can get pads that have no logos on them. For those who really cling to tradition we're talking Charleton Heston's grip the DRM-PRO (used to be iX3) and DFM-43 double-bar masks are still available. Easton: The Speed Elite returns, still with exceptionally lightweight construction in a robust geometry. It has some of the largest ear-guards in the business, and very reliable pads (think the complete opposite of the miserable pads on the Diamond iX3). It also has one of the smallest chin-throat guards, such that it encourages and makes easy the mounting of a hanging supplemental throat guard. Force3: The mask everyone is rooting for. Now available in colors (and tan pads!! Sexxxxyyyyy), the Defender is a tangible promise that someone, somewhere is looking out for us who stand behind the plate. While it still is noticeably heavy, that weight has been steadily declining as Force3 continues to pare down the geometry and improve the hardware. The standoff distance is still something to be negotiated, as it feels like you're in cage, but this is the mask that should be your chief candidate if frontal, concussion-inducing impacts are your main concern. Mizuno: Nothing new to report on out of Japan. Nike: Unknown if Nike is even going to offer a mask for retail sale this year. Schutt: Teamed up with Diamond, and offers the DFM-UMP labeled as the Comfort-Lite Mask. (If anyone from Schutt ever reads these forums, please contact me – I've got an intriguing mask design for you.) UnderArmour: Continuing the relationship with All-Star, UA's UAFM Pro is a rebranded FM25, complete with I-Bar advertising tab on the chin. Wilson: The big news came during the 2014 season, with the debut of new Memory Foam pads! They are meeting with rave feedback, and are probably the best rival to Team Wendys. Additionally, while the pads were developed independently, they debuted with the new Dynalite Aluminum mask, taking the spot as Wilson's lightest traditional mask in their lineup. This mask may be a Titanium-slayer, because with the lighter weight (marginal, but still), better pads, and lower cost, it addresses the three main issues umpires face (bad pun!) when selecting a mask. Disclaimer: I did not list Champro nor +POS because Champro's HSMs are rebrandings, and they have nothing new in TMs, while +POS designs some really innovative TMs, but has nothing obviously new for 2015 announced yet. Bonus Note: For those needing to protect a banged-up forearm, these might do the trick: https://www.underarmour.com/en-us/ua-forearm-pad/pid1220728-001
  4. 1 point
    Earn Big Points with the Little Things There are many aspects of umpiring which often go unnoticed unless they're not there or something's wrong. Often times it's the little things that make people successful. This holds true as an umpire. Arrive on time - Don't start out behind. It puts you and your partner in a bind.Appearance - I can't say it enough, look the part. A clean, crisp uniform and polished shoes make a world of difference.Posture - When on the field have a straight back, chin up, & shoulders back. Give the air of being in control by your mere presence.Vocals - If you give a vocal on a play; give a loud, strong, understandable vocal. And use the proper terms, "He's out!" Not "Got Him" or anything else. And never call a ball, "Fair!"Do it with purpose - What ever you do, do it in an immediate, direct way. If you appear lackadaisical the coaches are more apt to see you as a good target if the opportunity arises.Hustle - Not only in live ball situations, but dead ball situations as well. Beat the catcher back after breaking up a conference, run back down the line after a rotation play. Coaches will notice, and so will your evaluators.Strong Mechanics - Nothing says "I don't give a crap" like weak mechanics. Even on a routine play give it a strong mechanic. Routine plays are a great time to actually take a moment and think about what you're doing and develop good habits.Cleaning the plate - This is a personal pet peeve of mine. When you clean the plate, stand on the field side of the plate square to the plate and your fourth point of contact towards the pitcher and brush it. Don't just swipe it with your foot or tell the catcher to dust it with his glove.Putting the ball in play - One of the most overlooked aspects of play. After a dead ball situation the ball must be put back into play. If nobody is aboard just point to the pitcher, remember strong mechanics. No vocal is really necessary. With runners aboard, give a strong "Play!" Make sure the pitcher is in contact with the pitcher's plate before making the ball live. You don't want to be on the losing end of an argument about the runner didn't know the ball was live, or you made the ball live before the pitcher had contacted the plate giving him an advantage over the runner.Chit-Chatting with your partner - I do not like seeing umpires group together unnecessarily between innings. Usually in the pre-game I'll tell my partner let's plan to talk at the end of the 4th unless something comes up. This is a good opportunity to check on each other. But if something gets screwy in the bottom of the 4th, you don't want to get together. That invites a coach to drop by as well because the natural assumption will be that you're discussing his play. On the other hand, if there is something you need to discuss at a point other than the pre-defined time do so, but make it quick. Be deliberate and hustle back to position when you're finished.Call the coaches by name - This is a simple act of professionalism and courtesy. It not only strengthens rapport, but helps bring down the tension in uneasy times. Try to make sure the coaches return the favor.Smile - While we want to be as professional as possible. There is nothing wrong with smiling, being friendly and letting people see you want to be there. Don't carry this too far and jabber jaw with every coach, player and spectator.Keep the game moving - I love baseball more than most people, but I don't want to be at a 3 hour 40 minute game. Keep the game moving by not calling time unnecessarily, quickly put balls back in play, and don't allow too many pitches between innings.Remember get the small things nailed down, so that when the train wreck comes you will have the fundamentals out of the way and can focus on the situation at hand.
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