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  1. I've always had one unanswered question on this play as I've contemplated it over the years (never actually seen it happen). From the citations above, it appears PU is to call the pitch a ball or a strike. That's fine if (as in the NFHS case) the ball is actually over the plate and in the strike zone when it hits the runner. What if it's not? What if the pitch hits the runner before it reaches the batter (as it did in the OP)? Are we going to call the pitch based on where we think the now dead ball "probably" would have ended up if it didn't hit the runner? If it never reaches the batter, why isn't that just a dead ball and a "no pitch"? I'm fine with accepting the BRD as gospel on the subject, because there are lots of things in baseball that are not perfect (and out of honor for Carl Childress), but it just goes against my grain to call a pitch a strike that never reached the strike zone/batter--or to call it a ball because I think it probably wouldn't have crossed through the strike zone once it got to the batter (after it was already dead the instant it hit the runner). That just grinds at me for several different reasons: a posthumous strike or ball. "Play 279-457: R2, R3, 1 out. R3 steals. The ball, not in the strike zone, hits him. R2 is not moving. Ruling: At all levels, the run scores and B1 walks. In FED/OBR, R2 is awarded third. In NCAA, R2 stays at second."
  2. To cover the back of the knee from that top shin guard strap, here's another option if you in anyway have older/achy/arthritic/loose knees. These MAVA power-lifting compression knee sleeves are absolutely awesome. Recommended to me by an umpire I met online from Hawaii, and I've now got three pairs. $39.00 per pair, but worth every single penny. I now wear them skiing (even put one under my custom ACL surgery brace), long bike rides over 30 miles, back packing, sport climbing, and most definitely umpiring. And I've wasted a bunch of money on other knee braces that didn't reduce knee pain and swelling (I'm a future candidate for knee replacement--just not yet says my orthopod--annual steroid injections and these knee sleeves still letting me run and jog around the field). I've tried hinged and unhinged neoprene and velcro knee braces--name the brand and I've probably tried it. Nothing works like these. I know 4 other 55+ umpires in my local association who also now use these. Measure your size and order. I measure for an XL, and they were great, but I loved the compression so much, I sized down to a Large and couldn't be happier. These won't slip down or move. In fact, the more you sweat, the warmer they get, and the tighter they grip and compress. I've done hard days of aggressive black diamond skiing with my sons and then not taken them off afterwards, just because I could tell they were keeping my knees from aching horribly. I used to wear compression leggings--mainly UA Heatgear--and still have maybe 8 pairs--wear them around the house--but no longer behind the plate. Also, the compression shirts and leggings from this company are top notch. True compression---unlike some products out there (like UA) that aren't really all that "compression." Two major big thumbs up for these bad boys!! As far as socks, I like the Force3 long socks. And with these compression knee sleeves, my whole lower leg is protected from shin guard straps. And if you are like me and think, "Oh, yeah, I've tried a neoprene knee brace before, and it just slipped down and didn't do much," all I can say is that these MAVA sleeves are not like your father's neoprene knee "pad." https://www.mavasports.com/products/mava-knee-sleeves $39.00
  3. R-2 only, both umpires have presumably pointed to the ground pre-pitch to confirm that PU is staying home on all batted balls. I think that’s where he needs to stay unless something truly extraordinary happens. PU has the overthrow at 1st and should normally be on the line 1st baseline extended (or right at the plate) to help with a pulled foot challenge after the play—I actually like to plant there long enough so that if BU looks at me, he’ll see me on the line with eyes on the play at 1st. Not saying that’s gospel, just what I like to do.
  4. This pitch raises a question for me. Where is the zone for this batter on this pitch? Batter is standing there in what looks like a batting stance, and only after the pitcher is halfway through his pitching motion (his arm is already moving) does the batter drop down about 3 inches. Prior to the pitch, as he looks ready to receive the pitch, and even as the pitcher begins his delivery and is halfway through it, I got his belt just even with or slightly above the catcher's helmet (assuming the belt is the top of the MLB zone). The actual pitch comes in just below the top of the catcher's helmet. At what point do we determine when the batter "assumes his natural batting stance"?? There's probably no hard and fast rule, and obviously if we sense a batter is crouching unnaturally, we're not going to reward that. But how about the pitcher? He intends to throw a fast ball right down the middle, right at the batter's belt (for Lord only knows what reason :-). So, he starts his delivery, batter crouches 3-4 inches, not as he begins his delivery, but only after he's so committed to the pitch that he can't adjust. This MLB pitcher's arm was already in motion when the batter dipped 3-4". Maybe here in MLB where these umpires have seen the batters scores of times, and all these pitchers have seen video of all these batters, it might make sense to assume the batter will be doing this. But what if he doesn't do it on the next pitch, or does it a bit more or less? Here's my hypothetical: upper level high school varsity game next spring, visiting team in from out of town. Nobody knows nuthin' about them. Second batter pulls this (I'll call it a) stunt. Once pitcher's arm is in motion, batter drops down 3 inches. Ball comes in dead center, below what would have been the top of the zone before the pitcher's arm started moving, but now just above it. We banging that??
  5. I know not everyone shares this opinion (and most probably do not). Multiple runners, 2 outs, ground ball to F-6 that makes BU move closer to 3rd to avoid batted ball, giving him an even worse angle at 1st (or 1st play goes to 3rd and BU is straight lined on the throw to 1st), possible pulled foot, BU looks and sees PU looking up the line, so he knows PU is in position and has eyes on the play. This is the one situation that Jim Evans said is appropriate (and proper) for BU to immediately go for help, and we even practiced the mechanic at his clinic. Ask a positive question, not a negative one: BU points to partner, “Did he hold the bag?” If the answer is “Yes, he did!” BU punches him out and one side of the bleachers cheers loudly. If it’s “No,” then BU immediately calls BR safe, and it’s game on for all runners. Nothing to fix, and a SH*# storm is averted. Now, I’ve got partners who will always refuse to go for help on a pulled foot no matter what the situation is and no matter how straight-lined they are, as if doing so is bush league, and they’re great umpires. I got no problem with that. But I still pre-game it with them when I’m on the bases. The key to this mechanic is that BU has got to look at his partner and see him on and staring up the line b4 going for help. Also, ask that positive question. Don’t ask, “Did he pull his foot?” If the mechanic is done properly, it looks great, and if F-3 held the bag, everyone will cheer as if F-3 did something spectacular to end the inning. And the other thing is that this is a rare occurrence. Jim Evans claimed that in his career, he only went for help during a play twice—and both times it was for a possible pulled foot with multiple runners and two outs when he was straight-lined on the throw to 1st. One additional note—if PU gives no sign or says nothing, then call BR out, and when Skip comes running out, you don’t need to check with your partner, because you already know he’s got nothing for you.
  6. Yes, that’s a “Yes.” The entire lower extension with the flapping wings is removable with a screw driver. Looking forward to seeing Razzer’s and MadMax’s solution (and, yes, I’d pay for that valuable knowledge :-). I actually gifted my new Cobalt to my Partner b4 our 1st game on Saturday, a great younger college umpire whose 1st son was born last week, and is one of my favorite partners (as well as a great mentor). I was going to get him one anyway. He is shorter than me, but long in the torso. He did like the center part of the lower extension, but not the wings. He’s now removed the lower extension and loves it. Replaces an older Platinum for him. I will buy another one for me—just waiting on All Star or one of you “Custom Shop” guys can fix the flap issue, because it is currently a deal breaker for me. But the rest of that CP is absolutely perfect IMO.
  7. NFHS 10-2-3 (L) (Powers/Duties of UIC): "L. Rectify any situation in which an umpire’s decision that was reversed has placed either team at a disadvantage." I think that's the one. And, I was able to find this probably bootleg/possibly dark web/unauthorized web-link to the 2020 NFHS Rules which have also been taken down from our State's website after the season was cancelled (not sure they refunded my registration money, though :-) https://cdn1.sportngin.com/attachments/document/9a6c-1683944/NFHS.pdf
  8. Wanted to give this chest protector 5 Stars, but can’t. Those protruding side “wings” on the lower abdomen extension (love handle protectors) are unnecessary, stick out, hit the forearms, and are annoying. I hope All Star loses them or figures a way to hold them against the body, or makes them removable. I would cut them off but there’s no practical way to do that, especially with the air chamber padding. The rest of the lower abdomen extension (for long torso people) is perfect—covers that center lower abdominal area to belly button or even just below extremely well, and sits tight against the body/gut like the rest of the protector. But honestly, we don’t need protection for the love handles like we want protection for the central lower abdomen—hard shots there burn a long time and can still knock the wind out of us a bit. Most blows to the love handles are glancing. The rest of this chest protector gets 5+ Stars—and is darn near perfect in my opinion. It feels light, enables and does not restrict mobility, breathes extremely well, has removable and cleanable pads, is low profile, fits very snuggly, is comfortable, is very easy to put on and buckle, is easy to adjust, and provides top notch protection from straight high speed shots. I gave it to my partner, and he took a foul back shot that was probably 80 mph (18u men’s league): “I didn’t even feel it!” This protector is perfect, perfect, perfect, but for those protruding love handle wings—and those are a little bit annoying. They are also unnecessary and unwanted—that’s just muscle and fat tissue, no organs—we can all withstand the occasional glancing blow there, just like we can and will take occasional shots to the arms. Sorry to hammer those protruding wings so hard, it’s just that this thing is otherwise so close to perfection. And that’s just one umpire’s initial impression.
  9. All good stuff by everyone above! You know, I honestly learn or relearn something every time I visit this website. Once we say, "Time!" we got all day to figure out what we got. Also, the process here is the same as in other seemingly complicated plays, but which really aren't so complicated when I remember that everything that happened up until the instant the ball became dead = "Probably matters." Anything that happened after the instant the ball became dead = "Doesn't matter--fahgettaboudit!" Question after I kill it: "What do I got?" Answer: "I got a dead ball, so I got all fricking day to figure out what I got!"
  10. (1) In the OP, PU had a partner who had the better angle and distance, he made a “That’s nothing!” call, and he actually communicated his call. How sweet is that? Sounds like a guy I’d be pleased to work with any day of the week; (2) As I recall, the Nelson/Evans Manual (assuming it’s still good law), implicitly gives primary responsibility for this type of inter-base interference/obstruction to BU, with PU charged with helping and grabbing any obstruction/interference that the BU “might miss“ as a secondary responsibility. Here BU didn’t miss any, he was all over it, and he made a call in his mind that he communicated to the world. And it might have been the absolute right call. Just because F-5 checked up doesn’t mean he was actually hindered—they could have been two ships passing in the night in separate lanes, one of which got startled for no reason—regardless, BU had both angle and distance from C, it was his primary “judgment” call to make, and as mentioned above, I think he rocks! PS—I don’t disagree with anything MadMax stated, in fact I agree with every word.
  11. Good stuff. Also good when there’s a fluke or lucky tag to a body part away from the bag— “He got him on the helmet!” (slap head) “He’s out!” Nobody’s coming out, because everybody else had eyes on the bag. Here’s one I’d appreciate your thoughts on, as it happens so frequently, I wish there were an accepted signaling mechanic—often results in DHC coming out. Slide at 2nd, throw beats runner, fielder drops glove, runner just gets under tag and touches bag just b4 glove touches runner, or fielder drops glove on dirt on the right field side the runner. I’ll usually say something like, “He got under it! Safe!” with big safe mechanic. Tough to hear, unless you’re the center fielder, as I’ve got my back towards the plate :-) Any of you veterans got an effective way of communicating either of those two calls that‘ll keep DHC in the dugout??
  12. Kudos! Besides being a great former pro umpire, he's also a genuinely nice human being as well. He was one of the instructors at the Desert Classic a few years ago, and I still carry more than one of his thoughts around with me in my bag (as well as a mask, back-up CP, shin guards, and a couple of bags). However . . . I did pull the trigger on the Cobalt CP instead of the newer F3 V-3--and UPS says its supposed to be at my doorstep tomorrow evening--looking forward to having a questionable catcher in the near future, so I can hopefully get pummeled :-) Still haven't got hit with my still shiny F-2 mask to compare the blunt force trauma to the F-1, but I have no fears there.
  13. Can't disagree with that! I know two veterans who use the scissors, and they are rock solid behind the plate. Not unusual for me to say to them in the post-game in the parking lot, "Dude, I don't think you missed a single pitch!"
  14. I went back to the hammer this season (and made the decision b4 the pandemic), so for me it’s now a “newer” strike mechanic. It was immediately a comfortable relaxed old best friend. I first grooved it during 2 weekend WR LL clinics, then a San Bernardino week long, then Evans’ Week long in Tucson (and all the games in between). I then joined our h.s. association which required the hammer for all 1st year umpires, after which we were “permitted” to go out to the side, like a side strike mechanic was a promotion and a badge of accomplishment—so we naturally all did it. I spent the next few years grooving a side strike mechanic, fiddling with it, taking different things from various partners who I admired. Always got great feedback on my side-strike mechanic. Then sometime last winter as I was writing down my 2020 umpiring goals, I came to the conclusion that going back to the hammer would help me accomplish some of those goals. And I believe it has. I think it’s also helped my timing, not hurt it. But that’s just me. One of my favorite partners is an NCAA umpire who says his side strike mechanic helps his timing over the hammer. And I believe him. As far as visually, I’ve seen hammers that look weak, I’ve seen hammers that look strong, I’ve seen points that look weak, others that look strong. For me, the hammer is working for me. I’m a firm believer in consciously doing what works, for each umpire. I think most umpires in my state would all agree who the best amateur baseball umpire in my state is, a 70+ year old guy who still has the right stuff. He umpired some of my high school games, and I’m 57. Funny thing is he has at least 4 different called strike mechanics I’ve seen him use in the same game. We laugh (as we count them), and he says that different strikes feel differently, and those differences just get expressed out of his body as he communicates his call. And each one of those signaling mechanics is graceful, and emphatic. IMO, there are advantages and disadvantages to both strike mechanic styles. I’d suggest consciously doing what works for you.
  15. Thanks for the post, Mac, as well as the replies. Made me realize that I, also, haven't been tracking the pitch from the pitcher's fingertips to the glove or backstop. I know that, because I also have been momentarily losing a few foul balls off the bat--instead of seeing them whiz by my head, I'm just perceiving it. I got to get back to my old "Pre-Pitch Routine" which included the quick thought: "There's nothing more important in the history of the universe than me tracking this pitch." I went back and watched the old Randy Johnson dove explosion--again marveling how everyone else saw an explosion of feathers, but the Pro umpire and catcher both were just tracking a pitch from the pitcher's fingertips to the backstop where it eventually stopped being a pitch. I need to get back to that focus--thanks for reminding me to self-diagnose! If I'm losing the ball off the bat, it has to be because I'm losing the pitch just prior to the plate.
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