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Recontra last won the day on November 20 2020

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  1. I respect your opinion, and I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I got a balk on a "live" ball, not a "dead" ball. I put the ball in play when I thought all the conditions existed. It's got nothing to do with ethics, punishment. I got a live ball, and you've got a dead ball. That's essentially the difference in the way we umpired the play. But, since I see where this thread is going (sounds like the same place the 2-3 previous threads went), I'm willing to just drop it and go on my misguided way 🙂🙂 No offense is intended, so I hope none is taken.
  2. By my reasoning, I'd have a balk then, and send R-2 to 3rd (pitcher was engaged with the pitcher's plate without the ball when the ball was declared live). And you may all be right, and I may be totally 100% wrong. But seriously, if pitcher hadn't engaged the plate yet when you mistakenly put the ball in play, but then you see him move his pivot foot onto the plate, and you don't signal the ball is dead or put the ball back into play a second time, and then he feints a throw to 1st, are you going to declare there was no balk, because you mistakenly put the ball in play before the pitcher actually engaged the plate? Homerun? Negated for same reason? The Rule says we shouldn't or maybe even can't put the ball back into play until ALL of those conditions are met. But nowhere as far as I can see does the Rule or any official interpretation of the Rule state what happens if we put the ball in play, before the pitcher has engaged the plate, or is that Rule overlooked? Sorry, I'm not convinced. But I'll drop it.
  3. I think for Little League, it's fine to do your son's games, especially if you're the only trained volunteer umpire available. The alternative would be to just have another parent pulled from the stands who might not have the faintist clue. Yes parents will talk, but they'd also talk about any other volunteer parent pulled from the stands at the last minute. They'll say, "It's not fair that team has its own trained umpire!" and stuff like that. Who cares? Always grab a parent from the other team to work the bases for you, or if they have no experience at all, just plant them between 1st and 2nd and have them make all calls on those bases, you take everything else. If you're fair, word will get around. If they've got a parent who wants to call balls and strikes, welcome it, and jump on the bases. When I did my own son's LL games (that's how I started), I always insisted on having a parent from the other team work the game with me to avoid the appearance of bias. By the end of the season, most teams were telling me they'd actually prefer me to work the game by myself if there weren't another trained umpire--but not all 😀. And if a team suggests you let their designated umpire parent work the plate, say, "That would be awesome!" That will probably not happen very often as long as you show you're totally fine with that. And if you work in a Little League with lots of trained umpires, that's even better. And if they don't want you working your son's games because they have enough other volunteer umpires (used to be like that a lot of places not too long ago), more power to that league. But don't let them send you across the complex to work another game instead of watching your son's game at the same time--because that can happen as well if you let it. Most of all, have fun!!
  4. In a State LL Juniors Allstar Game last summer, I was U-2 with bases loaded. Infield fly dropped between pitcher and F-6 on a muffed catch, I physically and verbally called the infield fly. A CF was fixing to unfold as players, coaches, and fans for both teams started screaming all sorts of nonsense. So, I repeated the "Infield fly, batter's out, batter's out!" call loudly two more times, emphatically hammering the out each time. Everyone finally dialed a clue before a CF developed. In the OP situation, the cluster happened so quickly after the ball dropped, that I don't blame U-3 for not emphatically repeating the call. In my sitch (and I assume most of our games), if a cluster had ensued and I had not emphatically and vociferously repeated the call, I think that would have been on me.
  5. And that's precisely why I almost ALWAYS just go ahead and ask my partner for strike zone feedback after the game, I sometimes even write down certain pitches between innings I want to remember afterwards and ask about. "For this game I was trying to keep the top of my zone at the belly button . . . just above the belly button . . . wherever I was trying to set it . . . where did you see the top of my zone?" Not unusual that my partner will let me know he saw it a bit above or below the level where I thought it was. Still great feedback. "Remember that slider I punched out for strike-three in the bottom of the 3rd, and everyone gasped, and ___ said, 'Come on, Mike! ?" "Did that look low to you?" I know I got the best view in the house, and my partner can't see up and down even as well as the coaches, but until I eventually have my perfect game where I know for a fact I didn't miss a single pitch, I'm going to ask my partner for strike zone feedback--it's always helpful. I do the same thing on the bases if my partner isn't volunteering. "You remember that double-play banger in the top of the 5th when ____ came out and went ape-SH*# on me?" "Did it look like I got that right?" Confidence boosters, Baby! We all need them! Or, verification I missed or might have missed a call and need to slow down, fight for better position, . . . whatever. We all need that as well!
  6. True Story: 1st 30+ Men's League game I worked a few years ago, I was on the bases. My partner had a pucker tight zone, and it turned into a 3+ hour game and a walk fest. The pitchers universally hated it, as did I. Didn't really hear anyone else bitching on either side, except the head coaches who were running thru pitchers. All the batters who still dreamed of playing MiLB loved it. Their batting averages were huge. They either got walked, or they got a soft toss over the plate they could yard or turn into an extra base hit. A couple of days later, I had my 1st plate assignment for this league (a big/huge client of my local umpire association--they paid well--and not all of our umpires got to work the games). I endeavored that I was going to call a normal high school varsity type zone, and not a MiLB zone like my partner had earlier. So, I did. OMG, I was harangued by batters, the bench, the fans every time I called a strike that didn't fly over the white of the plate. I had thrown bats and helmets after punch-outs in the dugout, F-bombs. It wasn't fun. I warned batters, I called Time! and warned both benches. Should or could I have started yarding player managers, player coaches, and batters on both teams? I sure could have. But I didn't. I was, however, criticized after the game by a player-manager who was also the league president for talking down to his players like they were in high school: "You can't talk to these men like that." Regardless of how I handled the situation (I certainly could have handled it better), afterwards there was no doubt in my mind exactly why my previous partner (and other umpires who worked that league) had a pucker-tight zone. He needed the money, and it was far, far less un-enjoyable and less stressful to call the Rulebook zone. After my game, I called our Commissioner because I was concerned I had offended the league president and would get black-balled. He let me know I had learned exactly why umpires don't call strikes out there. It's not worth it. Fortunately over the next couple of years things got better with our Association leadership working with the league. I'm not saying the OP plate umpire wasn't just missing obvious strikes that any of us would have called. Just relaying my own personal 1st experiences working Men's League. It wasn't fun.
  7. Recontra

    WSJ tweet

    Very nice WSJ journal article. Awesome to see our gear getting national mainstream media attention. And also glad the F-3 mask is finally catching on with many MLB catchers. I saw lots of Div I umpires (and catchers) wearing it last season. A shame Wilson has allegedly been permitted to suppress its more widespread use through exclusive equipment MLB deals re: labels and emblems on the field. And I'm certainly not knocking other great masks other umpires passionately like, like the All-Star Magnesium. If F-3 and All-Star combined to make an F-3 with Magnesium geometry, that would be the ultimate in protection. While I have both the V-1 (4-spring) and V-2 (3-spring), I actually prefer the V-1 and believe through perceived impact to my own brain that it provides better protection, but it's a bit heavier (not so noticeable if the elastic headstrap is worn snug)--impacts to the chin are just much harsher with the V-2. But the V-2 also provides awesome protection, and I can certainly see why catchers prefer the V-2, and that's the one I've been wearing the past two seasons. A trade off: just like the Wilson West Pro Black shin guards clearly provide better protection than my F-3 shin guards, I ain't wearing those Wilsons--tried that--gave them away. But they were definitely bullet proof. Good to see Jason Klein and Force3 getting some press! Much deserved.
  8. I agree with everything stated, except this to the following extent. Umpires can certainly declare an IFF after the dust settles, and should. It certainly can create a cluster, confusion, and temporary uncertainty for runners if no umpire signals or verbalizes the IFF call, but and IFF is an IFF. It either happened or it didn't. It's the batted ball that creates the IFF, not the signal or shout by the umpire while the ball is still in flight. Assume base coaches keep R-1 on 1st and R-2 at 2nd because of the IFF (batted ball which can be caught by infielder with ordinary effort--no umpire makes any call whatsoever). Ball drops untouched, F-6 throws to 2nd, F-4 tags R-2 standing on the base, F-4 then touches 2nd base to retire R-1 on the force, and then throws to F-3 to retire BR. Triple play?? Nope! "Hey, Mike, that was an IFF!" "Oh, Geez, you're right, it was . . . R-2 is safe at 2nd, R-1 is safe at 1st, and batter is out on the IFF!" Embarrassing? Yup! The right call? Yup!
  9. Heart warming and encouraging to see a 4-man Pro crew (actually just U-2) mess this play up. U2 wisely called Time! B4 R-1 was tagged off the base as soon as U2 realized he had kicked the force out call at 2nd, and that arguably stopped the cluster from getting any worse. The one good thing I like about the discussion above (and will add to my bag) is to always say (to myself) "No force!" after I shout or hearing a partner yell, "Infield fly if fair!" That's a great reminder and will get my head on straight for umpiring the remainder of the play. Because often when that ball drops uncaught, it becomes a circus show.
  10. I prefer this mental image of my high school strike zone: J Lo's hips!! 🙂
  11. My up and down strike zone varies considerably depending on the level of play. One of the best things I ever did for my strike zone after I worked a game where I was calling 80 mph strikes at or just below the textbook "halfway" point, is I had a long post-game in the parking lot with my partner who had been a high school baseball coach for 27 years. He showed me what a good batter could and could not get a bat on with a natural swing. In my neck of the woods, if you're banging them at the numbers in a varsity game with kids throwing in the 80's, you better be wearing some hearing protection. In all the years I've been umpiring, I don't think I've ever heard a coach complain if strikes are consistently NOT being called above the belly button. They'll bitch about where they think the "knees" ought to be, but I've yet to hear them yell that they didn't get a strike called that was above the belly button but below the halfway point. The don't want it there. Nobody actually in that game wants it there. But if you do call it there, plan on your pitchers working on top the entire game. Just my two very unofficial cents.
  12. As far as mechanics go (in FED), if BU calls obstruction on F-5 as R-2 comes into 3rd, and F-5 then tags R-2 before he gets to 3rd, whaddya do? Call him out, knowing that you're going to nullify the out and award him 3rd or Home depending on what happened next? Call him out? What if there's 2 outs? You call the 3rd out, knowing it's not going to be the 3rd out? Make no call whatsoever and try to sort the SH*#-storm out afterwards? Repeat the obstruction call and let play go on? "He was obstructed!" Under FED Rules he gets at least 3rd no matter what--aren't both the offense and defense supposed to just know that R-2 will be awarded one base, and play on accordingly? I've actually done that in a game, because of the ongoing play and runners advancing to other bases: "He was obstructed, he's safe at 3rd!" and I then let play continue. Although, I'm not sure that was proper of me. I called time! only after all playing action on other bases and on other runners stopped, and reiterated the obstruction call. In that situation, R-2 never tried for home. (Note: I think that was improper of me, because the obstructed runner is not awarded a base or bases until time! is called). I think there's wisdom in the MLB preference (if it still exists) to kill the play once an obstructed runner is tagged or forced out, and take that as the logical end to playing action. At the same time, we don't make the Rules, we just enforce them. However, I've also called time! when an obstructed runner was tagged out in an FED game--just to avoid a cluster. And nobody but me noticed that I did what I did and that it might not have been in conformity with the FED obstruction rules. Killing the play at that point where an obstructed runner is subsequently tagged out is what some experienced umpires in our association advocate doing (of course, they're also NCAA umpires). I don't know the proper answer, which is why I'm asking, Whaddya do??
  13. My first year of Little League, I was working a 3-man game in high 30's low 40's early Spring weather. My other partner on the bases (a veteran already) had goofy ear muffs and thick fleece gloves on. I thought, "What a pussy!" By the 3rd inning, I was freezing my ass off and thinking, "I sure wish I had ear muffs and fleece gloves!" That Fall I worked some games. I remember one two-game Saturday in particular. Same guy had the plate for the 1st game. He used a hand held old school balloon protector instead of a "much cooler" inside protector. I once again thought, "What a pussy!" By about the 3rd inning of my own game behind the plate, after serving as the actual backstop for 6 long half innings and nursing several shots to the arms and tummy, I was already thinking, "I sure wish I had a balloon protector!" It should come as no surprise to anyone that my partner has now worked several Regionals and at least one World Series, and I have worked none. Little League Fall Ball, where everyone AND their little brother gets to play catcher. Enjoy!! 🙂 🙂
  14. Funny story. A couple of years ago, I was driving out to the coast to work a game with one HC I didn't know. So, I called a veteran umpire in the area on my cell phone as I drove out there. I asked him, "Hey, I'm on my way to ___ to work a game with _____, you got any intel on him?" "Yeah. He's a baseball guy." And that was the end of the conversation. That told me everything I needed to know in advance about that head coach. Edit: I might need to revise this memory/story. I now think it was the other way around. I think I was the one driving to a game and a very veteran umpire from another local region called me on my cell and asked me that question. And I think I'm the one who answered, "Yeah, he's a baseball guy." And the senior veteran's reply to me was short and sweet, something like: "I can work with that." End of conversation. Same point to the story, but I think I was the student there, not the teacher. 🙂
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