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Everything posted by Recontra

  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 πŸ™‚πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜€. 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!! πŸ™‚
  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!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
  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. πŸ™‚
  15. BOOM!!! Took me years to realize this, and I have to confess I'm still working on it, because I'm human and want to be liked by other humans that matter to me. But the Umpiring Gold Standard is to be respected, not liked. How many old stalwart baseball coaches who are demanding A-holes on the field do we umpires (and the other coaches who face them) actually "like" because we "respect" the hell out of them. They're baseball guys. Say what we might about some of those old MLB umpires who got in Earl Weaver's face and exchanged saliva with him in the 1970's, those umpires were baseball guys. Earl Weaver was a baseball guy. Baseball respects baseball guys. We should strive to be what baseball respects--and that's admittedly something a lot different than it was in the 1970's, but it's still respect. Did Aretha Franklin want to be liked? No. She wanted R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And she got it!! I was told early on that the greatest compliment an umpire could receive is to have a coach say afterwards, "I didn't even know you were there." I now know that's b.s. and NOT the gold standard. If a coach didn't even know you were there it's because nothing out of the ordinary happened during the game. That game called itself. Those games are awesome. But other than making accurate out/safe and strike/ball calls, the umpire did nothing to create that lack of memory on behalf of the coach. When a coach calls a regional assignor for a big play off game to request specific umpires for that big game, is he going to request umpires that he likes? Nope. He's going to be requesting umpires that he respects, because too much is on the line.
  16. Have fun and internalize what's been said above. And after your done with fall softball: Register for and attend a Little League weekend Mechanics Clinic. If SC is for South Carolina, you're in the Southeast Region of Little League. There should be mechanics clinics at the SE region headquarters, or in each state (put on by the same instructors). Out here in the West, the clinics are usually announced and registration starts at the end of October or so. For the past two years, the clinics have been Covid-Canceled, but hopefully they'll be rescheduled (at least tentatively) for Spring 2022. The LL weekend mechanics clinics are absolutely phenomenal, and the instructors are absolutely Kick-ass! I went to one in my state about 12 years ago before I'd ever called a ball or strike in my life, and I left mind blown as well as with considerable solid muscle memory after all the hours of drills and drilling. And it was loads of fun to boot. A lot of local leagues will pay for the clinic ($150 or so) if you agree to work some games for them afterward. After I went, I couldn't imagine what it would have been like to umpire without having attended that weekend clinic. You may then decide to go to one of the week-long Little League clinics--and they are even more awesome (the weekend clinic on steroids--same instructors, just 12-15 hours per 5-6 days more of it--the instructors are volunteers, so they don't have to worry about paying them overtime, so you'll be running non-stop from about 7:30 a.m. to 9:30-10:00 p.m.--you will not have any trouble falling asleep at night). Out here in the West, the week long clinic in San Bernardino is like $450, and that includes room and board. OMG cheap for what it is!
  17. A runner must slide within reach of the base, but he can slide outside the reach of the base to avoid interfering with a fielder, especially if he's now out and a retired runner. 8-4-2-b(1): "A runner may slide in a direction away from the fielder to avoid making contact or altering the play of the fielder." For me, the question here is about an R-1 who is thrown out while running to second, 15 feet away from the base when he's called out. What happens then? I believe this is the applicable rule: 8-4-2(f): "as a runner or retired runner, fails to execute a legal slide, or does not attempt to avoid the fielder or the play on a force play at any base;" For me, after acknowledging that there's no strict liability (R-1 cannot simply disappear), I ask myself if R-1 could have done anything (if there was enough time), "to avoid the fielder or the play on a force play at any base." I think the rule puts an affirmative obligation on the retired runner to try to avoid (get out of the way) "if he can." Whether he did or not (or could have) is up to umpire judgment.
  18. You've asked a great question, and you'll hopefully get some great learned answers from umpires much more knowledgeable and experienced than me. I will say that for me, with the above quoted portion of your question, I believe a runner is entitled to continue to run the bases on a force play without interfering until they are actually out, not until "they see they are going to be out" (fielder can bumble the catch, miss the bag, throw can go over his head). And, once out, the runner cannot simply disappear instantaneously. But after he's been out for a moment or two, that's where your question gets into dicey territory. What can he do or not do that would constitute interference on a force play? And for that, I'll leave the rest to the true experts who will hopefully weight in!
  19. Recontra

    Fair or foul

    Only exception I know to a batted ball striking a base not being "fair" is if it first falls in foul territory beyond the base, and then spins back and hits the base. That's a foul ball, because it was foul the moment it landed in foul territory beyond 1st or 3rd: "A foul is a batted ball: . . . c. that first falls on foul territory beyond first or third base;"
  20. What an absolute Troll! That pitch was a little outside for a LL Regional, but not by much!! -- and the pitcher almost hit his spot. Regular season Little League Majors, a pitch like that in the power zone that maybe brushes the chalk, "Dude, you better be swinging, because I'm likely banging that for Strike 1 or 2, and maybe even 3--depends on the game and the pitchers." I've seen pitches even farther outside called strikes during the College World Series. "Major League umpires have been under increased scrutiny in recent years because, well, they’ve been terrible. Pitchers are throwing faster and with more movement than ever before, and umpires β€” like Angel Hernandez β€” have generally been unable to adjust with any consistent accuracy." That's a false statement, even for an opinion hack piece. "But if you thought Major League umpires were bad, let me introduce you to Little League umpires." "Little League umps generally work games on a volunteer basis, and their training doesn’t approach that of even the worst high school umpire." That's also a provably false statement. I still work some volunteer LL games, and their umpire training far surpasses that of most high school programs, at least in the Western Region. Their 3-day clinics are phenomenal, and their week long umpire clinic in San Bernardino is fantastic--much better and more intense than the weeklong I also went to put on by a couple guys who wrote a great mechanics book (that also was a great clinic, the LL one was just better). What a Troll. What a hack.
  21. According to the Evans/Nelson Maximizing Manual, a recognized secondary duty of the PU is to watch out for and call any obstruction or interference that the BU may have missed. If BU doesn't point and make a call or give a "that's nothing" call after a collision which results in both players on the ground, then I've got to assume BU either didn't see it or didn't see enough of it to know whether the fielder actually obstructed or was still in the motion/momentum of trying to field a ball that has now passed by, so at that point, if I'm PU, I need to step in and make a call (if I got one) or a "that's nothing" safe mechanic if it were just a train wreck--then it's my call for a coach to challenge. If neither umpire makes a call after two players end up on the ground, and a coach comes out (guaranteed one or both will be coming out), optically it's probably a good time for the umpires to get together and speak with one voice (as opposed to having successive conversations with the coach). Just my two cents.
  22. (1) I agree with the comments on asking to see the ball. It's my job to see the ball. If I'm not sure there's secure possession or the ball might be on the ground hidden by the tangle or a cloud of dust, I'll start moving. The coach (and good players) will know what the deal is, and low and behold, I'll hear a coach yell, "Show him the ball!" Or I'll just wait till I can see it. I'd never ask a player to show me a live ball. (2) Each game and play is different. But if there's a weird tag play, like on the helmet as the runner slides in feet first, or on the cleats as the runner slides head first, or a tag on the chest on a BR at first, I think it's perfectly ok to either verbalize or touch your head (or the appropriate body part) with a "He got him, on the foot, he's out!" For me, it can spare me a conversation or make any one that happens much quicker. I also respect anyone who says they'd never do that. (3) R-1 beats the throw and tag at second, but loses momentary contact with the bag, I know the two players and I might be the only ones in the yard who saw that. I think it's fine to give an "Out! . . . he's off the bag (motion like we do when F-3 is off the bag), he's out!" I know that's not in any mechanics book, but I honestly did it last week in a very high level game, and OHC never said a word--and he's notoriously wordy πŸ™‚ (4) I look at a double safe mechanic just like a huge bang out on a very close play. Sometimes they're appropriate, and like Thunderheads said, sometimes it just comes out! πŸ™‚ Our job is to communicate our calls, but also (if appropriate) let everyone know what we saw. I've drilled the Basic Six repeatedly for hours many a weekend and weeks. Sometimes the Basic 6 just don't communicate the call we need to make. A big punchout isn't in any accepted Umpire Mechanics book. But we all know what it is, why it's necessary, and when to use it. And I say this, being a guy who actually doesn't like to see excessive signalling mechanics when it's not necessary by base umpires. While less is often more, sometimes more is exactly what the play and call require.
  23. Going to watch other great crews and umpires work was something I routinely did my first few years if I had no game, a cancellation or even a rain-out when I knew other local fields (turf) would be playable. I still do it! And if you show up early, they'll probably let you be a fly on the wall of their pregame and post-game in the parking lot or locker room. You do that a few times, and you just might find some of those veteran umpires requesting games with you from the assignor. Guaranteed you'll learn loads and become a better umpire by just watching one game.
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