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Everything posted by MadMax

  1. It’s not supposed to be pretty looking, it’s supposed to be different looking. It’s a branding-fueled planform. We all know an All-Star is an All-Star because of that comb-style bar planform. @Thunderheads remembers this one – the FM2000: Can you, too, spy the All-Star logo in the bars? That’s why they shaped it that way. UnderArmour is doing much the same, and while I don’t think they’re going to make a big splash in Major League Baseball, my professional guess is they’re gunning for Nike and Easton in the college baseball arena. Nike hasn’t exactly been proactive in progressing – much less continuing – the iconic Titanium mask, CP (seriously, why haven’t they put Air, Shox, Fusion, or React technology in their CPs??), and shinguards. Many college programs, sponsored by Nike for their uniforms and footwear, seek out and are supplied by Easton or All-Star for their catchers gear. Adidas has recognized the importance of the college market, as we’re seeing this in the Adidas Pro Issue mask (the “Icon”, as we’ve nicknamed the planform), which resembles the Nike Titanium “Icon” for good reason. With this new mask – and especially the new pads to represent a significant step forward in technology – UnderArmour can present a complete branding package to their sponsored colleges, head to toe. The pads intrigue me. Notice where they originate from – the football helmet industry. Hmm. What other highly advanced foams came out of helmet development?* With these pads, the gauntlet has officially been thrown down (again); Wilson has to pursue pads better than foam-filled leather sausages. As far as mounting pads in the FM4K-Mag, sure, it’ll take Team Wendy’s, but really, why do you feel the need to? The new LUC-Mag pads address the problem borne out of how drastically lightweight the mask is – stand-off volume and a hard distributor plate! That plate works. It’s just a shame it’s not (yet) on the upper pad. Then again, since All-Star focused on catchers primarily, catchers already wear a hard hat. * Answer: Team Wendy’s came about for ski helmet development, while 3DO was brought to North America by Schutt for their football helmets.
  2. The Wilson Charcoal CP is no more lower profile than the Platinum, or the Gold, for that matter. All three use the same upholstery-grade foam in their vests. One of the reasons why the Charcoal can become more low-profile than its siblings is because the all-important chest-to-shoulder joint is segmented, not fused. The one-piece plate on the Platinum is a protection feature (of the collarbone), that much be certain, but if not fitted and adjusted – correctly – then it stays as a flat wall and looks hulking. How do most Platinums ship? As flat as possible. How do All-Star CPU4000’s ship? Already pre-curved and formed. So right out of the packaging, the Charcoal CP can hinge on that segmented joint, and if the user really cranks down on the (pathetic) stock harness, they can achieve a rather conforming fit. The Charcoal is marketed as Wilson’s Best Value Chest Protector, primarily because it offers a great deal of coverage at a sub-$100 price tag. So why do the Platinum and Gold cost so much more, sometimes nearly double? Because Wilson has to cover the cost of maintaining the Patents, the MLB Licensing, and the royalties to Joe West! Those Patents have done more harm than good. The carapace (the shell) on both the Platinum and Gold are actually quite nice and effective. The Platinum is an outgrowth of an effort to improve protection of the collarbone, based (loosely) on the original WestVest (while the Gold is actually descended more from a set of modified football shoulder pads). The Patents are in regards to how the padding vest connects and anchors to the carapace plates. Altering either model jeopardized the Patents’ enforcement. Of course, challengers to the Gold have largely died off (All-American went bankrupt, Riddell is out of baseball, etc.), but the Platinum has sparked competition (the CPU4000) and replication (the Diamond Pro CP) due to its lack of improvement and development. What these two CP’s need, at the very least, are new, latest-generation foam vests. However, the hope is that Wilson lets the entire line drift off into the sunset alongside Joe West, along with letting the patents lapse (or at least, reapply for them in an updated manner) and the MLB Endorsement License. That license is a money-draining millstone Wilson doesn’t need to be successful with umpire gear. Neither do they need to wastefully supply retail with four different product lines. Simplify and strengthen, make at most 2 model lines and make them with the best materials and techniques to two market-sustainable and relevant pricing tiers.
  3. Could you post a photo or two of the finished rig?
  4. Here’s something that jumped out at me... where’s the pitcher, backing up the throw to the plate? Multiple runners on with a multi-base hit, the pitcher should start heading towards the plate to back up the incoming throw, and position himself towards the backstop. Pros know to do this, college players know to do this, high-end high school age amateurs know to do this... that this pitcher wasn’t there indicates these players were amateur – little kid to youth. Then, when you say “scrimmage”, this ices it. Instructional, low-end high school at best. So, that establishes context. Granted, without being there to see it happen, but do you really think R1 intentionally – went out of his way, made a distinct effort to – interfered with the catcher so as to trip him? Let’s extrapolate this further... what if the throw had gotten lodged in the backstop, or kicked into the dugout or some other DBT? Can’t exactly call interference – and an out – on a ball that’s unplayable and dead, can we? Thus, as it is many times, comes down to judgement. At that context, don’t fall into the trappings and rigidity of rulings devoid of judgements and interpretations. Take it for what it is – a play and call during a scrimmage – and a learning opportunity for all involved.
  5. Reebok didn’t pull out, they were directed out by their parent company, Adidas. This move coincided with taking Reebok out of the NFL and NHL, and reducing their catalog to CrossFit. While I wouldn’t, myself, wear Reebok Zig Plates or Field Magistrate Plates (or any Reeboks or Adidas, their lasts don’t fit me), I appreciate their simple effectiveness of design and execution. Also, by having multiple options of plate shoes available on the market, competitively prices, it helps keep all the models prices reasonable. It’s a shame that another manufacturer hasn’t acquired Reebok’s planform and produced their own line (like Smitty did with the NB 460v1’s). Guys, baseball may still use belts and button-up jerseys, but there’s no reason we have to stick to patent leather shoes!
  6. This is false. The manufacturers will say this, but there isn’t a single study, or a testing series, that has statistical proof. Instead, what has compelled them to abandon titanium in favor of either magnesium and aluminum, or (hollow) steel is cost... specifically cost of replacement. Aluminum doesn’t bend (at least in mask form). Magnesium certainly doesn’t bend, and if cast, won’t break at the joints. By contrast, hollow steel does bend, but is remarkably cheap to produce and to weld. Mask geometry contributes something to the protective equation, but when a mask is compromised, what do most customers / users do? Replace it! And when they pay a premium price for that mask, there is an implicit, valid belief that they should be supported and serviced by the manufacturer reflective of that premium price! This is why Nike never sold the Icon Titanium here! Wilson lost a substantial amount of money on two products in their baseball catalog – the Platinum -edition Titanium mask, and the Shock FX HSM, especially as marketed to catchers. Both premium priced, both with inherit flaws, both representing considerable, complex costs for production, but both were subject to repeated return and/or replacement claims. And with how much influence Wilson wields on the umpiring community, how do you “persuade” them to cease using a particular item? The point of sharing all this with you, though, isn’t the mask – it’s the pads! It’s the pads, pads, pads! Not one of these major manufacturers is doing anything to take the pads to the next step. Sure, All-Star is now placing a distributor plate in the jaw pad of the Magnesium mask, but why isn’t this being replicated to all pads? Why isn’t someone brokering a deal with Team Wendy, or another foam innovator? Lately, with improvements made in machining, the pads are precision cut, and cleanly stitched, but why isn’t this more widespread? Scott, if your contact at Adidas wants to be a part of radically changing and improving the market, then they need to court some new ideas on pads... ... and you know how to contact me.
  7. @KenBAZ will likely drop you a note here, too... Unfortunately, I’ll miss you, since I’ll be back in Wisconsin for the week with my family. If I was here, I’d take you and your son around to the Major League facilities. Each of them have top-notch batting cages and pitching lanes, and if you know the facilities managers, we can get in for a few minutes. The best alternative though, is to go to Extra Innings in Mesa or to Chad Moeller’s (ex-MLB catcher) Team Dinger academy in Scottsdale – http://www.scottsdalebattingcages.com/
  8. Everyone learns differently. So you, and others, may favor live pitching, where you start tracking at the source. That’s completely valid and not wrong. Conversely, I’d rather work in reverse, where the trainee isn’t – or has no reason for – flinching, ducking, bobbing, or drifting. This is also an ideal environment to introduce and develop timing. I want them focusing on the arrival of the pitch, where and how it traverses the zone, processing it, and then rendering a judgement... all without having to worry about a pitch hitting them, or a coach or fans barking at them, especially at how variable the catcher may (or may not) have caught it. Again, both approaches are valid. The real shame is when: A) leagues (and associations) are in such dire need for umpires, they push new guys – who are often not much more than trainees – into live games, usually little kids and solo; and B) associations and “trainers” have such little time (or patience) for really developing trainees gradually, pitch by pitch. They put the trainees in a pitching lane, video record them, give them some “tips” and criticism, and then hasten them off to the next step. These don’t happen every time; but, they do happen often enough.
  9. You’re not wrong at all! At the lower levels, it probably is the team sport that – contextually – requires the least amount of skill. At the upper/elite levels, especially at the international level, soccer has become the stand-in for international warfare. Really! It is! Instead of invading a country, Germany just waits and trains for the upcoming _________ Cup and obliterates an opponent that way! Then, don’t even get me started on the Latinos and their fútbol. Point to ponder – the Aztecs were feared / infamous for playing a “game” that was a cross between soccer and basketball... and the losers were killed afterwards! The Latinos take soccer (way too) seriously!!!
  10. Since arriving in Arizona 4 years ago, and embarking on doing at least 300 to 400 games per year, I am not dodging Plates, but I sure am not earnestly volunteering for them. It simply is the physical burden, the wear and tear of it. Engaging into and recovering from a plate stance, repeatedly, gets exhausting. Again, though, I bring up context. Am I here for a 9-inning game for adult or pro-level players? Will these 9 innings – possibly 300-or-so pitches – improve, progress, and hone my skillset, or will I maintain status quo? Or, am I haphazardly placing myself into a span of 3 games – some 15 to 21 innings – of 12-14 year olds? Where, while fatigue accumulates on me, not only do I run the risk of getting hit by wayward pitches, but having my zone discernment decay, spurred by the frustration of not getting enough strikes? Are my skills truly improving here? To a man, my fellow Vultures are all skilled, competent Plate and Base Umpires. When we work together, we simply concede that the guy who feels less beat up takes Plate. However, when we work with guys we don’t know, or aren’t familiar with, we make a much more conscious choice – do we want to get even more beat-up? Or, do we run the risk of watching a PU struggle to define and maintain a zone, and endure a walk-fest? Frankly, I’d much rather have developing umpires get into pitching lanes, with pitching machines, and get familiar with seeing pitches. I was afforded the luxury of seeing thousands of pitches traverse the plate (and a fair share that couldn’t even find the plate) as a catcher. If I didn’t have that background, I’d be trying to get into pitching lanes, batting practices, or bullpen sessions as often as possible. Granted, there’s a device I’ve been considering fabricating that would greatly aid in these efforts, but that’s for another time and talk.
  11. @Kevin_K, I’m going to follow on to your post with this... and... Then... I have this sinking suspicion that Joe is asking this from a fan/observer’s standpoint, and there’s a twinge of sour grapes here. The unasked question to maven’s and LRZ’s replies of “preventive umpiring” is – “well, why didn’t you (or the Umpire present) call it the first time, then??!!”. I have a hunch that there was a R3 in the first video sequence of pitches, and that he didn’t score... and that Joe believes he should have. What Joe needs to be made aware of is the element of context. This isn’t the Major Leagues, or even College, for that matter. Anything less than that is amateur baseball, and Adult leagues aside, thus is developmental baseball. The players are developing their respective skills, and the coaches and umpires are there to support and administer that development. I’m not saying coddle. I chose the word “administer” very specifically. A synonym to “administer” is “adjudicate”, or judge. Does every judge throw the full weight of the book-of-law at every defendant or violator? Certainly not. Different scenarios and circumstances – different contexts – require different handlings, interpretations, treatments, and applications.
  12. Yup... or shall I say, “Sí”... Latin American (including Mexico and South America) soccer. There are real reports of referees being murdered after a match. Not rumors. Any time the ball gets near or within the 18-yd box, or a set piece (free kick or corner kick), I’m convinced that the referees say a prayer that any calls they need to make are blatantly obvious, because if they make a “controversial” call, they have courted death. Want less morbidness but just as much vitriol? There’s an anecdote that the premier Italian soccer league, Serie A, dressed their officials in day-glo, neon yellow from Diadora so security officials could rapidly identify the referees and come to their rescue if an argument or fight broke out. Major League Baseball could do themselves a massive benefit by either mic’ing the Crew Chief, or educating the stadium PA staff (the “voice” of their respective ballpark) on what the ruling signals are, or create a link between the Crew Chief and the PA staff. Something to explain, even briefly and succinctly, what the call / ruling is. The only trouble with mic’ing the Crew Chief directly actually isn’t the umpires, it’s the managers / players, and how foul-mouthed they are. Something is bound to be picked up off a hot mic. I had a personal experience in this: I was doing a broadcast game, and I (as U1) had a U3K become lodged in / behind the catcher’s CP. It didn’t come loose or drop out when he stood up, but instead, he visibly reached into his CP to fish out the baseball. I called “Time”, said “That’s a lodged ball. You! (BR) First Base!”. DTM took a few steps out just to inquire what the call was, since he didn’t (quite) hear it. I explained it simply, and we returned to baseball. When I reviewed the broadcast, the announcers / commentators had absolutely no idea what I called, nor why I called it!!! They went on for two additional innings trying to figure it out, fumbling over conjecture on interference or hit-by-pitch, but ultimately, never getting it right. So now take that, amp up that intensity by dropping it in the World Series, broadcast to millions of neophytes, and let blowhards like Alex Rodriguez explain it. Ugh.
  13. And to @beerguy55 (sorry, just can’t seem to quote it)... I’m specifically addressing the MLB / MiLB level. Where are the injuries? Surely, when Buster Posey got injured at a play at the plate, the rule was addressed and modified relatively soon after. When Rubén Tejada broke his leg via Chase Utley’s slide, the rule got addressed, modified, and clarified. So where’s the key injury? Where’s the smoking gun? @Coach BIll wants this implemented into MLB / MiLB to “alleviate injuries”... was there an injury in that play? No. Sooooooo
  14. Show me (us) the numbers of injuries that are occurring at first base at the professional level (Major and Minor) before pulling The Injury Prevention Card out in your argument. Follow that with the injury numbers for College as well. I believe that the Safety Base is addressed in Fed Rules on a case-by-case basis, due to the selective use of it depending on the facility. Obviously, it’s not compulsory, but you can be sure that if there were measurable injuries due to the absence of the Safety Base, the Fed would mandate it. The injuries you speak of just aren’t happening.
  15. To echo the advice of @tpatience and @The Man in Blue... you need not get a brand-new Wilson or Douglas CP to have comprehensive protection. Champion’s P2xx CP still is one of the most popular CP’s in the Minor Leagues because it’s: At a sub-$80 price point Slim, trim, and low profile Available in 3 torso lengths One-third to one-half the cost of Wilson CP’s (cannot be said enough) Then, you have the CP that I and a few others here on U-E made famous – the Schutt / Adams XV. It too is at a sub-$80 price point, uses latest generation foam, and its carapace is extremely well ventilated. The only drawback is that it is one-size-fits-most. I routinely take it into 90mph+ environments, and I have zero concerns about it.
  16. Any of these Adidas -produced Icon -shaped masks are not titanium. Instead, they’ve been showing up in one of two constructions. The majority of them are a really well-made hollow steel. Instead of being a large, thin-walled tube that gets dipped in vinyl cladding (as most of the Nike Icon hollow steels were), these are a narrower tube with thicker walls, and when lightly powdercoated with what amounts to a sealant, looks a lot like titanium. The welds are neat; much neater than the Nike Icon steels, primarily because the Nike completed masks were dipped, and the dip would obscure ugly welds. However, I adamantly maintain I had a different variant in my hands in the past 2 years. Looks exactly like an Icon, but instead of hollow steel, was solid wire. In order to achieve similar lightweight-ness as aluminum and titanium, steel must be hollow. So, if it’s solid, it’s gotta be titanium or aluminum. We already established that these are not titanium, so could it have been aluminum? Doubtful, because pure aluminum masks usually have brittle welds (prime to pop). So, what’s an aluminum alloy that allows for more steel-like ductility and more effective welding? And, something a European company like Adidas would have access to? Titanal... invented and controlled by an Austrian company. So, my writings and suggestions that these masks might be Titanal are speculative, but are deductive based on the available evidence and factors.
  17. MadMax

    MiLB Shake UP

    This might be a precursory move so as to package and present expansion – to the owners and the players union.
  18. My first question usually addresses “Who trained him?” when presented with an odd / atypical / non-standard / unexpected “new training implementation”.
  19. Then what you have, sir, is what’s known as a “local problem”.
  20. Yup. OdoBan for fabrics. Either I get the refill bottle and dilute it into a spray bottle, or I just get the mini-spray bottle from Home Depot for $1. More effective than Febreeze, less caustic than Lysol.
  21. MadMax

    catcher position

    I love this. We’re presented an incomplete, vague question, with no following details from the OP, and we (collectively) launch right into Rules citations. We don’t even know which Ruleset to cite from! (Rawr! Cite from ‘em all! Word vomit!) I’m in @maven’s camp on this one... pointless to discuss – much less argue – until we have more details.
  22. These are great shoes. The more games on the bases I do, in the sunwashed southern states of Florida, Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Crazyland (Southern California), the more I find polished black leather shoes completely unnecessary and just warrantless vanity. I’m in complete agreement that shoes should be (predominantly) black, intact, and clean. But if they’re otherwise mesh running shoes, who cares? The lighter, more breathable, and more comfortable the bett-ahhhhhhhhhhh.
  23. If it’s a Champro all-in-one starter set, that mask ain’t Aluminum, it’s steel. But, as with any (well, nearly any) traditional mask, the pads make all the difference. From your purchase list, it looks like you went “whole hog” and got the FM4000Mag. It’s going to have some very good pads on it. It’ll be stupid light. Keep in mind, there’s no heft or density there to absorb that energy. What that mask is wholly dependent on is the advanced design of the pads and the standoff distance. If you’re opting for an All-Star CPU4000 (AKA System 7), you’ll definitely want to talk with @grayhawk. He is to that CP what I am to Schutt XV’s. You’re getting a fully comprehensive CP there. Keep in mind, the pre-curved geometry may not fit you perfectly the first time, especially around the neck; adjustments can be made. The Force3 Ultimate Shinguards are the best in the market. That’s not to say that Douglas or All-Star shins are bad, it’s just that the Force3’s cost less or as much, yet this is an application where Kevlar is ideally suited for. The carapace shells are strongly shaped, with the Kevlar liner (sealed inside a vinyl jacket) riveted to them, to be as low profile and minimal as possible. Then, there are two removable, reposition-able, washable foam sizing pads inside. A ball impact will largely (and pretty much completely) be absorbed by the Kevlar. The sizing pads merely create a snug stand-off distance between your leg and the Kevlar jacket.
  24. Hey @yawetag... isn’t there a word I am known to espouse on this forum rather frequently? 7-letter word? Starts with “C” and ends with “-ontext”? Your post is in regards to that. Let’s go back to @Double Up‘s original question and apply this daring concept of Context. 11 year old, Pony division, local baseball. Everything about this shouts “Educational!!!”. So, does an 11 year old neophyte to stealing-bases-baseball know he’s not supposed to pick up an errant pitch, blocked off the catcher (or Umpire), lying at his feet? Little Timmy (our Batter) even knows Cody (our Catcher)! They go to school together! “Here, Cody, lemme get that for you... I mean, just last week, no Runners were on base, and the same thing happened, and I just picked it up and handed it to Jackson (Catcher last week), and no one made a big fuss.” So yeah, Double-Up, you observed context. Bravo. Tell Timmy he can’t do that, and put the Runner(s) back at their TOP base(s). And on to 1A, when a deflected ball merely touches the Batter, you’ve got nothing. In all codes. We don’t need an avalanche of citations for that. Now, on to Situation 2, let’s apply the ever-important context to the photographer. Again, 11 year old, local game. If it truly is local, most everybody knows each other. Granted, we can’t have any or every zealous parent stepping inside the fence to take photos, but if there is a team/league designated photographer (singular), then who am I to prevent them? Surely, if this at the local level, the coaches and parents all know and recognize each other enough that if a pedophile even tried to step inside the fence... well... I’d think somebody would recognize them as up to something nefarious before I the umpire have to address it. In more advanced and prestigious tournaments, photographers (heck, videographers... with drones, ta boot) have been operating on the fields I’ve been calling the game on. There ain’t no way I’m going to hinder them. The photos and videos they’re taking are paying my game fee! Sure, I might joke with them, and withhold permission (that isn’t mine to give) unless they have a high-visibility vest or shirt on. In high school (and yes, onto college ball) the school and/or community will supply a photographer or photojournalist. They will likely be identified by credential, or by a conscientious AD, and we are to treat them as any other allowed-to-be-there personnel. In the Independent Pro Ball League I did this summer, we not only had photographers, but broadcast camera operators. Some were in play, while others were protected. In one instance, the photographer behind 1B took a throw directly to his ~$800 telephoto lens, and the ball ricocheted into his camera bag. Time, ball out of play, 2 bases. So, Double Up, I’m convinced you handled your situation just fine. I’d question, though, if that backstop is big enough (sounds awfully small), and if that photographer has actually seen a baseball game before.
  25. MadMax


    Said, but not directed at anyone in particular. I am known here to quote the unofficial fate of any umpire masks that hit the ground in MLB – they are not to be used any longer. After seeing fellow amateur umpires toss their masks on the ground between innings or at a plate meeting, I have half a mind to start confiscating those masks, citing a “safety concern”. If you’re a HSM wearer, and don’t want to bring it to the plate meeting, understandable. But if that’s the case, I challenge those users to have a hat on at the meeting instead.
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