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Everything posted by MadMax

  1. Elaborate on "convertible" please. I've expressed this before... it doesn't cease to confound me that Wilson is supposed to be "our" company, and they own EvoShield. EvoShield is the iconic producer of shin, ankle, foot, wrist, and elbow guards in a variety of styles and sizes. Wilson, through EvoShield, isn't making a shaped metatarsal guard (and toe cap) that can attach to any sport shoes. How hard can that really be??!!
  2. This. This. A thousand times this!!! This question has a slight whiff of coming late to a Mexican food truck party and calling out, “Did anybody bring the nachos?!”
  3. Know what's tragic and sad? Lost in this hurricane of crap (and I'm not minimizing @BlueClue at all) are the 20-or-so 11 and 12 year olds who... well... you know what, all of you adults?... just want to play baseball with their friends!!! I don't care if you're one of the six assistant coaches on that Little League team, or if you're the President of the entire freakin' league. Your only purpose in this proceeding is to facilitate the kids' participation. You turn the key on the gate, you flip on the lights, you drop them off at the dugout, you make sure they wear a helmet, you put band-aids on their scrapes, and you take them out for ice cream afterwards. That's it. If you have a calling for community service, and find yourself in a position that you can give your time in one of these roles – and it just so happens that it is officiating (umpiring) these games, then God bless you, and more respect to you. As soon as it becomes anything beyond that, then you, we, all of us involved have no grounds to complain. Any time there is a pursuit of (more) money or more notoriety / prestige / recognition, we've departed from any credible claim that this is "for the kids". Do you know what ruined Little League? ESPN. It sold everyone involved on the lie that amateur youth sports can be celebrated by proxy and in a vaccuum disassociated with money.
  4. Biggest challenge facing the training of new(ish) umpires.
  5. “Warm cookies, cold beers, and walks along the beach.” ... said as deadpan and factual as possible. Ask a vapid question, get a vapid answer. I once had a local league “coach” ask me at the plate meeting “what’s your strike zone?”. My BU partner snapped his gaze towards him in surprise, while the opposing coach visibly winced and averted his eyes, as if he knew and didn’t want to watch the oncoming steamroller create a roadkill pancake. I replied with, “You’re about to find out.” His starting pitcher never found it. More pitches hit the backstop than actually got into the zone. And no, no bias was involved.
  6. I'm thinking that standard, typical base shoes like those from New Balance, Nike or UnderArmour would work more than adequately. The New Balance MU950v1's, for example, were predominately leather, and even available in a mid-cut: You could possibly even find MU950v2's that would fit the bill: The only reason I'm not promoting the brand-new MU950v3's is a matter of cost vs. use. You've already mentioned that you wear mesh-y shoes primarily. Why sink beaucoup dollars into shoes you're only going to wear a few times? The Nike Air Diamond has been a loooooooooong mainstay in the umpire & referee ranks: All-leather, ridiculously easy to maintain, heavy, ground-grabbing traction. If you wanted to break convention, and get something that would equally be at home on a cold baseball field, and potentially a wintery day in the midwest, then perhaps something from Skechers or Merrell? I have to admit, as soon as you said "hiking boot for baseball", I immediately thought of Merrell. https://www.shoes.com/merrell-mens-shoes/category_12753 https://www.rei.com/search?q=Merrell&ir=q%3AMerrell&origin=web&pagesize=30&r=gender%3AMen's%3Bcolor%3ABlack&version=Search%3ASkuAvailabilityTest Any of their Moab line designed with the best combination of running/jogging, insulation, and all-terrain grip.
  7. I admire what you're (collectively) doin', but if this is to be mounted in the umpire mask as an alternative to wearing a fabric mouth&nose covering... does this mean we'll get less grief and flak about taking our umpire masks off to make a call? I mean, we umpires know that we can observe, judge, and call a play regardless as to whether or not we have our umpire mask on or not. But not evaluators and coaches!
  8. Reebok was unceremoniously yanked out of baseball by its parent company – Adidas – because of branding / marketing strategy. New Balance is the only company of any size or scale making plate shoes. Mizuno makes some exceptional designs, but is prevented from importing any plate shoes by tariffs generated through a collusion of the North American shoe companies (Nike, New Balance, etc.). To get a Mizuno model, you'll have to pursue an order and pay the importation fee that may be in the $80-$160 range. Surprisingly, USA Softball (nee: ASA) has not stepped in, stepped up, advocated for or promoted for their umpires, men and women. There are no women-specific (sized, even) plate shoe models. There are no "basic" or "lite" plate shoe models out there on the market, ideally designed and styled (read: weight) for softball. Sure, we can scoff at softball, but any plate shoes for softball would be more than adequate for 46-60 / 50-70 baseball, and would take the wear and tear off high-end 60-90 baseball. It's this youth baseball, for hours upon hours, in the dirt, dust, mud, sand, drizzle... and errant catchers stepping on toes... that challenge the effective life of plate shoes. 3N2 and Smitty both make their own plate shoes. 3N2s are decent, but have inconsistent reliability, due to the toe cap being composite plastic instead of metal-based. By contrast, Smitty obtained the planform for New Balance's M460v1's, made some tweaks, and is producing it at a relatively lessened price point. It would have been far more ideal had they acquired one of Reebok's two planforms (Zigs or Magistrates), but perhaps, Adidas wouldn't have released or sold it. Another factor affecting the limited range of plate shoe offerings is the upheaval in MLB's uniform supplier contract. Majestic's contract wasn't renewed, and instead extended to UnderArmour. UnderArmour failed to execute the contract, and it fell to Nike. While Nike has delivered on the club uniforms, they haven't addressed umpire uniforms, neither attire nor shoes. No one is going to progress or forward footwear designs – especially plate shoes – when Nike is hanging out there.
  9. Yes. Soccer and Hockey. Soccer is quite beneficial (to me, at least) because I get paid to run, blow a whistle on a few rather obvious calls, and I generally don't have anyone griping or calling Time so as to walk out and complain. My personal safety isn't in nowhere as much peril, where I'm dependent upon my gear choices and the (questionable) skill level some kid / guy in front of me. Hockey is something I'm toying with, and am attempting to get more involved in. Sure, you gotta be deft on skates, and there's a puck careening at ya, but really... it sure is a welcome change from standing in the beating sun, then jog 45 feet to go hands on knees for another 4 minutes, to then briskly walk 10-15 feet to go hands on knees for another 8-10 minutes, then possibly run 20 feet as fast as possible, then throw on the brakes to make sure you've come to a complete stop, make a mechanic, and then repeat this all over again, 13 more times... Or worse, have a ball thrown at you around 200 times, any one of which is going to hit you in some way... and you can't move. Being tied to a railroad track is actually more athletically engaging. Figures.
  10. Full-length compression tights? Expensive (especially when you’re doing games daily, and need multiple pieces). Knee-high socks of serviceable quality? Expensive (especially when you wear through them on the heels, from getting dirt and sand in your plate shoes, or having to step and walk on asphalt or stony parking lots). Solution? Compression shorts, inexpensive cotton (UA Charged Cotton or Nike Dri-Cotton) crew socks, and take your damaged knee-high (soccer, football, baseball) socks, cut off the foot, and stitch the cut bottoms into a hem. Voila! Cheap, effective, “recycled” shin sleeves.
  11. MadMax

    Infield Fly

    I'll concede that. However, you did include a key operative phrase – "umpire's judgement". And to that point, it behooves – nay, demands – that an umpire calls something. If you have it as a catch, then say so! "That's a catch! That's a catch!". Vocalizing that removes ambiguity. You wouldn't have to kill the play (and as we've discussed, you shouldn't be anyway, since the IFF supersedes Intentional Drop). Conversely, if in your judgement, it wasn't truly a catch (and without seeing an actual play, just reading off description, I'm inclined towards), then again say so!!! "Not a catch! No catch!" (followed closely by "Batter's Out! He's still out!"). We can't just descend to "Don't call the obvious". There's nothing about this play that is obvious.
  12. "But how do you know that?!! We cannot assume anything! We must paaaaauuuuuuuuuuuse... read... react. We have to use this thing called 'Timing'. And <GASP!> whaaaaaaat?! No no no no no! You can't be giving a call while on the move! Set your feet, square to the play, observe proper timing (aren't you loving that term, @Stk004?), and then make your call." @grayhawk just gave a compelling example of Experience over Schooling. A school, camp, clinic, or worse... a trainer / mentor ... doesn't teach you to do this. Experience teaches you this... being in those moments instead of reading it or watching it on a PowerPoint. So what I'd like to convey with this is flexibility, both in umpires performing this and the instructors / trainers / evaluators observing this.
  13. MadMax

    Infield Fly

    No, not that easy. If it is a catch, and intentionally dropped, then an umpire is (or should be) calling "Time! That's an intentional drop! Batter-Runner is Out (and then placing the Runners at their bases TOP)". No runs score, no baserunners advance, but there are no additional Outs to be had. However, as @noumpere points out, an Infield Fly situation ignores ... or better yet supersedes the Intentional Drop. The Batter-Runner is already out by rule. The Intentional Drop is just that... a drop. As in, "Not a Catch".
  14. Apologies for its inclusion of Hawk Harrelson. Ugh.
  15. Is it? Where did you read/hear that? If it is being discontinued, it's not for lack of quality or protection, but instead due to weight + cost. As soundly as it is designed and executed, it's kind of at a development cul-de-sac. A significant part of the problem is that kids are still coached – incorrectly – to jettison the (entire) HSM should any action of the ball occur (errant pitch, batted ball, etc.). I mean, how many times have we (as umpires) had to duck, avoid, or catch a wayward HSM headed for us? The point is, a HSM for catchers has reached a design zenith. It can't get much lighter, and you really can't change the geometry any more than what it is. It has to allow two primary functions, both dictating its shape. The Force3 Defender HSM presses the envelope, simply by adding the spring assemblies and the incurred weight and costs. We genuinely cannot measure "safety" or "safer" quantitatively. If we limit our discussion to baseball catchers / umpires masks only, there still is a variable involved – the wearer. Even with the best safeguards in place, there is no way to project how each individual user / wearer will react in a given situation or event. A 95 MPH foul ball colliding with a mask worn by a catcher is an Event. You could even recreate the exact angle, speed, and impact location of that collision, but you will get entirely different reactions from the two test wearers. This is further compounded when you consider that umpires and catchers hold their head differently as the pitch arrives! MLB teams are not mandating anything to their catchers; these players are professionals, and are at liberty to make their own decisions. No, it's the MiLB catchers within the franchise clubs who are being directed to wear a particular piece of equipment. The All-Star FM5000 (FM4000-Mag) is the current pinnacle of geometric protection and lightweight-ness. Conversely, the Force3 Defender V2 is the current pinnacle of mechanical protection... and what I'll call "reliable repetition". So long as the mask is functionally intact, the energy is physically going someplace (in this case, kinetically engaging the springs and rubber shock cylinders), not ambiguously going into "some pads" that may or may not be optimized to the task. What's the usual gauge as to a mask's integrity? Whether or not the bars are bent (or broken). Surely, if a Nike Icon Titanium has a bent bar, then it took a helluva whallop. The Force3 Defender, because of its springs, mitigates that impact by kinetics. Then, it goes even a step further and has a 3-ply laminate of Kevlar, EVA, and memory foam within its pads. As cruel as it sounds, Minor League clubs treat their catchers (and other players, surely) as assets. An asset is only valuable if it's performing. Therefore, the only mask that has demonstrated* its mitigation of impact energy is the Force3 Defender. If this is going to keep your catcher assets functioning, instead of reserved to the sidelines nursing concussion effects, you're probably going to impress for its use. *- This doesn't mean that All-Star isn't testing, developing, and subsequently demonstrating the FM4000 mask. Explaining and detailing the testing process sheds almost blinding light on how certain companies do proactively improve their gear, while others... <grrrrrrr>... can't seem to be bothered to, or only do so retroactively once their contemporaries pass them by. I think All-Star and Force3 have done exemplary work! Force3 is in a little bit of a juggling match (at least from my perspective) with All-Star, because while the Force3 Defender TM is mechanically so sound, we all know it could be improved. I, for one, would look right at reducing the weight by changing the outer mask frame to aluminum, titanium, or magnesium. The inner mask frame likely needs to stay steel so as to ensure the welds between bars and spring housings. Or – here's a novel idea – try this funny alloy called... duh-duh-dih-duuuuh... Titanal!! The problem is, they're not getting that big capital tidal wave of cash flow (sales, that would allow them to invest in development of better things) on the Defender TM because A) it's a victim of its own success (don't need to replace it), and B) High School prohibits TM use!! (except Colorado, God bless them). That's where All-Star really makes bank, since its MVP -series HSM is so recognizable and desired. The Defender HSM presents a challenge because of its weight and complexity. Force3 could really find an injection of inspiration if they were to focus on the umpire's needs, specifically (my email address is on my profile page). No, the company that we umpires should be getting served by is still sittin' there... twiddling their thumbs.
  16. Ahem... “Ye shall use the hammer, for ye are not in a 4-man crew, nor shall ye be in this association*. Ye art doth but a mere umpling, and ye shall doeth your duty in the games we give you... and ye hast yet to prove ye mettle at seeing the broad lay of the field in your charge.” ... or something like that. I’m paraphrasing. *- not that the association doesn’t do 4-man; but surely you jest if you think you’ll be on those games.
  17. C’mon! There’s black on the shoe! The Vaadu was one of the test-beds for the Fresh Foam that is now in the current 950 Base Shoe. I like it because the upkeep is a lot easier than ~polished~ leather. I’ve taken these on the road for summer inde-pro leagues, and I can drown them, bury them in mud, coat them with grass clippings, douse them with chalk... and all I need is to wipe them off with a rag, and they’re good to go.
  18. MESH!!! The more ventilation the better. If someone was to design shoes that have an onboard or auxiliary micro-fan, I’d buy ‘em. Clean-up? I own an air compressor. Dust and sand has no chance. Nike Air Zoom Vomero Better than the nearly incomparable Air Max because, without visible air bladders, they won’t pop when the air temp creeps above 110°... which means the ground temp is pushing 120–130°. New Balance Vaadu See the vents that look like dragon scales? See how many there are?? Vinyl shell cleans up in a jiffy, but those vents are soooooooo nice.
  19. Hey, yours is in better shape than Culbreth’s or Reynolds’.
  20. Your cousin ain’t Indiana Jones!!! I’m becoming more of an advocate for the Skuly by the day, because it represents the first real cohesive step towards head protection for us umpires. Especially when we consider the alternatives, and the reasons (or excuses) that are given for using a HSM, or wearing a full-brimmed skullcap... backwards. Today finds me back in Wisconsin, filling in and picking up a few games of HS-age Fall League Baseball... and I’m bewildered by my colleagues who are wearing a veritable circus of headgear, all because the backstops are “too close”. And then the two guys wearing skullcaps backwards do so because “they can’t wear their masks right with it brim forward”. Maddening.
  21. Two important things to point out regarding this rule change: There are two other participants in the home plate area that affect this rule, which we’ll need clarification on. With them expanding the scope of the rule to include all of the catcher’s body, if the ball subsequently touches us (the umpire) or the batter before being secured by the catcher (but before touching the ground... or a very close backstop) is it still a Foul Tip Strike? While it uses the similar definition of a caught live batted ball (such as a pop-up, or liner), it is a Foul Tip Strike... just as before in regards to Runners stealing. It remains Live, and they do not have to tag up (or are liable to be put out in appeal). ... I can just see some umpire getting that wrong.
  22. MadMax

    Mask Porn?

    @wolfe_man, I'm sic'ing the Brand Police on you, for gross over-use of the Nike Swoosh.
  23. I never let the seller do a pant hem for me. I've paid for Honig's to put numbers on my shirt and jacket sleeves, but that's it. I've gotten very fortunate that with all 3 places I've had pants hemmed, they've understood what the break should be. The first one was the athletic equipment repair & reconditioning shop I worked for in high school, who just so happens to do all the alterations and equipment maintenance for the Milwaukee Bucks, Brewers, Admirals and nearly all the universities and high schools in the area (Yup! This is where I cut my teeth on becoming a gear geek!). The founder and proprietor (my boss during high school) was Old World Italian, and appreciated the cut of a fine suit. He and his staff would do all the uniform tailorings for the pro players off hand measurements, and I can still remember him dawdling around the shop with a cloth tape measure draped over his shoulders. I fell out of touch with them, and I since found another seamstress in Waukesha who designs and fabricates her own clothing line. She does alterations, but insists on doing hand measurements based on you wearing the garment in her shop. This is key – you wear the plate shoes and the shin guards (if plate pants), or wear your base shoes and get into a hands-on-knees stance (if base pants), so the tailor/seamstress can see how the pant rises and falls. This same lady also altered and tailored my plate coat exceptionally well, and constructed the ball pockets from scratch. In Phoenix, we have the benefit of having a fairly large population of Armed Forces servicemen (and women), as well as a good amount of LEOs. I just so happened to locate a seamstress who understands and performs a "parade ground break" when she stitches a hem. Several of my fellow Vultures are former military, and they insist and expect us to get "parade ground" -worthy alterations to our uniforms. See if you can locate a tailor or seamstress who does alterations for Armed Forces, LEOs, or Fire Service. What I also recommend, for proper draping, is to double, hide, or add additional fabric in the hem, along the bottom edge. This will aid in keeping the pant leg lying straight and falling down to a proper break in wind, or when you complete a mad dash.
  24. Hey, I’ve got my for-CDP and for-Ol’Wisconsin mask... navy on navy: Huh... that’s bizarre. The upload keeps turning it 90°. ANYWAY... lookatchyoo Jeff, with yer fancy-schmancy custom-cut visor!
  25. Mmmmm... Sky Blue Metallic. Still one of my absolute favorite mask colors. Perfectly matches to the 2016 Sky Blue that Majestic introduced, yet complements both the lighter Sky Blue of the 2010 and “classic” fare, and TheOfficialsChoice’s Bermuda Blue. Tony’s Liquid Gunmetal is also really snazzy. What’s nice about it is that it pairs really well with with black, tan, or navy (shudder) pads.
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