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Funny F2 Exchange


Thunderheads

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So, ..backend of a Varsity doubleheader yesterday, ...my dish ......

My partner and I break-off and I go to see a few pitches.  I get behind F2 and say

ME:..."ok Alex, ...anything special here?"  
F2:..."naww...just standard fastball, change-up, and curve".  
ME: ,..."ok" ....    
F2:  ..."he'll hit his spots though!"  
ME: "...and you'll stick 'em for me, right?"  
F2:  .....laughs ... "yes sir, I'll stick 'em good for ya!"  
ME:  ...."fantastic, ...we'll have some fun then!"
F2: ........"sweet!"

:lol:

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14U Elite Travel Ball Spring Training Games. These kids can play. None of these noodle-armed, afraid-of-a-fly-ball, trip-over-themselves, distracted-by-a-sparrow teenagers that I have been getting on the 14U Scout League circuit. Of course, all these boys are at various stages of growth, but of the 6 F2's I set up behind, 1 was particularly memorable. He was short... I mean, really short. The shortest on his team by a full head. During one at-bat, his cruel F1 was climbing the ladder on successive pitches, with the fourth pitch well above my head-height, causing F2 to leap up and snare it (he did). Now with the 3-2 count, I imparted, "He's trying to stretch you out." "Yeah, I've never caught him before." 

I find out that he's 14. I said, "Huh... We gotta put a few inches on you." "Oh yes please," was his reply. "You know what? I grew six inches between my sophomore and junior year." "Really? Aw daaaaaaammmmn. There's hope!"

Later, a different F1 starts the inning off. He's tighter than a mousetrap spring. This little F2 has the battle plan from the bench to work low and away, but to try and stay in the zone. F2 places his glove right where he wants it to end up, and I agree (silently), that's a tantalizing, ideal spot. Everything from F1 is low and away, all right, but each pitch is too low and too away, causing F2 to slide and drop and scoop. After two walks on 9 pitches, I advised him very quietly, "Change your initial target. Your pitcher is fixating on your low target and overdoing it. If you give him a different focal point, you'll get a better result." He tries it. Next pitch is right where it needed to be, but this hitter (who didn't hear us, trust me) went out and got it and grounded it to F4. "See?", I survey. "Holy crap, dead on." "Pitchers are like horses. You have to rein them in and steer them." "Like a jockey?" "Exactly." ... "I'm the jockey."

Next batter, next pitch, and F2 must have called for something with movement, because he makes his sign, places the glove somewhere up and in, and then as F1 makes his delivery, settles and his glove drops noticeably lower. THUD!

"I'm the jockey."
Next pitch.
"I'm the jockey..."

Two innings later, I'm talking with one of the team AC's, who happens to be F2's dad (mom must be short), and he suddenly says, "How'd you know we kid him about being the size of a jockey?" "I didn't. I just know that everyone bets on the horse, when the jockey is the real brains of the operation."

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...I advised him very quietly, "Change your initial target. Your pitcher is fixating on your low target and overdoing it. If you give him a different focal point, you'll get a better result." He tries it. Next pitch is right where it needed to be, but this hitter (who didn't hear us, trust me) went out and got it and grounded it to F4. "See?", I survey. "Holy crap, dead on." "Pitchers are like horses. You have to rein them in and steer them." "Like a jockey?" "Exactly." ... "I'm the jockey."

With all due respect, Max, as an umpire, I would be cautious on "coaching" kids.  Especially, 14U Elite players.  Although your instruction wasn't heard by anyone but F2, you can run into a potential $hitstorm if an opposing coach hears an umpire instructing the other team.  Just my :2cents:

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Agreed, @UmpJeff, but in my defense, this is "Spring Training", with a relaxed atmosphere. All teams in this "arrangement" know each other, most of the kids go to school together (even on opposite teams), balks are called with the allowance for the coach to talk with F1 regarding what he did and how to fix it (not with a mound visit, but with no regard to time taken), and the only place the score is kept is on the scoreboard. 

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