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Strike Mechanic


UmpIowa
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I was watching a 12U USSSA game.  The PU was doing a great job all night.  He had 2 seperate mechanics for his 3rd strike call as a lot of Umpires do.  If the batter swung it was a simple hammer and strike 3 call.  His mechanic was solid and his call seemed loud.  I was down the 3rd base line and could hear him.  He was not overly loud in fact the scorekeeper wished he was a bit louder for her to hear.  When it was a called 3rd strike with no swing he went to the chainsaw and was a bit louder with his strike 3 call.  I thought he was doing a great job with mechanics and vocals.

I was watching him closely at this as some older umpires have coached me on changing my called 3rd strike mechanic to make it different from my normal strike mechanic and to help sell the call.

The question or concern came up when he rang a kid up, keep in mind this is 12U, and the kid broke out crying.  As a father and coach my immediate, less than sensitive reaction, is there is no crying in baseball.  The inning ended with that out and the HC came out and got on the umpire about "big leaguing" the kids and trying to make them feel bad.

I saw nothing wrong with the mechanic or the call.  I thought it was appropriate and that the kid needed to just toughen up.  Am I being to hard on the kid and the PU needed to tone it down a bit or did the kid just need to understand "There is no crying in baseball."?

 

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I don't think you're being too hard on the kid. What's cause for crying on one side of the field is cause for celebration on the other. A good strike 3 call tells the pitcher "you done good".

You might tone it down a *bit* if it's obvious the batter obviously doesn't know what he's doing (standing stock-still and tense when a pitch is right down the pipe, or swinging about the time it hits the catcher's glove).

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If the ump is over the top, he should mellow out.  My mechanics are more subdued when I do 13U than when I'm umping men's league.  That said, crying over a called 3rd strike is way too sensitive and the kid needs to toughen up.  Trust me, having been a overly sensitive kid myself, I speak from experience.  It will only serve him well later in life and until he gets older, it'll keep the other kids from picking on him or making fun of him for crying over something that is just part of the game.

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At this level, there IS crying in baseball.  There always was and always will be.  It annoys us.  That's tough nuggies for us.  I see it at the lower levels while officiating, and I saw it when I coached at that level.  There was a time when my son lost 2 games in one day as a pitcher [started the first game; the second 'game' was a 2 innings continuation of an incomplete game].  He went to our car and cried.  

Based on my experience with these kids, it should not overly concern parents.  When the game's over, they go home, get something to eat, maybe watch TV for a bit, and it's over in their minds.  They rebound quickly for the most part.

As far as the called 3rd strike, I am generally very loud as PU, but at this level it's a good idea to tone it down just a bit.

Edited by Mick
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95% of the time I will do my standard strike three call or some derivative of it.  There are a few times in blowouts where I don't drop the lawnmower on the team that is getting hammered.  When I have a special needs kid, I try to work something out with the other team's coach to let him or her feel special.  Granted this has only been in rec ball and if a ball is swung at and missed and another ball just happens to go rolling through the infield and the word "run" is uttered then no harm is done to the defense.  (I was BU in a game when a DS player got drilled by a pitch that got away.  Oh man did that one hurt me just seeing it)

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they're children, for goodness sake.  children cry.  beyond 12U, it's a different story.

​I raised two girls, so I know from crying, believe you me.  Having said that, I'm not entirely sure if USSSA is a travel organization or not, but if so, there's no WAY those kids are going to get some kind of "lighten up" 3rd strike call from me.  These 12U travel teams are filled with kids sporting hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of gear - some of which they actually know how to use! - and their parents shell out that much, if not more, in fees, etc, so they can be part of that circus.

Not to mention the special kind of crazy that comes from the coaches and parents during a game.  I've always said "the lower the actual stakes, the higher the actual crazy."

THOSE kids get no breaks.  Ever.  For one thing, as has been mentioned, kids in general recover better/faster than we think.  And two, with that traveling roadshow, my 3rd strike call is the LEAST of the hard knocks they're getting.

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Gentlemen... I do not mean encourage crying, nor do I Iike it being a part of a 12U game.  And I don't mean to say it's the umpire's fault when a kid cries.  My only point was there WILL BE crying.  No matter what we or the coaches say or do or demonstrate, some kids will cry.  Telling them to toughen up, trying to cheer them up, whatever.... those who will cry, will cry.  They're emotional makeup is not the same as ours.  They'll cry and then get over it

Once they move up to the Babe Ruth level, or equivalent, then I believe it's time to tell them. "we don't do that here".  But that's the coach's job.

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I'm with @UmpJeff in being perplexed by a swinging third strike call. It's unnecessary on swings 1 and/or 2, and is just as unnecessary – and over the top... what's the word @noumpere uses... Smitty? – on swing 3. The only vocalizations one should make on a swing are "Yes he did" or "No he did not". The mechanic just needs to be a simple "Out" mechanic, like you would do on a routine catch or ground-out. This is especially helpful on an U3K (swung), because you may not be aware, or sure, that the F2 caught it or trapped it or scooped it or dropped it. Those umpires who go through this elaborate "He's ouuuuuut!" declarative and/or mechanic get a little bit of egg on their face, as well as confuse the batter, all while the ball is rolling across the ground with the F2 in hot pursuit.

There is no reason to make a strike 3 swinging call, or summary "out" call, at any level. That's just grandstanding.

Now, as far as mechanics and vocalizations (calls) go for strikes looking, it's (reasonably) open-season. I'm a side-shooter, with a resounding, nigh-trademark call that echoes off ballpark walls, akin to Bruce Froemming or Jim Joyce. Strike 3 looking is a loud, compact "STRIKETHREE!" with a mechanic a partner dubbed "the ripsaw". I never say "Out", primarily for the aforementioned "caught/uncaught?" reason. I do dial it back a bit when I'm working solo, because I do not want to miss a steal or pickoff attempt and be "late to the party".

I summarily respond to this topic with the words that a coach said to one of his 11U ballplayers – "If you don't want to hear the umpire, then swing the bat." So too, I had a coach approach me between innings, and said, "You know, my son is in love with your strikeout move." "Really? Which one is he?" "Oh, the catcher. He wants to use it for his games." Turns out that the 14-year old just completed the courses so as to umpire lesser-aged kids. "Ah. Well, he sure has a front-row seat for it, doesn't he?" "Yeah, but he said he can't see it too often, so told his teammate to take a third strike, just so he can see it again!"

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