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MichaelS55

Better Mechanics for solo umpiring

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I am in a smaller association so I am getting solo modified games. 7th, 8th grades for B and C class and 7-9 for D class. 

The play was bases loaded. The batter hit one to the left of second. By the time I cleared my mask, catcher and batter, the shortstop and defense coaches were yelling at me about runner interference. I remember tracking the ball from bat to field and wondering why no one was making a play as it looked like a GIDP even for that age group. 

Coach came out and wanted to know why I wasn't calling the blatant interference and I just said I didn't see it. If I wanted a problem I suppose I could have said that was a $50 call lol 

I'm guessing I was blocked from the view of the interference from the batter. Also I probably came out too aggressively on a bases loaded play because I was anticipating  a DP. Should I have stayed home? 

Thanks

Sorry I posted this in wrong forum should be in the mechanics forum 

 

Edited by MichaelS55

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Maybe someone could help you more, but this really could just be chalked up to a "$50 call" (I like that line). Certainly do your best to get it next time, but I wouldn't beat yourself up. You're working solo games, you're gonna miss stuff. 

If you let this get to you, next time, you'll see the runner not interfere with anyone, but you'll miss the diving catch you assumed was going through the infield :smachhead:

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Two things...

1. Make sure when you take your mask off and clearing the catcher you aren't looking down. Bring your hand all the way up to your mask. Never stop watching the play. .. In other words, to not go mask- to-hand, go Hand- To -mask. Clear the catcher, take off the mask without ever losing sight of the play. Head up at all times. 

2. Sometimes things are going to happen real quick off the batted ball and there's no time to remove the mask. This applies more to screamers on the line where fair/foul calls need to be made, but could apply in your situation if the INT occurred right after the batted ball. 

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I work a lot of one-ump games for 9-11 y/os, and here are my thoughts. First, there is far too much happening for one umpire to see everything all the time. Second, with less-experienced players, expect the unexpected, so if you assume the obvious play and move to cover it, you may be out of the best position for another call if the kid does the unexpected. Third, and this is related to #2, don't get too close to a potential play because the ball may go somewhere else. 

You had four runners and the ball to watch. Unless the interference took place along your ball-watching line-of-sight, which it did not, as I understand your description, what did the DC expect? What else can you do but anticipate the mostly-likely play while keeping an eye open for possible alternatives? Quick glances, at best.

I had a 9 y/o game last week where I came out from behind the plate for a banger at first, out #2. R1 rounded 2d ~5 feet and got tagged for out #3. The coach asked if the run (R2) scored, and I said I just didn't see it. Fortunately for me, the other coach--who was winning big-time--agreed the runner had crossed the plate before the 3d out. Unexpected #1: R2 continuing to run home on an infield ground ball; unexpected #2: R1's overrunning 2d. A lesson for me.

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Set up a couple obstacles and work on clearing the catcher to get on the infield. Keep the ball in front of you as you move. You don't have to remove your mask every time. I'll bring my hand up to stabilize it, but it doesn't come off unless I've got time to remove it. 

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I work too many games solo. 60 foot closed bases is tolerable but anything with open bases just plain sucks. All you can do is all you can do. My latest philosophy is that I'm making the expected call unless I see "clear and convincing" evidence to the contrary. 

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Sorry Michael I can't tell from your post where the interference was.  Was it with F6 by R2?  If that was the case, most likely a partner in C would not have been able to help you with what happened behind him.  HPU usually has a better view.  By the time BU steps ups and turns the players have already collided.  Also, take your mask off as quickly as you can while watching the play and moving into position.  When a coach looks back at you for a call on any play you want to be holding your mask in your left hand, on a good angle and as close to the play as you can get.  Working solo can be tough but it teaches you about angles and staying focused all the time.  Plus, even on the small field it can be a workout.  

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Close but not too close: angle is more important than proximity, especially when by yourself. The closer you get to a play, the narrower your field of vision becomes--and you can bet that a lot will be happening behind you! It is, in my opinion, possible to over-hustle in a solo game.

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With runners in scoring position, working solo, I tend to get to the library and do what I can from there, partyly to avoid what happened to LRZ (similiar play happened to me once as well--I turned, saw the runner past home, sold "score the run" hard, got no argument.)  This may not be the best practice, but so far it's working for me.  (I do hustle out at other times, of course, which helps me sell everything I call.)  I'm certainly willing to listen to the voices of wisdom here.

I think the advice to keep the head up is good, but your conclusion that it's a $50 call is good too.  (Even if a BU in C wouldn't see it, it would free you up a little to be looking for it, because you wouldn't need to be setting up for the DP.)

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3 minutes ago, stevis said:

get to the library and do what I can from there

I agree. That's essentially what I was suggesting, as this position will give you a decent look wherever the play goes. And, again, with younger, less-experienced players, you can't tell for sure where that will be.

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On 5/7/2019 at 11:31 AM, Mister B said:

Set up a couple obstacles and work on clearing the catcher to get on the infield. Keep the ball in front of you as you move. You don't have to remove your mask every time. I'll bring my hand up to stabilize it, but it doesn't come off unless I've got time to remove it. 

With bases loaded and a ground ball, do not enter the infield. It's possible that the umpire in the OP was blocked by the pitcher. In one man, the idea is to get the best angle and on a double play ball hit to an inner infielder take 3-4 quick steps to the left so that you can see not only the INT in these situations but also the play at 2nd base. If you stay behind home plate it's possible to miss both the INT and the play.

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I’ll add a suggestion I haven’t seen anybody bring up yet ... your best mechanic when working solo occurs before the game begins.  In your pre-game, address this with the coaches.  “I am one umpire watching everything at once.  I will do my best job for you, but it is possible a situation may arise where I simply do not see something.  I am not going to guess or try to piece together something I didn’t see.” 

In the pre-game, determine how you are going to handle those situations ... if it is a summer rec league game for younger kids, you may be willing to allow the coaches to provide you input (providing they agree).  If it is something bigger with some stakes, you may have to tell them that they are going to accept your calls regardless.

Unfortunately, I hear more and more often about one-umpire games.  Sadly this seems to be where the trend is headed at lower levels.  I hope we never get to the point that this is an acceptable norm.

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Bit of a hijack here, but do you guys prefer to work solo, or have a spectator pulled in to help on the bases? For me it depends if they know what they are doing.

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8 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

I’ll add a suggestion I haven’t seen anybody bring up yet ... your best mechanic when working solo occurs before the game begins.  In your pre-game, address this with the coaches.  “I am one umpire watching everything at once.  I will do my best job for you, but it is possible a situation may arise where I simply do not see something.  I am not going to guess or try to piece together something I didn’t see.”

Nope. Never give excuses before a game. In the times I've worked solo, I've made no mention of it at the plate meeting; if a coach brought it up, I would say something like "It appears to be just me out here; guess I'll be a bit more tired at the end of the game."

8 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

if it is a summer rec league game for younger kids, you may be willing to allow the coaches to provide you input (providing they agree).  If it is something bigger with some stakes, you may have to tell them that they are going to accept your calls regardless.

Again: nope. The last thing I need to deal with when I'm working solo is a coach who thinks the other coach is making a call incorrectly. Bust your ass to get the angles you need to get and do the best you can with what happens. If there's ever a time when anticipation is tested, it's working solo.

40 minutes ago, Mussgrass said:

Bit of a hijack here, but do you guys prefer to work solo, or have a spectator pulled in to help on the bases? For me it depends if they know what they are doing.

Never had this situation. I wouldn't take a spectator unless (s)he's experienced and not there watching one of the teams.

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9 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

I’ll add a suggestion I haven’t seen anybody bring up yet ... your best mechanic when working solo occurs before the game begins.  In your pre-game, address this with the coaches.  “I am one umpire watching everything at once.  I will do my best job for you, but it is possible a situation may arise where I simply do not see something.  I am not going to guess or try to piece together something I didn’t see.” 

In the pre-game, determine how you are going to handle those situations ... if it is a summer rec league game for younger kids, you may be willing to allow the coaches to provide you input (providing they agree).  If it is something bigger with some stakes, you may have to tell them that they are going to accept your calls regardless.

Unfortunately, I hear more and more often about one-umpire games.  Sadly this seems to be where the trend is headed at lower levels.  I hope we never get to the point that this is an acceptable norm.

I could not disagree more with each of these "suggestions"

The teams agreed to one umpire. By doing so, they have agreed to the limitations of such an arrangement. 

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9 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

I’ll add a suggestion I haven’t seen anybody bring up yet ... your best mechanic when working solo occurs before the game begins.  In your pre-game, address this with the coaches.  “I am one umpire watching everything at once.  I will do my best job for you, but it is possible a situation may arise where I simply do not see something.  I am not going to guess or try to piece together something I didn’t see.” 

In the pre-game, determine how you are going to handle those situations ... if it is a summer rec league game for younger kids, you may be willing to allow the coaches to provide you input (providing they agree).  If it is something bigger with some stakes, you may have to tell them that they are going to accept your calls regardless.

 

Disagree.

If the coaches ask "are you by yourself today?" I just respond, "Not the worst partner I've ever had."

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1 hour ago, noumpere said:

Disagree.

If the coaches ask "are you by yourself today?" I just respond, "Not the worst partner I've ever had."

@noumpereim stealing that line

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6 hours ago, BRUMP said:

@noumpereim stealing that line

I might change it to " Yeah and he's the worst guy I have ever had the opportunity to work with"

 

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Wow, an unpopular opinion ... but I’ll live with it.  :D

I guess I am fortunate that I am still in an area where the major organizations still forbid working a sanctioned game alone.  I’ve only encountered it in rec or pre-season “practice” games.  Maybe that’s why I have a different take.

I like ArchAngel’s reply.  :cheers:

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On 5/20/2019 at 11:40 PM, The Man in Blue said:

In your pre-game, address this with the coaches.

I never anticipate problems during pre-game meetings with coaches. They will see that I hustle, and if a situation arises, then I'll address the limits of working solo.

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On 5/20/2019 at 11:40 PM, The Man in Blue said:

I’ll add a suggestion I haven’t seen anybody bring up yet ... your best mechanic when working solo occurs before the game begins.  In your pre-game, address this with the coaches.  “I am one umpire watching everything at once.  I will do my best job for you, but it is possible a situation may arise where I simply do not see something.  I am not going to guess or try to piece together something I didn’t see.” 

In the pre-game, determine how you are going to handle those situations ... if it is a summer rec league game for younger kids, you may be willing to allow the coaches to provide you input (providing they agree).  If it is something bigger with some stakes, you may have to tell them that they are going to accept your calls regardless.

Unfortunately, I hear more and more often about one-umpire games.  Sadly this seems to be where the trend is headed at lower levels.  I hope we never get to the point that this is an acceptable norm.

I always point out I'm by myself. It just gives you a little out on these crazy plays that sometimes happen. I work in a very small community and the only time you're not alone here is 15yo, and that's only half of the time. 

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They have eyes, they can see you are by yourself. You’d have the same “out” if you explained what you saw/couldn’t see after a specific play. All you are doing pregame is setting up an excuse to miss a call and showing a lack of confidence in your own game. I think it comes off terribly. When I work one man, there’s a good chance nothing actually happens that I can’t see, and I’m going to try my best to get everything, even if the steal of 2nd is tougher. If I miss obstruction at first since I was watching a catch in left field, I can explain that at the time easily enough. To me it just sounds like “I’m by myself so I may blow some calls, oh well”. 

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Thanks for all the tips. I have been having a better time at it. Yesterday I had a game at a small school and the field was like a converted cow paddy. The backstop was 3 feet behind me with grandstands so I had about 20 other umpires trying to help. Best was when I called an infield fly and everyone froze and the ball just dropped. Had to explain it to everyone. 

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