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Covid 19 causing plate umpire to be behind mound - Mechanics?

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Due to an abundance of caution, our governing body has requested (demanded) that the plate umpire work from behind the mound. We work 2-man crews and the age group is anywhere from u10 to u14AAA.

Can anyone help with mechanics, rotation, responsibilities or positioning? Instead of postulating what I think, I'll just open it up.

Ready......GO

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Who has fair/foul down 3rd base line? Who has fair/foul when the base umpire is in the middle?

 

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It seems to me that U1, behind the mound, would have 3B line while U2 would have 1B line. 

My real question is whether U1 simply stays in the A position.

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I would pre-game whatever you guys think would work and make adjustments between innings as needed. There really is no manual for 2 man with PU working behind the mound that I know of.  LOL!

The PU could rotate down to home or 3B on plays, etc. I would have U1 cover the bases as normal, but like I said, try and develop a system before the game and then make adjustments as necessary. It's kind of uncharted territory, so do the best you can. Do what works for you and your partner.

And if the participants don't like it, dump the bastards as needed. Don't take any guff! 

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What would *I* do?

Let somebody else take the game fee, because this is going to be a ... (nope, can't say that in polite company ... nope, can't say that either) no-win situation.

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*kylehutson - this is how the entire league will operate, all summer and fall. It's this or nothing. And the word you were looking for is "cluster"

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25 minutes ago, bvrcump said:

*kylehutson - this is how the entire league will operate, all summer and fall. It's this or nothing. And the word you were looking for is "cluster"

That was the second "can't say that". The first was ___show.

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Since there are no specified two man mechanics with the PU behind the pitcher then I guess you can do whatever you want?

Put the second ump about 10 feet behind home plate!  He gets the fair/foul calls down the baselines.

Once the ball is hit, the ump behind the pitcher rotates/covers what the field ump usually covers and the ump behind the plate rotates/covers what the plate ump usually covers.

 "sarcasm" - maybe!  ;)

 

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I have spent a couple hours coming up with a set of mechanics. It's nearly complete, but still have 2 or 3 situations to think through. If you guys want to look through it and suggest suggestions, that'd be awesome. Click here to see the Google doc

Now, with that posted, I don't think it's the best solution. With my mechanics above, you are absolutely screwed on a ball down the third base line or plays at the plate with runner's in scoring position. After thinking through the mechanics, I believe the best thing to do is to have the PU stand 10 feet (or whatever) behind the batter, and have U1 move to the middle of the infield at all times. This way, you still have nearly the same coverage, just U1 calls balls and strikes. It's not ideal, but I think it's the best way to do it. Unfortunately, I was unable to get that method approved at the league I'm developing the mechanics for. *sigh*

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I appreciate the sentiment and thought about placing the "plate" umpire some distance being the catcher. I see two main obstacles:

1) given the skill level and lack of practice of many of our kids, the number of passed balls and wild pitches would require the umpire to be doing a dance most of the game. Staying out of the way of a catcher scurrying to retrieve the errant ball would be almost impossible. That also discounts the need for full gear. In a normal stance, behind the catcher, I feel somewhat protected. Anywhere else, I become part of the play. 

2) the number of times that a call needs to be made on a shot down the 3B line is minimal - probably less than 2 or 3 times a game and that includes fly balls to the outfield. The perception of coaches of us hanging out behind the plate would inevitably call into question why we don't just assume our normal position. That's a discussion that I won't have. 

I've asked our supervisor the same question and we've spent hours having this discussion. In the final analysis, I think making calls from behind the P is the most sensible. 

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If you're taking the stance to put the PU behind the mound, you'd just be better off doing one-man mechanics on a small field.

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12 hours ago, bvrcump said:

I appreciate the sentiment and thought about placing the "plate" umpire some distance being [sic - I think you meant "behind"] the catcher.

I mean, according to parents, the PU can sit/stand anywhere behind the backstop and call balls and strikes just fine! Hey! Those parents do it all the time!

I'm in this same camp of thinking. Here's the thing – to whose benefit is placing the PU behind the mound? The Umpire's, or the players that come to the plate?

The ingress path for this virus is through the nose and mouth. Not in the ears, not thru the skin, so typical, physical contact itself is not causing you to contract the virus. Sure, okay, it gets on your hands, and then you touch your food (or seeds!) and eat, or you pick your nose, or you bring your hand up to your mouth to stifle a cough or yawn, or you wipe your nose with the back of your hand, etc. etc. etc. Unless it is comprehensive PPE (medical-grade, essentially), the wearing of the a mask isn't to prevent you contracting the virus, it's to restrict / lessen / reduce the transmission of the virus from you to others.

So, if I'm wearing a mask as the PU (an actual respiratory mask, not our umpire mask alone), then... how am I being affected by the players? Or, how am I affecting them? I don't make contact with the players anyway (none of the buddy-buddy claps on the back or shoulder like some of our... jovial... colleagues will do), and I don't foresee any coaches getting in my face (not that did before, anyway)... So where's the problem with working in the normal position?

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@MadMax, I can't argue with your logic. Unfortunately, "I'm just following orders". I didn't make the rules, nor was I asked my opinion. I am trying to make chicken salad out of chicken $#i&.

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So after my truthful-but-smartass answer, if I was told "we have two umpires per game - make it work", here's what I would do:

I would keep one umpire (without protective gear) about 10' behind the batter. This is what we do on coach-pitch games in the rec league in my tiny town. Setup actually about 10' behind the batter at about a 45 degree angle. You won't get hit there because the ball would have to go through the batter to get to you. From there you can judge fair/foul (all the way down both lines) and plays at the plate. Have the *other* umpire behind the pitcher calling balls and strikes, and then revert to 2-umpire mechanics once the ball is hit, with the obvious exception of being in A. PU would still cover 3rd on a "normal" 2-umpire rotation, and provide a backup pair of eyes on the whole field. Communicate, communicate, and communicate!

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If F6 can make it to the warning track to catch a fly ball, then "PU"can make it from behind the mound to the base line to rule on fair / foul.  ;)

 

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Also - how are the leagues going to handle the fact that the batter is less than 6 feet from the catcher ? (2 meters in Canada)

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Can't we just key off what the batter does for fair foul with umpire calling pitches behind mound. Then the PU at mound covers 3rd and home once ball is hit, and 1BU has first and 2nd after setting up between 2nd/1st in normal 'LL position with runner on first at all times, since batters will call own fair/foul.

And remember, all batters took the Little League Pledge at one time or another in their lives.

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31 minutes ago, dumbdumb said:

Can't we just key off what the batter does for fair foul with umpire calling pitches behind mound?

Can't we (as umpires) just all wear nose & mouth covering, refrain from touching anyone (so no brace-hands, or shaking hands post game, folks!), and call a game as usual?

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This is going to be a radical suggestion, perhaps (mainly for balls and strikes)...

For balls and strikes (every pitch, of course):

At TOP PU is stationed on 1BX, outside the circle, almost like in the pic posted by @Gfoley4. Or 3BX. Actually, PU might want to be at 1BX for LHB, 3BX for RHB. PU can wear his umpire mask/helmet (for safety). From that position, up and down can be judged pretty well, but in and out is more difficult than usual. Position BU behind F1 at TOP. BU has a better look at in and out than PU, arguably.

Now, on each pitch practice good timing: PU watches pitch into F2's glove, as usual. Judges height, judges in and out, and glances at BU who uses a subtle signal to give his judgment on in and out. PU has the final say on the pitch and signals it accordingly.

Everything else:

Once the ball is hit, revert to the usual 2-man mechanics, but with BU starting in the working area behind the pitcher's mound, even with no runners on base. PU has fair/foul for the baseline he is positioned on at the TOP. He also has fair/foul for the other line; he must hustle to get into position on that line, as needed and as feasible.

I'm not sure what would be the best subtle signal for BU to use on in and out. That might take some experimentation, and need to be modified for different crews. But here is one suggestion. BU does nothing if the pitch catches the plate. If the pitch is off the plate to the 3rd base side, BU moves flicks his right hand that way. Use the same motion with the left hand for balls off the 1B side of the plate.

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I know you want to come at this with as much integrity as possible, and do it "right", but if people (all people - umpires, coaches, players, parents) aren't lowering their expectations a few notches, they need to shake their heads.

Leagues are opting to play baseball to get kids active...and perhaps to recoup some lost/sunk costs.   

With very little championships beyond the town/city/county, this should be viewed purely as recreational - anyone still looking at this through a competitive/club lens needs to be slapped.

So, as a coach, I'd say "Blue, do the best you can, and don't worry about it".

To the mechanics and positioning - Keep it Simple...as simple as you can.   BU right side, "plate" ump left?   And switch if someone's on base?   I know it goes deeper than that, but don't overthink it.

I'm happy to see umps asking this question, and wanting to do the best job possible...but frankly, have some fun with it and experiment...and take notes on what has worked and what hasn't...who knows...maybe some long term ideas will come out of this.

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On 5/19/2020 at 8:18 AM, JHSump said:

Now, on each pitch practice good timing: PU watches pitch into F2's glove, as usual. Judges height, judges in and out, and glances at BU who uses a subtle signal to give his judgment on in and out. PU has the final say on the pitch and signals it accordingly.

I've actually done something similar for my newer umpires. When I'm in B or C, I will subtly make a fist for "looked like a strike to me" and outstretch my fingers for "looked like a ball to me". I don't do it until after they've made their own call, and only if I think they missed one, otherwise, my hand is in a neutral position. It could be easily adapted to this, though.

 

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5 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

So, as a coach, I'd say "Blue, do the best you can, and don't worry about it".

As great as that sounds, I'm having a hard time seeing that happen in real life.

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