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Opinions on New Social-Distancing Regulations for Officials


AlbertaUmpire

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Hi y'all,

 

With the season getting back under way, more and more leagues and associations have been releasing their social-distancing rules and regulations, including my own.

 

However, when going through my local leagues guidelines, my first thought was how they were making a travesty out of the game I love. Now granted I do understand the need for these protocols in these troubling times, however poor development and execution of said protocols waters down the game to nothing more than a sandlot game, signing countless waivers just to have the majority of your responsibilities to the point where you're a glorified tee ball coach who's just there to stand 6 feet away and tell little Timmy he's out gets at me to no end (oh, and god forbid you lay a single hair on a baseball).

 

Regardless of my severe discontent for my leagues regulations, I am curious to hear what all of you have to say about them. Love them? Hate them? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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I don't need to work games. I want to work games. If I feel that the changes to mechanics or protocol are threatening the integrity of the game... I'm not going to work those games. We, as umpires and officials, need to realize that we are independent contractors. If we don't want to work, we don't have to work games under those conditions. 

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Well, for the most part the games ARE "meaningless"...assuming you are in Alberta as I am, there are no Provincials, no Westerns, no Nationals to drive towards for the club teams.   It's all just an attempt to get some baseball happening so the kids can get out and do something, get some exercise, get some social interaction.  An impartial arbiter to call balls/strikes/out/safe is nice to have, but certainly not necessary.   The priority here is getting active, not a perfect representation of a particular sport.

If following a few safety protocols is too arduous, then don't ump.

The "integrity" of the game, and whether or not it's a "travesty" is the least of our concerns at this point.  

 

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3 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

Well, for the most part the games ARE "meaningless"...assuming you are in Alberta as I am, there are no Provincials, no Westerns, no Nationals to drive towards for the club teams.   It's all just an attempt to get some baseball happening so the kids can get out and do something, get some exercise, get some social interaction.  An impartial arbiter to call balls/strikes/out/safe is nice to have, but certainly not necessary.   The priority here is getting active, not a perfect representation of a particular sport.

If following a few safety protocols is too arduous, then don't ump.

The "integrity" of the game, and whether or not it's a "travesty" is the least of our concerns at this point.  

 

Lot of no this no that going on here.

Is there still beer??

A nice Labatts Blue sounds good right now.

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21 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

Well, for the most part the games ARE "meaningless"...assuming you are in Alberta as I am, there are no Provincials, no Westerns, no Nationals to drive towards for the club teams.   It's all just an attempt to get some baseball happening so the kids can get out and do something, get some exercise, get some social interaction.  An impartial arbiter to call balls/strikes/out/safe is nice to have, but certainly not necessary.   The priority here is getting active, not a perfect representation of a particular sport.

If following a few safety protocols is too arduous, then don't ump.

The "integrity" of the game, and whether or not it's a "travesty" is the least of our concerns at this point.  

 

Now this is just the opinion of just some guy who is a never was nobody, me.... but as umpires, shouldn't the bolded be our only concern?

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2 hours ago, JSam21 said:

Now this is just the opinion of just some guy who is a never was nobody, me.... but as umpires, shouldn't the bolded be our only concern?

Depends on the context...sometimes you just have to adjust your expectations...or broaden your definition of "integrity" and narrow your scope of "travesty".

In this environment  I'll gladly grab a volunteer from the stands and simply ask them to do the best they can.   

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I don't have a problem with it. It's easier, I don't take any flack from coaches or fans because they know it's weird, and I still get paid the same. It's challenging and different, but it keeps our minds sharp. Plus I can just work a little league game with a mask on and they let me crouch behind the plate normally. So I honestly don't have an issue with it.

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1 hour ago, Scissors said:

I don't have a problem with it. It's easier, I don't take any flack from coaches or fans because they know it's weird, and I still get paid the same. It's challenging and different, but it keeps our minds sharp. Plus I can just work a little league game with a mask on and they let me crouch behind the plate normally. So I honestly don't have an issue with it.

They do?  That's not what Williamsport is recommending--though they didn't come down with a hard no.  As usual, of course, not a hint of what mechanics should be beyond "behind the mound" so I'm making up a two-person system and calling it good.  For the summer, all we're trying to do is let the kids play something...we will do our best, if calls go wack, we'll live with it because 100% accuracy really isn't the most important aspect of the experience right now.  Perspective.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

We're behind the pitcher. It is a great opportunity for me to really work on my field mechanics. The past couple of years I was working really hard on my plate: I would offer to take as many plates as i could get (and there are a lot of guys out there that would gladly "let me" take the plate when we would be assigned together).

Now, of course, the rotations and positioning are different than non-COVID, but the timing, the pause-read-react, the out/safe/catch/no-catch mechanics are all the same and I can work on them  every game, regardless of position. The communications are even more critical now, and even when I am with guys that in a standard two man last year we kind of knew where each of us were and what each would be doing, and maybe cut down on verbal comms, NOW we are obliged to be communicating verbally on the majority of action, and that is a good habit to carry forward.

Finally, the "react" part is enhanced now, because now rotations and tracking and working areas are not so cut and dry or rehearsed, and that also magnifies the value of good timing..

I was first kind of put off by changing everything around, and of course it is not ideal, especially on wild pitches, shots down the 3B line etc. But, there is a value I am getting out of it, making do and maybe making myself a better umpire when we get past this nuttiness..

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So far in my area of Ohio, we're business-as-usual.  Behind the catcher like always, and we handle the baseballs. 

 

Ohio just moved to masks being required everywhere for the entire state, so tomorrow may be different.  Even with these regulations in place I don't think we are required to wear masks when exercising or running, so I think I'm still "as normal".

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1 hour ago, wolfe_man said:

So far in my area of Ohio, we're business-as-usual.  Behind the catcher like always, and we handle the baseballs. 

 

Ohio just moved to masks being required everywhere for the entire state, so tomorrow may be different.  Even with these regulations in place I don't think we are required to wear masks when exercising or running, so I think I'm still "as normal".

We went to mandatory masks in Kansas statewide a couple of weeks ago with an exception for outdoors when social distance cannot be maintained. Nobody even suggested for us to wear a mask. Which is good - I say I'll wear one when all the players do.

I've now completed my summer season (as far as I know - it's still possible there could be a weekend tourney I don't know about that I'll get called for), and didn't have to wear a mask or call pitches from behind the mound. I did have one tourney where umpires were not to touch balls - they were to be thrown to the pitcher by a defensive coach.

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20 minutes ago, kylehutson said:

We went to mandatory masks in Kansas statewide a couple of weeks ago with an exception for outdoors when social distance cannot be maintained. Nobody even suggested for us to wear a mask. Which is good - I say I'll wear one when all the players do.

I've now completed my summer season (as far as I know - it's still possible there could be a weekend tourney I don't know about that I'll get called for), and didn't have to wear a mask or call pitches from behind the mound. I did have one tourney where umpires were not to touch balls - they were to be thrown to the pitcher by a defensive coach.

What a great way to doctor the ball without the umpire having the ability to check the balls! Did you notice any extra spin or cut on the pitches that a little pine tar might have been present on the ball?:sarcasm:

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26 minutes ago, Mad Mike said:

What a great way to doctor the ball without the umpire having the ability to check the balls! Did you notice any extra spin or cut on the pitches that a little pine tar might have been present on the ball?:sarcasm:

Actually, I thought about that. But since I was with 10U's I thought if they could do that, good on them. :lol:

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I was asked by a colleague to take a couple of softball tournament games he can't work due to a last-second conflict. I was told we will be using standard 2-person mechanics (PU behind the catcher, BU at A, B, or C as appropriate). Although the entity running the tournament posted guidelines for coaches/players regarding the handling and cleaning of balls and equipment, there was nothing there for umpires. Here is what I intend to do:

  • As a BU, I will use hand sanitizer between half innings if I have to touch a ball or anything else contacted by others.
  • As a PU, I'll use hand sanitizer between every half-inning.
  • I'll also use hand sanitizer between games and again after my final one before removing my gear for the night.
  • Once home, I will take a shower before doing anything else.
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21 hours ago, kylehutson said:

We went to mandatory masks in Kansas statewide a couple of weeks ago with an exception for outdoors when social distance cannot be maintained. Nobody even suggested for us to wear a mask. Which is good - I say I'll wear one when all the players do.


Not going to debate the mask issue, just going to point out that wearing a mask is more about protecting others than protecting yourself.

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The games I’ve done have been behind the mound, though that’s just the specific tournament I’ve worked. We’re handling HS level kids just fine. I don’t want to be behind the plate anyway - risk far outweighs the “reward” of calling games normally. It’s travel baseball, not MLB. So there’s a hole on the 3b line and some weird rotations - so what? They should just be happy to be out there. That said, they aren’t. People are taking COVID frustration out on umpires. It’s as bad as I can remember, and I’ve only worked four weekends. 

I wear a mask at the plate conference, as do some coaches. There are a few teams that have been mandated to wear them at all times (coaches that is). Not sure why kids don’t. It’s weird seeing mlb have a ton of masks in the dugouts, and travel ball have almost none. 

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It is strange how different areas are acting completely different. Here its baseball as usual, on the field. In fact, you wouldn't know anything had changed if you showed up to watch. I do see a lot of parents/grandparents with masks on in the stands and around the park.

I realize this isn't a football forum, but what's going to be interesting is how they handle football--I do HS football as well. We are scheduled wide open, same as last year, with no guidance whatsoever.  

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1 hour ago, aaluck said:

It is strange how different areas are acting completely different. Here its baseball as usual, on the field. In fact, you wouldn't know anything had changed if you showed up to watch. I do see a lot of parents/grandparents with masks on in the stands and around the park.

I realize this isn't a football forum, but what's going to be interesting is how they handle football--I do HS football as well. We are scheduled wide open, same as last year, with no guidance whatsoever.  

I have softened a little bit on my stance ... if you are in an area with low rates of infection and transmission WITH LOCAL participants, then I am fine with relaxing the precautions.  I would still recommend precautions, but I get it.

The piece that people are overlooking in many cases is this: maybe the game is being held in an area with low rates, but the teams and their fans traveled from highly impacted areas.  That doesn't mitigate the need for precautions then.

Hence, the need for blanket measures.  They may seem like an overreaction in some areas, but the fact that we are remaining mobile as a society negates the whole idea of a "zoned approach".

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13 hours ago, Thatsnotyou said:

The games I’ve done have been behind the mound, though that’s just the specific tournament I’ve worked. We’re handling HS level kids just fine. I don’t want to be behind the plate anyway - risk far outweighs the “reward” of calling games normally. It’s travel baseball, not MLB. So there’s a hole on the 3b line and some weird rotations - so what? They should just be happy to be out there. That said, they aren’t. People are taking COVID frustration out on umpires. It’s as bad as I can remember, and I’ve only worked four weekends. 

 

This brings up an interesting theoretical ... would moving out from behind the plate ever become an accepted norm (after all of this) to mitigate the risk of physical injury to umpires?  (I suspect not.)

Second, yep ... called that one.  I don't know who actually thought people would "just be happy to be out there" and leave umpires alone.  Until we can clear the cultural acceptance of "take it out on the umps/refs" this will just get worse.  As we all know, often these outbursts are derivative of what else is happening in a person's life, not just what happened on the dirt.  IF places were serious about continuing to play under these guidelines, they would be executing a NO TOLERANCE policy and escorting the fans out.  Oh, wait ... those abusive parents = $$$$.  Never mind.

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I had some games behind the mound.   At plate meeting we discussed balls down each line and check swings...whatever I call is the call...even though other people (coaches) may have a better vantage point.   That didn't stop some of the coaches complaining about the call.   I just call time and remind them (in front of everyone) what we discussed at plate meeting. 

I also coach..12AAA USSSA boys...we had our state tournament this past weekend.   We only got 1 ump (behind the mound) for pool and bracket games up to the semi-finals/finals, where they got 2 umps in normal position.   

We played in 4 tournaments.   The first 3 were normal 2 man umpire for ALL games.   The TD for state also runs other tournaments...his tournaments are 1 man from behind the mound even for some of the younger ages 8-10, 2 man for semis and finals.

For the most part, especially lately, it's been back to normal.   At 1 tournament, they removed all bleachers, but they have huge umbrella like shades and everyone packs in the shade.

 

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