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Umpire in Chief

Lightning Safety Rant!

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Ok I haven't umpired since March of 18 and that's part of the reason I'm not around as much.

:ranton:

Since spring nearly daily on my way home from work I pass a small private school they don't have a baseball team but they do have a field (I assume they rent out) with a Travel team that practices there daily. 

Last night I'm driving by and the team is still in full practice mode. At this point there wasn't any rain, but the sky looked like the four horsemen were going to descend upon us at any moment. Mind you less than two miles away, I was sitting at a light and a thunder clap was so close it startled me and I literally jumped from the sound. 

But this is yet another problem with travel ball not having a central authority mandating that teams be off the field during thunder storms, because they obviously need it to be mandated to them as they don't have the common sense to get of on their own. 

This really ticked me off. Grrrrr.

:rantoff:

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WOW!!   We've seen stories of kids (players during a game) killed from a lightning strike miles away as blue skies were above the field, but a storm was brewing miles away.  You can't fix stupid! :rolleyes:

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Lightning and baseball coaches/parents will never cease to amaze me. Every time the umpire is the bad guy. It doesn't make any sense. 

I had a game a few weeks ago where we threw a pitch, and then there was lightning w/some rain. Clear the field guys, lightning. 10 minutes later, rain ends, the teams apparently take the field (I'm in the locker room) and a coach is like blue, everyone's ready to go. I'm like no, it's a lightning delay, not how this works. 

Game eventually restarts after we follow correct protocol. Few innings later, you hear thunder (but don't see lightning). Not a huge one, but we all heard it. Guys, clear the field. This is the actual conversation that followed after I said clear the field. 

Coach: That was thunder, not lightning (serious comment)

Me: Where does thunder come from? 

Coach: ...........................

Me: Exactly

Coach: Well that was like 10 miles away

As I leave the field, about 15 seconds later a huge clapper hits. I'm still close enough to say "10 miles away huh?"

Throughout the delay, I see a kid on the field with a bat, and all parents just hanging out behind the outfield fence. Only when it rained did anyone head for cover. Because as we know, rain can kill you if it soaks through your clothing. 

I had a game last year where we did have a thor guard, and it went off...and 20-30 minutes later (while still darkish) had people approach my car to ask me "hey, what do you think, can we play now?" I don't...I can't...what? Kids all over another field playing an impromptu pickup game with coaches (they were waiting for the next game). What the hell are we doing?

I'll never, ever understand it, but I'll never, ever budge when it comes to lightning. Too many coaches coerce young, inexperienced umpires into playing through it or restarting because it's "far away" or "has cleared" etc. I wish every park had a thor guard, so there would be less arguments. Every time an umpire is the first one to catch the lighting, and says clear the field, they are jumped on. WHERE? SHOW ME? I DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING! As if I'm making this up. As if I want to sit at this field any longer than I have to. What's the benefit to me, exactly, for claiming lightning if there isn't any? Then inevitably everyone looks in that direction and sees it within 30 seconds. 

 

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That's one of many problems, although it does have some good qualities. Most play fed rules and as we know there are guidelines therein. As @Thunderheads has said. Although rare, definitely deadly. Makes you want to yell out the window...."who's in charge of this s-show!"  

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5 hours ago, Thatsnotyou said:

I'll never, ever understand it, but I'll never, ever budge when it comes to lightning.

I always said that.

But I admit I ignored seeing a far-off lightning bolt this year when there were two outs and two strikes on the batter and the end of that half-inning would have been enough to call it a complete game if called due to weather. Two pitches later, the side retired, and before the other team could take the field there was a lightning bolt nobody could ignore (still not terribly close, but definitely noticeable).

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Use the National Weather Service as your rationale for any level not covered by rule (like Little League or NFHS): 30 minutes (guessing that's where LL/HS get their rule).  I'm not having a fried player or coach on my conscience - or my bank account.

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Here is a great suggestion for those of you who may plan “programming” or instruction for your local association (or coaches’ meeting!): contact the local National Weather Service bureau (not your local TV weatherman) and invite them to come talk about lightning and severe weather safety. Under normal circumstances, their meteorologists love to come out to community meetings (and are required to do so many each year) and educate.

I knew a few of the local NWS folks from work and had this on my list of things to do back when I was slated to UIC this summer ...

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But wait...isn't it their freedom to play in the lightning if they please?

The fact is, most people are stupid, and rules need to be made because too many people need to be protected from themselves.  Simply put, they're ignorant of the real danger, and just aren't good at the math part of risk v reward.

I've had players and parents get upset at me for cancelling a practice while thunder and lightning cracked overhead....I'll never understand it.

This one strikes closer to home with me, and pisses me off more than normal - I played ball with/against Matt, and Chris.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/tragedy-strikes-but-hope-lives-on/article4274803/

 

 

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Once, when asked, "Do you not hear the thunder or see the Lightning"? 

PU...Yeh, this is the last inning!

How true that could have been!

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About 10 years ago, I lived in Virginia.  It was a LLWS District Tournament game in Culpepper.  The game was interrupted by a significant thunder storm.  Everybody took cover.  At about 15 minutes, the rains stopped and the clouds parted.  Two kids went on the field to play catch.  A lightning strike hit, killing one of the kids, and severely disabling the other.

Mother Nature does not know the difference between a game, a scrimmage, or a practice.  

The ONLY time I take my Smart Phone on the field is if there are lightning vulnerabilities present.  I have a Weather Bug and My Radar apps which provide the best available information.  (And I have had to interpret weather radars a few times in my Air Force career!)

This subject is too serious not to discuss!  Boss, this is one Rant we all need to pay attention to!

Mike

Las Vegas

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Had a recent championship (local league) game that was delayed 2.5 hours because of lightning.  I was sitting with the crew resetting the "wait 30 minutes" clock after each sign of lightning.  SWMBO was working concession and called my phone about 2 hours into it.  I could tell I was on speaker.  She asked how much longer it was going to be, as the parents were getting upset.  My response was:  

"I'm sure that the umpires will allow play to continue once they determine it is safe to do so.  Unlike some parents, they are taking precautions to NOT get their children killed!"

.................the background noise went silent upon my response.

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Don't have that problem around here in Central Florida, everyone knows lightning kills!

Most of the fields around here (all of them in my county) have Thor-Guard or something similar.  Alarm goes off, everyone to the parking lot.  No one back until the All Clear sounds (minimum 30 minutes).

I've been at couple of the fields that use a smart phone lightning app.  Same principle, everyone to their cars until All Clear announced.

I've been at fields with clear blue skies and had Thor-Guard go off.  I've also been at fields with dark skies and Thor-Guard never went off.

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On 7/29/2020 at 3:25 PM, The Man in Blue said:

 

 

34 minutes ago, Lou B said:

I've been at fields with clear blue skies and had Thor-Guard go off.  I've also been at fields with dark skies and Thor-Guard never went off.

Problems with Thor-Guard? Sounds like someone needs to call the Stark Industries hotline and get tech support out there...

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5 hours ago, Vegas_Ump said:

About 10 years ago, I lived in Virginia.  It was a LLWS District Tournament game in Culpepper.  The game was interrupted by a significant thunder storm.  Everybody took cover.  At about 15 minutes, the rains stopped and the clouds parted.  Two kids went on the field to play catch.  A lightning strike hit, killing one of the kids, and severely disabling the other.

Mother Nature does not know the difference between a game, a scrimmage, or a practice.  

The ONLY time I take my Smart Phone on the field is if there are lightning vulnerabilities present.  I have a Weather Bug and My Radar apps which provide the best available information.  (And I have had to interpret weather radars a few times in my Air Force career!)

This subject is too serious not to discuss!  Boss, this is one Rant we all need to pay attention to!

Mike

Las Vegas

I'm a LL UIC in Virginia.  This is the sad story we tell.

I was playing an adult softball game here once, with the clouds rolling in, light and sound show, and the umpires wouldn't stop it.  We ran off the field.  Other team followed us.  Sorry if you don't get paid because it wasn't an official game, guys, but I'm not getting killed over your game fee.

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1 hour ago, stevis said:

I'm a LL UIC in Virginia.  This is the sad story we tell.

I was playing an adult softball game here once, with the clouds rolling in, light and sound show, and the umpires wouldn't stop it.  We ran off the field.  Other team followed us.  Sorry if you don't get paid because it wasn't an official game, guys, but I'm not getting killed over your game fee.

Stevis:  Was in D-10 Chantilly for 28 years!

Mike

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3 hours ago, Lou B said:

Don't have that problem around here in Central Florida, everyone knows lightning kills!

Most of the fields around here (all of them in my county) have Thor-Guard or something similar.  Alarm goes off, everyone to the parking lot.  No one back until the All Clear sounds (minimum 30 minutes).

I've been at couple of the fields that use a smart phone lightning app.  Same principle, everyone to their cars until All Clear announced.

I've been at fields with clear blue skies and had Thor-Guard go off.  I've also been at fields with dark skies and Thor-Guard never went off.


We have had this debate on here before, but I stand by what my National Weather Service guy told me ... That is a lightning detector, not a lightning predictor.  It is a tool.  Use it to make decisions, don’t use it to make decisions for you.

Also, your phone is not a lightning detector.  It is a communication app relaying information from NWS that is slowed by a third party getting it and turning it around.  You are also limited by communications disruptions.  Again, OK to use it as a tool fro information.  Don’t use it to tell you what to do though.

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5 hours ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

Problems with Thor-Guard? Sounds like someone needs to call the Stark Industries hotline and get tech support out there...

No problem at all, lightning can easily strike in clear blue skies. 

Lightning often strikes before the storm arrives and after it passes.  The times I have been there and it has gone off in the vast majority of cases we had had lightning. Even when it doesn't lightning it's better to be safe than sorry.

We get storms with dark skies that end up with just rain and no lightning, yes, it happens. Had one yesterday at the house.  Dark skies, high winds, torrential rain for about 5 minutes then clear skies, no lightning at all.  If it was a game I was umpiring I definitely would have cleared the fields when I saw it coming!

As for Thor-Guard, whenever time I've been there and it has gone off under blue skies a storm has rolled in within 20-30 minutes, sometimes with lightning, sometimes not.

Not disputing your National Weather Service guy but Thor-Guard is marketed and sold as a Lightning Prediction System!

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On 7/30/2020 at 7:38 AM, beerguy55 said:

But wait...isn't it their freedom to play in the lightning if they please?

The fact is, most people are stupid, and rules need to be made because too many people need to be protected from themselves.  Simply put, they're ignorant of the real danger, and just aren't good at the math part of risk v reward.

I've had players and parents get upset at me for cancelling a practice while thunder and lightning cracked overhead....I'll never understand it.

This one strikes closer to home with me, and pisses me off more than normal - I played ball with/against Matt, and Chris.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/tragedy-strikes-but-hope-lives-on/article4274803/

 

 

Wow.

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18 hours ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

 

Problems with Thor-Guard? Sounds like someone needs to call the Stark Industries hotline and get tech support out there...

Oh crap ... I just got this ... :Facepalm:

 

Retroactive like ... 

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13 hours ago, Lou B said:

Not disputing your National Weather Service guy but Thor-Guard is marketed and sold as a Lightning Prediction System!

 

In as much as it tells you conditions are favorable, not that lightning is going to strike or where it will strike.

I'm not saying it doesn't have value ... but the waters are murky with people who don't understand the difference between that and Weather Bug on their phone.  That is where things get dangerous.

 

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1 hour ago, Phu Bai said:

Baltimore Orioles Wille Tasby had the right idea???


https://bleacherreport.com/articles/236356-flashback-friday-shoeless-willie-tasby

 

Well ... no.  His theory was the metal spikes in the ground would make him more of a lightning rod.  Technically, they would benefit him by giving him a ground (giving the electricity a better connection/path to ground) plus he would have some minor insulation from the soles.  (Realistically, it probably wouldn't make a darned bit of difference at that voltage.)  

Many years ago the utility that I used to work for had an incident where some kids were using an old flagpole to try to knock a toy off of an overhead power line.  Because the pole was so long, they stuck it in the ground to steady it.  That probably saved their lives, as most of the current went through the flagpole direct to the ground.  Some current did stray and pass through them.  They had electric burns on their hands (contact point) and the bottoms of their feet (exit point to ground).

The other thing to remember is that it isn't voltage that kills, it is amperage -- specifically amperage across the heart.

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