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Ted Williams on the pursuit of excellence in umpiring.


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Because it’s now hard to work on mechanics, Covid has left me trying to work on my mind. Possible epiphany. I’m a baseball guy. You’re all baseball guys. The greatest hitter of all time (IMO) was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox. He was once asked what it took to be a good hitter. And this is what he said:  

“There's only one way to become a hitter. Go up to the plate and get mad. Get mad at yourself and mad at the pitcher.”

It just occurred to me the same concept applies to the pursuit of excellence in umpiring. “There’s only one way to become a great umpire, walk onto the field and get mad, get mad at yourself and mad at . . .”  The baseball?

Wow! Ted Williams. He’s made me a better umpire. 

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Not for me. I'm best when I'm Zen, let it flow, and the game comes to me.

I'm with @maven. May the stoicism be with you all. Umpiring a baseball game is like getting your best friend home when they are supremely drunk. The more dramatic and angry people get, the more d

I'm with @maven. May the stoicism be with you all.

Umpiring a baseball game is like getting your best friend home when they are supremely drunk. The more dramatic and angry people get, the more determined I focus on putting the ball back into play and thinking about where I'm getting a cheeseburger after the game.

It's comical to me how worked up people get about a baseball game that won't matter 5 minutes after it's over...

~Dog

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I think he was joking about this (getting mad). 

Although, I've worked with a few guys who enjoyed entering a game with a chip on their shoulder.  Argument with the wife and no way to relieve that stress?  These guys kept that chip on their shoulder and then took no crap when a coach came with anything.

FWIW - There is something that can be said about strong emotions sharpening the senses, but I'm not sure you're going to get good reviews from an assignor if you take this approach.  How we handle the game, players and coaches helps to determine our level of success and chances for moving up.  I can't imagine being angry all the time is going to help you out, unless you're Rocky Marciano.

Not Marciano, but boxing-related.

what i am movie quote GIF

 

 

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Don't think Ted Williams ever said to walk up to the plate and get "angry," play with a chip, or to have any negative emotion whatsoever. Never saw him angry. And don't really think that's what he meant by "get mad." Zen. That's good. I guess I liken "mad" to extreme, extreme focus and awareness, sensory overload, time slows. Kinda like one of the all time greatest golfers once reportedly saying that when standing over the ball, a golfer's swing thought should be:  "There's nothing more important in the history of the world than me striking this golf ball." I think I know what he meant, but because there are so many accepted definitions of that word, I'll drop it and just file it back in my own brain.

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On 12/17/2020 at 6:31 AM, maven said:

Not for me. I'm best when I'm Zen, let it flow, and the game comes to me.

 

I'm with Maven, and this might be different for every person.  I'm the quintessential  uber-type A.  I also used to be a competitive shooter in IPSC, IDPA, and SASS.  In every case, I could win state-level competitions if I was in a state of "zen."  But if I was getting wrapped around the axle about winning, I would finish in the middle of the pack.  If I was thinking about the course of fire, the shot, my foot movement, etc., I did ok, but not championship level.  If I "went full zen," I won.

This was also true for me in combat.  Do you remember the scene from Full Metal Jacket where the DI says, "Let me see your war face!!!   AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! THAT'S A WAR FACE!"  My war face is vastly different.  I had a habit of giving orders in a tone of voice that sounded like I was relaxing with a beer.  My guys used to say, "I think he's about half crazy -- just enough to almost enjoy this."  Of course that was a ruse; I wanted them to believe that.  In reality my heart was pounding out of my chest and the adrenaline was making my fingertips buzz.  I was terrified.  But remaining calm when bullets are flying and explosions are all around you does wonders, especially if you are in charge.  The troops key off of your behavior and attitude, and whatever you do becomes contagious.  Remain calm, and they remain calm.  Panic, and they panic.  Go full zen, and they go full zen.  And if a platoon of soldiers has gone full zen under fire, you'd better hope they are on your side, because bad people start dying in large numbers.  

I think the same is true for umpiring -- while I'm not competing in this case, my chances of getting the calls right are far higher if I "go full zen" instead of getting emotionally involved.  

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On 1/5/2021 at 8:58 AM, mac266 said:

 

I'm with Maven, and this might be different for every person.  I'm the quintessential  uber-type A.  I also used to be a competitive shooter in IPSC, IDPA, and SASS.  In every case, I could win state-level competitions if I was in a state of "zen."  But if I was getting wrapped around the axle about winning, I would finish in the middle of the pack.  If I was thinking about the course of fire, the shot, my foot movement, etc., I did ok, but not championship level.  If I "went full zen," I won.

This was also true for me in combat.  Do you remember the scene from Full Metal Jacket where the DI says, "Let me see your war face!!!   AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! THAT'S A WAR FACE!"  My war face is vastly different.  I had a habit of giving orders in a tone of voice that sounded like I was relaxing with a beer.  My guys used to say, "I think he's about half crazy -- just enough to almost enjoy this."  Of course that was a ruse; I wanted them to believe that.  In reality my heart was pounding out of my chest and the adrenaline was making my fingertips buzz.  I was terrified.  But remaining calm when bullets are flying and explosions are all around you does wonders, especially if you are in charge.  The troops key off of your behavior and attitude, and whatever you do becomes contagious.  Remain calm, and they remain calm.  Panic, and they panic.  Go full zen, and they go full zen.  And if a platoon of soldiers has gone full zen under fire, you'd better hope they are on your side, because bad people start dying in large numbers.  

I think the same is true for umpiring -- while I'm not competing in this case, my chances of getting the calls right are far higher if I "go full zen" instead of getting emotionally involved.  

To your point, and once again thank you for your service, any time you watch a show about military snipers (or any movie or show about them). They always talk about "controlled breathing" and not getting to worked up. Take sight, breath in, breath out, pull trigger, repeat process.

Umpiring is pretty much no different. When I find myself getting wrapped up and ramped up in the game, my quality goes down. When I am at my best, my partners refer to me as being "robotic." They are trying to use that as a bad thing. While I look at it as a good thing. Controlled movements and emotions. 

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