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I was taught to work 3rd baseline extended for covering plays at the plate.  Our instructor put it as something quite rigid -- "always stand here."  To accompany that came the advice, "Never go into fair territory."  From poking around on the internet I've read a lot of people are switching to the "wedge."  None of the videos I've watched explain WHAT the wedge is; they merely say to "work the wedge" because it is more effective than third baseline extended.  

An article on referee.com described it as this (paraphrasing):  Two lines form an angle.  One of the lines is the base path of the runner advancing to home (not the chalk line, but the base path established when he rounded third).  The second line of the angle is the direction of the ball to home when it is thrown to the catcher.  The two lines form an angle, or "wedge."  The idea, as I understand it, is to position myself at the midpoint between the two lines, working off of the catcher's inside hip (hip closest to the third base line).  Of course, this will often put you in fair territory, contrary to the advice above.

At the end of last season (which was my first season umpiring) I tried this a few times.  Whether I understand the technique correctly or not, I was far more confident that I was getting the calls right than I was at third baseline extended.  None of the kids at the ages I was working had the skill to slide and pull their hand away from the tag and then reach around it to touch the plate; they just slid feet first in a straight line.  But as I move up, their skills will advance and I had better be in the right position to get it right.  

 

1- Do I understand the wedge technique correctly?

 

2- Do you all prefer the wedge over third baseline extended?  Why?

 

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The wedge is a great advancement in taking plays at any base. Most of us will use it at HP, but it's technique's can be used successfully at any base. Your understanding is basically correct.

Here are two videos with UCU (United Collegiate Umpires) Head Instructor Brian deBrauwere. One is a 30 minute quick and dirty explanation of "Wedge Theory". The second is closer to a hour and goes mor

Generally when F2 goes out to get the throw and then tries to tag the runner on the back.   All this talk about "lines" and "angles" never made much sense to me (I get that it might make sen

The wedge is a great advancement in taking plays at any base. Most of us will use it at HP, but it's technique's can be used successfully at any base.

Your understanding is basically correct.

I have been taught to stay at the point of the plate and allow F2 to take me to the play. Imagine you are connected to him with a 6-8ft rope (or 1x3) that essentially works like the axle of a car. As F2 moves, move with him, keeping that distance

 

Here is a good image. The gap between F2 and R3 is the wedge - a triangular window that allows PU to see the tag/no tag and the plate at the same time. 

 .7xEcuzCsNE3j8Y_0YVWifx7TVdwH99H0G4ZrDRJNlsj5SnS9pu9l3Y-XP0c1O-jxT22-rXCOu7kTOsfSYSwcpII6xF-O9TTkp0gMWtWBRmJ9_4hQ9Iu82g5dPBKGuUXPOLWnSkfwhyw

 

Sometimes the wedge is wider

_rsNB8PdWAyvsH3skNcpkbZHwi2OP2mu0qfRPeQHXq70URfxyT1xYkyCoX99oiZ-FSFMqiaxx_Qyv434VtjlLh3jKNGrIs2opMcdJyjO0ttVvX9Cg7DtoZ_a_cAY0Ffw0EEyDxrSoX0

 

 

Sometimes the wedge requires quite movement as the play unfolds

  

 

Here is a clip of PU moving to his left. Perhaps not the greatest use??

 

And this gives a great camera angle on the wedge

 

 

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10 hours ago, Kevin_K said:

The wedge is a great advancement in taking plays at any base. Most of us will use it at HP, but it's technique's can be used successfully at any base.

Your understanding is basically correct.

I have been taught to stay at the point of the plate and allow F2 to take me to the play. Imagine you are connected to him with a 6-8ft rope (or 1x3) that essentially works like the axle of a car. As F2 moves, move with him, keeping that distance

 

Here is a good image. The gap between F2 and R3 is the wedge - a triangular window that allows PU to see the tag/no tag and the plate at the same time. 

 .7xEcuzCsNE3j8Y_0YVWifx7TVdwH99H0G4ZrDRJNlsj5SnS9pu9l3Y-XP0c1O-jxT22-rXCOu7kTOsfSYSwcpII6xF-O9TTkp0gMWtWBRmJ9_4hQ9Iu82g5dPBKGuUXPOLWnSkfwhyw

 

Sometimes the wedge is wider

_rsNB8PdWAyvsH3skNcpkbZHwi2OP2mu0qfRPeQHXq70URfxyT1xYkyCoX99oiZ-FSFMqiaxx_Qyv434VtjlLh3jKNGrIs2opMcdJyjO0ttVvX9Cg7DtoZ_a_cAY0Ffw0EEyDxrSoX0

 

 

Sometimes the wedge requires quite movement as the play unfolds

  

 

Here is a clip of PU moving to his left. Perhaps not the greatest use??

 

And this gives a great camera angle on the wedge

 

 

Thanks @Kevin_K .... nice explanation PLUS video back-up! :nod: 

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So I too am learning about positioning and the wedge.  From Op's explanation and then what he quoted about where to stand and never in fair territory. that seems "obtuse" and incorrect.

It looks like from the examples placement specifically from left field could put you out in fair territory very easily if the catcher is up the line a little bit.

 

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31 minutes ago, ArchAngel72 said:

So I too am learning about positioning and the wedge.  From Op's explanation and then what he quoted about where to stand and never in fair territory. that seems "obtuse" and incorrect.

It looks like from the examples placement specifically from left field could put you out in fair territory very easily if the catcher is up the line a little bit.

 

That's correct.  It doesn't happen that often, but there are instances where you'd wind up in fair territory

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1 hour ago, ArchAngel72 said:

So I too am learning about positioning and the wedge.  From Op's explanation and then what he quoted about where to stand and never in fair territory. that seems "obtuse" and incorrect.

It looks like from the examples placement specifically from left field could put you out in fair territory very easily if the catcher is up the line a little bit.

 

Please read it again.  "Never in fair territory" was regarding 3rd baseline extended, not the wedge.

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2 hours ago, Thunderheads said:

That's correct.  It doesn't happen that often, but there are instances where you'd wind up in fair territory

Generally when F2 goes out to get the throw and then tries to tag the runner on the back.

 

All this talk about "lines" and "angles" never made much sense to me (I get that it might make sense to others).  Just stay / move so you can see between F2 (specifically his glove -- or where it will be) and Rx.

 

Most / many newer umpires struggle with this.  They either instinctively don't move, or move to 1BLE, or they jitterbug all over the place and never get set to see the tag attempt.

 

Starting and staying at 3BL extended is a good compromise that (a) gets it right most of the time, and (b) sets you up to be able to read and move once you get more experience.

 

All the same could be said for taking plays at first as U1.  Start with just getting to the same spot and THEN add reading and moving as you get more experience, more comfortable.

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4 hours ago, noumpere said:

All this talk about "lines" and "angles" never made much sense to me (I get that it might make sense to others). 

Me, too! I was also confused about which hip was the catcher's "inside" hip as in "stay tethered to his inside hip." "Inside of what?" It clicked in my brain only after I started thinking about the "wedge" like it was analogous to the "slot" we fight for when calling pitches, and the catcher's "inside hip" can be either the left or the right, just like we might have a left or right handed batter, with a "slot" either off the catcher's left hip, or off his right hip. R-3 is like the pitched ball, and the catcher is like our batter. And that "slot" between the incoming runner and the catcher is going to move/shift as the catcher moves, and it's also going to shift (quite a bit sometimes) quickly towards the end if the runner changes trajectory (like a wicked slider).

As the runner comes in, there's going to be a "slot" you can see between the incoming runner and the catcher (just like there's a slot between the incoming pitch and the batter). Get in that slot and stay there--and staying there often requires movement, especially at the end of the play--but don't forget an even more fundamental principle of umpire mechanics:  proper use of eyes--get set before the tag happens.

That way of looking at the "wedge" might be even more confusing than lines, angles, and "inside/outside". But it finally made sense to me. Plus, I already drill and practice the "slot" 250+ times a game calling pitches, so I don't even have to think when there's a tag play at the plate--I just do what's natural:  I get in the "slot," and I stay there.

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The first time the wedge opened to me on a play at the plate has left an indelible impression. I can remember the teams (Boonton v. Delbarton), the score (3-1 Boonton), and the inning (top 5) with 2 out. R1 and R2 with a laser hit to left center.

F8  fielded the ball moving to his right. R2 scored easily as the runners were moving on the pitch. R1 was was fast and as he rounded 3B F8 got to the ball. F8 fired a seed to F2 about 3 feet up the 3B line. As F2 moved to the ball I stayed on his left hip rotating into fair territory. The play opened in front of me and the clear view of F2 swipe tagging  1 on his left hip just outside the RH batter's box  is a as vivid today as it was that day.

I would strongly urge everyone who has not been to a clinic where this mechanic is taught to get to one where it is. It is a an invaluable tool that will improve your umpiring skills significantly

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Here are two videos with UCU (United Collegiate Umpires) Head Instructor Brian deBrauwere. One is a 30 minute quick and dirty explanation of "Wedge Theory". The second is closer to a hour and goes more in depth.

The important thing to remember is that The Wedge (some call it Keyhole as well as many other terms) is in fact a theory and not a position on the field.

Hope these help some.

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I am late to this party and don't have anything to add to the plate discussion that hasn't already been shared.

Where I most want to learn how to apply this is on the bases, especially 2nd base.  I have never worked a 4-umpire game, and perhaps that allows more freedom to utilize it as U2 can sometimes take plays on the outfield side.

One play in particular that I think about often (as someone who mostly has worked 2-man and some 3-man) is a throw coming from RF as the runner is sliding into 2nd.  Oftentimes F6 will be fielding the ball on the outfield side of the bag and tagging the runners right-side of their body.  So the wedge would be basically in the 2/3 baseline or even further into the outfield direction.  This just can't be done in 2-man ever, and I don't think can be done in 3-man either (though I may be wrong).  

I am not sure how to not get blocked out at all on a throw to 2nd from RF, the closer to RF line, the more difficult to not be blocked.

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30 minutes ago, ShaunH said:

I am late to this party and don't have anything to add to the plate discussion that hasn't already been shared.

Where I most want to learn how to apply this is on the bases, especially 2nd base.  I have never worked a 4-umpire game, and perhaps that allows more freedom to utilize it as U2 can sometimes take plays on the outfield side.

One play in particular that I think about often (as someone who mostly has worked 2-man and some 3-man) is a throw coming from RF as the runner is sliding into 2nd.  Oftentimes F6 will be fielding the ball on the outfield side of the bag and tagging the runners right-side of their body.  So the wedge would be basically in the 2/3 baseline or even further into the outfield direction.  This just can't be done in 2-man ever, and I don't think can be done in 3-man either (though I may be wrong).  

I am not sure how to not get blocked out at all on a throw to 2nd from RF, the closer to RF line, the more difficult to not be blocked.

U3 can actually often take the plays at second in the dirt, allowing them to use the same concepts. If PU is rotating up to third, you have front and backside coverage, so get out there!

Example, no one on, ball hit to right center, U1 does not read trouble. U3 can cut straight across the dirt, parallel with the 2nd-3rd base line, getting to the CF corner of the bag, ready to read the play. BR comes to second, and a play develops. U3 can now work the wedge/get in the window/whatever other system you want to use to get a fantastic view of that tag where ever it occurs. 

Here's a video from United (which, if y'all haven't found their YouTube channel, you're missing out on some GOOD stuff) showcasing wedge at 2nd. I think they have a couple more, but this was the first one I found.  https://youtu.be/o3VMbqELsB4

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9 hours ago, ShaunH said:

I am late to this party and don't have anything to add to the plate discussion that hasn't already been shared.

Where I most want to learn how to apply this is on the bases, especially 2nd base.  I have never worked a 4-umpire game, and perhaps that allows more freedom to utilize it as U2 can sometimes take plays on the outfield side.

One play in particular that I think about often (as someone who mostly has worked 2-man and some 3-man) is a throw coming from RF as the runner is sliding into 2nd.  Oftentimes F6 will be fielding the ball on the outfield side of the bag and tagging the runners right-side of their body.  So the wedge would be basically in the 2/3 baseline or even further into the outfield direction.  This just can't be done in 2-man ever, and I don't think can be done in 3-man either (though I may be wrong).  

I am not sure how to not get blocked out at all on a throw to 2nd from RF, the closer to RF line, the more difficult to not be blocked.

You can get close(r) to the 1b-2b line in two-man to help with this play.

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5 minutes ago, noumpere said:

You can get close(r) to the 1b-2b line in two-man to help with this play.

This is a great point. Especially on steals of second with R1 only, I will often find myself almost in the 1st-2nd baseline to see a swipe tag. When the fielder has to come off the line to get the throw, this is often the only way to see the tag, especially if they come in towards the middle of the infield. 

Now yes, this technically puts me behind the play and out of position were another okay to develop, do you can't just mindlessly do this. Know yourself, and know the situation. If it's likely that another play could develop, or you know you are not physically able to get back into position should an overthrow and play at 3rd happen, don't do this (though, TBF, this should be a late reaction most of the time, and shouldn't develop on a ball that could be overthrown). 

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I don't think the "Wedge" applies to plays at 2nd, other than the same concept of trying to put yourself in position to have the best window to see the play that ends up happening.

Watched a really good partner (2-man) cover 2nd w/ R-1 and a shot to the gap in right which BR tried to stretch into a double. Starting in B, BU got to the infield grass boundary on the 1st/2nd baseline 6-8 feet from the 2nd base cut-out and let BR run past his right hip toward 2nd (kind of like we do in 3-man). After reading a true throw from deep right field, he then got 2 quick steps toward right field and got set just on or straddling the 1st/2nd baseline when BR slid. Outside-in swipe tag. As soon as the tag was made/not made, BU stood up and starting walking toward center field around the 2nd base dirt cut out to give himself time to process what he had just seen. He got to 2nd/3rd baseline extended before he called the runner out. Everyone in the stadium cheered--it looked fricking beautiful, and there's no doubt that it was the umpire and his mechanics and timing on the play that made it seem so much more spectacular than it probably really was. BU wasn't show boating, he was just naturally umpiring the play as it unfolded before him. But it was beautiful to watch.

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1 hour ago, Recontra said:

I don't think the "Wedge" applies to plays at 2nd, other than the same concept of trying to put yourself in position to have the best window to see the play that ends up happening.

Watched a really good partner (2-man) cover 2nd w/ R-1 and a shot to the gap in right which BR tried to stretch into a double. Starting in B, BU got to the infield grass boundary on the 1st/2nd baseline 6-8 feet from the 2nd base cut-out and let BR run past his right hip toward 2nd (kind of like we do in 3-man). After reading a true throw from deep right field, he then got 2 quick steps toward right field and got set just on or straddling the 1st/2nd baseline when BR slid. Outside-in swipe tag. As soon as the tag was made/not made, BU stood up and starting walking toward center field around the 2nd base dirt cut out to give himself time to process what he had just seen. He got to 2nd/3rd baseline extended before he called the runner out. Everyone in the stadium cheered--it looked fricking beautiful, and there's no doubt that it was the umpire and his mechanics and timing on the play that made it seem so much more spectacular than it probably really was. BU wasn't show boating, he was just naturally umpiring the play as it unfolded before him. But it was beautiful to watch.

Respectfully, I disagree with your assertion that the wedge does not work at 2B. It may not be feasible in 2 man or in some situations in 3 man, but it does work. It's applicable at all bases depending on the crew size.

While the play above may have looked great, there may have been some degree of good fortune for your partner. What would have happened had the ball been misplayed by F6 and the BR proceeded to 3B? Who was going to make the call? Him trailing the play from the RF side of 2B? You, having to cover an open base when you were at the plate for R1?

I would also suggest that taking the play at 2b from 10-12 feet away (6-8 feet from the cutout plus some more to the base) from 2B "just on or straddling the 1st/2nd baseline" would create a significant potential for being straight-lined and having no idea when the tag was applied with regard to the BR contacting 2B.

My .02. YMMV

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2 hours ago, Recontra said:

I don't think the "Wedge" applies to plays at 2nd, other than the same concept of trying to put yourself in position to have the best window to see the play that ends up happening.

It absolutely does, which is why we have been using it in 4-man and 3-man where there are no trailing runners.

Hell, you can use it as BU in 2-man on a play at third on the only runner--and I have.

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1 hour ago, Matt said:

It absolutely does, which is why we have been using it in 4-man and 3-man where there are no trailing runners.

Hell, you can use it as BU in 2-man on a play at third on the only runner--and I have.

I wish I could read plays quick enough to get outside at 3rd! That would be spectacular. 

While, by the book, taking plays at 3rd outside in a rotation to 3rd by the PU, I've played around with it. Realistically, how much worse is the (fairly unlikely) play at the plate when you start outside vs in? Weigh that against the fact that your view from outside is often way, way better than inside. I'm not sure that taking that play from outside isn't better.

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My apologies. I stand corrected (and schooled:-). I can also see where PU could use the wedge on a prolonged rundown between 1st and 2nd if he's able to get up to the 1st base cutout in foul territory for the tag back at 1st base.

Thanks for the great eye-opener on the potential alternative way to take tags at 3rd w/ 1st-3rd rotation if PU is agile enough to get up to the 2nd/3rd baseline extended in foul territory. We've all drilled the 1st to 3rd as PU hundreds of times--coming into fair territory to take that tag at 3rd--often seems to result in a less than ideal look at the tag play. On an overthrow at 3rd would you then want to let the runner pass and then get a bit inside running to the plate in fair territory (like the traditional mechanic) to avoid the throwing lane in the event there is a tag play at the plate?

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