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I'm transitioning!


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.... well ... I, er ..... uhm ... hmm.  That title SEEMED like a good idea at the time.

But it's true!  After 18 years of umpiring, I'm finally going from the hammer for my strike calls to the point.

Why?  I'm not fully sure.  Maybe it's because all the cool kids are doing it?  That might be, sadly, closer to the truth than I should admit.  I"m fairly certain there's a perception of those who hammer as being lesser-trained or lesser-experienced.  And at the risk of sounding like an arrogant prick about it, I don't believe I'm either of those things.  I'm not claiming I should be working at Omaha or in The Show, but I don't suck, and I'm a decent fit at the level I'm at.

Also, I'm seeing some the young bucks in my different circles of umpiring - guys who ARE pretty new to the game - doing the point.  I had a particular partner the other day;  dude's not even 20 yet, so all ageism aside, he CAN'T have but so much experience, because math.  And it DOES look good when he does the point.  I'd been debating it for a while in my mind, and I think that was enough to push me into giving it a try.

Did for a 10U game last night, and a18U travel tournament game today.  Weirdly, considering the prior 18 years of muscle memory, I forgot a WHOLE lot less than I expected.  I think I hammered once or twice in the kid game, and my partner told me he only remembered seeing it once in the 18U plate game I had.  I still have to figure out what I'll do to signify contact on a tip to the catcher's mitt - I do a left-handed swipe ('cause I'm a lefty in a lot of ways), so doing that, then moving to a point to my right, is a little awkward - and I did some bizarre punch-out because I got .... a little lost - started to just point, and remembered it was strike three, so I, uh, ad-libbed.  <shrug>

But, soon, I guess I'll look like the cool kids, too!

...... truth be told, it felt kinda cool doing it.

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Good on ya. I’ve been contemplating this as well as a way of increasing the communication (number of strikes, differentiating outs from strikes). Keep on it and the hammer will feel like a thing of the past in no time.

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I thought the school of thought was actually going the other way (away from point and towards hammer) to prevent guys from taking their eyes off the field.

Never understood why you have to look at your own fingers.  If you can’t point to the side without turning your head ... well ... Momma said life is like a box a chocolates.

That said, I mix it up from weekend to weekend.

 

Edit: That said ... we support you and love you @HokieUmp.  You are always you in our hearts.

Another edit: But please, dear god, do NOT do the finger gun.  I can’t stand seeing that, even on pro guys.  You aren’t Will Rodgers and you aren’t six-years old.

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I've always done the point, started off with the finger gun but transitioned to just a normal point. Personally, I look where I point because A. it looks better and B. I delay my strike calls long enough (2-3 seconds) so I see the pitch, check the field to make sure nothing is happening, then point and look. For lefties I pivot and point out to my left side, a la Jim Joyce.

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1 hour ago, The Man in Blue said:

Edit: That said ... we support you and love you @HokieUmp.  You are always you in our hearts.

Another edit: But please, dear god, do NOT do the finger gun.  I can’t stand seeing that, even on pro guys.  You aren’t Will Rodgers and you aren’t six-years old.

I, ah..... have some bad news, TMIB......

When I point for "Play," or even fair/foul, I was already finger-banging.  (Phrasing?)  So it's still finger guns for me.  Your 2nd amendment protects *your* guns;  it also protects MY guns.

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8 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

I thought the school of thought was actually going the other way (away from point and towards hammer) to prevent guys from taking their eyes off the field.

That is the point… to the point… over the hammer. The hammer is taught in umpire school. When you’re actually out doing (amateur) games, you’re no longer in school. As long as you understand the concept and objective as to what the hammer affords you, then what does it matter which style of strike call you make? 

Hey, I’ve seen PUs taking their eyes off the field, after each pitch, by looking down and fiddling with their indicators… so that argument is hogwash. 

7 hours ago, Scissors said:

For lefties I pivot and point out to my left side, a la Jim Joyce.

And you’re still using your right hand, yes? This is AKA a “cross-body strike”, and is frowned upon by the majority of evaluators, trainers… and most college guys*. Not only is it an “intrusion of personal style”, but the reasoning or rationale for using it – the way you defend your use of it – lies largely in Major and Minor League Baseball. Why’s that? Because it’s for the centerfield camera to better see you (PU) signal a strike. But amateur baseball doesn’t have that centerfield camera, and the scorekeeper is still the most important person to see your strike signal, and is (nearly) always behind you. So, that cross-body strike mechanic is being obscured by your own body. 
 

*- That’s best explained later.

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1 hour ago, MadMax said:

And you’re still using your right hand, yes? This is AKA a “cross-body strike”, and is frowned upon by the majority of evaluators, trainers… and most college guys*. Not only is it an “intrusion of personal style”, but the reasoning or rationale for using it – the way you defend your use of it – lies largely in Major and Minor League Baseball. Why’s that? Because it’s for the centerfield camera to better see you (PU) signal a strike. But amateur baseball doesn’t have that centerfield camera, and the scorekeeper is still the most important person to see your strike signal, and is (nearly) always behind you. So, that cross-body strike mechanic is being obscured by your own body. 

It doesn't surprise me higher level guys don't like that, but I've had no issues so far with evaluators doing my normal rec games and some high school with it. 

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Interesting topic.  I, oddly enough, started w/ the hammer after getting back into umpiring in 2010, but ... to the side, if you can see that. ( Kind of how Doug Eddings used to call is strike).  Then, during the annual pre-season camp we all go to in  2016, I tried the point and never looked back.   At first, I too would 'cross body' with the lefties ....but at a camp in 2018 with some high level evaluators (including the MHSAA director at the time) ...they said; 'don't do that, try to point to the right all the time".   And, that's where I switched to calling everything to the right.    

It all (the point transition) took about 1/2 a season before it just felt 'normal' but ... I also prefer the way it looks overall, and I too felt "cool" LOL! :cool: :D 

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I tried to stop the old school cross body point for lefties once and was just lost behind this big 6’ 4”  270 lb. hitter.  I just went back to the cross body. I never knew why I (with no one on) look at my finger either but never been dinged for it nor missed any action on the field so I left well enough alone. At this point (no pun) in my career both hs and college, I am just gonna keep doing what I do including an occasional hammer for the swinging caught strike 3-3rd out. If the point works for cool kids like Mad Max then why not for old dogs like Mr Ump. 

Photo Credit - Referee Magazine, March ‘21

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