Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baseball Umpiring 101


Things continue to be more summer-like in west Ohio. Yesterday there was plenty sunshine and 85 or so for the high, more of the same on tap for today, while a stray shower or 2 may give us a hit and miss on Friday and Saturday. Things will cool down to a more "normal" mid 70 range for the back end of the weekend...I'll be in Michigan, and frankly have not checked that the past couple of days, although it looked like upper 60s with a shower or two possible, last I looked.

Finishing up the Season_____

Last night Sam and I worked together for the second straight game. This time however it was some 85 miles south of the game the night before. {I am going to refrain from name of teams, towns, and coaches for this part of the story, the reason will be obvious as you read on}


The 2 teams, league rivals, whose schools are less than 10 miles apart had met the night before in a Sectional final, the outcome was 12-1 in favor of last night's visiting team....this team, from a school where the wife used to teach, moves into District Play in the southwest portion of the state. Meanwhile the home team was finishing out the string...they were done after last night...both teams started their seniors, including the ones who did not start on a regular basis.


Sam had classes, and would be arriving right at game time, so for the second night in a row, the Old Man would do the plate....as we had the coaches meeting Sam arrived, the visitors coach implored me to not go and toss out any of his players for violations that to him seemed trivial. Why? you ask....Simple, if you get tossed, you sit 2 games...and the coach didn't want to possibility lose a starter for the District Tournament. I have not tossed a player in over 5 years, close, but none, and told him as long as any violations were not intentional or malicious, there would be not problems.

So this guy proceeds to bitch about a play at the plate, which I called his runner out(he was, never touched home plate while sliding in), and complained about a call we didn't make on a batted ball that might have hit the batter's foot...maybe it did, maybe it didn't. Sam didn't see it, neither did I. You can't call what you don't see. I'm thinking to myself, "this guy might not have to worry about losing a player, because if you take this any farther, your ass is gone". He didn't and that team finished with a 5-3 win.

More interesting was the home squad...players playing out the string, the kids were in a good mood and did no bitching or complaining....the fun came in the bottom of the 7th with the home team down by that 5 to 3 score.

The first 4 pitches get by the visiting team's backup catcher....the sun was right in his and my eyes, and it was bad. The coach calls time and puts his regular catch back in....with the sun being a problem, I tell the replacement catcher to take 2 or 3 pitches...for safety reasons. So here comes some leather lung old fart(my age or older) bitching at me that I was not allowed to let a defensive replacement have warm up....I ignored him for a minute, but he continued to bitch and moan...I look back and say.."I can do anything I want, I'm in charge"{knowing this would piss him off, and that was the point}. He counters, "don't talk to me"....I say, "then shut your yap"...end of conversation with him.

Fast Forward: Game ends with no further runs scoring...I stop and drop the baseballs off in the home team dugout and talk with "their" catcher for a minute....here comes Assistant Coach #3...asking or demanding that I explain to him why I let the visiting catcher have warm ups.....my replay was , it was a safety issue. He continues to rant that there was no rule covering such a thing...I tell him, you are right, nothing in the rule book...so I can do it.." I am the umpire-in-chief and it is my prerogative". He starts to say something else...I say "This conversation is over coach, unless you want to sit the first 2 games of next season". Sam and I walk away towards the parking lot.

As I go up the stairs I see the leather lung fan who was giving me grief, high tailing it up the steps and into his car...guess that was best, although I would have liked for him to 'advise' me on the finer rules of the game, that I have been playing, coaching, and umpiring since 1956. I'm sure I don't know it all, but I can bet it's a hell of a lot more that this bozo. All-in-all that had to be the dumbest gawd damn argument I have ever been in about baseball rules and etiquette.....just shows you need not be equipped with a brain to work in baseball, whether it be umpire, coach, or fan.

More Umpire Follies____

Since Sam drove separate, from classes at OSU-Lima, I told him I was heading to Coldwater to catch the final game of the District Semi-Finals there....this was an offshoot of teams I had umpired in the regular and Sectional season....plus I wanted to see how these guys worked the 3 man umpire crew before my District games today.

Delphos Jefferson hammered New Knoxville 23-2 in the first game...the second game between Crestview and New Bremen would be much closer and controversial.

I watched that game with GM and Chuck, 2 veteran umps I work with during the season....the 3 man crew had some rough spots..this comes from most of us not working a 3 man that often. The real issue came at the end of the game...here is how I saw it:

Crestview comes from behind to take a 9-5 lead going into the bottom of the 7th...New Bremen gets the bases loaded with no outs....2 outs later it is still sacks full and 9-5. The batter hits a sinking liner to right that gets by the right fielder. As the 3 runners are coming around to score, the hitter/batter goes to far at 2nd base, the Crestview second baseman makes what appears to be a diving tag. Problem is, no umpire is close to the play at second. The 3rd base ump runs over and makes a safe call. All Hell breaks loose from the Crestview dugout and in the stands.....they are hot, and probably have a right to be. The score is now going to be 9-8 with 2 outs and a runner on second, the tying run, with the winning run at bat.

At this point the home plate umpire-in-charge, calls the other 2 umpires together...after a 2or 3 minute conversation they call the runner OUT. This time it's the Cardinals turn to with fans to go nuts.....IMO they had that right as well. The game is declared over and Crestview moves on to meet it's league rival, Delphos Jefferson tomorrow night at Coldwater...GM will be doing that game....it should be a good one, the last time they met, I had the plate in the 2 out last inning win 4-3 by Crestview at home.

Epilogue_____

Umpiring is a funny thing, and you can win no friends(or should you try) doing it....I just got off the phone with GM...and he tells me this same crew has a Regional game(like my District crew does) but they also have a State Final 4 game....I wish them luck, and hopefully things go smoother at Columbus. As for me, I just hope our District double header today goes without too many mistakes or controversial calls....you never know though, seldom does all go right.....

I'll report back tomorrow.....

later
photos-(1)If a coach would do this in High School baseball to me...he is gone!(2) Me, working the plate a couple of years ago at Coldwater(3)The Mask...even more important than "The Cup" to an umpire's safety and health.






2 comments:

BRUNO said...

Way-y-y-y too much stress!!!

You should do something more, well, relaxing,like, maybe starting your own weekly radio show?

Really! I'm serious, here! Hell, you've obviously still got the "gab" for it---and I'm sure you still have a few "insiders" from the past, that could shuffle you into some "almost-a-pirate" radio slot somewhere?

I miss those days of tuning just barely-off the ends of the bands, with an old Halicrafters receiver, listening for "pirates"!

But then again, NOTHING you could hear today would "shock" you enough to be worth the listen...!!!

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