Thursday, October 21, 2010

Are you sure you want me to call every balk?

As youth umpires, we have all been there. Stuck doing a game where the skill level isn't very good. Sure, it's still better than sitting at a desk but there are times it isn't very fun. Now, I take every game I do very seriously. I try to be the best umpire I can be every single time I step on the field. But, let's be honest, we all let certain things go in these games. We might expand the strike off the plate a little bit. We might give the fielder the benefit of the doubt on some bang bang calls and we might not call every single balk we see.

Two summers ago, I was doing a Boys 13 game and it was not a very good game. Both teams were very weak and not very skilled. I was in the field and in the top of the first, the pitcher stepped on the rubber, took the ball out of his glove and then looked in to take the sign. The visiting team coach started screaming for a balk. I ignored him and thought it was over. Well after the inning, he pulls me aside and asks me why I didn't call it. I was completely honest and told him that if I called every balk I saw, it was going to be a long game. I have used that line before and it worked fine but not today. He demanded that I call every balk. I asked him if he was sure and he told me that he was.

Well, the first pitch his pitcher threw, he was about two feet off the rubber when he threw the ball. So, I called an illegel pitch. Now, I can't lie, I was looking for something but the pitcher did make it easy for me. The coach went absolietely nuts. He asked me why I would call that. I told him that he asked me too. He didn't llike that and went off and was ejoected about ten seconds later.

To prove my point, I told him he could go down the first baseline and watch the game. In that game, I called 45 balks and let about 20 go. And I called them on both teams (The home team manager wanted them all called to but wasn't quite as big of a jerk about it)

After the game, the coach I ejected walked up and told me he was sorry. I told him it was forgotten but I only did what he asked me to do. He said that he knew and maybe he needed to work with his pitchers a little bit.

Long story short....coaches when you ask for something, be prepared to get it. Umpires do not like to be showed up at any level. And for you coaches who are coaching teams who really aren't that good, it might be a good idea to spend some more time coaching instead of insulting the umpires.

The season is over but that doesn't mean that I'm flying south for the winter. I will continue to add stories, tips and rules questions as I think of them.

Here is the trivia question for the day:

Pitcher steps on the rubber. As he is coming set, he drops the ball which hits his foot and rolls past the third baseline into foul territroy. Whats the call?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Update on the Big Weekend

Well, this weekend was my evaluation weekend for the Midwest Umpires Association. I have two 18U games at St. Louis University.

Before I get into the actual games, I have to comment on the field conditions. I will get them a break on the field because it is October and I'm sure they aren't working on it that much. What I will comment on is the lights. I was in the field for the night game and the infield so so poorly lit that I could barely pick up the ball off the bat. For a divison 1 field, I would have expected more. Also, the plate umpire was having ttrouble picking up the ball because there was a light on a SLU owned building that was directly behind the pitcher. Both cather's missed about 20 pitches each, one of which took a ball in the collarbone (it ended up that he broke his collarbone). For anyone who a supported of SLU athletics, this needs to be fixed.

Now, onto the games. My first game pitted a 16U team against a 18U team. I was behind the plate. I believe I called a pretty good game. My big boy strike zone was working and I don't think I missed any off the plate. There was on breaking ball that caught me off guard that was a little up I called a strike but other than that, it was a great game. My partner had also been to umpire school so it was nice to work with someone who knew where to be. I would give myself an A on that game.

The second game, I obviously had the field. This was a rough game. There were so many errors and mistakes on the basepaths that they had me running all over the place. I know that I kicked (missed) one call. There was a runner on 3rd (I was in the C slot) and the batter hit a grounder to the first basemen who automatically threw the ball to third. The runner got in a run down so I start running to third to get a better angle. I got about half way there when the 3rd basemen (who had the guy at home if he wanted him) turned and threw to second. It took all I had to get out of the way. I called the runner out at second but right after the call, I knew I blew it. I have gone over the play over and over again in my head and I believe I was right in heading over to third, those yo-yo plays are just very hard to call. Other than that, I got the rest of the calls right. I would give myself a B on that performance. I hustled and got in the right position. I just needed to do a better job of anticipating the mistakes the players made so I wouldn't get myself caught out of position.

All in all, it was a good night. I have not heard anything from the evaluators yet (I'm not sure if they were there or not to tell you the truth). Hopefully, I performed well engough to get myself some college ball next year. Only time will tell.