Friday, December 14, 2012


It's been a while since I have been on here so I figured it would be a good time to update what I have going on next year's baseball season. I still plan on umpiring but not nearly as much as before. This year, as I mentioned before, I will be taking on the coaching role. For the past few years, my old high school has been asking me to help out with their high school program. Well, this year, I finally have the time to do that and I have agreed to be the assistant JV coach. The orignal plan was for me to help with the varsity but due to my main job, I need the ability to miss a practice here or there if something gets in the way. I am very excited for this new challenge. I'll update this post as the season get's closer. Hope everyone is having a great off season. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!! Oh yeah...PLAY BALL!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back at it...exciting annoucement

Well, after taking off the majority of the summer to concentrate on my career, tonight I hit the diamond again. It will be my first game since May. It's fall ball so it should be a pretty easy game but it will be nice to be back out on the field. After being asked for about 4 years, I have decided to continue being involved in baseball but in another capacity. Beginning in two weeks, I will begin my coaching career. I will be working with the SLABA Southwest Stars 17/18 year old team this fall and then in the Spring, I will be the assistant coach on my old high schools varsity baseball team. I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to coach at such a high level. It has always been a dream of mine to coach at the high school level and I am really looking forward to it. It will be interesting to see how I handle situations that I have complained about for years. Having coached before, I know that I rarely yell at the umpires but I do get upset when they don't know the rules. I doubt that will happen much at this level but I'm sure there will be a situation or two that I can post about. I plan to continue umpiring but not nearly as much as I have in years past. Unfortunately, with the coach opportunity, my kids getting bigger and new things happening at my main job, umpiring has kind of taken a back seat to everything else. I will always love umpiring and will continue to work as much as possible but I think time in my life where I am able to umpire on a regular basis is about over. With that being said, I will do my best to continue to post on here as much as possible. I am really looking forward to postiing as a coach. I will continue to post rules questions and various things I see at the ball fields. On that note, I'm off to go get some work done before my 6:00 game tonight. PLAY BALL!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Batting Out of Order - Rules Question

This is Question 1 of 2 for this subject.

The batting order for the following question is as follows:


In the first inning, Bryan comes up and hits a single. Robert then strikes out for the first out. Matt then bats (KEVIN SHOULD BE UP HERE). Matt hits a double that scores Bryan. A Pitch is thrown to Kevin and then the home team calls time for batting out of order. Whats the call?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Learn the Rules

I feel like I have a post like this every year so I'm sorry if I have said all of this before but putting it out here keeps me from saying something during a game.

Last night, I had two plays that made me want to make this post.

The first was a foul tip (directly from the bat to the catchers glove or hand and was caught) when a runner was stealing. The catcher held onto the ball and automatically the defensive coaches started yelling that it was a foul ball. Now, if this was a 9 year olds game, that would have been one thing but this was a 13 year old game. Even if a coach never took the time to read the rule book, you would think that at some point in the 4 or 5 years of coaching he would have seen a foul tip before. They didn't put up too much of a fight but the fact that they argued the call was insane to me.

The second didn't bother me but as a coach, he ran his kids out of an inning. Runner on 1st, no outs. Strike three is dropped by the catcher. The runner started going back to the bag but the coach was screaming at him to run. I was yelling "Batted is out, first base is occupied, BATTER IS OUT!!!" But nobody paid any attention to me. The kid was thrown out at 2nd. The kicker was, it was a 1 run game in the last inning. The next kid hit a double that would have tied the game. They ended up stranding him at 3rd.

I understand that coaches and players are not going to spend as much time learning the rule book as the umpires do. I wouldn't expect it. But if you are going to coach the game, don't you think it would help to have an above average understand of the rules of the game? To any coach that reads this, I challenge you to read the rule book, to ask questions of the umpire in between innings. Learn the rules. It will keep you from arguing things you shouldn't argue and it will make you a better coach. The best coaches are the ones that not only understand how to teach the game, they also know the game.

I know not just saying all of this to vent. I honestly believe that if coaches took just a little more time to learn the rules of the game, things would improve in all aspects of the game of them. Ok, time to get off my soap box. Only an hour and fifteen minutes until I head to the fields. PLAY BALL!!!

Slow Night

When I got to the fields yesterday, I was really looking forward to working my first game behind the plate. I was under the assumption that it was a Select Boy's 13 "Gold" game. What I didn't notice was that on the schedule, there wasn't a SL next to the game which meant it was a Rec game. Oh my, was it ever a rec game. I think I had at least 9 punch outs in the game. There were at least 10 errors by each team and I don't think a ball left the infield on the fly the entire game. At one point, the third base coach started yelling at the runner on 3rd for not running on a 3-2 pitch with two outs. The only thing was, the runner on 3rd was the only runner on. Yes it was one of those games.

My second game was a select "silver" boys 13 game. This game wasn't great but it wasn't too bad. Neither team could hit very well but both teams played pretty good defense so I had plenty to do in the field. I had quiet a few bangers which always makes things a little more exciting. We had two very interesting plays in the game.

Play 1:

Runner on 3rd, 1 out. Batter hits a sharp ground ball to 3rd base. It hits the lips of the infield and comes up and hits the 3rd basemen in the face. The shortstop comes in grabs the ball and throws to first. The Batter runner has already reach first when the throw is made. The batter runner, for whatever reason, rounded first and took two steps like he was going. The first basemen tags him out.

Play 2:

Runner on 1st. Pitch does not come set and pitches, I call a balk. Batter hits a swining bunt down the 3rd base line. Everyone stops and looks at me. I do nothing. After about 5 or 6 seconds the third base coach takes the hint and tells everyone to run. Batter reaches first and the runner reaches 2nd. The defensive coach and fans kept screaming, "its a balk, send them back". I love explaining this rule because they never believe me and they pull out their rule books.

Other than that it was a pretty easy night. Tonight I have one game. Hopefully, it will continue to be a good season.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Back at it

After a week off, tonight I head back to the ballpark for two boys 13 games. It will be nice to get back on the diamond after a week off. As much as working a full time job and umpiring is exhausting, I couldn't ask for a better second job.

Now I have a question for all of you. My nephew is Chicago is playing on Saturday and I have been asked to umpire the game. I have mixed views on umpiring family. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Games

Isn't that a beautiful picture? I love that the baseball season has started. It is the greatest time of the year. Tuesday, I had my first two games and they were a quick reminder that with 12 year olds, you never know what you are going to get.

My first game of the season was a Select "Gold" Level Boys 12 game and I had the dish. This was the type of game that every umpire should dream about. Both teams had pitchers that were around the plate. The coaches were pumped to be there but not hot heads. The parents were in the game but not crazy. The batters swung that bats, the fielders made plays AND....the game was over in an hour and 2 minutes. FANTASTIC. It was a 9-0 game but it didn't feel that way. 6 runs were scored in the bottom of the first and then no runs until the bottom of the 4th. It was a much better game than the score would lead you to believe.

My second game was a Select "Silver" Level Boys 12 game. I use the word select here very loosely. This game lasted over 2 hours and 20 minutes. I think I made 6 calls the entire game. There were a lot of walks, errors, strike outs and just bad baseball. But as an umpire, I like games like this every once in a while. It reminds you that as an umpire you have to stay on your toes. You never know when a play is going to completely fall aparts and the ball is going to be thrown the last place you expect. It reminds you to react and not assume as an umpire.

All in all, it was a great first night at the ball fields. I am working a tournament tonight and tomorrow. I think I have 12s tonight and 14s tomorrow. For all of you getting ready to start you seasons, good luck this year. PLAY BALL!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Seaon Starts Tomorrow

It's finally here!!! Tomorrow the baseball season begins for me with two boys 12 games. It should be a fairly easy start to what I am hoping is going to be a very good summer. As the season is about to start, I felt it would be a good time to go through some of my tips to the new (and sometimes not so new) umpires.

#1 - Dress like an umpire: Have you heard the expression "you never get a second chance to make a first impression"? This is true in almost every aspect of life and it holds true to being an umpire as well. Come dressed like an umpire. Make sure your pants and shirt are clean and wrinkle free. Have your shirt tucked in when you get to the field. Wear a black belt. Have you hat on the right way when you get there. If you are behind the plate, have your gear on before you leave for the field. Have a ball bag (I use two but one is fine). Make sure your shoes are clean and polished. Look professional and your well be treated like a professional. Look like a scrub and you will be treated like a scrub.

#2 - Get to your field on time: This ties into #1. Get to your field 15 minutes before first pitch. If it isn't your first game of the day you might not be able to do this because your prior game ran late. In that case get there as quickly as you can. Be ready to go.

#3 - Know the rules of the age group you are working. Know if infield fly is enforced. Know the bat restrictions. Know if there is a run limit per inning. Some umpire take a cheat sheet to the plate, I don't not like this. In my opinion, it shows that you need help to know the rules. Gives a bad impression. Take 5 minutes before the game to memorize them.

#4 - BE LOUD!!! - I can't stress this enough. Good umpires are loud. It's as simple as that. You want to make sure everyone can hear your call. On top of that, being loud gives the perception of confidence.

#5 - TIMING - This is as important, if not more so, as being loud. You need to make sure your timing on your calls is good. Umpires hear the term Pause, Read, React a lot. When you have to make a call (out/safe or ball/strike) you need to see the play or pitch, think the call in your head and then make the call. Don't rush your calls. First thing this will do is it will stop you from saying out and signaling safe. It will also allow you to make sure that ball hasn't been dropped on plays on the bases. Lastly, let's just say you are working behind the plate and on a pitch right down the middle you make a quick call but on the next pitch that is on the corner you use correct timing. In the coaches eyes, they will think you messed up because it took you longer the make the call. PAUSE, READ, REACT!!!

#6 - Consistency - this goes without saying. You need to be consistent. Your strike zone can not change during the game. Sure you are going to miss a call here and there but you want it to be the same the entire game.

#7 Be Polite - This is hard sometimes but essential. Coaches are going to yell, fans are going to yell, players are going to yell. You need to keep your cool. Even when you throw someone out, maintain your composure. Sure there are times you will have to raise your voice but never ever lose your cool. It only causes more problems.

#8 Don't be afraid to ask for help: In baseball, the umpire who made the call doesn't have to seek help unless he wants it and even then he doesn't have to change his call. Don't let pride get in your way. If you have any doubt, as for help. Even if you end of staying with the original call, the coaches will appreciate it.

#9 Angle is more important than Distance: Don't get too on top of plays. Younger umpires always want to get as close to the play as possible when making calls. There is no need for this. Angle is much more important than distance. Get yourself in the right angle to see the play and then make the call.

#10 HUSTLE: Listen, in little league baseball you are usually only going to have two umpires per game. There are going to be times that you are going to be out of position. Weird plays happen and you can't always see them coming. If you are the type of umpire who is doing his best to get in position, you are less likely to hear a lot of yelling than the umpire who walks around the field.

There are more tips that I could give but I think I have rattled on enough for today. For everyone getting ready to start their season, I hope it's a great one!!! PLAY BALL!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Duties of the Home Plate Umpire

I was training the other day and I asked a group of 14 year old rookies, what the responsibilities of the plate umpire were. They all gave me pretty much the same answer, to call balls and strikes and to make calls on plays at the plate. Both are correct answers but there is a lot more into being a good plate umpire besides these. This post is going to go through what I determine to be the responsibilities of the plate umpire:

1) First and foremost, calling balls and strikes is the most important task an umpire does. It is also what separates the decent umpires from the good umpires. One of these days, I am going to put up a video on mechanics behind the plate but for the purposes of this post, know this: the key to being good at calling balls and strikes are simple. You need to be consistent. The strike zone does not change during the game, no matter what the score it. You need to be loud. The deaf grandmother needs to be able to hear your strike call. And you need to have good timing. PAUSE, READ, REACT!! See the pitch, think the call, make the call.

2) Fair and Foul Decisions. When you get older and start working with more experienced umpires, this gets more complicated but as a younger umpire in our system, the plate umpire takes ALL fair/foul decisions. So you have to be ready to get on that line and make the call.

3) Fly balls to the outfield. In our system, with no runners on base, the plate umpire takes takes all fly balls. Even though you can do that from behind the plate, it makes you look A LOT better to get out from behind the plate and get a better view of the play. Sometimes you only have to take 5 steps, other times (i.e. sinking line drive that the left fielder might dive for) you need to get past the pitching mound. The key is to just get out from behind the plate and hustle.

Now, if there is are runners on, this is where it gets complicated. If the ball is hit from inbetween the left fielder and the right field (or other words, there is no chance it is going to be a foul ball) then the field umpire takes the ball and the plate umpire makes sure the runners touch the bases. In this situation, you won't go to far from the plate because you might have a play at the plate. If the fly ball is hit down the line, the plate umpire takes the ball and the field umpire watches the runner. CONFUSED YET?

4) BALKS!!!! This is technically both umpires responsibilities but it is important.

5) Ground Balls with no runners on - On ground balls with no runners on, the plate umpire needs to clear the catcher and follow the runner down the first base line about 10 to 12 steps. (Half way down the line if you want to do it like the pros but it's not necessary). You do this for two reasons. First, sometimes your partner misses the fielder pulling his foot early, you are another set of eyes that can be used, IF HE ASKS FOR HELP. Remember, you NEVER overturn a partners call. If he wants help, he will ask and then you can tell him what you say. It is up to the partner if they want to change the call or not. The second reason you head down the line is to make sure the runner stays in the running lane.

As you umpire more, you will learn of more responsibilities but for the younger umpire, this will be more than enough to think about as you start working this spring. Just remember, the umpire that hustles is less likely to get yelled at as the umpire who just stands in one spot all game.

Have fun this summer and PLAY BALL!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Answer to Yesterdays Rules Question

The question was:

Runner on 3rd. Batter hits a routine pop up to the third basemen that hits the runner on third while he is standing on the base. What's the call??!

Read rule 7.08 (f), it reads that the runner is out if hit by a batter ball unless it has been deflected by a fielder of has has passed the infielder and no other infielders have a play on it.

The base is NOT a safe haven. If it is a pop up and not infield fly, the fielder has the right to the ball and if it hits the runner in fair territory while standing on the base, the runner is out. It is is an infield fly situation and this happens, the batter has already been declared out so the runner is safe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rules question

In our training session tonight this question came up.

Runner on 3rd. Batter hits a routine pop up to the third basemen that hits the runner on third while he is standing on the base. What's the call??!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting closer!!!

Well it's February 1st and that means baseball is right around the corner. I am working on some new rules questions and hope to be putting them up soon.

I don't know about all of you but I can't wait to get the training season started!!! Hope you all had a good off season!!! I'll post more in the next day or two.