Saturday, March 12, 2011

Baseball season 2011, Umpires point of view

My son's baseball league had it's Umpire Clinic last night. As one of the volunteer umpires for the league I got to teach some of the coaches the rules of the game. It should surprise no one that many coaches do not understand the rules of baseball. What is a catch, what is a strike and what is speeding up play? So a couple of good Umpires put on a clinic and show them what they need to know. Last night I got to quickly go over Obstruction and Interference. I said quickly because the other speaker Umpire took an incredible amount of time, almost an hour, going over Field Umpire positions.
I got to spend some time with some coaches one on one and they all have some tough questions. They want answers to something that happened 2 or 3 years ago, of which I wasn't there, for me to give a blessing that another umpire was wrong.  They found out I won't do that. In baseball, train wrecks happen. Umpires are forced to make the call as best as they see it. Judgment calls happen.
I have some hard rules that I follow at the Little League level.
  1. If any kid is hurt, dead ball, all play stops.  I don't care about anything other than the kids health. These are 10, 11 and 12 year old kids for God's sake. The kids safety is the most important part of baseball.
  2. I will never over rule my partner. Now that being said, I also will not have a Dad come out of the stands to "help me" call outs at first. I would rather call the whole game alone, which means running a great deal more and a ton of more responsibility, than having a guy not in tune with me.
  3. Never punch a kid out on a called Third Strike. Call the first strike the same as the third. It's about the kids, not the Umpire. 
  4. If lightning is in the area, get the kids in the dug out. Please see number 1. Fencing, foul poles and other things surrounding a baseball field are lightning magnets.
Know the rules.  Umpires make mistakes, untrained umpires make many of them.
Rules you should know!
Strike Zone, Infield Fly, Obstruction, Interference and what is a Catch. If all baseball fans knew these, there would be less shouting to the Umpires.  Not that I don't cherish your opinions! 

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