Rushing for Nothing

Today I was scheduled to umpire my second scrimmage of the pre-season. I was looking forward to it, as I was hoping to be able to spend some time behind the dish and see some pitches. So, since the scrimmage was scheduled for 3:45, and I got out of work at 2:oo, I busted butt to get home, change, and get to the field in time to meet with the other umpires and see what all we were doing, and where all I was going to some practice in at.

Well, the unpredictable WNC weather decided that I didn’t need to get some work in and decided to get cold and dump a little untraceable trace of snow. Needless to say, the scrimmage was postponed to tomorrow, in which I did not know until I checked my email, on my phone, to see that the Assistant Athletic Director from the host school.

Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but I am already scheduled to work another scrimmage, at pretty much the same time, in another location tomorrow. Since I am new to umpiring, I decided to schedule myself to work four scrimmages so that I can get as much experience as possible before the regular season begins. We are only required, by the State, to work two, and can get credit for working three, but I figure four scrimmages would give me enough practice time to feel more comfortable making calls.

I guess that’s just how it goes. Take what is given to you, no matter who it is that gives it. Three scrimmages are better than two and definitely better than one, which is what some of the other umpires will probably get in with some of the other scrimmages being canceled last Saturday.

Hopefully the weather will clear up before the scrimmage tomorrow and I wont be rushing around to get to another postponed, or canceled, scrimmage. But, then again, I guess that it wouldn’t hurt if I actually checked my email BEFORE I get ready to leave, either, eh?

THROUGH THE EYES OF THE “BLUE”…Vol. I

Yesterday I began my “career” as an Umpire. Spring training for High School baseball is only one week. So, not only do the players and coaches have to work out all of the “kinks” quickly, the umpires do as well. Especially those of us that are new to calling the games. Let me just say, mistakes will be made and calls will be missed.

One thing that has been mentioned to me, and the rest of us new, or second year, umpires is that working a two-man crew is difficult. Although we are expected to, there is no possible way to see everything that happens on the field. This is one thing that I learned quickly during the scrimmage yesterday.

I will quickly take you through the couple of innings that I worked the bases. In one inning, there were two double-play attempts made back-to-back. On the first one I did not vocalize loudly enough that the runner going into second was out. Big mistake! I had to tell him again that he was out when I noticed that he was still standing on second when the play was over. But, I redeemed myself when the very next batter hit into a double play; with both out calls I made sure that everyone was able to hear me. Or, at least I hope that I did.

Another memorable inning that I worked was the final inning. Standing in the “C” position, which is behind the Pitcher on the third base side, when I looked towards first base, the sun was low enough that it was right in my eyes making it difficult to see anything in that general direction. There was a runner on second and the batter hit a line-drive to the first baseman. Watching the ball, I lost it in the sun, but I saw the first baseman turn and begin to throw. With that, I knew that he had to have caught it. I call the out on the catch, and then the out on the throw back to second because the runner was off the bag. The most difficult part of that play was dealing with the sun.

Luckily I did not have any real difficult plays to make a call on. It would have been interesting if there would have been. Would I have made the right call? Or, would I have totally mucked it up? Obviously, those are questions that I cannot answer yet!

The good thing, the veteran that I was working with, he has called NCAA as well as High School ball for years, had nothing but good reviews for me every time I came off the field either between half-innings, or when it was time for the other new umpire to work the field. Sure, there were a couple times that he would tell me that I did something wrong, like when I did not vocalize the out during the double-play attempt, but most of the time he would say that I got all the calls right and that my positioning and mechanics were good. He even told me that he was going to request to have me work a few games with him this year. Nothing makes you feel better than being told that by a veteran.

Unfortunately I did not get to work the plate at all. The lead umpire did not think it would be a good idea to have us “new guys” calling the plate for varsity pitching. With me having three more scrimmages to work before the regular season begins, I am hoping that I will get some valuable time behind the plate calling balls and strikes.