Today started as usual, up at just after 6am, shower, get dressed, and off to the dining room for 7am breakfast. There is a great diversity among the students here, from all around the US and around the world. I’ll get into the diversity in another post, but breakfast is a great way to meet and connect with other students. The tables in the dining hall seat about 6 people. At each meal Bill and I usually sit together. Most of the time we will have different students join us. One young student from a southern state has joined us for breakfast the last couple of mornings. We got to chatting and I asked him what was in that bowl that looked like cream of wheat. He told me that it was grits and that it was a staple of southern living. He started to describe what to put in them and was surprised to find out I had never had them before. He’s a polite young man with a nice disposition and told me I had to try them. So come this morning, I had myself a helping of grits with butter and salt. Not bad, but a little bland for me. I guess that’s what happens when you marry a gal that likes her food spicy. But I tried them and can cross that off my list. Only at umpire school!
Class rolled around at 8am and we did test corrections. Oh yeah, my name was on the board again! After that we started in on the rule book and more of the 2 man system. They keep building on it each day, so it is important to have a grasp on it otherwise you will fall behind quickly. Nothing much new to report except for one point of emphasis. We were studying catchers interference, particularly when there is a coaches option. This has been a widely discussed topic among the many umpires I have encountered on and off the field. Some say the coach has to know there is an option, others say they have to come out and at least give a hint they want the option. Others have even shouted across the diamond, “Do you want the option, coach?” I guess the debate is whether or not your suggestions could be construed as coaching. I don’t believe I have ever had a situation where I had the possibility of a coach wanting the results of the play. What we were told today in class was that if a coach comes out to discuss the play, it is perfectly acceptable to inform him that he has an option to take the results of the play, and that would not be coaching on the umpires part. I like that approach and had that situation arose in one of my games, I would have taken a similar tactic. Now I know.
No test today, so me and Bill’s test competition will continue tomorrow. We hit the field after lunch to work on more 2 man mechanics. We did some more first to third practice, and later worked on rundowns. Standard stuff, no real new POE’s for me to report. Our crew did go with the medical coordinator for some stretching and injury prevention training. The facility here has a couple of training rooms and each crew learns about stretching techniques, and we have the full use of the rooms with equipment at our disposal. So far, a number of students have been taking advantage of this. MiLB has developed a stretching matrix that is being taught to all their umpires. We incorporate a number of those exercises in our field training. It seems like a good program and a step in the right direction to help prevent injuries. We’ve all got the injury bug sometime during our amateur careers and is probably a concern for minor leaguers at times especially with their rigorous schedules.
We got a little rain this afternoon that shut our field drill a little short. We ended the evening back in the classroom for a discussion about gear and equipment. Jim Kirk from Ump-Attire has been here since day one and will stay until next week. I’ve heard a lot of good things about him on Umpire Empire, and it seems to be true. He’s very personable and will bend over backwards for us. Great guy and he will definitely be getting more of my business in the future.
Good day today, had some fun on the fields, and had some good turns in the drills. Time for a beer and some college football.