Not too much to report on the classroom and field stuff today, except for some guest speakers which I will get to in a minute. Class was the usual with rule and 2 man study. On the field we worked on double play mechanics and then some more situations with no runners on. Most everyone is catching on quickly and having a good time. There are some good umpires here and I’m starting to see some of them really shine. We have a long way to go, so I’m sure there is going to be some great competition in the later weeks. We had a slight rain delay here, but everyone took it in stride, and after hanging out in the dugouts for about 45 minutes, we were able to get back on the field. Its amazing how the soil conditions can vary geographically. We had some substantial rains yesterday and last night, but yet the field conditions were great this afternoon. And even with more rain today, with just a little fixing of the batters box, we were good to go in no time. Back home in San Diego, our fields would be a muddy mess for days. But I had some good reps today and got some good feedback. The hardest part is re-learning some mechanics, and most are simple to do but muscle memory is a powerful thing. Today I had a little trouble with the footwork on going out from A on a trouble ball down the line. I want to do a crossover step and straddle the line as opposed to opening the gate with my right foot and then stepping over the foul line. The instructors have been real positive and I appreciate all the input and advice. I’ll keep working hard to get it right.
In class we had the pleasure of having Rich Reiker, Bruce Froemming, and Ed Rapuano speak today. Rich is the director of umpire development for MLB, and I think you know who the other two are. It was more of a pep talk sort of thing from each of them, and although I know we don’t have that much time, I would love to hear some stories from those three. We also had our 4th test today and we will get the results tomorrow. Lets see if I can make it 3 in a row!
I wanted to share a great piece of advice we learned in class a couple of days ago, and it’s a saying that every umpire, in my opinion, should know. We’ve often read or talked about game management, particularly how some umpires can be overly officious. I sure you may have heard the saying “with the book, not by the book.” I learned one that is even better, and I will use that until the day I stop umpiring. They told us “use the rules to solve a problem, don’t use the rules to create a problem.” How great is that? That advice goes deeper that the face value, however. Aside from the obvious meaning of don’t go looking for problems, one really needs to learn and study the rules to be able to handle all types of situations on the diamond. It can also apply to other fields as well. I think I’ll turn it into a bumper sticker.
Tomorrow we start cage work and I know the entire student body can’t wait. Should be fun and I’ll have a report tomorrow. For now, my feet hurt, I’m tired, and the bed is beckoning me. Time to call my sweetie and chat, and then hit the hay. Oh yes, I took some Advil already!