Well I didn’t get a 100% on yesterdays test, missed one because I was reading too fast and missed that the 3rd out appeal was a force play, so no runs scored. The good news is that Bill missed one, too, so I didn’t have to fork over the dollar! It’s the little victories that you must celebrate. Today’s test was on appeals, and I think I missed one again. Still, I have a 95 average, but it’s nice to get a smiley face on your test and your name on the board. Tomorrow’s test will be on the pitcher. We started a lesson on balks today and that always generates questions. We even went out onto the field today for a balk demonstration. One thing the instructor did that I really liked was when a student had a question, he gave them the ball and glove and made them go on the mound and demonstrate the balk move they wanted to know about. A great way to teach everybody without some long and confusing explanation that sometime happens when a student tries to explain a balk move. It was short and explanatory to the whole group. I’m going to use that technique in my future clinics. A couple of good POE’s were explained today that I wanted to share. One was that a pitcher does not have to disengage when throwing to a base, (obviously), but they made it a point to emphasis that a pitcher does not have to disengage the rubber for the purpose of throwing to a base for an appeal. Although I know the rule, I have seen many umpires call a balk on this play, and particularly when it involves an appeal. Apparently they have seen it a lot as well. Another interesting point, and one that has recently been changed in the rule book, is when a ball is dropped by the pitcher when on the rubber with runners on. The old rule stated, and I’m paraphrasing, that if a pitcher dropped the ball, it was a balk. I remember having a discussion with a fellow umpire about whether the ball had to hit the ground or not. Apparently it did under the old wording. Now they have clarified the wording to mean that it only has to slip or fall out of the glove. (Again, I’m paraphrasing). It doesn’t have to touch the ground. Good information from all of our class sessions. Although I know OBR pretty well, everyday I pick up something new. You never stop learning.
We did not have cages today, we stayed on the field to work on pickoffs and rundowns for the first part of the day. Then we went into situations set up by the instructors. Now, instead of one turn, each student got 4-5 different plays in a row as a plate umpire and a base umpire. The situations were a recap of what we have learned so far. You could have no runners on, one runner, two runners, fly balls, ground balls, etc. It was cool and I had some good reps and a couple of not so good reps, but overall, not bad, and that is why we practice. I’m recognizing all of my mistakes, so that’s a good thing, and it’s easier to self correct when you know what you did wrong. The instructors seem to like that you know what you’ve done wrong, too. The day finished with some fun things, too, and I will have to brag just a tiny bit. At the end of drills, we went into what they called a whacker or banger drill. Each crew went one at a time and had to do their best out call and the judges (instructors) picked the best one out of each crew. They graded on judgment, timing, and style. Since there are 12 crews, there would be 12 winners that will meet in a future competition. It was fun and many of the students had some pretty cool out calls. For my turn, I just went with good mechanics and timing, capped of with just my regular and crisp punch out call. Well, as you can guess, I won in my crew and will be moving on! Kind of cool for the old guy. Don’t know how far I’ll make it, but at least I’m on to the next round. After the whacker competition, we lined up in formation for some go/stop/call it competition among the crews. The lead instructor threw in a bunch of reversals, while the rest of the instructors were messing with our heads. Needless to say, we didn’t do so well, but it was fun and I hope we do it again. I think the instructors had the most fun trying to mess us up. Another day down and its now time for some rest.