Back in the win column on yesterday’s test. Even though I didn’t get a perfect score, Bill missed more questions and I got that dollar today! Little victories. In today’s classroom session we finished up with substitution rules and then went right into the DH rules. The DH rule is one that I don’t have much experience with, so it was an interesting lesson. Standard stuff, and although I probably won’t use it that much, it’s still good to know. We then went right into batting out of turn and that always generates a fair amount of questions. We just were able to start it and will finish it up on Monday. Today’s test was on game preliminaries and although I think I did well, I won’t find out the results until Monday. I think we may have a test everyday next week and a final exam sometime before the course concludes. Not sure when that final will be, but it is cumulative. Not really any POE’s from today’s classroom session and the lesson on the 2 umpire system was just some review.
The rain stayed away from us today out on the field, so we were able to get our full work out in. As you know, we start each field session with the basic 4 and go/stop/call it. We line up in groups of 2 crews each, so there are 6 rows of about 15 students each. In the beginning, the rows were a little crooked, the timing was off, the voice was not uniform, and there were more than a few out calls when there should have been safe calls and vice versa. But I have to say that we are looking very good these past couple of days. There is something really cool about 80 something guys with all their calls looking sharp, sounding strong, and in unison. I’m in the very back of one row, and its an impressive sight to see.
Today was the first full day of situational drills. Each umpire got about 5 or so reps in a row on the plate and the bases. The instructor called out the situation, and you ran with it. It started off with no runners on, and then progressed to whatever runner and batted ball combination they threw at us. I had some good reps and actually did better according to my feedback than I thought on the bases. One of the instructors paid me a very nice compliment about my base work and it was nice to hear. I was most pleased with how in sync my plate partner and I were on a base award. It was good visual communication and it felt good and I hope it looked good, too. But I still have to work hard as next week is more of the same and there is a lot more that I’ll have to get right each day. You can’t rest on your laurels as this game is able to humble you real quickly. We ended the day by having the whacker play competition “Whack Off.” The 12 winners of round one, including yours truly, squared off to crown the champ. The winner was one of the students from Japan, and even though he is very good, it’s almost unfair to go up against him. He’s got this great punch out mechanic, but when he adds in a voice in Japanese, not only does it sound awesome, you just can’t match it. It was good fun and a great way to end the week.
In the cages today we worked some more on check swings, and the usual tracking and timing. But I did want to relate a story that illustrates one of the many benefits of doing an intensive program here at school. We each get two reps of 14 pitches each day, 7 from the right and 7 from the left. Usually the instructors kind of tweak you on head height, keeping square to the pitcher, timing, and those kind of things. I was doing my second rep when the instructor stopped me and said he would like me to try something. My plate work is very solid and my timing is very good also, so I was curious as to what he wanted to do. I thought he was going to make an adjustment to my stance like head height or heel/instep. But no, he asked me to make a slight adjustment to the placement of my hand, the non wrap hand or the one behind the catcher. I usually put it on the side of my knee, but he wanted me to try and put it on top of my knee. The reasoning; he thought it would look better, make me look more solid and more in control. This is the kind of attention to detail and instruction you just can’t get anywhere else. Where else is someone going to take the time to make such important adjustments? They have high standards and an eye for detail that is unsurpassed. You never really know how you look in your plate stance and getting fine tuned by the pros is awesome. Even though everyone is here for different reasons, they treat everyone with the same attention. Of course some are more willing to accept the feedback than others, however, their goal is to make everyone the best they can be. I’m here to get better and I appreciate how seriously they take their jobs. Although it has been a long and tough week, it’s been a good one and I’m ready for a day off. Time to put my feet up and crack open a cold beer!