Apparently I gloated a little too much yesterday and karma came back to bite me. That darn Bill squeezed me for another dollar with his 100% on the test. Oh well, tomorrow brings us another test and a chance for redemption. Tomorrow’s test will be on suspended games and double headers, and I have to say the suspended game rules are a little bit complicated depending on whether you use the regular suspended game rules or the optional suspended game rules. While I don’t have the time (or probably the knowledge) to explain the differences, check out rule 4.12 in OBR and try to wrap your head around all of that. While I will never use 4.12 in my career, as I won’t be getting a job in pro ball, it is very important for a MiLB umpire to understand this rule and be able to apply it properly. In my area, number one, we don’t have many rainouts, and number two, if there is a rainout, it will be up to the tournament director or High School to determine what to do. If you are working the minor leagues in some areas, rainouts can and do happen. Minor league baseball is a big business and they want to make up those games and it is incumbent on the umpire not only to know 4.12, but also when and how to call a game for weather or some other event to suspend a game. I never realized that the umpires would have this kind of pressure, in addition to all the other pressures on the field. There is a lot of responsibility that goes into being a MiLB umpire, and I think most people don’t have any idea what goes into becoming an MiLB umpire,let alone an MLB one. And speaking of MLB umpires, Jeff Nelson came to visit and talk with the class today. He also was out on the field watching us do our reps, talking with some of the guys, and giving us instruction. Seems like a real nice guy and it was cool to do some drill work in front of him. Apparently , he will be a speaker at our class banquet on Tuesday. Looking forward to what he has to say. Maybe tomorrow he can sit next to me and help me with the suspended games test! I think I’m going to need it.
On the field today, we continued with situationals and I wasn’t that happy with my performance. Although I wasn’t bad, I should have done better in a couple of areas. I was late getting down to cover third on a tag up from second, and I messed up sending a runner back after interference at a play at the plate. I just didn’t feel comfortable and assertive enough in the drills, and I guess there was something in the air today, because most of us had an off day. I’m sure I’m putting a little pressure on myself and I’m thinking too much, but these are mistakes I would almost never make in a game, and if I did, I would correct them and move on, or in the case of the late move towards third, no one would notice. But you do feel a bit of pressure performing in front of everybody where unlike Cheers, everyone knows your mistakes. But that’s why we are here and like Ted Barrett said, “The pressure is a privilege.” I’ll hit it hard again tomorrow, and I’m determined to do better.
In the cages, we worked on the batter crowding the plate. They teach us to go higher and work more around the edge of the catchers head, trying to still see the pitchers release point and the zone as well, all the while making sure you aren’t out of the slot into the “kill zone.” We had a great presentation about safety and concussions today in class. They showed a older clip of an MLB ump getting drilled with a foul ball when he moved over on the other side of the catcher and ended his career. They really stress staying in the slot to reduce the risk of injury. I’m used to moving up, so it wasn’t a real adjustment for me, but you have to be careful to move your feet and not lean your body to one side and mess up your whole stance. You really have to identify quickly where your feet placement should be when the slot disappears. Had some more good reps and I continue to fine tune my timing and tracking. There are only 6 more days of instruction, so we have to make the most of it. And while it seems like we’ve been here a long time, it’s quickly coming to a close.