2009 Fall Baseball Letter #7

Hi NW Umpires,

Here is letter #7 today regarding how well you are doing accepting the assignments.  Out of 510 umpire and evaluator slots that have been assigned you have accepted all but about 80 slots.  Good work here.

There are a 10 umpires that have not looked at the assignments and 12 umpires that have seen the assignments and have not yet accepted or declined them.  So that means a whole bunch of you have accepted your assignment(s).

Thank you for that.  I am encouraging the others to accept them soon.

There are some playing rules that I will be sending out sometime soon that covers some minor adaptations to the high school rules that this league plays under.

This is a reminder that we will be handing out the red (PBUC Manual for the 2-Umpire System) on August 19, 2009 at our Fall Baseball Orientation Meeting at 6 pm at the International School of Minnesota in Eden Prairie.  Again, go to www.mshsl.org and click on schools to find ISM and look at their address there and also a map of where they are located.  The cost of the manual is $10.00 for all members and those that are applying to become members.  Also, I suggest you go to www.nwumpires and look at the 11 quizzes that have been prepared regarding the red manual.  There basically is a quiz for each of the 10 sections in the manual.  The correct answers are also listed after each question in the quiz.  These quizzes are just learning tools for you to learn the red manual mechanics better.  If you have been evaluated in the past, you are not required to attend this meeting.  All new umpires to NW for this year and also all umpire applicants are expected to attend the meeting.

I will send out more information about this orientation meeting in early August.

More ideas and techniques below from Jim Evans "Maximizing the 2-Umpire System".


The Strike Mechanic

From his plate stance, the plate umpire shall raise straight up and signal the strike both verbally and physically.  It is very important that he keep his eyes focused on the baseball or mitt as he signals.  It is recommended that umpires signal strikes by the numbers e.g. Strike 1,   Strike 2, Strike 3.  The umpire’s mechanic, the arm motion, should be executed straight up or out to the side.  It’s critical that the right arm does not enter the space in front of the umpire over the catcher in order to avoid interfering with a catcher’s throw.  “Strikes” are vocalized louder than “balls.”  Strike calls should be audible to the stands.  Strike calls should become louder and more intense as they progress from Strike 1 to Strike 2 to Strike 3.  After rendering his signal, the umpire should step back and relax between pitches.

The Ball Mechanic

From his plate stance, the plate umpire shall signal “Ball” while still down in the crouched position.  The call of “Ball!” is a verbal signal only, no physical signal or indication/explanation where the pitch was.  The ball should be by the numbers and loud enough to be heard in the dugouts.  As when signaling strikes, the umpire should keep his eyes affixed to the ball or catcher’s mitt which holds the ball during this entire process.  As the catcher is coming up to return the ball to the pitcher, the umpire steps back and relaxes.


Foul Tip

If the bat touches a pitched ball and the ball then goes sharply and directly to the catcher’s bare hand or his mitt and is secured before touching the ground, the pitch shall be called a strike (foul tip) and the ball remains in play.  If the ball is not legally secured by the catcher, it becomes a foul ball.  Naturally, if the ball is swung at and missed, the ball remains in play and is physically signaled “Strike”.  Most people on the field, in the dugouts, in the stands and in the press box have no idea what actually occurred.  To convey what has  actually happened and eliminate confusion, plate umpires in professional baseball often use a foul tip signal.If the ball is barely touched by the bat and the catcher fails to secure it, the umpire shall aggressively signal “Foul!”  He may use the foul tip signal to explain what appeared as a swing and a miss was, in fact, a pitch that was touched by the bat.

The foul tip signal should be given at shoulder height or higher for better visibility.  The back of the left hand is brushed with the palm of the right hand and repeated two or three times.  If the ball is not secured, the umpire shall signal foul (time), give the foul tip mechanic and then repeat the foul mechanic (time).  I personally believe this will confuse too many people and therefore, just sell the foul (time) mechanic and use good timing on it.  If the ball is legally secured, the foul tip mechanic shall be followed by a strike mechanic.

Giving the Count

The plate umpire shall give the count periodically or anytime it is requested.  If the scoreboard is unreliable, it will probably be necessary to give the count more often.  He should raise both hands head height or slightly higher to indicate the number of balls with the fingers of his left hand and signal the strikes with the fingers of the right hand.  Raising both hands simultaneously with the palms facing outward, he verbalizes the count in a voice audible to the dugouts and coaches at first and third.  He may also turn and display the count to the coaches. The number of balls are stated first followed by the number of strikes (e.g. two balls no strikes/one ball two strikes/no balls one strike).  One should never use the term “zero” in describing the number of balls or strikes nor ever signal a 3 ball 2 strike full count by displaying two closed fists.  Two closed fists raised above the head could easily be mistaken for the time mechanic.  The indicator remains securely held between the thumb and the palm of the left hand as the count is given.

Time/Holding Up the Pitcher/Play

When the plate umpire initiates the call of time, it is important that his partner and everyone else on the playing field knows that time has been called. 

He should raise both hands above his head with arms bent slightly more than 90o with elbows approximately 45o in front of his shoulders.

The fingers shall be held together and palms facing forward.  The indicator is secured against the palm with the left thumb and the mask remains on.  Naturally, if the timeout is more than momentary, it is acceptable to remove the mask. Before the first pitch of any inning or following any dead ball situation, the plate umpire should be sure that the pitcher does not deliver the pitch before the batter is ready.  Once the pitcher has assumed his position on the rubber and the catcher is in position behind the plate, the plate umpire shall move into his ready position.  As the batter is moving into the box and preparing to assume his batting   position, the umpire shall put his right hand up in front of his body at least head height to prevent the pitcher from delivering a pitch before the batter is set.  This signal should never be used to initiate the call of time but may be used to indicate that the ball is still dead following the call of time. 

I am suggesting that too many umpires use this signal too often and at the wrong time.  I suggest that it is better to let the catcher help you manage this part of the game.  Make sure he knows he cannot quick pitch the batter and work on his better instincts of making it fair for both the pitcher and the batter.  Let him know he should not be giving any signs before the catcher knows the batter’s feet, hands and eyes are ready.  I have had to call a “quick pitch” only once in my umpiring career because I could not convince the catcher to take care of this without causing me and the opposing batters a problem.  It meant a 3-2 walk in the bottom of the 9ththat put the lead-off batter on and he eventually scored the winning run. 

No, I wasn’t popular but no one could say I had not tried very diplomatically to have the catcher comply with my request.  I finally had to take a stand and it happened to be in the last inning.   There were 4 previous times in the game that I could have called it but I just tried to work with the catcher on this and it did not work without finally imposing the penalty.

Once the batter is reasonably set and the pitcher is engaged with the rubber prepared to deliver the pitch, the umpire shall point aggressively to the pitcher and order “Play!”

Overthrow Out of Play/Placing the Runner

With one exception, the plate umpire is responsible for all overthrows that go out of play.  In some systems, the base umpire is responsible for the overthrow when he has moved into foul territory due to pressure.  As soon as the ball enters dead ball territory, he shall signal time, point to the runner and then point to the base which the runner is awarded.  He shall verbalize, “Time!” (then point to the runner) Second base!” or whatever base is being awarded (as he points to the awarded base).  If there are multiple runners, he shall    do this for each runner starting with the lead runner first.If the ball goes out of play behind the plate, the plate umpire has initial responsibility for calling time and the base umpire takes responsibility for placing the runner(s).  Since the plate umpire will have his back to the infield in this situation, the base umpire will be able to more accurately place the runner(s).

News Flash

*NW General Membership Meeting - TBD 2020

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