• “Hey Blue, the runner busted his butt running to first base, the least you could do is move 10 ft. to make a call!”~~~

  • “Wipe the dirt off that called strike, Blue!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, did they stop printing the rulebook in Braille?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, Lenscrafter called and said your new glasses will be ready in 30 minutes!”~~~

  • “You're killing me, Blue!”~~~

  • “Blue, that was a strike in any bowling alley!”~~~

  • “Sweep the plate Blue! It's the least you can do!”~~~

  • “Wake up Blue, you're missing a great game!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, you're getting better, you almost made the right call that time!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, Stevie Wonder could see that one!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, you really shouldn't be in the game until you get warmed up!”~~~

  • “Blue, just 'cause it's a night game, doesn't mean you should be asleep!”~~~

  • “Blue, if that pitch were any further outside it would be in the West Desert!”~~~

  • “Somebody call the police, this guy is impersonating an umpire!”~~~

  • “Blue, now I know why there’s only one eye (I) in umpire”~~~

  • “You can go home Blue. We'll take it from here.”~~~

  • “Come on Blue, it’s a strike zone, not an end zone!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, does your wife let you make decisions at home?”~~~

  • “Blue, kick your dog, he's lying to you!”~~~

  • “Blue, if the pitcher is throwing too fast for you, we can ask him to slow it down!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, how can you sleep with all these lights on?”~~~

  • “I’ve seen better Blues in a box of crayons!”~~~

  • “I’m gonna break your cane and shoot your dog!”~~~

  • “If I had a dollar, Blue, for every good call you’ve made, I’d be broke!”~~~

  • "Is that your final answer?”~~~

  • “The magic 8 ball says……”~~~

  • “When your dog barks twice, it's a strike!”~~~

  • “Mix in some consistency once in awhile!”~~~

  • “Take off that welding mask”~~~

  • “Lenscrafter called... They'll be ready in 30 min.”~~~

  • “Open your good eye!”~~~

  • “Can I pet your seeing eye dog after the game?”~~~

  • “Looked pretty good from up here Blue!”~~~

  • “Do your sleeping at home Blue!”~~~

  • “You must be losing them in the lights!”~~~

  • “Why do you keep looking in your hand...do you have a map of the strike zone in it?”~~~

  • “I'll take three pencils!”~~~

  • “For a guy that only works 2 hours a day, you're doing a pretty bad job!”~~~

  • “Hey blue, if you had one more eye you'd be a Cyclops!”~~~

  • “RING..RING....Wake up call Blue!”~~~

  • “I've seen better blue in a toilet bowl!”~~~

  • “What's a matter you gotta broken arm?”~~~

  • “Look through the mask, not at it!”~~~

  • “It really is hot today - that strike zone is melting!”~~~

  • “Wrong!”~~~

  • “Here's a quarter, go buy a strike zone!”~~~

  • “How's work experience going Blue?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue…if you had one more eye, you’d be a Cyclops!”~~~

  • “Keep that up and we’ll shoot your dog and break your cane!”~~~

  • “"Easy Flinchy" – After a slight flinch behind the plate.”~~~

  • “I thought only horses slept standing up!”~~~

  • “You're blinking way to long!”~~~

  • “Come on Blue, that pitch was so far outside it had a hat and coat on!”~~~

  • “You couldn't see the plate if your dinner was on it!”~~~

  • “Wake up Blue, you're missing a great game!”~~~

  • “Somebody call the police, this guy's impersonating an umpire!”~~~

  • “You're like a bat without sonar!”~~~

  • “I didn't know we were golfing today, I would have brought my clubs!”~~~

  • “Did you star in "Weekend at Bernie's"?”~~~

  • “Hey blue, that call was a get outta here quick call!”~~~

  • “I thought only horses slept standing up!”~~~

  • “That was higher than a t-shirt at Mardi Gras!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, it's against the law to make prank calls!”~~~

  • “(Hold up cell phone) Is this your cell phone? Because it has three missed calls!”~~~

  • “That pitch was like your last date, you didn't want to see her or call her.”~~~

  • “To batter as he steps into the box: "You better be swinging. You're standing in the strike zone."”~~~

  • “After the ump has dusted off home plate: "You're gonna make someone a great wife someday!”~~~

  • “You're not gonna sleep a minute tonight because you've slept all game!”~~~

  • “Did you make the call on WMD in Iraq as well?”~~~

  • “Is your rule book written in Braille?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, how can you sleep with all these lights on!”~~~

  • “Stevie Wonder could see that one!”~~~

  • “Flip over the plate and read the directions!”~~~

  • “How about some Windex for that glass eye!”~~~

  • “The French judge says it's a strike!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, diarrhea has more consistency than your strike zone!”~~~

  • “You need to go to confession after that call!”~~~

  • “I've seen better Blues in a box of crayons!”~~~

  • “Don't bother brushing off the corners, you're not calling them anyway!”~~~

  • “We know you're blind, we've seen your wife!”~~~

  • “They're putting your strike zone on the back of milk cartons!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, that's not a 9 iron he's hitting with!”~~~

  • “How do you sleep at night?”~~~

  • “I was confused the first time I saw a game too!”~~~

  • “I've gotten better calls from my ex-wife!”~~~

  • “Good thing there are not three choices!”~~~

  • “Somebody get the ump his prescription mask!”~~~

  • “You flipping coins?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue is that a dinner plate? Apparently it has no corners!”~~~

  • “Admit it.... You lied!”~~~

  • “Why don't you get your Seeing Eye dog to call it for you?”~~~

  • “I forgot the Milk-Bone for your seeing-eye dog!”~~~

  • “Have you lost your strike zone in the lights?”~~~

  • “Now I know why there's only one eye (I) in umpire!”~~~

  • “You couldn't get a pitchout right!”~~~

  • “You're making more bad calls than a telemarketer!”~~~

  • “Kick your dog, he's lying to you!”~~~

  • “Be careful when you back up, so you don't fall over your dog!”~~~

  • “Did you haul in your strike zone on a tractor trailer bed?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, if you had another eye it would be lonely!”~~~

  • “You couldn't call hogs!”~~~

  • “Keep calling them like that and you'll be bagging groceries in no time!”~~~

  • “Get a hammer and some nails, the plate is movin' around again!”~~~

  • “You call more strikes than a union delegate!”~~~

  • “Did your glass eye fog up?”~~~

  • “You couldn't call a cab!”~~~

  • “The circus is in town and the clowns are wearing blue!”~~~

  • “It's a strike zone, not an end zone!”~~~

  • “You really shouldn't be in the game until you get warmed up!”~~~

  • “Come on Blue, turn that mask around and get a GOOD look!”~~~

  • “You can go home blue, we'll take it from here!”~~~

  • “How'd you become an umpire? Flunk out of tollbooth school?”~~~

  • “How about asking the crowd?”~~~

  • “Do you want to use another lifeline?”~~~

  • “3 Blind Mice, 3 Blind Mice,”~~~

  • “What were you, a lookout for the Titanic?”~~~

  • “How many fingers am I holding up?”~~~

  • “(For an umpire is slow getting in position) C'mon blue, put the Snicker Bar down!”~~~

  • “Sweep the plate! It's the least you can do!”~~~

  • “Move around, you're tilting' the infield!”~~~

  • “Move around Blue, you're killing' the grass!”~~~

  • “It sure sounded like a strike!”~~~

  • “How'd you get a square head in that round mask?”~~~

  • “Have they stopped printing the rulebooks in Braille?”~~~

  • “Don't donate your eyes to science, they don't want 'em'”~~~

  • “Does your wife let you make decisions at home?”~~~

  • “Pull the good eye out of your pocket!”~~~

  • “Wipe the dirt off that called strike!”~~~

  • “Sure you don't want to phone a friend?”~~~

  • “You can open your eyes now!”~~~

  • “Do you get any better or is this it?”~~~

  • “You're blinking too long!”~~~

  • “You couldn't make the right call if you had a phone book!”~~~

  • “You couldn't make a call in a phone booth!”~~~

  • “Do you take Visa or American Express?”~~~

  • “Leave the gift giving to Santa!”~~~

  • “Take out your glass eye and wash it!”~~~

  • “Guess again, the last call was wrong!”~~~

  • “Blue, do you feel guilty?”~~~

  • “If the pitcher is throwing too fast for you, we can ask them to slow it down!”~~~

  • “Your strike zone is a moving target!”~~~

  • “You're getting better, you almost made the right call that time!”~~~

  • “Punch a hole in that mask, you're missing a good game!”~~~

  • “Hey, Sleeping Beauty, wake up!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, Magnum P.I. called and he can't find your strike zone!”~~~

  • “I've seen potatoes with better eyes!”~~~

  • “Next time buy a ticket if you're going to watch!”~~~

  • “Can I buy you another beer?”~~~

  • “We know your blind we've seen your wife!”~~~

  • “I’ve seen better blues in a crayon box!”~~~

  • “I've heard better calls at a square dance!”~~~

  • “I've heard better calls between two tin cans and a piece of string!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, were you looking for the curve?”~~~

  • “Hey Blues, which one of you is the designated driver?”~~~

  • “Move a little Blue, you're growing' roots!~~~

  • '

Come On Blue!

The bang-bang blogging thoughts of an experienced umpire.

Under The Bright Lights - OYB Umpire Tryouts 2014

Under The Bright Lights - OYB Umpire Tryouts 2014

One of the toughest things a new umpire has to deal with is knowing where they are in the game and knowing what to do when something happens. There is a whole lot more to do than just watch the pitch and call balls and strikes. Yes, it is all about scenarios.

Badge Michael-A-160APRIL 12, 2014 - Last night we did a first with Orem Youth Baseball. We had two of our 11-12 year old competition teams show up for a beautiful Saturday evening 2 hour scrimmage and while they played we had our newer umpire candidates show up and take turns behind the plate and out in the field. We had about 40 show up and for most of them it was the first time actually doing it with a game going on.

Was it a success? Absolutely! We had three previous 45-90 minute clinics where we covered rules, protocols, and positioning, but there is no easy way to simulate a real game experience unless you are in a real game. As many of them learned last night, they aren't quite ready for a real game.

BALL AND STRIKES - Most of the candidates were ready to call balls and strikes, but even that can be scary when a young man is swinging a metal bat at the same ball you are trying to judge. There is the issue of where to set up, when to drop into position, when to make your decision, and how to alert the large crowd of what you thought about the pitch.

I was the lucky one who also got to don the equipment and I set up immediately behind them and I would talk them through what they should alter, stop, and continue doing. This put me in the interesting position where I got to take my first face shot of the season. Yep, the candidate in front of me was set up and there was a foul tipped off and upwards directly at him and he was already diving out of its path. The ball continued on and hit me right in the mask. I had yet to move and the cool shock absorbers on the Wilson took the impact and was barely noticeable that I had been hit. But that did not stop me from making a mini scene by saying, "Hey wait a minute, that face shot was meant for you. What are you doing jumping out of the way. That was meant for you! You can't move. You need to stand still and take the shots with your name on them." And then once he got back into position for the next pitch I told him quietly, "Don't worry, it is only natural to be scared when a projectile is hurled your way. Just trust your equipment and don't jump out of the way."

Most were ready for the balls and strikes, but needed guidance with their positioning, stance, and timing.

POSITIONING - Our attempt has been to teach the young men to line up in a Gerry Davis type of stance that puts their chins in a direct line with the inside edge of the plate. Most wanted to line up squarely behind the catcher. I would guide them to the right position that would give them the best view without a catcher blocking their view.

STANCE - The Gerry Davis stance is the easiest on the legs and back. Plus, it reserves your energy and allows you to more easily hustle when you need to move from behind the plate. I watched these young men do the same thing I used to do when I first started, and that was to try to hide behind the catcher. The thought is that the catcher has the best view, so somehow it is best for the umpire to be down there right next to the catcher so that they can also share that same view. This is a flawed concept because the catcher is always moving around due to the placement of the pitch he is calling.  This means that the view of the strike zone is always from a slightly different position and adopting the position low near the moving catcher will result in a very inconsistent strike zone.

We want our candidates to set up in the same relaxed position on the inside edge of the plate for either the right handed or left handed batter, and then stay set without movement, flinching, eyes closing, or dancing, until after the pitch is complete. The umpire should be almost robotic with only their eyes moving as they track the pitch from the release of the ball from the pitchers hand all the way until it hits the catcher's glove. If this is done from the same stance every pitch, then the same consistent calls can be made throughout the entire game.

TIMING - Timing behind the plate has to do with making the call of "Ball" or "Strike!" I took a group of about 10 candidates standing in line and shared with them that the crowd hates delayed calls, so make each call delayed and they will become used to your taking the time needed to judge what you saw to make the right call. I told them this after about 10 other candidate umpires had come to the plate and they were calling "Strike" before the ball had even struck the catchers glove. When it was a ball they would delay and say "Ball". This gave strikes a rapid fire quick call and a ball very delayed.

The correct timing is to watch the ball as it is released from the pitchers hand all the way until it hits the catcher's glove, Then make sure the catcher caught the ball, decide on whether the pitch was a strike or a ball, and then make your call. I can promise you that if you are making a decision and call before the ball even strikes the glove, then your timing is off and you need to rethink your decision to be an umpire. Take a deep breath, set up and try again. Watch the ball all the way to the catcher's glove, make your decision, and then make your call. Every non-hit pitch call is delayed and given the judgment it deserves.

RIGHT HAND WAVY - I had to tell about a third of the candidates to stop waving their hands after each ball. This was especially true with their right hands. The right hand is only moved when there is a strike being called. For those that can't hear the call, they are looking for movement of the right hand to confirm a strike. "But I was just indicating how the ball was outside" they would reply. WE DO NOT SHOW WITH HAND GESTURES WHERE A BALL WAS!... That is a bad habit to get into and I have been guilty of it as well. Don't do it! It is not needed. It is not professional. The movement confuses what you are actually there for, and the coach can ask his catcher where the pitch was if he really couldn't tell. If it was out of the strike zone, then it was a ball and if it was in the strike zone, then it is a called strike.

So let me repeat the thought, when the right hand moves, then it is an important call. It shows strikes and it shows outs. The less important stuff is shown with the left hand. The left hand removes the mask, it operates the indicator, it shows balls on the hand count, and it is used to bring the ball into play.

DEAD BALL, LIVE BALL - A big learning lesson was bringing the dead ball into play. This is to be done by looking at the pitcher (who is holding the ball) dead in the eye, pointing with the left hand, and even saying "Play!" Notice that this is done with the left hand, and as it happens then the real fun can begin.

MIRROR MIRROR, ON THE WALL - It was obvious that these young men were not raised as princesses by spending long hours in front of the mirror admiring their beauty. In fact, most had spent no time in front of their mirror practicing to be an umpire. My best advice is to find a mirror in a private place of solitude and go crazy where only you get to see yourself. That's right, set up in your stance, track the pitch, pretend you hear the sound of the ball hitting the catcher's glove, make your decision, and then make your call. Now pretend you were a Grandpa sitting in your lounge chair watching your grandson play from under the trees down the first base line on Field 2. What would Grandpa see as he watched you making the calls from behind the plate? Practice your "Strike" mechanic. What does it look like on strike one, strike two, and most importantly on a strike three where the batter was caught looking? What do you look like as you ring him up? What do you look like on ball four as you alert the young batter to take their base?

I guess the biggest question is how to best look cool when this may be your first season umpiring? Nobody wants to look like a rookie, yet everybody must start out as a rookie. Practice in front of the mirror and develop good mechanics. Habits are developed whether we like them or not. It was easy to see who was most embarrassed last night on the field. It was easy to see who was afraid to raise their voices loudly. It was easy to see who had not practiced in front of the mirror. On that note, do it when nobody else is home and use your voice at full strength in the privacy of your own bathroom where nobody else can hear.

WATCH OTHERS - There are dozens of ways to make the ball or strike call.  Each person has their own style, but style can be developed.  I recommend that you watch others and find somebody whose style you like. YouTube is great for this. Here are some links to 2 minute videos from grown-up men who have paid a lot of money to a professional umpire training school as they try to pass their auditions. They have been umpiring for years, and each has their own style. Is there one that you like? If so, then go practice in front of the mirror and perfect the style. Later on you can modify it or change to another altogether.

Before watching the videos, you need to be aware that no longer how long you have been doing this you have to be able to accept criticism and guidance. We all develop bad habits and putting yourself under scrutiny is the best way to improve mechanics. Often we are doing things that only others can identify. Each of the following experienced umpires are willing to accept the trainer's recommendations.

Here, take a look...

ENTIRE COLLECTION - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=UU_Ug94yKYN4DlOP-cv9nGDg

IN SUMMARY - A lot was learned last night.  I was proud of each candidate as they took their turn behind the plate. Some will never be umpires, some have the ability to work at it and make it to the field. Others have developed the initial skills where they can become good umpires. But those that looked at it as an easy way to make some summer money realized that it is really much more involved than they ever realized, and that's okay. Umpiring is not for everybody.

So I started this entry promising to write about scenarios, yet I never did talk about that.  Instead, I dealt with the mechanics of calling balls and strikes. Okay, I'll start another blog entry right now... Thanks for reading.

Make it a great day!

Michael Leavitt * This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. * 801-636-6816




3rd to 1st Rule - Failure To Adopt
Scenarios - What is the count?


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