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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 09:32am
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Pitcher's Umpire

It has occurred to me that I am a Pitcher's Umpire. Not because I set out to do that, but in reviewing my calls, and my own interpretation of the strike zone, I think this is the case.

I give good corners on belt-high pitches (flatten/widen).

I think this is consistent with basic umpire mechanics. For example
> a Strike is usually called with loud emphasis (encouragement for P), while a Ball is even sometimes barely verbalized.
> We are in the business of getting Outs, not generating baserunners.
> I don't understand why one (i.e. Hitter's Umpire) would squeeze the zone, by calling Balls making it easier for Offense and more difficult for Defense.

Curious to hear thoughts about how others perceive themselves, and how they perceive others.

Also subjecting myself to criticism in case this is wrong thinking.
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 11:02am
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If we try to use the defined strike zone, with no intent to favor either pitcher or batter, and we end up with a zone larger or smaller than average, then so be it.
If we are biased toward getting outs or not, that is not valid.
I don't have much difference between the two calls, maybe more emphasis on strike 3, or less on balls ridiculously obvious.
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 11:55am
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....."my own interpretation of the strike zone" curious as to what that is.
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 12:07pm
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I never thought mine was the business of getting outs. I thought that was the business of the defense. I think mine is the business of officiating a game as fairly and equitabley as possible.
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 01:29pm
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Well, I will tell what - we just finished our New Officials Clinic, and I will tell you the very first thing they try to get the new people to understand is the strike zone. Now both of our clinicians are or have have been clinicians at our State School, and are veteran NCAA officials, etc, etc. - just establishing credentials here.

Anyway, they begin by asking how wide the plate is, and of course some of them answer '17 inches' - then they ask -using a ball as a demo - ask how wide is the black, which is two inches on each side. They now say, ok we have 21 inches right? And the move the ball to the side a couple of more inches. Finally they ask 'The ball is 12 inches in diameter, right?' And everybody nods. Then the clinician goes how that if a thread is hanging off that ball over the BLACK - guess what we have? A POTENTIAL 33 inch wide plate - and then he gives how its a little wider in the middle, etc, etc... Remember this is the zone as PRACTICED.


The point is, T, you sound like you have an excellent zone, and I would work with you ANYday.

Myself, I get told by a lot of people - coaches....fellow umps..UICs that I have an excellent and FAIR zone. I know I tend to squeeze a touch on the inside middle, but I make up for outside just a hair. It took me a LONG time to get it, but I am very happy with mine now.
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Last edited by ASA/NYSSOBLUE; Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:59pm. Reason: spelling!/phrasing!
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 02:32pm
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Tony - while I don't agree with your exact wording, I do agree with your philosophy.

The best explanation of the strike zone that I heard was from Emily several years ago - It looks like the Chevrolet bow tie logo. Narrow at the top and bottom, wider in the middle.

One of the other things I have heard and like is that if at all possible, the first pitch of the game is a strike! This tells everybody that you are calling strikes today and get the bats swinging.

I am generally pretty happy with my zone. I try to keep it right within the generally accepted guidelines that we have all been taught. I may miss a pitch or two per game (and I know instantly when I do), but overall I think I'm pretty consitant.
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 02:59pm
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I would be very careful about saying anything about an umpires job is to get outs. Makes it sound as if any close play will automatically be ruled an out. I like the statement above about our job being to administer the rules as fairly and equitably as possible.

The dimensions and figures you have listed are not entirely accurate, and if this is what your clinicians are telling you they need to check their math. ASA Rule 2, the plate is 17" wide and has a 3/4" black strip. The black strip is not actually part of the plate. Diagram of the plate listed on page 37 shows the plate as only 17" wide.

The ball is 11" in circumference, which makes is 3.5" in diameter. 17" + 3.5" + 3.5" = 24" wide strike zone. Give a couple extra inches off both sides and you have 28" zone.

Distance between the inside lines of the batters boxes is 30". Im all for calling strikes, but you call strikes that are inside the lines of the batters boxes there is no way a batter can hit them.
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 03:02pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASA/NYSSOBLUE View Post
Finally they ask 'The ball is 12 inches in diameter, right?' And everybody nods.
Did everyone nod NO? The ball is 11" in circumference, not diameter. Which gives you about 3.5" diameter. So the plate is about 29" wide 21 you mentioned + 4" (I'll round up) on each side!
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 03:05pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKBUmp View Post
Distance between the inside lines of the batters boxes is 30". Im all for calling strikes, but you call strikes that are inside the lines of the batters boxes there is no way a batter can hit them.
Isn't that why they put them white lines on the inside of the batters box? If its between those lines it's a strike right???
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 03:48pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJUmp View Post
....."my own interpretation of the strike zone" curious as to what that is.
In no particular order:
Bottom of ball at Top of Knee
Top of ball at Bottom of Armpit
Any part of ball over plate, but with exceptions:
If you think of the strike zone a telephone keypad
123
456
789
and all numbers are in the "rule book zone"
1,3,7 and 9 are seldom called strikes
These are pitches that might be in the book zone, but can be "too high for an outside strike", or "too low for an inside strike"

To clarify my flatten/widen and the posters use of the chevron, 2 and 8 will be strikes if they are over the middle of the plate.

At belt high, I will go 4-extended and 6-extended, and if I had to spell it out, I will call belt-high channel strikes.

I told you mine, now you tell me yours.

P.S. I should have put a smiley on the comment about being in the business to "get Outs".
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 04:18pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveASA/FED View Post
Did everyone nod NO? The ball is 11" in circumference, not diameter. Which gives you about 3.5" diameter. So the plate is about 29" wide 21 you mentioned + 4" (I'll round up) on each side!
ooops :P
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 06:42pm
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tcannizzo,

Your zone does not sound like a pitcher's zone to me, especially the bottom (you wrote, "Bottom of ball at Top of Knee") unless you mean any part of the ball above the top of the knee (which is the rule in NFHS).

Don't most ruling bodies play fastpitch with a 12 inch circumference ball (3.83 inch diameter), not 11 inch (3.5 inch diameter)?

Here is a picture cropped from the diagram of the strike zone in the NCAA book:



The biggest difference between NCAA and other rule sets is that at the top of the zone the entire ball has to be below the limit designated by the definition of the top of the strike zone. NCAA also defines the top of the zone as "bottom of the batter’s sternum" while NFHS defines it as "the batter's forward armpit".

I used to think I was a pitcher's umpire because I tried to call every pitch that met the rule book definition of a strike a strike. Then I saw guys that call balls an entire ball width below the knees or a ball that was 6 inches outside strikes (closet part of ball is six inches from plate). So I no longer think that and I no longer care. I just try to "call it by the book".
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Old Thu Mar 17, 2011, 07:48pm
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Don't get me wrong, I don't go in there saying that I am the pitcher's friend. This thought occurred to me a while back, and then this past weekend, one of the more experienced coaches in our area were discussing it, and he said he thought that I was a pitcher's umpire. This is what inspired me to toss it out here for discussion.

Most of the replies have been about "me", which is fair game. Was hoping to hear what more felt about themselves and others. But it is a good thread.
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Old Fri Mar 18, 2011, 09:36am
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Black ????

[QUOTE=ASA/NYSSOBLUE;740847]they begin by asking how wide the plate is, and of course some of them answer '17 inches' - then they ask -using a ball as a demo - ask how wide is the black, which is two inches on each side.

What book has "black" on the plate? I don't recall any softball rule book stating anything about "black"?

The plate is 17" wide. End of description.

Now I understand the extra width of the strike zone. AKA. The entire ball does not have to be over the plate to be considered a strike. But this "black" thing is always a courious item of conversation?
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Old Fri Mar 18, 2011, 11:27am
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[quote=Bandit;741034]
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASA/NYSSOBLUE View Post
they begin by asking how wide the plate is, and of course some of them answer '17 inches' - then they ask -using a ball as a demo - ask how wide is the black, which is two inches on each side.

What book has "black" on the plate? I don't recall any softball rule book stating anything about "black"?

The plate is 17" wide. End of description.

Now I understand the extra width of the strike zone. AKA. The entire ball does not have to be over the plate to be considered a strike. But this "black" thing is always a courious item of conversation?
Wow, it has been a while, but ASA recognizes and instructs the umpires to consider the black, beveled portion of any plate as the same as the white portion.
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