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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 09:24am
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Lessons Learned from 18U Gold (Long Post)

Just a few observations from my time spent working the 18U Gold in Clearwater. Overall, everything was pretty much by the ASA Umpire Manual, as expected. There were some things I learned that the Manual doesnít cover, or if it does, I didnít really know about it until I got dinged during my evals. Hope these help some of you in your three-man ASA tourneys.

1. The Safe mechanic when you judge a violation did not happen is not an approved mechanic. For example, a runner barely avoids being hit by a batted ball. We are not to give a Safe sign to let everyone know there was no violation.

2. The Timing Play signal (two fingers to the wrist) is not an approved mechanic. Neither is the sweep motion to signal a fielder came off the bag too soon on a force play.

3. Signaling all foul balls, even obvious ones, is expected. However, there is no verbal required on those obvious ones.

4. Helping the PU on swinging third strikes near the ground (fist for a catch, pointing down for a no catch) is not an approved mechanic. The BU who sees a catch may nod if the PU looks for help.

5. If U1 chases with no runners on base, U3 is responsible for any plays on the BR at first. U3 has to hightail it across the diamond to take responsibility. Even though the PU trails, the PU does not take the call at first.

6. U1 and U3 are not to go into foul territory to make calls at their bases. For example, no runners and the batter hits a sharp grounder to F9. F9 throws to first to play on the BR. U1 either button-hooks in to take the call (preferred option), or takes a step into fair territory to make it.

7. Foul pop-ups between home plate and the BU positions are not to be bracketed. For example, batter pops up a foul toward the first base dugout that both F2 and F3 move to make the play. U1 is NOT supposed to move toward the fence to help the PU watch the play.

8. When the ball is back in the circle after play ends, the umpire at the plate (PU normally, or U1 if the crew performed a full rotation) shall always call Time so that the crew can quickly get into their positions for the next pitch. Do not waste time by moving individually into position while partners watch runners.

9. There are no holding zones when nobody chases. After the PU trails the BR on a hit to the outfield, the PU should move directly to third base in fair territory, and U1 should move directly behind home plate, after the BR commits to second. The same is true when R1 reaches second on a batted ball.

10. The on-deck circle must be ruthlessly enforced. Between innings, only the lead-off batter may be out of the dugout, and she must be in the circle. Also ruthlessly enforce the one-foot-in-the-box rule on batters.

As for uniformity on old and new logos, there were no problems with it. Crews mixed and matched logos often, and in some cases, one umpire would mix (e.g., old shirt with new hat).

If I remember anything else thatís peculiar, Iíll mention it.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 10:51am
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Would like Mike's and Steve's takes on these. I slightly disagree with some, strongly disagree with others, and have been "dinged" for exactly the opposite of what you were told here on at least 3.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 11:34am
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Manny's list is a good one. This is exactly how we were told to do things in Clearwater last week. As for not bracketing foul popups, it made for some interesting situations. The team areas were comprised of a fence inside the "main" fence. Therefore, if U1 or U3 didn't "chase" on a popup just beyond the dugouts (which ended just past 1st & 3rd bases), the PU would have to look down through the dugout to get a look. This was best handled by either U1 or U3 to call "going" and heading for the fence.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 11:37am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MD Longhorn View Post
...I slightly disagree with some, strongly disagree with others,...
Me, too. Well, you can't really disagree with a statement that something is "not an approved mechanic", but you can have the opinion that it either should be approved, or at least tolerated (i.e. no negative comment in an eval). The only one I would say I "strongly" disagree with is #6. Stating it that absolutely is the disagreement. Hanging out in foul territory can be a lazy thing to do, but there are situations where it is the only thing to do without getting in the middle of the play.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 11:51am
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Most of what you enumerated is ASA mechanics vs NCAA mechanics.

When in Rome....
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 12:20pm
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Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
Me, too. Well, you can't really disagree with a statement that something is "not an approved mechanic", but you can have the opinion that it either should be approved, or at least tolerated (i.e. no negative comment in an eval). The only one I would say I "strongly" disagree with is #6. Stating it that absolutely is the disagreement. Hanging out in foul territory can be a lazy thing to do, but there are situations where it is the only thing to do without getting in the middle of the play.
I can disagree with a statement that something is not an approved mechanic when someone just as high as these guys said it was, or dinged umpires for not doing it. (Specifically the swipe signal and signalling safe when there may be confusion on whether a violation happened.

I personally heard 2 of the 3 Texas commissioners (on separate occasions) illustrate the BU helping PU on a possible dropped strike. (Only one of the two mentioned pointing down on a drop, but both advocated the fist if you actively saw the catcher catch the ball)

6 - well, it should be avoided, but it happens... I'd say that if it happens to you more than once or twice a year, you're probably not being quick enough about judging that you CAN get to a button hook without getting in the way. But it DOES happen, and "do no harm" should come first.

7 is one of the ones I was personally dinged on at a state clinic just 2 seasons ago. I was dinged for NOT bracketing from U1 on a ball near the fence/dugout on my side.

8 is directly in conflict with what we've been told fifty-something times at all sorts of levels. DON'T call time just to get umpires in position, and DO move such that we are not all moving at once without eyes on the field. To the point that when I see a new U1, U3, or BU partner simply running back to his spot before without making eye contact with his partner(s), it irks me.

(I do agree with, and have been taught in agreement with 2(tap), 3, 5, 9, and 10)
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 12:23pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MD Longhorn View Post
...6 - well, it should be avoided, but it happens... I'd say that if it happens to you more than once or twice a year, you're probably not being quick enough about judging that you CAN get to a button hook without getting in the way. But it DOES happen, and "do no harm" should come first.
Like I said, it was the absolute way it is stated that I disagree with.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MD Longhorn View Post
8 is directly in conflict with what we've been told fifty-something times at all sorts of levels. DON'T call time just to get umpires in position, and DO move such that we are not all moving at once without eyes on the field...
Maybe Mike was the UIC?
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 12:33pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
The only one I would say I "strongly" disagree with is #6. Stating it that absolutely is the disagreement. Hanging out in foul territory can be a lazy thing to do, but there are situations where it is the only thing to do without getting in the middle of the play.
Well, it wasn't stated to us in absolute, so I apologize if that's what it sounded like. There are always a couple of exceptions where a call from foul ground would have to happen. They just emphasized that foul territory should not be the first option, such as on a throw to first from right field.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 03:33pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MD Longhorn View Post
8 is directly in conflict with what we've been told fifty-something times at all sorts of levels. DON'T call time just to get umpires in position, and DO move such that we are not all moving at once without eyes on the field. To the point that when I see a new U1, U3, or BU partner simply running back to his spot before without making eye contact with his partner(s), it irks me.
To be honest, I was rather surprised by this as well. I've always believed in the credo, "Don't call Time when it's not necessary." And I think umpires staggering their movements back to their positions doesn't really increase game delays as long as they hustle when they move. I suppose this falls into the category of "Better be safe than sorry."
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 03:51pm
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Of course, all of your games had to be replayed since the mechanical errors you committed caused the outcome to change.

It amazes me how much we, as umpires, think that people pay attention to what we are doing.

If we went the entire game without signaling safes and outs, I would be willing to bet that 97% of the time the runner would wither walk back into the dugout or go back to the base.

I agree that the NCAA vs ASA mechanic argument is true, but I also have a strong suspicion that Manny does not work enough NCAA ball to have developed NCAA habits. It may be the people in his area are NCAA people and have taught him the NCAA way.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 04:09pm
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Posts like these remind me why I probably could never be a top softball umpire and contribute to why I'm baseball-only and have been for over 15 years. It does help me appreciate some of the differences, though, since I could be coaching my daughter's team next year.

Looking at the list, I'm most stunned at #1. I would ding a baseball umpire for NOT giving a safe signal on a close interference/no interference situation.

Oh, and #3. The sure sign of a baseball umpire that needs some training (or at least needs to be told about it) is a plate guy who signals foul on a ball straight back to the screen instead of reaching into the ball bag to give another ball to the catcher. Or a base umpire who signals foul on a ball obviously out of play.

Different strokes, and all that.

I wonder if Manny's training was mainly rooted in baseball. Most of his list are baseball umpiring mechanics.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 08:38pm
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.

Last edited by Crabby_Bob; Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 12:23pm.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 08:43pm
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Actually, don't know why any of these are even considered an issue. There is nothing there that shouldn't have been known and familiar before being assigned to a tournament of this level for ASA.

Obviously, there are some deviations that should NOT earn an umpire a gig if there was a reason for it occurring (i.e., call from foul ground). Again, though, it should be the exception, not the standard.

This stuff is the standard that has been included in schools and clinics for more than a decade. If it is a shock to you, that means you even haven't gone to the clinics or your clinicians are not presenting you with what is expected.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 08:48pm
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Originally Posted by Rich View Post
Looking at the list, I'm most stunned at #1. I would ding a baseball umpire for NOT giving a safe signal on a close interference/no interference situation.

Oh, and #3. The sure sign of a baseball umpire that needs some training (or at least needs to be told about it) is a plate guy who signals foul on a ball straight back to the screen instead of reaching into the ball bag to give another ball to the catcher. Or a base umpire who signals foul on a ball obviously out of play.
So, you support making a call on something that did not happen, yet you don't want a signal on something that did?

I don't have a problem with no big signal on an obvious foul ball EXCEPT to notify a player who is NOT AWARE of the OBVIOUS foul ball and is still playing the game. Remember, just because it is obvious to you, doesn't mean it is obvious to everyone on the field. And, BTW, the calls and signals are for them, not you.
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Old Thu Aug 01, 2013, 11:13pm
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Originally Posted by IRISHMAFIA View Post
So, you support making a call on something that did not happen, yet you don't want a signal on something that did?

I don't have a problem with no big signal on an obvious foul ball EXCEPT to notify a player who is NOT AWARE of the OBVIOUS foul ball and is still playing the game. Remember, just because it is obvious to you, doesn't mean it is obvious to everyone on the field. And, BTW, the calls and signals are for them, not you.
And when they're needed, they're given. On a clear foul ball back to the screen or a ball clearly out of play, nobody needs an umpire and the signal is superfluous. The base umpire might say, "it's foul" to an advancing runner, but even that's not a requirement.

On a ball that barely misses a runner, a safe signal clearly tells everyone that "I saw the ball and it didn't hit the runner." It's a signal that communicates something useful.

Like I said, different strokes. Doesn't make your way better or my way better, but those guys that work both sports had better know the ways of each unless they want to get marked down. Sitting next to an evaluator, for example, I saw the pen come out when a plate guy said "dead ball" on a HBP in a baseball game last week. Absolutely wrong in baseball, but proper in softball.

Unlike softball, though, I can work essentially the same mechanics in every one of my baseball games. Apparently there's a heackuva schism in softball between the different bodies.
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