Long Beach Unit Baseball Memo #4
TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts
FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit
RE: Instructional Memo #4
If there has been one theme so far in the first week of the season and that has been “speed bumps.” Everyone has been so anxious to kick off the regular season, but we have had either a delay or interruption due to inclement weather. Some teams and officials have had the opportunity to begin their season whereas others have yet to do so. The schools have worked very hard to make their fields playable and safe for the student-athletes and we need to continue being flexible with them as game dates, times and locations may change. Please continue to do the things that are right for the game as well as for your partner(s) and the institutions. A few observations from early season action.
Base Coaches: A reminder that all base coaches (player or coach) are required to wear a helmet while occupying a coaches box. There is no such requirement of how many coaches must occupy a coaching box, but if they choose to do so they must wear a protective helmet. A strong recommendation for umpires is to not put the ball in play to start an inning until the base coach(es) have a helmet on. We would rather take the extra 30 seconds or so to have the coach be in compliance before starting a half inning rather than not taking the time and being in the center of a potential safety problem.
Designated Hitter: If a team selects a designated hitter, it must do so prior to the start of the game. If a team fails to do so, then it forfeits the use of the DH (3-1-4). For example, a team that has a declared 9-man lineup (no DH) may not have its starting pitcher (already batting) remain in the game as the DH when he is done pitching and bat for someone else.
“Properly Uniformed”: Thanks to our observation program and social media we have seen instances where our umpires were not wearing appropriate attire on the field. We have all heard my phrase of being “properly uniformed” when working a ball game and that no one can hide from anyone/anything. There have been two situations where umpires have been seen wearing a long-sleeve undershirt underneath a short-sleeve umpire shirt. We have been experiencing some low temperatures so either a jacket or long-sleeve umpire shirt is acceptable. If you don’t have one, then borrow one from your partner or invest some money in the right attire. Our veteran officials also have plenty of used gear for sale so it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to them. One might think this is trivial that we are talking about uniforms, but the bottom line is we need to wear our attire with pride in our work. I can guarantee you each team talks about the importance of wearing their uniform during practices, games, workouts, etc.
Setting Up Angles: We are seeing a number of times where base umpires are moving very little or not at all while in the middle of the diamond. There have been situations where the only play is at 1st base and the base umpire is still on the 3rd base side of the mound. If you aren’t able to cut down the necessary distance from your starting point and where the play is going, then you will not be able to set up the necessary angle to get the play right on non-routine plays. If we get there right away, we will have an opportunity to adjust as plays break down.
Interaction With Coaches: Communication is inevitable between umpires, coaches and players. A point in the game will happen where we need to give important information about a ruling to a coach. As long as we stay within the confines of the rule book, we should not have a problem in rendering that explanation. We get into trouble when we start making up our own terms or voluntarily giving more information. Remember “silence cannot be misquoted” and we therefore we must master the phraseology of “by rule” and “In my judgment.”
These memos are sent to various people outside of the umpiring community with the goal of bringing everyone together to understand the game much better. I understand that not everyone who receives these are players, coaches, administrators or even umpires. However, I hope that these serve as an informative tool to help maintain a line of communication between our officials and member schools. It is my pleasure to be of service to you.