Long Beach Unit Baseball Memo #6
TO: Officials, Coaches, Administrators, Observation Team, Contacts
FROM: Chris Maher, Instructional Chairman, Long Beach Unit
RE: Instructional Memo #6
The 21st century has afforded people a multitude of opportunities to enhance their learning. There are magazines, online forums, podcasts, ebooks and videos for all at their leisure. Most people probably have a go-to source for learning based on their occupation and/or interests that stimulates the brain and provides possibly a fun new way of thinking. Most of our baseball umpires (and also for those who officiate other sports) subscribe to Referee Magazine which has an array of articles, quizzes, video and other learning tools that are dedicated to the officiating avocation. Several years ago, a study into various forms of officiating showed that an official makes anywhere between 200-300 judgments during the course of a ballgame. These judgments go beyond ball, strike, safe, out and even fair or foul. 90% of these judgments are routine and can be umpired without a problem generally, however the remaining 10% of plays require some serious thinking, judgment and communication skills. The reality is that this game is only as challenging as we make it. Mastering the basics is critical to ensuring our proficiency and will also allow us to be in position to adjudicate unusual or non-routine plays. A few thoughts as we approach the halfway point in the regular season.
The Head Coach: A team’s head coach must attend the pregame conference (plate meeting) if available (3-2-4). There are circumstances where that may not be possible such as that head coach tending to an injured/ill player, being stuck in traffic, being in the bullpen with the starting pitcher or providing field maintenance (CB 3.2.4 A and C). Let’s use our logical senses and understand when these situations may arise with our staffs where it may be necessary for another coach to be at the plate meeting. This is rule is also not an opportunity for a head coach to refuse to attend the plate meeting (CB 3.2.4 B).
Defensive Charged Conferences: A charged defensive conference ends when a coach or non-playing representative crosses the foul line if this conference was in fair territory (3-4-3). If the conference was in foul territory, the conference ends when the non-playing representative initially starts to return to the dugout/bench area (3-4-3).To illustrate this rule, here are two situations (both happened in games within the last week).
Situation 1: Team B’s head coach visits his starting pitcher in the bottom of the 1st inning and during the conference, a request is made to add Turface, Diamond Dry or other field maintenance product. That head coach never leaves the vicinity of the pitcher’s mound and continues to talk to his pitcher after the mound is taken care of. RULING: Only one conference is charged because the initial conference had never ended by rule.
Situation 2: Team B’s pitching coach visits the starting pitcher in the Top of the 3rd and after conferring with him, returns towards the dugout. After crossing the foul line, the pitching coach turns around and goes back to the mound to talk with the pitcher again. RULING. Team B is charged with two (2) conferences because the first conference had ended when the pitching coach crossed the foul line.
If the number of charged conferences have been used ( or the one conference in each extra inning) and subsequent defensive conferences occur, then the pitcher shall be removed as pitcher for the duration of the game (3-4-1 PEN).
Illegal Bats: A bat that becomes illegal through play (broken, cracked or dented as a result of a batted ball, but was otherwise legal prior to the at-bat) should be removed without penalty in accordance with Rule 1-3-5. Please give that bat to an administrator if possible and have it removed from the game for further usage. If a player enters the batters box later in the game with the same illegal bat, the batter is out and the head coach is restricted to the dugout (if 1st offense) (4-1-3b, 7-4-1a, CB 1.3.5 B)
Lower-Level Time Limit Interpretation: In sub-varsity/lower level contests (JV,F, F/S, etc.), a 2 1/2 hour time limit is in effect. Per the CIF-SS office, No new inning may start following that time period with the exception being the game is tied and the game has the ability to continue (i.e. darkness is not an issue, weather is not an issue, field fitness, etc.)
Strike Zone: Having a proper interpretation of the strike zone requires strong fundamentals. Our plate umpire needs to be able to read the catcher’s glove every time that pitch enters the zone. A catcher may make an adjustment on where he sets up and we need to make sure we are doing the same to see how each pitch starts, develops and finishes. We have a number of umpires that are routinely going off the plate calling strikes while others are calling pitches where the catcher’s glove is touching the dirt and it is generally because they are not reading the catcher’s glove hand. Think about your stance and your head height the next time you see yourself on video.
Interaction with Players: One of the best attributes an official can have is the ability to efficiently communicate with players. It is not an easy task as not every player is receptive to all things an umpire might say and we are often concerned about conveying messages in as few words as possible. Some things we can use to help us in this process. Communicating when times are good are ways that we can get the attention of them when they are most likely to understand what we are saying. Waiting until something bad happens or only when we need something is not always going to work with them and in some cases, looks like we are searching for trouble (i.e. “coaching,” being influenced or socializing). Remember there is a fine line between communication and fraternization. Think about where we fit on this scale and when how much is too much.
3-Man Mechanics: There are several games being played this year with 3-umpires and most playoff games will be utilizing the same. In preparation for this, we posted a concepts of the 3-man system a few weeks back for everyone to see on my instructional website www.strongbeachumpiring.com .We understand not everybody will get to work a 3-man game this season, but we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to learn the system at their leisure. If you would like to observe a game where 3-man mechanics are used, please contact me and I can give you opportunities for you to do so.
We are nearly halfway home this season, are we continuing to show our capability to work at this level? Are we demonstrating the capacity to improve each game? Do we exhibit the character to do what’s right on and off the field?