Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'll be coming to your city.....

R= Runner
B= Batter
F= Fielder

Question #1:  R1 on first, less than two outs, B2 hits a line drive to F6 who allows the ball to strike his glove and then intentionally drops it so as to be able to double up the runners.  Is this a legal play?  What call should the umpire make, if any?

Had I been asked this question a couple of months ago I wouldn't have known the answer.  After having read the rule book though nearly a half dozen times, studied the case book inside and out, read through the umpire's manual at nauseam, given this situation in a ball game I am confident that I could apply the correct rule and make the right call.

For the last few years I have had the itch to try my hand in high school umpiring.  A real good friend of mine has been doing it for quite sometime, and with his consistent prodding I finally relented and this year decided to do it.

Most people have had a hard time understanding why I would want to do it.  It's a thankless job.  An umpire is constantly under the microscope and is open to criticism from the coaches, players and fans.  I have a say in what the coaches and players can get away with but no control over the fans, and sometimes they can be ruthless.  I've had to develop a thick skin.

So why do I do it?  I love baseball.  I love being around the game.  I saw it as an opportunity to better learn the sport.  I enjoy being in the middle of the game even if it is from an officiating position.  So far it has been an enjoyable experience.  

I enjoy the challenge of learning something new.  There is a lot that goes into being a good umpire, from knowing the rules to knowing the mechanics that put you in the right place to make a call.  When I watch baseball on tv, I find myself watching the umpires as much as I do the players.  I keep track of how the umpire calls a watched strike compared to a swinging strike, how they punch someone out on a backwards K, or how the base ump sells his call on a close play.  Just being an umpire for me is not enough, I want to be good at it as well.  That's what I am working towards.

Question #2: With a fielder in a position to make a play, R2 is on first and R1 is touching second.  R1 is hit by a batted ball by B3 while touching second.  What is the call in this situation?