Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tmac's Teachable Moments - Steal Plays at 3rd Base

Tmac's latest teachable moment concerns taking steal plays at third base, which, unlike steals at second, enjoys the unique vantage point of starting the play behind the bag and up the line.
Starting Position: Get closer, in foul ground.

I have often talked with young umpires about finding the keyhole so no matter what happens, you will be able to make an accurate call on a tag play.  Lets get a glimpse at one of the best young umpires in the game, Quinn Wolcott, as he puts on a clinic on a steal of 3rd base.  In this play we have a fast runner on 2nd base, so we should have already made an adjustment to our starting position: a step or two closer to the bag, still in foul territory. We also have a left-handed predominantly pull hitter.

Reading the play before the action happens.
Now we can really dig in and sink our teeth into this play.  Understanding that a starting position and being in tune with the game can make us or break us, We also have one out.  Most steals of 3rd base at the professional level seem to occur with one out.  We have the pre-pitch reads, we have the info, now we just have to get the call right if the play happens, while still monitoring anything else that could happen.  This play proves that you can never take a play or a second off and you always have to be quick on your feet as there is so much more to umpiring than the call itself.

U3 Wolcott finds the keyhole angle.
You can't get a clear look on this call if you start with the edge of your feet on the outfield grass.  So once we realize we are going to have a play we need to find, what I like calling, the Keyhole (see: Tmac's Teachable Moments - Pickoff Tag at First Base), which is going to be really tiny on this play.  Wolcott takes the play in foul territory (about 5 feet) on the foul side of the bag and what a great look.  SO we get the call right and then....OH NO! does he overslide, does he keep his hand on the bag?  Why won't this play end?!  Wolcott correctly, due to his excellent position, asserts that the runner is safe and he was never tagged while off the base.

What did we learn here..... It doesn't matter where you are; pre-pitch reads can make you or break you... Think outside the box..... Always be thinking about what can happen next and be in touch with the game.
Alternate Link: Trea Turner steals third base on call upheld on Dodgers challenge (WAS)


Post a Comment