|Joyce lets the play finish, then calls "Time."|
It's the ninth inning and Jim Joyce has the dreaded ball hitting wrist, which believe it or not sounds a little like ball hitting bat. Notice that our plate umpire delays his call—and attempts to get a read on the batter. In this case the batter is lying face-down and writhing in pain, so Joyce takes the educated guess that Ryan Zimmerman has been hit. The call will later be confirmed by replay. Zimmerman is hit at the :03 second mark of the video (see below). Notice JJ's call doesn't come until the :06 second mark in which he puts his hands in the air and then awards first base.
|Ball hitting bone can sound like it hit the bat.|
|"Ooh, my arm. It's broken."|
It is nearly impossible to be fooled when reading a person's eyes—few players are quick enough to deceive in real time. The deception is more like Rodney Dangerfield's in Caddyshack. You can get a feel for whether the player is hit or he fakes it a few seconds later. In most cases the player will show you with disappointment as he knows it has hit the bat. This needs to be instinctual as if you delay reading the batter you may be susceptible to get fooled by a clever hitter.
Here's what happens if you get the play wrong.....
|Molina's reaction says he was not hit.|
[Sometimes, it is very difficult to tell whether the ball has hit the bat or the player, as evidenced by this Derek Jeter act in Tampa Bay from 2010, that resulted in Joe Maddon's ejection for arguing the HBP call.]
So what can we take away from this play... Always have good timing. Slow down and read the batter, as he's going to tell you what's happened.