Umpires like to use the phrase that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We also have two eyes, and those come in very handy when it comes to adjudicating the completion of a catch. Today's Teachable Moment looks at a play where 1B Umpire Alfonso Marquez uses his eyes and is so relaxed and seamless in his mechanics, thanks to some excellent timing.
Related Post: Greg Gibson Reminds All Umpires: Patience is a Virtue (7/15/12)
|U1 Marquez follows the ball, not the foot.|
Think this is easy? It's a skill acquired over 1000s of repetitions whether you have a play at first base with a pulled foot or not. Marquez sees the tag attempt and is so focused, he follows the ball as it caroms out of the 1st baseman's glove and rolls toward second.
|Fielder's glove collides with runner's leg.|
|Watch the catching action to its conclusion.|
Here's the finale. There's no need for a theatrical safe call here. Marquez gives a relaxed obvious safe so as to not draw unneeded attention to himself on this complicated play. Notice how he watches the ball as it leaves the mitt. This is a thing of beauty.
|This strategy applies to any catch play.|
Speaking of tagging up, yes, the runner can leave the base at first touch, but, again, what benefit is there for calling an out right away other than a potential missed call, and how can a fielder demonstrate that he has "complete control" and that "his release is voluntary and intentional" if the out call is made before the fielder has a chance to release the ball? A faster calling cadence may be appropriate for some calls due to the smaller time window which they are defined by (e.g., fair/foul, interference, obstruction, or an out of the base path call, to name a few), but catches are not one of them.
Related Post: Clearing Up a Myth - Timely Retouch of a Bobbled Fly (4/27/17)
|A fair/foul call will precede the catch/drop call.|
We saw this during the 2017 NCAA Baseball Super Regional on a fly ball to right-center, initially fielded by the outfielder, who dropped the ball during the transfer action, but ruled "no catch" by the first base umpire. Bearing in mind that college has slightly different mechanics for fly balls in the four-person system, there should still be an eye on this play through voluntary release. By the time the ball is out of the glove, much less on the ground, it's too late to travel back and try to reconstruct how it got there.
Related Post: NCAA Rule - Reversing a Catch Call's Runner Placement (6/13/17)
|Quicker timing is appropriate for some calls.|
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