Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tmac's Teachable Moments - Selling the Call

In this edition of Tmac's Teachable Moments, we discuss the very realistic possibility of when things don't go as planned. Without replay and likely umpiring in a 2-man or 3-man umpiring system at best, what happens at our levels when a play isn't straightforward, when it isn't routine?

Today's Teachable is about selling the call.
Well, we follow the advice of Randolph and Mortimer Duke in Trading Places: "Get back in there at once and sell, sell!"

Too often these days, we're seeing umpires on very close plays—ones that quite frankly could go either way—soft selling their calls.  That may work for guys in MLB, but it just doesn't fit with what you need to do to have credibility and believability at the amateur and/or non-replay levels.

Today we take a play from a MLB game last week and flip it into the amateur prism: With a runner on first and two outs, the batter ropes a line drive to the left field wall.

The runner slides sideways into home plate.
It looks like we're going to have a play at the plate when all of a sudden the relay throw is a two-seamer with a lot of run. The catcher slides to the left while the runner, who would usually be sliding in the direction of the back of the plate, makes half of an adjustment and slides sideways.

In the words of Hawk Harrelson, "You've got to be bleeping me."

The catcher tags the lower leg of the runner, but at :52 seconds we get a look at the two big things we can control: our positioning and our mechanic (voice and signal).

Plate umpire Mahrley signals the runner safe.
Our plate umpire here is Nick Mahrley, who does an excellent job in getting to and staying in the place where he believes the tag will come to him off the catcher's right shoulder. Whacker safe mechanics are really tough and Mahrley's is excellently timed and one heck of a sell.

I watched this play upwards of twenty times and can't honestly tell you if the catcher tagged the back leg before the front leg was on the plate, but what I can tell you that if you take this positioning and sell your call then you will be in great shape. In this case I believed what Mahrley was selling.

So, our takeaways here are do your best to get to the best possible view, and when you have a close play, get in there and SELL SELL SELL!! Until next time: Happy Umpiring!!

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Developing play at the plate requires Mahrley sell the call (CIN)


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