Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Tmac's Teachable - Ump School Rules in the Real World

This time of year, I always think back fondly of my time at umpire school and cherish the moments with the great people I met. Before we get underway, let me dedicate this Teachable to the memory of Chris Kelley. I didn't know Chris, but when I heard about his suicide that rocked the umpire world, it made me think a little.

I think the new year is a good time to reflect.  Be kind, reach out to your friends.  If you need help seek it out. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Whether it's a suicide prevention hotline/online LifeChat or a more informal and intermediate place to talk with our friends at the OSIP Foundation, there are people that specialize in mental health and even officiating health and can get you to a better place. You might also want to take a look at the following article from World Mental Health Day 2017, following John Tumpane's bridge intervention in Pittsburgh earlier that season.
Related PostLet's Talk - Mental Health in an Abusive Environment (10/10/17).

I mentioned umpire school above, and this moment involves the man who ran one of umpire schools for quite some time, Harry Wendelstedt.

The Play: It's Game 3 of the 1988 NLCS, we're in the bottom of the 8th inning with the New York Mets at bat and trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 in a series tied at one game apiece. Joe West is our plate umpire and he gets a visit from Mets manager Davey Johnson, who wants him to check Dodgers pitcher Jay Howell for a foreign substance. West immediately calls the crew chief, Wendelstedt, in from the left field corner (see what i did there?).

The Call: The result is pine tar in the glove and an ejection of the pitcher.

Harry chucks Howell as the crowd looks on.
Analysis: What I love about this situation is the way it's handled. First off, you don't have a pitcher who pretends he wasn't cheating; Howell doesn't put up a fight. You also have a manager, Tommy Lasorda, who knows the umpire is right. At the 3:05-mark in the video, you can clearly read Wendelstedt's lips, "I know I'm right."

Joe West is Speechless: But what I really want to point out is West's silence: He doesn't say a word.  He knew his place and it wasn't his time to speak. Yes, he's the plate umpire—the UIC—but Harry's the crew chief. So Joe watches, listens and flies away. I'm sure if he was asked, he would have had his opinion, but he wasn't and let a master at his craft handle a delicate situation with ease. One of the things you learn at the umpiring schools that can punch your ticket to affiliated baseball is silence can't be quoted (or, alternately, silence can't be misquoted). I tell young umpires that there are times you need to speak, like when a manager asks you a legitimate question. Finding the right time to talk can be befuddling in life and on the baseball field and most get better over time.

Harry confiscates the glove for league brass.
The Rules: This rule (OBR 6.02(c)(7): "The pitcher shall not—Have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance" [Penalty = Ejection & Suspension]) is fairly simple, but not all of them are. As our baseball seasons are just a few weeks or months away, it's important for us to get into the rule book. Refresh your memory. It's not a bad read and you look like a million bucks if you handle a tricky rule situation perfectly. And speaking of sticky situations, we'll have another one next week.

Also please give our sponsors some love. Check out Ump-Attire and the clickable link in the upper right of our home page and remember that if you don't make it out of umpire school to MiLB proper, there are other ways to improve your craft. Visit Pro Umpire Camp to learn more by clicking on the banner above. Happy New Year everyone!!

Video as follows:

Monday, December 31, 2018

ABL Ejection - Greg Howard (Luke Hughes)

After setting an Australian Baseball League record by hitting two grand slams in one game against Geelong-Korea, Melbourne Aces DH Luke Hughes was ejected by 2B Umpire Greg Howard during an incident with the Korean bench in the 9th inning of an 8-1 ballgame.

2B Umpire Greg Howard ejected Aces DH Luke Hughes (Unsportsmanlike-NEC) in the middle of the 9th inning of the Aces-Korea game. After popping out to first baseman Yong-Wook Lee to conclude the top of the inning, an incident transpired between the Geelong-Korea bench and Aces fielders, resulting in Hughes' ejection from the game; Hughes set a league record by clubbing two grand slams and tied the ABL's single game RBI record (8) during Melbourne's preceding game against Geelong-Korea. At the time of the ejection, the Aces were leading, 8-1. The Aces ultimately won the contest, 8-1.

Wrap: Melbourne Aces vs. Geelong-Korea (ABL), 12/29/18 | Video as follows: