Friday, January 29, 2021

Teachable - Working the Play at 2B With Jeff Nelson

Our Tmac's Teachable Moments series continues with a look at how to stay with and adjust to work a thorny play at second base with 2020 ALCS 2B Umpire and Crew Chief Jeff Nelson.

With one out and a runner on first, a ground ball to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve turns into an improvisation exercise as Altuve initially misplays the batted ball, but quickly recovers to attempt to force out Rays baserunner Randy Arozarena at second base under the watchful eye of 2B Umpire Nelson.

The clue for an umpire in this situation—and mainly for smaller crews in which an umpire may initially consider splitting potential responsibilities between possible plays at either first or second base—is Altuve's direction after booting the baseball. 

Once the field umpire observes Altuve chase the ball toward the middle of the infield, one may surmise that the imminent play will most likely occur at second base, rather than first base and the idea of hedging one's bet by staying in the middle ground between first and second base should vanish: much like GameStop stock, it's all in toward second base.

Umpire Nelson adjusts his positioning accordingly and enters the keyhole angle to take this play at second base and keep an eye on the runner's legs while observing (in this case, visually due to the soft toss) the fielder's receipt of the throw. Ordinarily we may listen for the sound of the glove, but the closer the throwing fielder to the base, the less likely it is that the sound will be detectable, which means umpires must line themselves up to see both the foot on the base and ball in the glove, preferably along the same visual path to avoid having to dart eyes back and forth.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Working the Play at 2B Base with Crew Chief Nelly (CCS)


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