Monday, May 24, 2010

Brass Balls

Sometimes things on the field just don't go as planned.   FUBAR becomes the norm.

My congrats go to a guy who stuck to his guns and didn't hide from a situation that a lot of guys would have run away from like a little girl.

The situation was in Evansville, IN a couple of weekends ago at the Midwest regional for D2 hosted by Southern Indiana.

Southern Indiana was in the championship game against Grand Valley State from Michigan.  7th inning and USI is ahead by a score of 11-4 when the leadoff hitter for USI tries to bunt his way on base to lead off the inning.  Guess where the next pitch went?  You guessed it...right behind his head.

Home plate umpire Shane Friebe issued warnings to both benches and the rest of that inning continued without incident.  With USI up 7 runs headed into the top of the eighth...that should have been the end of it.  Get your 6 more outs that you need and dog pile on your home field and celebrate going to the D2 World Series.

But-----That isn't what happened.

Leadoff hitter for GVSU in the top of the eighth gets plunked with a fastball right in the middle of the back.  Pitcher and Head Coach ejected.  That should have been it.  Get your six more outs that you need and dog pile on your home field and celebrate going to the D2 World Series.

But-----That STILL isn't what happened.

After getting the next two guys out...the catcher for GVSU (who apparently had been mouthing off all day) walked up to the plate.  First pitch to him---Fastball in the middle of the back.  Pitcher and Assistant Coach ejected.

Then USI decided to go ahead and get the final 4 outs and dog pile on their home field and celebrate going to the D2 World Series.

Without their #1 and #3 starting pitchers for the first 4 games of the World Series and their Head Coach and lead assistant for the first game in the series.

Seriously...I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.

Shane could have ignored the situation and let it get TOTALLY out of control and have a madhouse on his hands.  But he nutted up and did what he HAD to do to get control of the situation.

USI did appeal the decision and tried to get the suspensions waived.  THANK YOU NCAA for not doing that and upholding the ruling.

My congrats to Shane for stepping up and DOING THE JOB!!!! 

Next beer you have with your partners, how about sharing this story and having a toast to a helluva umpire.

And just in case you are a bleeding heart liberal who thinks he should have ignored this crap....Check out the video.  He got it right!!!

Back Again

Sorry I have been MIA the past couple of weeks.  Been a little crazy in my world.

Let's see if I can update you real quick.  Since my last post I have:

(1)  Been to Wright State for my final Horizon League weekend of the year...(Wright State clinched the championship on Sunday of that weekend.)

(2)  Got rained out at Butler and collected my check.

(3)  Had my first Frontier League game of the year at Florence...(Not really a game since it was an exhibition and they played a scrimmage game amongst themselves.)  But it still paid full fee and was easy because no one gave a shit.  (By the way Brad Zerkle...You really DO look like Ken Kaiser back there.)

(4)  Went to Akron, where Kent State clinched the East Division title on the final day.

Ok...that's it.  Now I am packed and headed to Chillicothe, OH for the MAC Tournament which begins on Wednesday.  Working with 7 umpires that are all really good judges and it should be a great week down there...(and HOT supposedly with highs in the upper 80's and low 90's this week.)

Tourney ends on Saturday and if all goes exactly college season will end with a third base job on Friday night.  If it doesn't go exactly right...then I will have one elimination game on Saturday.

My first D1 post season since my return to the field in I am really looking forward to it.

Look for some posts from the tournament this week as I bring you up to date on the adventures of umpires in Bed and Breakfast Hotels.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

IU vs. Kentucky

Randy Bachman has had a pretty good run of plate jobs when I am with him.  I think he is probably averaging around 2:15 when has me with him.

That came to a screeching halt on Tuesday in Bloomington as IU went for a two point conversion in the 10th inning and beat Kentucky 18-17 in a 3:48 marathon. 

IU scored 5 in the eighth, 3 in the ninth and 2 in the 10th to win it.

All this after Kentucky went back to back to back in the 7th inning, and none of them were even close to staying in the yard.

Always fun working with Jimmy Jackson.  I really hope he gets a chance to go to Omaha this year.  He has earned the trip.

Was going to go to Little Zagreb's as usual following the game, but I decided to stay married and get home as quick as I could since it was Brenda and mine's 8th anniversary.  By the time I got home it was 9:30 and too late to do anything, but Morton's Steakhouse is on tap for Wednesday night to make up for it.

Next game is Thursday in Florence, KY as I have an exhibition game in the Frontier League between Florence and Washington.  I haven't ever worked a FL exhibition before, but I am on the bases with Brad Zerkle from Ohio on the plate. 

The weekend takes me to Wright State for Horizon League "Weekend From Hell-2".  Six games in three days with two plate jobs.  (Remember the last one had a rainout on Sunday so I only had to work four games).

DH's Saturday and Sunday in Dayton and then home to Indianapolis for a Butler-Valpo DH on Monday.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Northern Illinois vs. Eastern Michigan

A weekend in DeKalb, IL.  First two days pretty good as the teams split.

E. Michigan won on Friday 4-2 on my plate game in 2:40.  Not much to talk about on this one..pretty well played game.

Same thing on Saturday as NIU wins 3-2.  Bret Bruington went 2:15 and again no issues as NIU wins with two runs in the eighth and holding Eastern in the ninth.

On Sunday became a wild one.  John Argus was the recipient of the end of the pitching staffs as Eastern Michigan scored 8 in the ninth to win 13-11.  Eastern scored all 13 of the runs after the 7th inning.  It really was a trainwreck at the end. 

John took a foul ball straight off the mask in the top of the ninth that rocked my ass all the way down at first base.  As I got down to the plate to check on my partner..he looked up and said, "Down goes Frazier..Down goes Frazier."  I had to laugh.  But the shot he took wasn't funny.  A lesser man wouldn't have finished the game.

Had to undress an assistant coach from first base on balls and strikes.  (Argus is a little hard of hearing at 66 years old).  He had been giving us cheap shots all weekend..He even cost Ed a balls and strikes warning on Saturday's game.  Amazing how quiet it got when I caught him yelling at John.

Now admittedly John had struggled most of the day, but with head coach Ed Mathey standing right in front of wasn't his place to bitch.  So I let him know that.  Ed knew..and didn't say a word.

The drive home was long and I was ready to hit the sack when I got home around 11.  Game lasted 3:44.  It felt like 6 hours.

Food for the weekend....A pretty good club sandwich at Fatty's Pub and Grill on Friday and a drive into Chicago to have dinner at Gibson's Steakhouse on Rush Street Saturday night.  Big steak...some great meritage wine...and THIS for dessert. 

It was called The Meaning Of Life.  If you are curious, apparently the "Meaning of Life" is chocolate, raspberry sauce, bananas, butter creme frosting with almonds.  It was $14 and it was HUGE.  Took 6 of us to eat it all.  It was awesome.

It was a fun weekend with Bret and John.   I look forward to going back up to the Chicagoland area every chance I get.  I would love it up there if it weren't for all the damn people living there.

Next up for me, IU hosts Kentucky on Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Penn St. vs. Michigan State

The standings of the Big Ten Conference going into the weekend were a logjam.  Only three games separated first from last place.  It is crazy.  Also makes for the potential for high emotions.

I was happy that wasn't the case this past weekend in Happy Valley.

I really expected a tight series.  Michigan State was tied for first place while Penn State was three games back in tenth.

To everyone's surprise.  Penn State swept the series.  And NONE of the games were even close.

Friday night, Dave Smith went 2:54 as Penn State won 18-7.  Saturday I went 2:40 in a 22-5 game.

Then on Sunday, Scott Inman had the fastest game of the season on a field I have been on as he went 1:47 in a 9-1 PSU win.

I was happy for Scott.  Usually when he and I work is a marathon.  This day he was aggressive in the zone..(especially at the bottom of the knee) and players were obliging by swinging the bats.

Although it was a bit miserable with light was made less miserable with the quick game time.

The five hours waiting for the flight back to Indy sucked a bunch after the game...but that was made tolerable with a trip to The Creamery for "Death By Chocolate" ice cream followed by wings from Damon's.

It was my last Big Ten series of the year...and it was uneventful.  I wish they were all that easy.

Beautiful ballpark

Hallowed ground.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thomas More vs. W&J

Not many times will I take a game almost two hours from home on a mid-week game that isn't a D1 game.  But this game is an exception.  Big rivalry.  I have done it for two years straight now and it is a great competitive game.

Not any different today either.  Washington & Jefferson heads into the top of the 8th inning trailing 6-3...Hits a 3-run HR in the 8th and a 2-run shot in the 9th and wins the game 8-6 to take sole possesion of the conference lead.

Even better, I got to work with one of my favorite umpires, Matt Hughes from Louisville.

Matt is an ex-AAA guy and has been through a lot of wars in his time.  A great umpire and an even better person.

2:45 minutes and it seemed like an hour and a half. 

Only problem on the day was the sun.  Oh it felt great.  Just wasn't good for the fielders on the left side of the field. 

LF took one off the noggin.  So did a SS.  Third baseman couldn't find a pop foul.   A catcher had the same problem.

Did I mention that the sun felt great though?

The one thing I have always said about Matt Hughes still held true on this day.

Matt just doesn't get excited about much.  He calls whackers just like he would call a play that wasn't close.  Every time I see him soft sell a close play it makes me smile.  He just doesn't get excited out there.  Just goes out and does the job he was hired to do.

There are days I wish I could be more like Matt.

Another night game tomorrow night at Victory Field in Indianapolis.  Hanover vs. Franklin.  Always fun working on the pristine Triple A field.  Then fly out Friday morning to Happy Valley for Penn State vs. Michigan State.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cincinnati vs. Xavier

My first time to taste the crosstown rivalry in Cincinnati.

Skyline Chili was in the air.  I left disappointed.  It really wasn't much of a game as Xavier won 10-4.

Randy Bachman, sooner or later you are going to have a bad plate job.  I don't know when it is coming...but you can't continue to be great every time out like you have been.

2:15 and I seriously don't think he missed a pitch.  Keep it up...especially when I am with you.

Was with Randy and Chuck Stewart today.  Good crew.  Everything under control except for one small thing that Bachman had to handle which I will get into in a sec.

Chuck and I stole money today on the bases though.

Bach had a little situation today where a couple of Xavier players tried to step out of the box as they requested timeout and Randy wouldn't grant it.  Pitcher was in his motion.  Too late.  Good call Randy.

Coach didn't think so though...and went down to the plate to give it to Randy.  Bach shut him down cold.  The coach started to yell at Randy..and Randy said "I will TALK to you...but you aren't gonna YELL at me."

Bottom line is this.  I am not sure I like the rule any better than the coach does.  There are some things that should just police themselves.  I think this is one of them.  But as long as it is in the rule book we HAVE to enforce it.

I sometimes wonder if coaches remember that umpires DON'T write the rule book.  All we do is enforce it.  I believe there is only one umpire that is on the rules committee.  The rest are coaches.

We as umpires have very little influence on what rules make it into the game.  At any level.  Maybe it is better that way.  It has worked for a long time.