Back to work on a Tuesday after being in Florida the past few days for the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. Had a pretty good time down there--despite the weather--and got to have some fun with a bunch of pretty good guys.
Drove down on Wednesday so that I could leave a car at our Florida house just outside of Leesburg. REALLY glad I didn't have to drive home, although a three hour delay yesterday coming home did put a damper on my day.
First day on Friday I went back to an old haunt from my days in the Florida State League--Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Pete. It is now called Progress Energy Park and is basically home to no one. It looked the same as it did back in the 1983-84 seasons...just older and run down.
Early morning baseball on the first day and behind the plate no less..as I worked Rutgers vs. Iowa.
Hadn't seen Jack Dahm on a baseball field in over 15 years so that was a nice surprise...for him. I will just leave it at that--he knows what I am talking about if he reads this. Iowa wins it 6-3 in 2:27. Not a bad game and it moved along pretty nicely.
Worked with Jon Garlits from Lincoln, IL and the fossil of the college game Bill Lopina from Chicago. I can say that because if you know him...you are thinking it too. (Sorry Billy, it is just too much fun to bust your balls--even if you aren't here to protect yourself.)
Nothing really stood out in this game. It was too early in the morning to get anyone too excited.
Game two was Cincinnati against Penn State. Another old home week for me as Robbie Wine and I have known each other since our days at Oklahoma State. Was a pretty good player there and went on to a career in the Astros organization after college. Why is it that all the coaches I see are shocked I am back? Maybe it is actually disappointment masked as shock. I am just not sure.
Game was a good one...if you enjoy umpiring for free. Lopina finished with a 2:05 for nine innings. That would have been tremendous had the game not been tied. Thanks Bill..just can't finish the deal can you?
Game was won by Penn State 5-4 in 12 innings. Still kept it under three hours at 2:52, but extra innings on the bases in the second game of a DH tends to make daddy's feet sore as hell. Thanks again Lopina--you were always my favorite until now. HA!!! He really did a nice job on this game, calling a lot of strikes and keeping it moving along. I hope I can still do this at his age. There is a reason he has worked a College World Series..and age may have slowed him down a few steps but his judgement is still impeccable.
Another DH on Saturday with a little rain mixed in at Al Lang. 10am start time was 1:30pm...which made for a long ass day.
Game one on Saturday was Indiana and Villanova, won easily by Villanova 8-1.
If early indications stay true, it could be a long season for the Hoosiers after qualifying for the NCAA Tournament last year by winning the Big Ten Tourney.
Randy Bachman from Ohio worked the plate in 2:34 and did a nice job. Ron (Catman) Whiting from West Virginia was at third base and stole the show with smooth mechanics on all his out calls at 2nd base. I had NOTHING. Stole money. Which is ALWAYS a good thing. It makes up for all the other times I catch CRAP!!
Game two was me again behind the plate with Minnesota and Connecticut. Two observations..
(1) I really have a lot of respect for John Anderson of Minnesota. If you can work he leaves you alone and lets you. He had a bunch of patience on this night because they just didn't play very well.
(2) I actually liked UConn coach Jim Penders. But he had absolutely NO control of his team. Players and assistant coaches taking cheap shots at us instead of worrying about doing THEIR job.
That being said, I had to blast my first dugout of the season in this game. Didn't have to run anyone, but it was close. You know who you are Huskies bench coach.
Game only went 2:42 but it felt like four hours. Minnesota pitchers couldn't find the plate the last couple of innings and it made the game seem longer than it was. Especially since it was cold. Not Minnesota/Michigan cold...but you know what I mean.
Only one game on Sunday for me. Was supposed to work Notre Dame and Penn State but switched with Gary Rosplohowski so he could make his flight back to Toledo. You are welcome Rospo. Plus they went 3:40 in a 9-8 game...so actually...THANK YOU Rospo!!!
My game was a third base job with Michigan and South Florida. Dave Condon from Chicago knocked out a 4-2 game in 2:20...Found a lot of strikes and did a nice job, despite the clueless South Florida fans behind him and the even more clueless South Florida CF who had to leave us in the 8th inning because he felt the need to add commentary to him being called out on strikes. And YES young man, "You need to figure out your FUCKING ZONE back here" will get your ass run every single time.
Jim Muhleck from Detroit was my fellow base companion for the afternoon and again...nothing for either of us. Thanks for taking all the heat for the day Dave.
Be sure to check out my next post later today on my opinions on how we were treated by the tournament people for the weekend. While some of it was good...there was a lot of bad for an event that should have been a first class experience...even for us.