Monday, February 22, 2010

First Weekend In the Books

Well, the first weekend of the college baseball season passed by with nothing major happening.  And believe me when you are able to fly under the radar in this business it is MUCH better for you.

Played two games on Friday in Little Rock as St. Louis University played Arkansas-Pine Bluff and then the host school Arkansas-Little Rock played Pine Bluff.

In the first game, Mike Grace turned in a fine 2:23 performance as SLU beat UAPB 6-2.  Grace was his normal solid self back there and with the Friday afternoon temperatures hitting 60...I was happy to be in Little Rock, AR instead of home in Indy with 7 inches of snow still on the ground.  And an obstruction call by yours truly in the 2nd inning was probably the first one called in the 2010 college season.  Just sayin'.

In the second game, I got to watch Brian Martin work in a game where it took pitchers a long time to decide what to throw and when they did they stayed behind in the count.  Brian is one of those good ole boys from northern Louisiana who you HAVE to like.  He was a good roomie for the weekend also..(which means he didn't make a lot of noise and let me sleep).  UALR beat their in-state rivals from Pine Bluff 5-0 in 2:56.  We didn't care how long it took.  It was the first day of the season and 60 degrees outside.  I am certain though, that will change as the season goes on.  HA!!!

Now let me tell you about dinner on Friday night.  A MUST DO in Little Rock is a place called the Butcher Shop Steakhouse on the west side of town.  Good service, unbelievable food and a good time had by all.  I give it an 8 out of 10 and will go back on my next trip to Little Rock.  I had the 20 oz. ribeye, but I must admit that I had a little food envy when Jeff Bowerman's 12 oz. filet came out.  I went for quantity...and my choice was great.  Next time though...the filet will get the test.

On Saturday, first game went to Mr. Bowerman.  A 3:56 marathon that no one wanted to win.  SLU finally did in the 12th inning over St. Peter's 12-11.  Sorry Jeff, it was just one of those games that was destined for LONG.

In the second game, I crawled back behind the dish to determine what kind of year I was going to have.  If all my games are like this one, I'll be a happy camper.  UALR wins over SLU 8-2.  I go 2:27 and am happy to report that the pre-season stretching worked.  No pain the next day and no help from Advil.  (I DID however crawl into a hot bathtub afterward when I got back to the hotel JUST to be on the safe side).  It turned out fine.

Game three...Well, let's just say this.  I love my fellow umpires, but if I don't HAVE to be there...DON'T look in the stands for me.  I am sure that Shon Chester from Tulsa did a fine job.  (He did go 2:36 in a 5-3 Pine Bluff win over St. Peter's)  But I saw about 20 pitches of this game.  Sorry guys, but I am sure you were great.

Back behind the plate again on Sunday morning at 10am...knowing full well we weren't going to be able to play baseball long because of incoming t-storms.  We got 2 1/2 innings in in 40 minutes...the rains came hard...the outfield was a lake...and I was on the road by Noon headed home to Indianapolis with my $1000 check and the knowledge that the start of the season was a good one.

Thanks to Mike Grace, Jeff Bowerman, Brian Martin, Shon Chester and Matt Wilson for making the first weekend of the season a fun one.

Next up is a trip to St. Petersburg, FL for the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.  Hope the start to your season is as good as mine was.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Time Is Here

Well.  The time has now come.  Flying out tomorrow for Little Rock, AR for my first baseball of the year. 

As I write, the temps for the weekend are to be in the mid-50's, so that shouldn't be too bad.  At least it will be better than the 32 degrees it is forecast to be in Indy this weekend.

As umpires, we must always remember that we are expected to be perfect on day one and get better as the season goes on.  I think that is truly horseshit, but it is what it is.

So I have seen my pitches in the cage, and I have stretched as much as I could to prepare for Friday's opening game.  The victims?  St. Louis University and University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  An 11am C.S.T. start time.  I hope they are still asleep and forget I am there. 

But seriously, I feel eager to begin as the next two weekends shape up to be fun with five games in Little Rock followed by five games next weekend in St. Petersburg, FL in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.

A little sun...a little baseball...a little more sun.  Should be a couple of great weekends to start the year.  Then comes the hard part...waiting.  After 10 games in two weekends, then I do only seven games in the next three and a half weeks before conference seasons get underway March 26th.

So in other words, you have to start all over again.  Such is the life of living in the cold weather of the north...but again as my good friend NCAA Division II umpire coordinator Asa Howard taught me--"It is what it is."

But I am looking forward to getting back out there and getting started as we begin the journey for 2010 of officiating the greatest game in the world--Baseball.

Stay tuned for reports from Arkansas as the journey begins Friday morning.