Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Northwestern vs. Illinois-Chicago

Tuesday night March 30th in Chicago.  If you had told me when the schedule came out that it would be 60 degrees at game time for a 7:05 start I would have kissed your ass at the top of the John Hancock Building.

But there we were at UIC playing in unbelievable weather.

First of all let me say that working a night game at UIC is a great experience.  The backdrop of downtown Chicago over the centerfield wall is just unreal.  I look forward to going back and doing it again.

Now to the game.  Worked with a couple of guys that if I could go on the field with them every night..then I couldn't HELP but be a better umpire.  The teams had no clue how good they had it.  Two ex-AAA umpires and a ex-AA umpire in a three man crew is good for ANY game at ANY level..Much less a mid-week non-conference game.

Mark Winters and David Riley---You both MAKE me want to continue to get better every day.  Professionals.  Don't take any crap.  Hustle your ass off.  Work hard and have fun.  It is what the game should be EVERY day.

It was truly my pleasure to be on the same field as you guys.

Oh yeah.....the game.  HA!!!

UIC beat Northwestern 6-1.  UIC threw Johnny Wholestaff and beat the Wildcats who just flat didn't show up.

2:35 plate job for Mark...who honestly COULD have mailed it in coming back from working Texas A&M-Missouri last weekend and headed to Norman, OK this weekend for OU-Texas.  But he didn't.  Worked his ass off and we all had a great time.

Beautiful thing working with pros.  You don't have to worry about where they are on the field.  You always know they are where they are supposed to be.  Which makes everyone's life easy.

IU-Michigan coming up next for a three-game series at Indiana beginning Friday. 

Everyone have a GREAT Easter safe in your travels...and get 'em all correct.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Butler vs. Youngstown State

You ever get in a situation where you are in the middle of making a call and as you are making it you go....OH SHIT!!!???

Had one of those today in game two of the three game series here in Indianapolis.

Ground ball to shortstop...he throws across the diamond to first base.  I am in position and then all of a sudden the throw goes off line.  First baseman stretches towards right field...and it appears to me as though he is going to keep his foot on the base as he stretches to catch the throw...

I get straight-lined...and I am screwed.  I am really not sure.  (I find out later I could have kicked a 40-yard FG I kicked it so badly).

Butler skipper Steve Farley comes out to argue...only one thing.  He is arguing with my partner at home plate Matt Moore.  He finally comes out to me and instead of asking me to get help...he starts in on how I can't possibly see that play and someone else HAS to help me.

Now I have been umpiring a long time...and I am all about getting the play right...but sometimes a skipper just comes out and goes about it the wrong way.  Today was one of those days.

If he would have come out rationally and ASKED me to get help...I am 95% sure I would have complied..even though both of my partners were over 90 feet away.  But after a couple of horseshits and yelling at me...I was all of a sudden no longer in the mood.  So I said no.

I was sure enough that I got it right that I wasn't going to hang it on my I didn't.

Outcome of the game wasn't affected as Butler kicked the dog out of Youngstown in this game...but my question is this....

When did we start going to get help as umpires on every little play?  I am not trying to justify it at crew chief Jon Milesky told me I kicked the shit out of the call and I have no reason to doubt him, but I am standing right there...right or wrong it is MY call.

WHY are we going to get help every time some coach comes out and screams and demands it?

I heard a coach the other day say that umpires are just doing this as a vocation and that we are messing with their livelihoods.

SCREW that.  I have as much pride in my work on the baseball field as I do in my real life job.  In fact, probably MORE SO.

Anyway...the Baseball Gods punished the shit out of me for kicking that they gave me a 3:28 plate job for game three of the series.

Maybe I should have gone and gotten some help.  Those Baseball Gods are a FICKLE bunch.

Youngstown takes two out of three from Butler.  None of the games were close.  Milesky and Moore were both good this weekend.  Also, congrats to Matt for dropping almost 30 pounds.  It has made a HUGE difference in his mobility on the field.  Good for you Matt.

Big week this week. Illinois-Chicago hosts Northwestern Tuesday night.  With a couple of ex-AAA guys in Mark Winters and David Riley.  Hopefully they can keep me out of trouble.  Then the Big 10 season opens up for me at Indiana as they host Michigan on Friday-Sunday.  Always fun working with Jimmy Jackson and my friend Sal Giacomantonio is coming down from Detroit.

And remember my friends...Balls and safes give you 4 hour games--Strikes and outs give you 2 hour games.  We don't get paid by the hour.

Have a great week.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

IU vs. Xavier

You ever have one of those days where no matter what you are destined for a three hour marathon?

Welcome to my Wednesday afternoon in Bloomington as I see a winning team score 17 runs for the second consecutive day as the Hoosiers beat Xavier 17-8.

3:00 on the nose and I was HAPPY to get it done that quick.

Was fun working with Jimmy Jackson and Randy Bachman as Randy and I began our 2010 world tour.  We are together a total of 11 games this year.  ( I am wondering what I did to Fetch.)

The first 8 runs scored by IU all came off of home runs..a three-run, a two-run and three solos.

Made for a long afternoon.


It is something that absolutely drives me nuts.  I have seen more guys the last couple of years flex a knee into a inside curveball to try to buy their way onto first base.  I kept three guys at the plate for doing this and I am wondering how many of you are having the same crap?

Note to hitters...stand in there and try to get a hit...not try to GET HIT.

Great photo on the website of IU skipper Tracy Smith and I having a discussion about this after I kept one of his kids at the plate.

I really like and respect Tracy, but don't tell me you don't teach that to your kids.

The conversation went something like this....

TRACY...He didn't try to get hit.
ME...He rolled his knee into the inside curveball on purpose.
TRACY...He did NOT.  He turned his back and it hit him in the leg.
ME...Are we watching the same game?
TRACY...He did not flex his knee.
ME...Tracy, it isn't like I have anything else to do on this.  I stand here and track the inside curveball and he stuck his knee out and it hit him.  Doesn't get much easier than that.

And with that Tracy walked away.  End of discussion.

There are a LOT of teams teaching this...and while some of you might let them get away with it...I won't.

Long day was made better afterwards as the three of us went to Little Zagreb's for steak.  LOVE that place.  If you go to is a MUST DO.

First weekend of conference season begins this weekend as Butler hosts Youngstown State in Horizon League play...and I have to drive a whole 10 miles to the yard.  With Jon Milesky from Cincinnati and Matt Moore from Wisconsin this should be fun.  Will post again after the game on Friday.

Anderson vs. Wabash

My first D3 game of the season happened on Tuesday.  A base job in a game at Anderson. 

It was a relatively boring baseball game as Anderson won 17-11.  It was really bad I thought that Wabash went for a 2 point conversion in the 8th inning to keep it from being a 17-10 game.

IUA umpire Kevin Faust worked the plate.  Did a really nice job back there. 

Only highlight for me on the day was getting on the AU shortstop late in the game.  Kevin called a pitch that ran off the plate a little and the shortstop said to his second baseman loud enough for me to hear him..."That pitch was a foot outside.  He has been calling that pitch ALL DAY."

I turned around and looked at him and said.."Son, that would be like me looking at you and saying these teams have dropped SIX pop flies today..and it has been happening ALL DAY."

He looked away and wouldn't respond.  AND for the record...the two teams DID drop 6 pop flies on the infield on the afternoon.

Was happy to get out of there in less than three hours.  Nice job Kevin.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Back To Work

Well as it happens every year...Get a little work in early and then sit for a couple of weeks just to start all over again.  Welcome to baseball in the Great White North.

First week of the conference season begins this week though as the season starts now for real whether we are ready for it or not.

This week a couple of midweek games at D3 Anderson University and at IU...followed by my first conference baseball of the season in Horizon League play right in my own backyard at Butler. 

Looking forward to getting on the field this weekend with guys I have worked with before...(Jimmy Jackson and Randy Bachman at IU...Jon Milesky and Matt Moore at Butler).

Should be an interesting week.

Also congrats to my good friend Dan Bellino who was hired as a MLB rover yesterday, which means he should see about 100 games in the big leagues this season.  He has worked his ass off and deserves this shot.  I am looking forward to going and catching him work some games this season.

Check in this week as I update the blog a bunch and please get all your other umpire friends to sign up and follow my blog here at

Would be great if we can get a bunch of followers to this site.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Indiana State vs. E. Illinois

Another game, another $170.  A rather boring day in Terre Haute (which is actually a NORMAL day in Terre Haute usually.)

Took almost as long to work the last six outs of the game as it did to go the first 7 1/2 innings.

1-1 going into the bottom of the 8th inning...and the Sycamores decide to wake up.  Couldn't just get a couple of insurance runs to seal the victory...they had to go for the full monty.  A 7-spot in the bottom of the 8th gave them an 8-1 lead.

Then could E. Illinois just go quietly in order in the top of the 9th?  I think you all know that answer to that one.

A 2-run inning and we walk out in 2:52 after ISU wins 8-3.

Mike Mann worked the plate and did a pretty good job for his first game of the season.  Really handled game management nicely.  Only one thing stuck out with him that I want to share...He went to the meeting in Dallas and came away from it that we were going to the umpire on the line for ALL check swings this season.

If you all remember, Tom said to just look at situations and figure out in your heads whether or not most check swings could be seen better from the wing than from the middle.

Nothing like standing down at first base with a left handed hitter and having your plate guy come out tho check with you when there is a guy standing in the middle waiting for the proper mechanic.

The mechanic is still the same...first base guy gets right handed batters, third base guy gets the lefties.

Had a great time working the bases with Shannon Bunger from Bloomington, IN.  Great hustle and great mechanics.

Next game is Friday at Franklin College (weather permitting).

Catch up with you all after that game.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Photos from Florida

Me with Rick Darby from Inverness, FL.  Great umpire and an even better guy.  We were together in the Florida State League back in 83-84.

(L to R)  Randy Bachman-Napoleon, OH, Gary Rosplohowski-Toledo, OH, Rick Darby-Inverness, FL, Rick's daughter Gillian, Me, Rick's wife Kim.

It was so cold and wet on Saturday I actually considered wearing this for a couple of minutes.  For the record....I didn't.

Jon Garlits from Lincoln, IL

Dave Condon from Chicago

Bill Lopina from Chicago

Ron (Catman) Whiting from West Virginia

Bachman served us all lemonade.  Thank you Randy.

Mike Baker from St. Pete, FL

Rospo looking important.

My favorite little spark plug.  Don Umland from Iowa.

Scott Behn from Iowa.  I still can't get over how much weight you lost dude.  Great work.

Mike Gillis from New Hampshire.  I have SO many stories on him from our Texas League days.  But not here.

Someone apparently has Bachman's attention from the Notre Dame dugout.  Or did they have bat girls??  I can't remember.

Don January from Boston.  This guy I liked a lot.  Even if he was working with Gillis.

Brian from New Hampshire.  Notice how his shoulders are slumping.  It is difficult work carrying Mike Gillis around on a field.  I know this from experience.  HA!!!

Jim Muhleck from Detroit

Me with Mike Gillis.  All kidding aside. He is one of the best umpires I have ever had the honor of stepping onto a baseball field with.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Quit Treating Me Like Crap

A thought came to mind today after working at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in St. Pete, FL over the weekend. It is a thought I have had many times before and one that I am sure I will have many times again.

In fact, I have gotten so used to going through this that it has almost become second nature.


We show up at the ballpark in St. Pete last Friday and the first thing the guy who was running the show at Progress Energy Park says to us was..."Here are a few drinks for you. If you want food you are on your own. And oh by the way, the showers don't have hot water."

Are you serious?

You can't turn on the hot water at the ballpark so that we can at LEAST take a shower?

Bottom line is--They didn't even THINK about us. Never even crossed their minds.

Never mind that the game fee was half of what we normally make (1/4 of what a SEC or ACC guy would make).

But they couldn't even get the hot water turned on for us.

It is the same old tired in, game out. Year in, year out.

Guess I should be thankful we didn't have to dress in the parking lot huh?

This was the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. It should have been a big deal. This had the possibilities of being a first-class tournament.

It wasn't. Not even third-class.

And then just when you think it couldn't get did.

On Sunday, we were working over at the Naimoli Complex. This place is a minor league complex that has been used in the past by the Cardinals and Mets and most recently by the Tampa Bay Rays for their minor leaguers.

Guess what?? No hot water there either.

So a note to teams and tournament directors who host umpires.

Will you PLEASE quit treating us as afterthoughts?

And a side note to umpires.

Quit letting them. We deserve better.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Big Ten/Big East Challenge

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 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 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 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.