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.

Weekend From Hell

Ok...Let me start this post by saying that I am OLD.  I admit it.  Let me also say I love God.  Because if it weren't for Him...I would have had the longest weekend ever for me.  Was scheduled for a funky Horizon League weekend this past weekend...Here was the schedule.

Friday--Wright State at Valpo (DH)  Beginning at Noon.
Saturday--Wright State at Illinois-Chicago (DH) Beginning at Noon.
Sunday--Illinois-Chicago at Valpo (DH) Beginning at Noon.

That is six 9-inning games in three days with two plate jobs.  I was totally dreading it because my 50-year old butt was gonna be sore.  I knew it...and HE knew it.

So he made it rain on Sunday.  I prayed for it on Saturday and He answered me.  Thank you Lord.

OK..On to the baseball.  Wright State took two from Valpo on Friday.  11-1 and 10-4.  Both games were like they sound.  Not even close.  But something happened on Friday that I HAVE to bring up.

Don't let coaches get in your head.  They want to get into conversations with you that will try to get you to contradict yourself. This happened to me on this day. started out innocent enough.  He comes out to where I am standing down the left field line between innings and said that my plate job in game one was one of the best he has had all year.  But that a call I made at third base the inning before was one of the worst calls he had ever seen.

It took every inch of restraint I had not to toss him right there on the spot.  But I told him I wasn't going to discuss that call with him.  If he wanted to argue he had his chance to come out and man up right after the play happened.  I guess that is why it caught me off guard when he came out to talk to me between innings.  He told me not to take it personally...and that if ANYONE should take it personally..that it should be him because baseball how he feeds his family.

THAT did it.  I was pissed.

The last thing I need or want is someone questioning me about my professionalism.  I don't care if you are feeding your family by coaching baseball.  I put extra food on my table by umpiring baseball.  After umpiring in the minor leagues...I am pretty sure I know what professionalism is all about. 

I turned around and walked away.

Could I have dumped him?  Sure.  Would I have gained anything?  Nope.

He stayed in the game..won...and I didn't have to write a report.  All in all...even though I was REALLY worked out ok.

The next day...all was quiet.  Wright State and UIC split a doubleheader...Sunday it rained like crazy and God gave me my day off...Got paid for 6 games while only working 4.

God works in mysterious ways.

P.S.  Got a chance to work with David Uyl in Chicago on Saturday.  Spent quite a bit of time in the big leagues the past couple of seasons.  For the love of Pete, I don't know why he didn't get the chance.  This guy can flat out umpire.

I am very proud of him though.  He went out on HIS terms.  Not many get to say that.  Most guys hang on to the bitter end when they finally get released.  He didn't.  Good for you David.  I will go to war with you ANY day.  Character counts.

P.P.S.  To Scott Behn and Tim Farwig.  Another outstanding weekend with quality people.  Anytime...anyplace.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ball State vs. Buffalo

A little bit of everything this past weekend as I head back into the MAC for Ball State vs. Buffalo.

Right off the bat on Friday, we get started an hour and a half late because of the threat of rain.  It DID sprinkle a bit but they left the tarp on the field and we waited it out in the locker room.  Finally got started at 4:30 as my permanent partner for the 2010 season Randy Bachman went 2:38 minutes in a 11-5 Ball State win.  Not a whole lot of fanfare or issues in this one.  I think everyone was too tired from waiting around.

On Saturday it was my turn to throw on the gear in game two of the series and while it wasn't one of the best plate jobs I have ever was pretty damn quick.  I established a big zone early in the game and carried it through (or I should say the players carried it through because they swung the sticks on this day).  6-5 Ball State win in...get this....WAIT FOR IT......1:58.  A sub two-hour game.  Love it!!!  And don't think I have forgotten the code Bachman and Tim Farwig....YOU OWE ME A STEAK DINNER!!!!

Speaking of steak--I was commuting back and forth to Indy for this series and I had meat overload on Saturday night after this game as my wife and I went with two other couple to Fogo De Chao in downtown Indy.  Carnage at it's finest...try it sometime.

Then came game three on Sunday.  Tim Farwig behind the dish--and let me just say for the record that it was the first time I have worked with this guy from Northern Indiana and I hope it isn't the last time.  This guy can flat work!!  Nice job Tim.

He only has one thing to learn.  We don't get paid overtime.  He took us 11 innings on Sunday as Buffalo salvaged the final game of the series with a 11-7 win.  Good thing was it still only took 2:50.  Again nice job.  And looking at my schedule I have Tim with me on a DH at Valpo on Friday this week.  (BE GOOD AGAIN!!!!)

All in all a good weekend with no visits and just a little chirping.  Not church..but not hell either.

Next up for me...The Horizon Weekend from hell.  Three DH's in three days.  Hope I am still standing by Sunday afternoon.

Wabash vs. DePauw

The frat boys lined up down the left field line.  The BBQ grills lit up.  No Monon Bell around like they do in football, but it was still a lot of fun to work the baseball version of the rivalry between the two schools.

Mike Mann worked the plate with me on the bases as Wabash came back to win with a two-run bottom of the ninth 8-7.

Decent baseball for D3.  Not great, pitching weak.  But a good atmosphere and two teams that wanted to win at all costs.

Kudos to Wabash for one thing though.  First non-D1 game I have worked this year where my check was waiting for me when I got there.  Thank you Wabash College.

Their coach also made a comment about getting a new field next year.

It has been coming for a couple of years...but still no sign of groundbreaking.  For the 3B and SS throwing across the diamond to first base on this gives a whole new meaning to "throwing downhill".  Usually you refer to this coming from the mound to the plate.  But the grade is so sloped at Wabash there is literally a good five foot drop from 3B to 1B. 

Coach there seems to be a pretty good guy.  Hope he gets his field.

2:52 for Mr. Mann with no incidents.

Next up:  Ball State hosts University of Buffalo in MAC play in Muncie this weekend..

Monday, April 12, 2010

W. Michigan vs. Ohio U.

MAC series this past weekend with two of my favorite umpires and working two of my favorite coaches.  What could go wrong?

Well...let's just say not much as long as one of the teams doesn't show up..which was the case for W. Michigan.

Randy Ford has quickly become one of my favorite coaches in the game.  He is a class act and just leaves you alone and lets you work.  I truly felt sorry for him because as good of a guy as he is I hate to see a team quit.  Which is what happened this weekend.

Worked this weekend with Randy Bachman and Jon Milesky.  Great guys that I can have fun with away from the field as well as on it.  By the way--Let me just say that Bachman has everything in the MAC scouted out.  Friday night Abrio's Italian which has an unreal Chicken Parm.  Saturday for lunch Miller's Chicken which had broasted chicken to die for.  Saturday night Courtside Pizza.  A 20" three topping pizza for less than $20. (You gotta LOVE college towns.)  Thanks for the extra 10 pounds this weekend Bach.

Friday night was my plate game that went 2:59 and was the longest game of the series.  Ohio won 25-3.  Painful.

Saturday wasn't much better.  15-3 Ohio.  But Bachman somehow got the game done in 2:05.  Don't know how that happened..but he gets rated a 5 for getting that mess done so quickly.

Most competitive game of the series was Sunday where Ohio won again.  This time 11-5.  Milesky goes 2:46 for this one on getaway day.

No real issues this weekend.  I had an interference call on a runner sliding into second base with his arms up in the air and knocked down the throw on the DP turn.  Had to put a RF in his place after yelling in at me about a call.  That's always no fun.

Baseball was thing for me this weekend was the chicken.  It is a MUST DO in Athens.

Went out on Saturday night with some friends from Athens for a while.  One of the decided to grab my phone and make some Facebook posts that I had to later delete after I figured out what had happened.  Dickhead.  Thanks Scott.

I must admit though that Athens is one of my favorite towns to go to during the season.  ESPECIALLY when the weather is nice like it was this past weekend.  Great views.

Light week this week for me.  DePauw at Wabash on Wednesday.  Another MAC series this weekend in Muncie with Ball State vs Buffalo.

Have a great week guys.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

UIndy vs. Anderson

Victory Field.  Beautiful yard.  Reminds me of my days in the pro game.  Beautifully manicured field..lots of empty seats.  But it was great.

Last night it was UIndy against Anderson University.  Rain threatened all night and we eventually had to suspend the game in the bottom of the 9th with the score tied 9-9.  Fitting.

Worked this game with Andy Warren from Indianapolis.  He did a really nice job behind the dish.  But unlike the game at Franklin on Tuesday where Matt Waggoner didn't have a single damn call...I HAD 50!!!

OK...Maybe it was more like 6-7..but they were all whackers...And they all went for outs.  (Must have gotten them all right...I got to watch them a second time on the video boards and I wouldn't have changed any of them.)

Pretty uneventful game..lots of offense..a new pitcher every inning.  Andy would have had about a 2:20 game if it hadn't been for the lightning and rain.

Now for the fun part of the night.

Andy told me to speak of it kindly.  I think I will speak of it with enthusiasm.

It has happened to all of us.  If you say it hasn't happened to you as an umpire--YOU ARE A LIAR!!
The dreaded STE-BALL.

I have had my share in my see the comes track it is going to be in the it isn't.

Pitch came in...looked good from the start...then all of a sudden a 70 mph gust of wind blew it off the plate.  But too late...Andy was already up...out of the squat...standing up...AND turning to his right to call it a strike...but it wasn't...and as he stood up...turned right and began to raise his right arm...he changed his mind.

It is the worst feeling in the world.  You are standing there looking towards the first base stands and you know it is coming...grief.  But it didn't.  I couldn't believe it.  I didn't hear a word from anyone.  If that had been me....well...I don't even want to think about it.

For the record...he got the pitch was definitely a ball.  But it was without a doubt the biggest STE-BALL I have ever seen on a baseball field.

For those of you who think I shouldn't be writing this...he knows about the blog...and like I said earlier...he told me to speak of it kindly.

Andy...You are a great umpire..and it happens to everyone.  Keep up the great work.  The side benefit is we had a good laugh about it after the game in the locker room.


Next up...MAC weekend at Ohio University hosting W. Michigan.  Have a great weekend guys.

Franklin College vs. Rose Hulman

D3 baseball.  $100 for the day.  Close to home on a mid week game.  I'll take it.

A lot of games like this you don't see many in the stands.

Take for instance the game on Tuesday with these two teams.  50 people in the stands.  Only thing different is that there were 20 scouts.  Now I must admit, I don't follow D3 baseball that much.  I am doing it because Deron Brown asked me to and it is a 4pm start.  But if there were that many scouts there on a Tuesday afternoon...there must be some guy who can pitch.  (For the record his name was Derek Eitel...struck out 9 in 4 innings and got a no-decision.  He was not bad.)

But this day was different.  For many reasons.

Number one, let me tell you that Franklin College has done a very nice job with their field.  No locker room for the umpires...but is D3.  (Actually there is a place I could have changed in the press box...but I would rather dress in the car get the picture.)

Now, back to the game.  The one thing that really got to me on this day was that I answered more "Where was that pitch" questions on this day than I had in all my other games combined this season. I am glad it isn't like that every day.

Next...and it ALWAYS happens in these type of games...there is always ONE jackass on the bench that yells at the top of his lungs every 15 seconds...It doesn't have to make sense..he just yells something.  Today he was on Franklin's bench.   Seriously are giving me a headache.

I had never been to Franklin College and it was my first time to work for Franklin coach Lance Marshall.  Not a bad guy.  But twice he came up to me and said..."Can I ask you something without you getting upset or taking it the wrong way?"  This question is usually followed up by a question he shouldn't ask...Which it was.  About balls and strikes.  I guess he thought I had two different strike zones and that it seemed that the Rose Hulman catcher was getting rewarded for not making pitches look good.

The game was won by FC 10-8 after a 4-run bottom of the 8th...3:07 on the time.  And I worked with Matt Waggoner from Indy.  Matt is a great guy...and he has a bright future in umpiring.  He can't be much more than 25 or so.  But don't ask me for an evaluation on this day.  He stole money.  Not one single call.  He runs like a deer...looks great...but I should have made him work the plate.  HA!!!

Coming up next...University of Indianapolis against Anderson University at Victory Field.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Indiana vs. Michigan

It was a strange and long weekend in Bloomington this past weekend as Michigan took two of three from IU.

There were quite a few issues that happened this weekend and I will be addressing a couple of them in separate blog posts this morning.

Worked this weekend with Jim Jackson and Sal Giacomantonio.  We had a good time despite the long games and even got a chance to attend the Final Four in Indianapolis on Saturday night.  Two good umpires and even better guys.

Michigan won on Friday 16-10 in 10 innings.  The crew chief (Jimmy) could do nothing about the length of this game.  It was just not a very good baseball game.  We were on a 4 hour pace from the get go and it just got worse.  Final game time was 4:26 and trust me when I tell you it felt like 8:26.  A couple of bench clearings....a little smack talk...a pitch behind a hitter's head.  We had a little bit of everything in this one.

When you have situations come up in games you find out just how good of an umpire you are.  All of us can call outs and safes and balls and strikes.  It is how an umpire reacts in a tough situation that separates the men from the boys.

On Saturday, Sal had the only sane game of the weekend...a 6-4 Michigan win in 2:43.  Thank God.  No issues and not much said, even after all the crap we had on Friday.  I upset the Michigan 1st base coach when I told his boys to get back in the dugout and quit giving my crew chief cheap shots.  He thought I should stay out of his dugout and leave his players alone.  I thought his players should keep their ass in the dugout with their mouths shut.  I win.

Then came my plate job on Sunday.  Yuck.  26-6 Indiana.  Enough said??  I don't think so.  Let's talk about the fifth inning, where the Hoosiers decided to have their entire offensive production of the season in one inning.  17 batters came to the plate.  17!!!???  Are you kidding me?  11 runs scored on 12 hits.  I thought that half inning lasted three hours by itself.

It was a miracle from God that the game lasted only 3:09.  And as Forrest Gump would say....."That's all I have to say about that."

Five games this week.  D3 at Franklin College on Tuesday.  D2 at Victory Field on Wednesday.  Then it is off to one of my favorite college towns ever.  Athens, OH this weekend for a MAC series with Ohio University hosting W. Michigan.

Should be an interesting week.  Stay tuned.