I was watching the Big Ten semifinal between Michigan and Wisconsin this morning and have both a mechanics question and a ruling question. In the Top of the second inning, WI hits a fly ball to CF, R1 tags from 2B, bad throw gets away from F5 and R1 heads home. F1 who was backing up on the play throws home. Ball beat the runner by a step. Now my questions, Was the PU where he should have been on 1BLE even though the throw was coming from the fence behind 3B? If someone can find it. I saw her as safe on the live play, and still think she's safe after watching the replays, what do you guys think?
Looking for some help with this situation from a high school perspective. The Bases are loaded. The runner on 2nd base leaves early, the ball is pitched and the batter hits a hard ground ball to the pitcher who throws home. The catcher catches the ball and has her foot on home plate before the runner crosses the plate. Is this still a force out because the runner on second left early? Should the play have been stopped as soon as the player on 2nd base left early? Thank You
Well, I guess it's just that time. After 26 years of umpiring softball, I have decided to retire from the field. It hasn't been an easy decision, but I unfortunately need to listen to what my body, my doctors, and my heart are telling me.
I will never forget the exact day that it all started - December 31, 1992. I was 15 years old, and my parents had invited the commissioner of a local church slow pitch league over to their house for New Year's. I used to play in the league as a child, and they taught me a lot about fair play, sportsmanship, and never giving up. However, being the perpetual smartass I am, I asked Jack Raue if he needed any umpires for the league. Probably rather unwisely, he said, "sure!" My father was another umpire in the league, and I think Jack figured my dad could show me the ropes.
That following spring, my dad tossed the latest rule book at me and said, "here, read this. Twice. I'll quiz you later." I did so, and I apparently answered his questions well enough that he gave me his blessing. It probably wasn't the wisest decision at the time. Two years later, Jack suggested that I focus on my high school studies instead.
Fortunately, I didn't get the hint, as something had already gotten into my blood. Something about being out on the field doing a strange, thankless job had gotten a hold of me. There was something that thrilled me about taking on new challenges and working on perfecting a bizarre set of skills that most people didn't understand - angle over distance, working the slot, striving for the 90, and so on. I switched to another league for a couple of years, called some rec ball in college and in a neighboring town during the summer. In 2001, I started to call rec ball here in North Carolina under the patient tutelage of Phil King.
I guess I just kept going.
I've been extremely fortunate over my tenure, and to say this has been an amazing experience would be an understatement. Calling ball has taken me places I never would have gone otherwise. I've called six National Championships for ASA/USA Softball, two Nationals for Senior Softball USA, and even one for PONY. I've called ball in six different states. I've been honored to become an umpire clinician for my local association, and have served on our local association's Board.
I've been witness to some of the most amazing displays of athleticism that would rival MLB. I've seen an 8U outfielder lay out to make a diving catch, then instantly pop up to make a perfect throw to second base to double off the runner. I've seen a team come back in the bottom of the 7th after being down by 14 runs. I've seen a streaker on my field. I've seen young athletes have their time in the sun, and I've seen senior athletes relive the same.
Basically, I have memories that will last me a lifetime.
That's not to say it's lacked the typical ups and downs. There have been plenty of times when I almost called it quits. I've had the unruly fans yelling at me through the fence. I've even once been called "the devil" by a player I'd just tossed (and it took every ounce of self-control to keep a straight face), and nearly had a player come after me before his teammate grabbed him.
But to be frank with you, I just consider myself lucky. Lucky to have been in the right places at the right moments. Lucky to have been healthy enough to be out there fulfilling a role for 26 years, when the average umpire only lasts 3. Lucky to have been able to call an estimated 6,000 games.
Lucky to have found a calling.
You see, for more than my entire adult life, this hasn't been just some side job I did for extra cash, I am an umpire. I'll say that again - I am an umpire. That's who I've been for 26 years. Ask anyone who knows me, and that's probably the one thing they know about me - I love calling ball. My blood runs powder blue.
Walking away will not be easy. In fact, it'll be hard. Damn hard. To be honest, I'm struggling with it, and there's a tremendous amount of denial that I'm feeling about this. But I know that in the end, it is the right choice. I'm only 41, but the field has taken a tremendous toll on my body. I've broken bones, torn tissues, invested in all sorts of different braces to keep me going, and so on.
I'll still be around the field a bit. I'll continue to mentor, train, and evaluate umpires. I still have it in my blood to want to be on the field, and I'll make an appearance or two, just not wearing my uniform. I'll still hang around the fields, still harass people on the forums, and certainly answer questions. I can still type, just can't really run right now.
To all the coaches and players out there, I hope I served you well. I hope you know that I did everything to "get it right." I know I wasn't perfect, but for you, I always strived to be. Why? Because you deserved it. No matter the level, you deserved a real umpire out there, and I hope that's what I gave to you.
To all my fellow umpires, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for the laughs, thank you for the times that you've carried me, thank you for mentoring me and listening to me, thank you for being out there on the field with me. I won't forget it.
Most importantly... To my wife, Laura, thank you. Thank you for always supporting me. Thank you for enduring those times when I was away at games. Thank you for having dinner waiting for me so many times after I got home, even when on some of those nights, you were already in bed. Thank you for letting me call two Nationals over your birthday weekend. Thank you for understanding that this is who I am.
Thank you for believing in me.
And to Jack, no hard feelings, but I just had to prove you wrong. I hope I did. Nah, screw that. I can say it now - I know I did.
I'll try and make this clear, and get your impressions.
Within the last few years the interference call on a home plate play on runner has moved away from a catcher's advantage. I remember calling interference on a R on an inbound ball still bouncing on the infield grass on the way to the catcher when she was plastered by the runner; who took her to be in "the base path" when that really wasn't the case. Now, the rule seems to be the catcher has to make contact with the ball at THE TIME she is going to make a play on the runner. In other words an incoming ball is not yet being fielded; so no interference. I can live with that though it's a hard explain to the catcher's coach. But I saw in a game last week where a R freight trained a SS while she was waiting on a grounder still 15 feet in front of her. The umpire ruled the SS was in the basepath so there was no interference. Then I've been wrong for 16 years, because both have right to the path and the R can deviate her path to avoid interfering....still...right?
This seems to happen the start of every new year. One thing I am a little head scratched on is why is the rule against a runner at home for interference only when the catcher starts to obtain the ball and not while she is sizing up the incoming ball. Also, my opinion on the SS deal is the R should have been tagged for INT for the hit.....but then how close does the ball need to be now to the infielder before that call is made? And if it's different for the distances between a catcher and a fielder....why?
This will be my second year working USA Softball, for all of my leagues we use a city provided shirt, hat and our own gray or black pants or shorts. But this year I'm planning on working State again and maybe a couple other tournaments so I need a couple shirts, maybe a hat if anyone has a spare. Last year I used the UIC's shirts but if I'm going to go in on this I may as well get my own. Looking for size XL shirts and I'm a 7 5/8 hat size. I don't mind buying the stuff but figured I'd look here first.
USA Softball has finally posted their 2019 rule changes here. There's nothing too earth-shattering this year, but I did notice one particular rule change that caught my attention involving the pitcher and catcher in fast pitch.
Has anyone got any insight into that rule change, particularly how it will be enforced when the defensive coach fails to report the pitching/catching change?
Almost 7 years ago, I started this forum with the intent of furthering our mutual passion for our profession - umpiring softball. From the very beginning, it was a place for all umpires - rookie and veteran, slow pitch and fast, recreational to those calling on the higher stages - to come and discuss everything about what it means to be out there on the field. From rules to mechanics, equipment to war stories, this site has always been 100% for softball officials, by softball officials. I'm proud of what we, together, have achieved on this site:
Over 500 members
1,000 unique threads
Over 8,600 posts
However, as of late, we have not seen much activity on the forum as we used to, and I largely attribute that to Facebook groups having largely taken over. And I get it - it's easy, it's convenient, and just about everyone has a Facebook account. Unfortunately, the mandate from many organizations has largely been a blanket statement of "stay off social media." There's little to no anonymity, and the risk of putting one's name out there by asking a simple question has had detrimental effects. Due to the amount of scrutiny placed on officials by associations, coaches, parents, players, and also the media, sites like Facebook don't lend themselves to providing a relatively open learning environment for officials. While I can appreciate the associations' perspective in wanting to preserve the integrity of their product (the officials) and maintaining their own Chain of Command, I've found that in many cases, this has only created a vacuum.
You see, there are so many officials who are in the unfortunate position where they do not have solid local leadership, and they are left with few options for guidance and growth. All too often, I've heard complaints from umpires about organizations that simply collect registration fees, yet make almost no effort towards umpire development. I've heard how some umpires get little to no responses from their UICs regarding rule and mechanic questions. Umpires have been left without guidance. I find this utterly unacceptable.
This was predominantly the driving force behind the creation of this forum, as well as the reason why I vowed to never charge anyone for access to information. Umpires need a place where they can ask their questions and talk about plays. Umpires need a place that is "just ours," a virtual and anonymous locker room, of sorts. I believe we've filled that role dutifully.
But as I said, traffic is noticeably down. Some of that is my fault, as my new job doesn't have as much downtime for me to decompress as my previous job did, and I haven't been as active on here as I would like. But truthfully, most of it is simply because Facebook's eaten our collective lunch. Most forums are feeling the pinch, and we're no exception. As such, looking at hosting costs that are always going up, I'm at a bit of a crossroads. On the one hand, I'd love to move this site onto better footing, perhaps host it on vBulletin's own cloud offering (which, ultimately, is cheaper). On the other hand, the lack of activity makes me wonder if I should put a pretty bow on this experiment and give it a rest. What do people think? I'm certainly open to discussion.