What's up with "Blue"?
by Carey Meitzler
Having umpired a lot in my younger (and leaner) days and have been asked and
delivered clinics for baseball umpires on numerous occasions, so I think I can give
an objective observation on what I have viewed on two occasions this year.
Tuesday's Poplarville / Picayune fast pitch game had the makings to be a classic. But,
then things got a little crazy. But, it started a little earlier in the evening.
The umpires had already shown in the JV game and on other occasions in the Varsity
game that they were not competent to take on the responsibility of officiating the game
and more importantly controlling themselves instead of looking for a confrontation.
By no means, am I implying Picayune would have won the game if the chain of events
had not occurred; no one will ever know. What is sad, is that two good teams were
playing a very good fast pitch game and both teams deserved better at the time. It
was still a great game, but most everyone there has forgotten that by now and only
remembers the extra-curricular things.
Earlier this year, I was listening to the PRC/Picayune baseball at Picayune while watching
a fast pitch game just across the complex. During the broadcast, I kept hearing how the
officiating seemed a little shaky and could hear the fans sighs and shouts at times.
When the fast pitch game ended, I walked over and watch the last two innings of the
baseball game. I witnessed two guys who had lost control of a game and at times seemed
like they were guessing with some of their calls. The topper came when the game was
over and the base umpire got into a shouting match with a PRC coach as the teams
lined up to shake hands.
Hear me out on this. I learned a lot from a couple of great umpires who I worked with
over my years in the blue and gray. The best ever was Craig Cleveland of Hartselle, AL.
He was good enough to work the majors if he would have decided to take that route. Also,
worked for many years with the GCBOA (Ms Gulf Coast Baseball Officials Association)
and there were some really good ones there too.
Here's a few things I incorporated in my approach that I will give credit to a lot
of good umpires from the GCBOA (Ms Gulf Coast) and the above-mentioned "professional".
1. Remember that these coaches livelihoods rely on what happens out here. If you don't
take it as their "life and bread" and give your best effort, you are stealing.
2. Every player has prepared for this moment; don't be the jerk who is out of position
to make the call because you are lazy or don't care. Out hustle the players and get in
position (right distance, best angle, wait til the play is over before you make the call).
3. Never, never become emotionally involved in a discussion with a coach. Someone has
to remain calm and make sure everything moves forward in a positive manner. If you choose
to enter their kingdom, you are doomed the rest of the game. Now, if the coach wants to
act like the sound end of a horse, let him be the Lone Ranger and walk away. He will get
tired of chasing you after awhile.
4. If you have any doubt in your mind or if you get the indication that you may have missed
a call based on the reaction of the coaches, give the coach a chance to voice his gripe, then
get with your partner and discussed it, and make sure you both agree, and either stand by
the call or change it to make sure you get it right.
5. Never get involved with fans. They are all crazy and when you argue with them about
your calls and try to explain your calls to them, you become one of them. Your responsibility
is to the coaches and players and your partner.
6. Outs and strikes get you home early. If you miss an opportunity to call someone out, shame
7. When the game is over, Do the Matt Dillon thing: "Get the hell out of Dodge..."
In other words, when the game ends, get with your partner, know where the exit gate from
the field is located, and get out of there. You don't get paid extra for hanging around and
when you do hang around, nothing good will usually happen.
So what is up with "Blue"? It appears there is a shortage of officials and maybe the
associations are just happy to have people to assign to the games. I respect the guys
for taking on the responsibility of calling the games, however, I am not sure if they all
take on the high level of concern for the players and coaches that is required. As a whole,
I think there are some really good ones out there. In fact, the best ones are the ones you
can't remember were even there because when they do their job so well, you focus on the game
instead of the officials, which is actually more fun.