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Delaware County Chapter PIAA Baseball Umpires

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1 Delaware County Chapter PIAA Baseball Umpires
Communication & 2-Man Mechanics The information in this presentation comes from a number of sources, including NHFS mechanics, CCA mechanics, Jim Evan training systems and PBUC. The information briefly summarizes the mechanics prescribed for Delco PIAA assigned games. Any points of disagreement should be addressed to the Chapter leadership.

2 Keys To 2-Man Success 2-Man Is A System Of Compromises
Can’t Be Everywhere To Cover Everything Angle Over Distance Prepare For The Next Most Reasonable Play Communicate With Your Partner Before Game Day (Confirm) Before The Game (Changes & Pre-Game Conf.) During The Game (Verbally & Physically) After The Game (Debrief) Two-man mechanics is a system of compromises. We’ll never be able to get in the ideal position to cover every play when we have two men trying to cover four acres or so of ground. So understand right from the get-go that in some situations we’re going to make compromises in order to provide the maximum coverage according to the situation. In general, we’re going to be in position for the next most reasonable play, which may not be the actual play that transpires, especially when dealing with youth games. A critical component of this system is communication, before the game day when you confirm with each other that you’re working together, the location of the field, the time of the game, and even where you’re going to park / meet. Communication continues before the game during your pre-game conference. A thorough pre-game conference is critical, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience working with that partner. Communications during the game are essential to avoid confusion and ensure all plays are covered to the best of the crew’s ability. That comes in two forms, verbal and physical. And finally, a post-game debrief is essential. Most umpires try to learn something from every game they do, and getting feedback from your partner, who may be the only person knowledgeable enough to provide feedback on your performance during that game, is critical. If your partner asks you for feedback on his performance you should be as honest as possible while being constructive. Should your partner offer you constructive points you should listen and take them into consideration. Responding with an excuse or reason for not following a book mechanic is likely to limit the amount of good feedback you receive from any experienced umpire, which could effectively limit your chances for improvement.

3 Keys To 2-Man Success Know Your Responsibilities Do Your Job
Prepare In Advance Can’t Learn 2-Man System In The Parking Lot Do Your Job 1st Responsibility Is Your Responsibilities Everything’s Covered If Both Guys Do Their Job Stick With Your Priorities Fair / Foul Catch / No-Catch Probably the most important thing you can do is prepare in advance. There is plenty of information about two-man mechanics available, and the Chapter offers scrimmages and other opportunities to learn the system and get feedback. It’s up to you to show the initiative and put in the effort to prepare in advance. John Wooden said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” And that holds true here. You can’t expect to learn the system in the parking lot ½ hour before the game. That’s time for review and clarification, not learning the system. Doing your job is critical. If both umpires do their job everything gets covered and nobody has to do more than what they’re expected to do. Your first responsibility is always your book responsibility, not to cover for your partner, which is what you may have to do if he doesn’t do his job the way he’s supposed to. So know what you’re supposed to do and then do it. Finally, stick with your priorities. As stated earlier, the two-man system is a series of compromises, but your priorities set the order of responsibility. In all situations, your priorities are fair / foul, catch / no-catch.

4 Pre-Game Conference Fair/Foul Responsibilities
No Runners On Runners On C B PU BU C B PU BU Here are some pre-game conference topics. First of all, your positioning and fair / foul responsibilities. With no runners on the plate guy has the entire third base line and the first base line up to the bag. The base guy has from the front of the bag to the foul pole. For fair/foul calls, the plate umpire has them for balls before the base; base guy takes it once the ball passes the bag. Full responsibility down the 3rd base line, but knowing your responsibility on the 1st base line can prevent a double call. For balls down the first base line with BU in “A”, timing is critical. The PU should not be too quick to make a call on a ground ball down the 1st base line. Slow your timing down, see that it reaches the bag, then make eye contact with your partner before doing anything to make sure he’s on the call. If he is, you have nothing.

5 Pre-Game Conference: Outfield Coverage
No Runners On Runners On C B PU BU 7 9 8 C B PU BU 7 9 8 5 6 4 3 1 2 You also want to cover your outfield responsibilities. With no runners on, base ump has outfield coverage on trouble balls from the CF straight in and back, and all the way to the right field line and beyond. Emphasis on, TROUBLE BALLS. With no runners on the PU has everything else, including all routine fly balls. Pop-up = Pivot! On line drives, BU should only take the 2nd and 1st baseman moving toward him, or to their left. Let PU take everything else because of the angle. An exception may be the 2nd baseman on a shoe string catch right in front of the base umpire. With runners on, PU takes infielders moving toward him and LF & RF moving toward the lines. BU has everything in the big “V” or “U” whichever letter you prefer.

6 Pre-Game Conference Other Subjects Field Issues / Known Problems
Dead Ball Responsibility (Normally the PU) Force Play / Slide Rule Responsibility Signals Once you cover your position and fair / foul and outfield responsibilities, cover anything that might create a problem during the game. There’s much less chance of things going crazy if you prepare in advance, and it projects a better image if you look like you know what you’re doing! This would even include issues with the field or previous problems between the teams that could spill over to this game. That’s why communication with the assigners is critical; umpires depend on assigners for this information, and that ties into game reports from the umpires, which is a topic for another meeting. Issues with the field may be something like bleachers 400 feet away in right field. The home coach may try to make that a ground rule triple, but you can’t let that happen, so talk about it during your pre-game so you are united if the issue comes up. The reason he can’t make it a ground rule triple? There’s no such thing in the rule book, and ground rules can’t supersede the playing rules. Then talk about the signals you’re going to use. The following are the basic signals we should be using.

7 Silent Signals Rotation Staying Home (PU) / Staying Here (BU)
Point Where You Are Going Partner Should Know Where He’s Going Staying Home (PU) / Staying Here (BU) Time Play Let’s Meet / Talk No Standard; Decide During Pre-Game Basic rotation, point where you’re going, not where your partner is going. Again, he’s supposed to know what he’s doing so he shouldn’t need you to tell him that. You’re signaling him to confirm the situation and to make sure he knows what you’re going to do. That’s the point behind the signals. Signals can be done with some flair, but not so much that you’re drawing attention to yourself. Give the signal and then get on with your business. Staying home or staying here. For the PU, it’s staying home. For the BU, it’s staying here, in the working area. Time play. This would be on with a runner in scoring position, so it should be followed by the staying home signal if there are multiple runners on base. Think about a silent signal to let your partner know you may have something he didn’t see. For example, a play at the plate where he gets blocked out and can’t see a dropped ball, or a play that a coach challenges and you know he’s applied the rule incorrectly. You give some sort of silent signal that will allow him to come to you without being obvious. Crossing your arms in front of you, taking your hat off, or something else that you don’t do regularly can be used as a sign that you want to talk something over with your partner without advertising it to the whole world.

8 Silent Signals Infield Fly Double Tag-Up (R1 & R2, less than 2 outs)
Catch / No-Catch by Catcher My Call Commonly Used Before An Upcoming Appeal Infield fly. There are a couple different signals recognized by the different codes for this, but for us you’re going with touching the bill of your hat or mask with a finger indicating the appropriate number of outs. Where you have an infield fly situation you also have a double tag up possibility. So your infield fly signal would be followed by tapping closed fists together or a palm on top of a fist and a rotation signal with R1 & R2, or a staying home signal with the bases loaded. The rotation only comes into play when a fly ball to the outfield is caught. Otherwise the PU is staying home on a hit or pop-up in the infield. We’ll look at that mechanic later. Catch / No catch by the catcher (open palm vs. closed fist) comes into play on any low third strike, or foul/foul tip possibility with runners on base. And then a “my call” signal may be appropriate on a fly ball to the outfield where there is any question as to who will take the ball, such as on a ball hit straight at a corner outfielder with runners on base. BU will verbally indicate, “I got the ball, Joe. I got the ball.” while tapping his chest. It’s also appropriate during a pending appeal play to confirm which umpire will rule on the appeal. The point here is to avoid double calls.

9 Signals With Sound Done When Ball Is Put In Play Infield Fly
Point Up / “Infield Fly, Batter’s Out (If Fair)” I’m Going Out BU On A Trouble Ball Point Up My Call / I Got The Ball Any Borderline Fly Ball Time Not “Dead Ball” Those signals are mainly done silently, except for the “my call” signal on a fly ball. There are some, however, that would be accompanied by a verbal call. For example, when an infield fly actually occurs, the calling umpire would signal the infield fly by raising his arm and pointing up about the time the ball reaches its apex and verbalizing, “Infield fly, batter’s out.” If the ball is close to the foul line he’s to add, “if fair.” Any umpire can call the infield fly, but often times the crew will agree to give the PU priority. In either event, no matter who makes the call his partner should echo the call and the signal. “I’m going out” is used by BU when in the “A” position and he’s decided to go out on a trouble ball. Remember, pause, read and react. Then give the signal while verbalizing it when you are facing your partner, not after you’ve turned your back and started to go out. Verbal “my call” has already been covered. “Time” is a call a lot of umpires don’t make properly. Physically, the signal is both arms extended about the head with fingers extended, and people do that well enough. But verbally, the call is “time” or “foul”, not “dead ball.” Questions?

10 Positioning: No Runners A PU C B Here are some basic positions.
With no runners on BU is in “A.” This is in foul territory, with the right foot near the foul line and about 10 – 12 feet behind the 1st baseman, situation permitting. If he’s way back you must adjust so you don’t take yourself too far from a proper position, but if he’s up that’s where you should be. On ground balls in this situation, resist taking plays in foul territory. Moving foul will make it harder for you to see the fielder’s touch of first. There’s normally plenty of room to stay 1 – 2 steps off the foul line in fair territory to make the call safely, and it keeps you in position to take the BR into 2nd should there be an overthrow.

11 With Runners R1 = B R1 & R2 = C R2 = C R1 & R3 = B R2 & R3 = C R3 = C
Bases Loaded = C C B With runners on, here’s where BU should be. Note R1 & R3, this is a change. C B PU

12 Basic Responsibilities
Plate Umpire All Plays At Home Except: No Runners, BU Goes Out 3 Rotations to 3rd Base Umpire All Plays At All Bases Except: No One On, BU Goes Out Except: 3 PU Rotations to 3rd Basic responsibilities for both umpires.

13 PU Touch Responsibilities
Plate Umpire Has Touches: At Home Exception: When BU Goes Out At 3rd Exception: When Base Umpire Has BR Touch R1 & R3 See R3’s Touch Of Home As You Rotate To Take R1 Into 3rd Rotating Does Not Relieve You Of Your Plate Responsibility

14 Touch Responsibilities
Base Umpire Has Touches: At 1st & 2nd At 3rd On Batter-Runner At 3rd When He Has A Play At 3rd (2nd play in the infield) On BR At Home After Going Out And Coming Back In

15 Re-Touch Responsibilities
PU Has All Re-touches At 3rd BU Has All Re-touches At 1st And 2nd When it comes to re-touches, angle is critical. A good angle can enable you to see more than one part of the action. A poor angle can get you in trouble.

16 PU Rotates Only When Batted Ball Leaves The Infield
BU Takes 2nd Play In Infield R1 R1 & R2 < 2 Outs R1 & R3 Only Go In If There’s A Play (Ball & Runner) BU C B PU

17 Potential Problem Plays: Rotations
PU moves to “Library” to read the play “I’m at 3rd if he comes…” Move to 3rd only when you have the runner & the ball coming “I’m at 3rd!” With a runner on first base only or runners on first and third only, PU has the runner that started on first if he advances to third base on a batted ball that reaches the outfield. That means that if the ball is thrown away or kicked away by an infielder or for any other reason the runner from first would try for third on a ball not hit into the outfield, the base umpire retains responsibility for all calls at third base. If the plate umpire is going to rotate up to third base, move two-thirds of the way toward third base in foul territory, to the “Library” where you read the play. Move to 3rd only when the ball and runner will come together. Verbally communicate your rotation to the BU by saying, “I’m at 3rd if he comes. I’m at 3rd if he comes.” That gives BU all the information he needs. If R1 advances and a play is being made on him, move into the infield near the cut-out while communicating, “I’m at 3rd. I’m at 3rd.” If the ball and runner do not come together for a play into third base, PU should return home and be ready for any potential play there. Communicate to your partner that you’re returning to the plate area. Once this communication takes place BU assumes responsibility for a subsequent play at 3rd. If R1 appears to be headed home, PU must be there and BU must take the play back into third base.

18 Potential Problem Plays: Tag Near 1st Base Line
Before 45’ Line, PU After 45’ Line, BU If in doubt, make eye contact first BU Problems can occur on a slow roller or other play along the 1st base line when guys are unsure of who’s call it is. The rule-of-thumb is that PU has the play up to the 45’ line, BU has it past the 45’ line. Balls that are well to one side of the 45’ line are no problem, it’s when the plays are around the beginning of the line that problems can occur with a double call. As info, the BR is allowed to retreat toward home to avoid a tag. He’s not automatically out when he starts to retreat. Without a tag he can retreat all the way to the plate. Once he passes the plate or runs out of the base path he’d be out without a tag. But simply retreating is not a violation. Talk about this during your pregame. If it develops during the game and it’s so close to the 45’ line you’re not sure who’s going to take it, make eye contact with your partner before making a call. C B PU

19 Potential Problem Plays: Runner’s Lane Violation
PU Has Primary Responsibility Work To Get To 45’ Line Move Along Line, Not Toward Mound BU Runner’s lane violations are the primary responsibility of the PU. Anytime the PU is helping at 1st with no runners on he should be moving close to the foul line, not nearer the pitcher’s mound. Runner’s lane violations only occur during the last 45’, not before the runner’s lane. Keep in mind it’s BR’s interference with a reasonable throw that constitutes interference. No throws, or bad throws, are the responsibility of the defense. C B PU

20 Potential Problem Plays: Run Downs
PU Helps With No Runners In Scoring Position Hustle To Get To Cut-Out Area “I’m Here” When You Get There, Not Before Generally, Call Belongs To Ump The Runner Is Moving Toward BU On a run down, PU has to make sure there are no potential plays at the plate before he commits to help. Do so by hustling toward first targeting the cut-out area. Umpires should be 10 – 12 feet on the infield grass during run downs to avoid the possibility of interfering with the play if it drifts off the infield dirt. PU should not verbally communicate until he’s actually in position. Premature communication could lead BU into thinking you’re already there and his release of the play without you being in the best position to make the call. In general, when both umps are involved in the play, the umpire who is on the side of the runner’s body where the tag is made will make the call. This minimizes the chances of the calling umpire being straight-lined and calling a missed tag attempt an actual tag. C B PU

21 Potential Problem Plays: R3, Trouble Ball to Right
Priorities: Fair / Foul, Catch / No Catch Deeper the Ball, Farther up the line Never go 1st base line extended first Another potential problem play is a trouble ball to right field with the base runner in scoring position. PU must take his responsibilities in order, moving up the first-base line to accurately judge whether the ball was fair or foul and whether or not it was caught. If the ball is caught, the PU must then retreat quickly for a potential play at the plate. The deeper the fly ball, the farther the PU should go up the first-base line. It improves chances of making the correct fair/foul and catch calls, with less likelihood of R3 being thrown out at home on a deep fly ball. The one place the PU should never go is “first-base line extended.” Backing up from the play only puts him in good position for the runner tagging up, which doesn’t matter if the ball lands foul or is fair but not caught. This is a compromise situation because PU still maintains responsibility for R3’s tag. BU may assist with that if possible, but that is not the book mechanic.

22 Potential Problem Plays: Going Out
Pause, read, react Pop-up = Pivot PU has all routine fly balls Communication is key Go out in four situations: Fair / Foul Players converging Catch below the waist Possible HR Quick tips: “Pause, read, react” on every fly ball and trouble ball. If in doubt, then go out! If you go out, go out hard and leave no doubt in your partner’s mind. Routine fly ball is PU’s call; BU pivot on pop-ups. This picture divides the outfield into three bands to assist umpires in the reading of plays: The Blooper Band: shoestring and diving catches, multiple fielders converging in this area. The Can of Corn Band: Basically “gappers” with fielders converging are problems in this area. Obvious gapper where there’s no chance for a catch is not a trouble ball. The Fence Band: Fielders turning and running toward the fence for a fly ball and possible home runs are the concern here.


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