A couple events of note on the day as I umpired a double header in Klein and then went to the college classic. We’ll try to stick to chronological order.
8:20am – hit snooze for the first time
9:00am – got out of bed
10:00am – left the house for klein
10:10am – Whataburger for the most delicious fast food breakfast tacos ever
11:30am – made it to klein. nice field
12:00pm – start the game, Conroe vs Langham Creek
This game matched up two pretty good teams. It was JV level, so the pitchers could actually throw strikes consistently. I was on the field for this one. My partner has been doing umpiring for 2 years now. It doesn’t show. The guy dances behind the plate as he fears being struck by the ball. He was consistently making calls while unable to see the pitch. You could tell he was turning his head and closing his eyes when a pitch was a little high or hard.
His other mechanics were poor. He called pitches before they made it to the plate, then made calls after the pitcher already had the ball. He was all over the map. His strike zone was at least consistent despite its inaccuracy. He called the high strike just because he didn’t see the pitch until the catcher framed it. He called the low pitch because he was jumping out of the way to protect his very well protected legs. This guy had some overkill of gear. Big thick shin guards.
He was definitely a football/basketball ref out to try to make some extra money. The guy didn’t pay attention to any of my signals from the field. He was signaling his calls funny too. He’d make a fist with his left hand and stick it out, which technically means delayed dead ball.
He definitely screwed up at least 4 pitch calls because he just thought too long. The crowd was ready to jump down his back. He was making the game last so much longer than necessary, which really killed me. Between innings, pitchers returning to the mound are supposed to get 5 pitches. Well, they were getting 15-20.
Another thing that got me was him calling time after a walk without allowing the batter runner to touch the bag. That is a huge mistake. I intentionally called time abot 45 seconds into the coach’s conferene at the mound just to make a point… which he totally didn’t catch.
The only controversial call in that game, minus my partners crappy work behind the plate was a ground rule double. I sprinted into the infield and thought I saw the ball dying into the outfield. Well the wind picked up the ball and it carried. I had my back to the play as I thought the ball was dropping and I was watching the runner touch first. After he touched, all I saw was the ball outside the fence.
My partner didn’t see the ball path at all. He called ground rule double. I can’t blame him. The field we were at doesn’t have a solid fence, so all he saw was the ball bounce, not knowing if it was in front or behind the fence. We confered and stuck with his ground rule double call. It didn’t really matter as the kid was hit in by the next batter.
The game was really quick in terms time. Langham Creek run ruled Conroe in 5 innings. The game was over more than an hour early. It was a great relief to get my partner out from behind the plate. He was embarassing me for having to work with him.
2:30pm – Game 2
The second game featured Klein Collins and Nimitz. This had run rule written on it from the time I heard the two teams. Nimitz is a semi-inner city school. Not so good at the baseballs. The coach even mentioned he expected a quick exit. He had four guys already listed as ineligible for academics and had another player who just stopped showing up to practice and games 2 weeks earlier. The kid is still in school, he just stopped coming.
Well, the game started, and in quite suprising fashion. After one inning the score was 0-0. The pitcher for Nimitz threw pretty slow and with just enough accuracy to get the Klein Collins batters to swing too early and miss. The Klein Collins pitcher, on the other hand, was good. I’m really surprised he wasn’t with the varsity team. The kid threw in the 80s and with pretty good location.
The second inning, things went to more what I expected. Despite getting 5 base runners, Collins only managed 3 runs. The next inning, 4, the next inning was 3 more, then 4 in the fourth. Unfortunately, the run rule is 15 after 3, so they fell one short of ending it there. That meant we had to play one more inning. Well that inning opened the flood gates. Collins scored 8 that inning. I tried to open the strike zone just to move the game faster, but it didn’t help. Collins would swing just so they could do something. Nimitz missed fly balls and booted easy grounders. It was just ugly.
Also, as a side note, my drive to the school lasted longer than either game I umpired. Just sayin’.
4:30pm – after getting my paper work filled out, i head to whataburger
5:00pm – delicious… now to minute maid
7:00pm – i get in just in time to hear the national anthem.
Rice and UCLA, both top 10 teams faced off in the night cap of the tournament. The turnout was pretty good. I would think there were at least 2-3,000 in attendance, including a good 100+ UCLA die-hards.
The game started with a hitting frenzy. UCLA only plated one run in the 1st despite multiple runners on base (that’d be a theme). Rice answered back with a 3 spot in the bottom half of the inning. UCLA battled back scoring one in the second (where I was thinking the final score may be somewhere in the 20s for each team) and one in the fourth.
After that, the game went really quickly. Both teams were getting baserunners here and there, but no one was scoring. I enjoyed sitting right behind home plate, right behind the 3rd base dugout (UCLA) in the third row, right behind the 1st base dugout (Rice) in the 2nd row, and then up higher behind home plate on the Rice side.
There were a ton of scouts at the game. The entire center section behind home plate was roped off for them. Each new pitcher brought out all 75 or so radar guns. It was fun to watch the scouts go “up with gun, down with gun, write, repeat.” Big weekend for all of them I’m sure.
So it was tied going into the 8th at 3-3. UCLA came out and had a couple hard knocks to the wall scoring a run. You could sense the crowd’s dismay. But it was resolved in the bottom half of the inning as Rice managed to get the run back.
Lots of runners were stranded for both teams. UCLA definitely had it worse, most notably due to Rice Starter Qjada’s 11 K’s in the first 6 innings, a personal high and College Classic record. Many times UCLA would get two men on, then leave them out to dry. Rice did a great job on defense, especially at third base. The third basemen for rice made two blue star plays, one fielding a hot shot then gunning a player at home, and another laying out fully extended toward the line, then making the throw to first just in time for the out.
Speaking of plays at first that are close… the umpire there was awful. He blew four calls at first, all in UCLA’s favor. It was ugly, and he was giving the other two umpires shame for it. Every call by all three of the umpires was ridiculed due to the first base umpire’s miscues. It was pretty bad. Fortunately for him, he got one close call right in the 9th inning. One of the Owls clearly beat the play and he was called safe. It almost decided the game, but he ended up stranded at third.
The stadium was rocking despite being 90% empty, mainly in the last 3 innings (8-10). The Rice crowd was loud and fiesty, as always. In the end, it turned out well for them. In the tenth, the lead off batter walked, then was balked (a call missed at least 3-4 times before it was called, and almost let go in this situation) to second. The next batter was their leading hitter, who is batting .578. I really questioned Wayne Graham here, which is something I hardly ever do as Graham is a baseball genius. He chose not to use his best bat handler to bunt the runner to third. This would have had a runner on first with one out, and easy sacfly situation. Instead he gambled that his hitter would get the base hit. I disagreed with this and thought it would have been the downfall of the game. The hitter popped up to second base, wasting the at bat.
The next batter was intentionally walked to set up the double play. The next batter struck out. Two outs, bottom of the tenth. Runners at first and second. The batter works the count to 1-2. He takes the next pitch and dribbles it to the second baseman, who just needs to flip to second or toss to first, and we would continue.
Well, he booted it. The runner from second scores. The game is over and Rice wins. The place exploded as soon as the ball bounced from the second baseman’s glove. It was awesome.
11:00pm – I get home to see these comments about the Michigan game… to repeat my reaction:
I came home to this? [many expletives]
Wow. I’m not even going to look at the stats until tomorrow. I had such a great time at the Classic that I don’t even want to deal with that tonight. I’m not that distraught with it. As I’ve said, I think the team was ranked a bit too high anyways, this loss should put us back where we belong… tettering on the edge of the top 30s at the highest.
It’s now 12:30am tomorrow. I’ve still got to shower and get the clothes in the washer for a 11:00am game on the island. Woo quick turn around. I’ll have a photo album like post with classic posts sometimes soon, as well as some more thoughts about the classic. I’m not certain I like having it at the pro stadium. It makes the atmosphere too hollow and there are security guards hushing the “lewd” comments. More on that later though.
oh and woo looking like i’m sunburned from my eyes down… yay hats!