So I had my second scrimmage today. I got a call from my partner for the game around 2pm to check in and make sure we got ourselves organized. Things sound swell and were due to get at the field between 4pm. I could tell just by talking on the phone this was a guy who is pretty uptight and chatty. I was like “sure, yeah, I hear ya” after all his little remarks.
So I get down to the field between 4pm and 4:30pm like my partner and I agreed. It’s getting close 4:30, I see no sign of my partner. So I figure I’ll give him until 4:30; maybe he’s gone to the high school rather than their athletic complex about a mile away? So 4:28 I get a call. “Hey, I just want to let you know I had an emergency at work and I’m running late. I’m just leaving Houston on 288. ” I assure him its cool, I’ll let the coaches know and try to stall the start. He agrees, and I suit up for the game. Originally we agreed that I’d start on the field.
So I get my gear on, go out to the field around 4:45pm. The coaches are chilling at the visitor dugout shooting the shit. Got to hear some cool stuff about the home teams new field being built at the new high school facility. The two teams are ready to start early. Knowing my partner is a little behind, I don’t mind starting 10 minutes early. So we get started.
I blew some calls early. It took me an inning to get comfortable behind the plate. I really need to get more experience out there so it becomes more natural. It’s scrimmage number two in my entire umpiring career… I’ll give myself the pass, even if he kids and parents don’t. The coaches backed me up on quite a few calls, saying “it has been that way all night.” I’m glad to know I’m at least consistent.
One call I still question myself on was pitch I called a ball. The batter had a 1-2 count on him and the ball was on the outside corner. I wasn’t sure and hesitated, so I called it a ball. I’d rather call it a ball and give the pitcher another chance than ring the kid up (at least that early in the game). The batter actually started to walk away. I was like “where you going?” The kid was like “What? Really? That was a great pitcher’s pitch.” Of course it was a great pitcher’s pitch, it just wasn’t a strike. The catcher bought that.
The rest of my calls were pretty solid at the plate. What did cause me problems was my partner being late… nearly 2 hours late. I understand he had an emergency at work, but he also got lost on his way. I ended up having to make every call on the field for 2 hours. That is some extensive work. Not only do you have to be mindful of pitches, you also have to keep your eye on every little nuance in the game.
Did the pitcher lick his finger? Is his glove too high? Is it an infield fly situation? Did the runner tag up long enough? Did he really make that catch? Was there a tag? Was that interference? Did he take the right number of warm up pitches? Are the players fully in the dugout? Was that fair or foul? How am I going to call this timing play? Did he swing? Was that a strike? The questions are endless.
Even when my partner got there, things didn’t get much better. He was uptight and nervous at when we would switch field and plate (it never happened). Like the home coach said, if you show up an hour and a half late to a scrimmage, you should show up on the field in your plate gear and switch right then. My partner got to the field and stayed on the field.
The partner pestered the coaches with how many pitchers were left to throw. Part of the problem was that he showed up just late enough that it wasn’t worth him to switch with me, but he wanted to get some work behind the plate (as well as me wanting some time on the field). It got to the point where the home head coach blew up on him for bothering him with too many questions. I don’t blame the coach, but I don’t blame my partner either. Shit happens. Sometimes you just got to flow with it.
So I ended up behind the plate for the whole game. It went well. I like being there. You have more control over the game. You get to interact with the catchers and batters more. I definitely get the feeling the kids like me better than the old guys. They identify with the youth.
The only problem with being behind the plate for the whole game, as anyone who has been a catcher knows, catching 9 innings straight is rough on the knees. Umpiring is worse because you don’t get half an inning of resting on the bench. Add that you’re always in a “runner’s on stance” (instead of being able to squat all the way down, you’re propped up taller putting more stress on the knees and back), and you have a world of hell. And the two teams played more than 9 innings. Instead we played closer to 17. I may not walk tomorrow, but that’s ok, because this beer in my hand tastes all the more delicious from the hard day work.
Outside of the umpiring aspect of the game, I got to see a fairly gruesome injury, for as minor as it was. During a swing and a miss, I heard a pop, and my batter fell to the ground. Well, I call time, look down at the kid… his knee cap on his left knee was completely off to the side. Like almost a 90o angle to its normal location. The trainers popped it right back into place while the kid was still laying there. The kid was fine after that, but he was taken to the hospital just in case. Apparently the kid is a top prospect for Texas A&M, one of the top 100 in the state. It’s good to hear he’ll be alright. It was just crazy looking when it happened.
So this was the last scrimmage of the season. Next week starts the real games. I have 9 games on my schedule next week, mainly day games as its the start of tournament season. Monday and Tuesday may be light posting here as I do those games. What’s great is that those 9 games should make me about $480 for the week before taxes. Not a bad deal at all.