Friday, March 26, 2010

Umpires Rule!

Please respect the umpires. After all they are human.

Here are some ideas to help the umpires do a great job:

Coaches meeting with the Umpire
Let the umpire know before the game that you have a switch pitcher who is planning to use both arms during the game. Check to make sure the umpires know the rules regarding switch pitching. 
Going Over Ground Rules with the Umpire - video

Game Balls
Provide the plate umpire with new games balls before the start of the game. Have some kids retrieving foul balls. Trade candy for returned game balls - it works.

Keeping Score
Have your official score keeper communicate with the umpire before and during the game as needed to keep things straight. It's nice to have two reliable score keepers available in the stands, so one can take a break if needed.

Tracking the pitch count 
Note that the pitch count is still the same for every player - switch pitchers don't get to throw twice as many pitches as a regular pitcher. 

Warmup pitches
The switch pitcher needs to make sure to warmup throwing with both arms before they take the moundPitchers only get 8 warm up throws at the start of the rotation, so do 4-left and 4-right using an ambidextrous glove. If the pitcher is using a standard glove, then warmup as usual. You do not get extra warmup throws on the mound as a switch pitcher. 

Rule 8.03 - Pitcher Warm-Up
When a pitcher takes his position at the beginning of each inning, or when he relieves another pitcher, he shall be permitted to pitch not to exceed eight preparatory pitches to his catcher during which play shall be suspended. A league by its own action may limit the number of preparatory pitches to less than eight preparatory pitches. Such preparatory pitches shall not consume more than one minute of time. If a sudden emergency causes a pitcher to be summoned into the game without any opportunity to warm up, the Umpire-in-Chief shall allow him as many pitches as the umpire deems necessary.

Where is the catcher?
Umpires get irritated when the pitcher has to wait for a catcher to suit up. Have another player with a mask and mitt step in to warmup the pitcher. Some leagues allow coaches to catch for the pitcher during warmup. A player should help the catcher suit up to catch.

Water Boy!
Make sure to provide the umpires with cold water. It gets hot back there in all that gear.

Know the Strike Zone
The Strike Zone: A historical timeline  (
Rule 2.00 - The Strike Zone
The Strike Zone is defined as that area over homeplate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
See MLB Rules of Interest

Sport Science - Episode 5 - Out of Control - Bad Calls 
Jim Evans gives an inside look at the difficulties of being an major league umpire. The video gives an illustrated view of how the strike zone has changed over the years. 

Switch Hitter vs. Switch Pitcher
A switch pitcher facing a switch hitter is rare - but it could be fun to watch. Don't waste time switching back and forth. Coaches can ask the umpire for clarification of the rules (read below).

Ask the umpire for "Time" before approaching the mound
If the ambidextrous pitcher needs to change gloves, then the coach needs to ask the umpire for "time" before bringing the glove to the mound. Don't just run out to the mound without getting permission from the umpire. The pitcher does not get warmup throws when they switch arms to throw.

Umpires are baseball fans
Most umpires really enjoy calling games with a switch pitcher on the mound. It's something they can share with their buddies.
One umpire said "that was soooo cool" after he called a game where my son pitched left- and right-handed. They really like when the pitcher is throwing strikes from both sides since it makes their job easy.

Don't question the umpire. Ask for clarification if needed.
Don't argue balls and strikes. Coaches can ask if the pitch was high, low, outside - umpires have no problem with that.
Don't yell at the umpire. If you do, then you are going to make yourself look like a jerk. Give the umpire a break.

Be Nice to Blue
Remember to thank the umpire after the game.

Play by the Rules

    Rule 9.02
  1. Any umpire's decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.Players leaving their position in the field or on base, or managers or coaches leaving the bench or coaches box, to argue on BALLS AND STRIKES will not be permitted. They should be warned if they start for the plate to protest the call. If they continue, they will be ejected from the game.

The Pat Venditte Rule
The Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation (PBUC) released its official rules for dealing with ambidextrous pitchers. These guidelines were reached after PBUC staff consulted with a variety of sources, including the Major League Baseball Rules Committee.

It reads:
  • The pitcher must visually indicate to the umpire, batter and runner(s) which way he will begin pitching to the batter. Engaging the rubber with the glove on a particular hand is considered a definitive commitment to which arm he will throw with. The batter will then choose which side of the plate he will bat from.
  • The pitcher must throw one pitch to the batter before any “switch” by either player is allowed.
  • After one pitch is thrown, the pitcher and batter may each change positions one time per at-bat. For example, if the pitcher changes from right-handed to left-handed and the batter then changes batter’s boxes, each player must remain that way for the duration of that at-bat (unless the offensive team substitutes a pinch hitter, and then each player may again “switch” one time).
  • Any switch (by either the pitcher or the batter) must be clearly indicated to the umpire. There will be no warm-up pitches during the change of arms.
  • If an injury occurs the pitcher may change arms but not use that arm again during the remainder of the game.

How to Be a Baseball Umpire : Umpire Etiquette video
Be fair, stay cool, stay grounded, and ignore the fans.

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