Thursday, 29 December 2011

Cute Umpire Tricks

So there you are, standing in a beautiful field of grass on a sunny day. There are only two other people dressed like you are. The rest are divided, about equally, in two different versions of baseball uniforms. That means the peaceful moment is only an interlude. Sooner or later you are going to make a decision that will be received with mixed reviews.

If it came under unusual circumstances, your buddy looking out through the bars of his mask is making serious preparations to dust home plate off and your other partner is searching for four leaf clovers. Out of one dugout comes a coach transitioning into a Cretan as he approaches. It ain’t going to be pretty unless you are prepared.

While it can’t be used often, one solution is to beat the coach to the opening salvo. Something like “Say, is that good looking blonde in the third row behind the dugout your wife? She’s had her eyes glued on you all afternoon.” works well. If his wife is a blonde, he’s now wondering about what kind of trouble he is in. If not he’s beginning to wonder what kind of trouble he can get into. Either way, he’s forgotten why he charged out of the dugout.

If he gets out the first blast you have a pretty good idea whether or not he wants to be thrown out of the game. A few course words and a look at the scoreboard that shows his team is behind 12-1 in the seventh inning probably means he’s not there with a serious question. Usually something like “Coach if I’ve got to stay out here and watch this thing for another two innings, so do you” will turn him around.

If he is mad, but wants to stick around, use the field and your equipment to your advantage. You are wearing a fairly tight fitting cap that won’t pop off every time you have to run. He is probably wearing something that fits a bit looser. If it comes to face to face time, let him lean in a little as you make sure the bill of you cap is below his. Let him have his say, or interrupt him if that’s your pleasure, lifting your chin sharply as you begin your reply. His hat will likely begin to fall off, distracting him. Once that happens, he seldom gets back into the mood.

Should he ignore that, there is a move called ‘beaking’ that is sure to impress him. Emphatically move your head with each word, aiming the bill of your hat at his forehead. It only takes a few words to ‘calm him down’  … sort of. At this point, while he is off balance, turn around and head away. He is now following you like an angry wife, and he knows it.
He may try to rush around and get back in front of you but a right or left turn, opposite the side he is passing on, will frustrate the attempt. Usually this is a very short dance.

If you happen to be the plate umpire, be sure that you use the maneuver just described to lead him into the grass of the infield at first opportunity. It is very hard for him to kick dirt onto the plate or you from there. Grass doesn’t pick up in quantity very easily either.

Sometimes it is the fans who are upset. You don’t necessarily have to ignore them, though that is the common advice.

Sooner or later, some smart alec is going to offer you a pair of glasses. Calmly walk over, accept them, put them in your shirt pocket, then return to your position. It is now the proper time to ignore the fans. If you are on the plate, pray for a foul ball or two to hit you in the chest. You will probably forget to return them at the end of the game and, with a little luck, there will be an exit from your locker room where the fan is not waiting.

Should that result in another one of those letters from the commissioner, this one asking you to return them, don’t ignore it. Get the guy’s address, put them in an envelope, and let the US Post Office handle it from there.

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