One thing I've learned about softball this year and, by extension, baseball is that I don't know much about softball. For instance, did you know that you can steal first base? Seriously. I looked it up to make sure it was a baseball rule, too, and it is. Of course, they're all on about how it's not stealing, because you can't steal first base, but it totally is. It's like, you know when you doze off when you're not supposed to and someone accuses you of being asleep, and you say, "No, I was just resting my eyes. I wasn't really asleep." You're not fooling anyone but yourself, right? Well, this is the same way.
On a third strike, if the catcher doesn't catch or drops the ball, and if there is no one on first, the batter may run to first base. As long as he doesn't get out going to first, he's not counted out from striking out, either, and he stays on first. That sounds like a steal to me.
I didn't know anything about this rule. At all. Why? Because I've never seen it happen in professional baseball. The catcher never drops the ball. Granted, I don't watch a lot of baseball, but still...
However, in my daughter's softball league, the catchers are always dropping the ball, so stealing to first base is actually a strategy they use to get people on the bases. Which is kind of like, "What the heck?" But, hey, it's a rule!
The first time my wife and I saw it happening, though, we didn't know "what the heck" was going on. Or the second time. Some of the girls didn't know what was going on either, because, suddenly, you have one coach yelling "Run! Run!" and the other coach yelling "Tag her! Tag her!" and, often, it results in a bunch of girls all standing around home plate with no clue as to what's happening. It's kind of amusing.
Weird things like that happen all the time. Like, in a recent game, one of our girls got called out because she didn't slide into home. She was not the only girl to not slide into home, so it didn't really make much sense to me. Or to the coaches, who also had to ask what was going on, but, evidently, whatever reasoning the ump gave them was enough, because they didn't argue.
These are good examples of why I will never be an umpire. I don't know the rules. Nor do I really care to. Not to that extent, anyway.
Knowing the rules is first of two basic components to being an umpire; the other is impartiality. Which is not as easy as it sounds.
So what do you need to do to be an umpire?
Well, if you just want to be a local umpire of some sort, that's not too hard. Mostly, you just need to know the rules and be able to pass whatever test they want you to take to show that you know the rules.
If you want to be a real umpire, though... well, that's another story entirely. Remember all the way back to when I was talking about brain surgery and how long it takes to be one in the USA? 15 years of schooling and all of that? Well, if you want to be an umpire in Major League Baseball, you're looking at up to 10 years of training. That's as long as it takes to be a brain surgeon in some other countries.
I'm assuming most of that time is spent beating out of you any love you have for any particular teams and instilling a love for the game in its pure form.
First, you have to go to special umpire school. No, really, there are two of them authorized by the MLB, and you have to make it through one of them to even have a shot at an MLB position. Also, there are special Umpire Camps that are highly recommended.
See, this is getting way too complicated already.
[I can see all the umpires, now: "This one time, at umpire camp..."]
After umpire school, you have to go to the Professional Baseball Umpires Corporation evaluation course. The catch here is that only the top students from the schools are sent on to the evaluation course and being sent from one of the schools is the only way in. [Unless you're a ninja or the Hulk.] If you pass the evaluation, it's possible to be offered a job umping in Minor League Baseball. Then you begin your slow rise up to the majors. If you're good enough. But, you know, it's probably worth it. An umpire in major league baseball does pull a six-figure salary plus expenses.
Darn. I can be impartial! Maybe I should have gone to umpire school!