Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How To Be... an Umpire

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!


  1. 10 years? No thanks! Kudos to those who have the will to go for it though. It truly has to be a passion to become a real umpire (big time one).

  2. Umps must have very thick skin to put up with all of the heckling from fans. Not that I would know of course.

  3. For those in the lower ranks though, many still have to have real jobs to survive.

  4. I used to be a huge baseball fan and have seen the strikeout steal first thing a couple of times. The difference in baseball is that it does get recorded as an out. Well. Kinda. There may just have to be 4 outs in that half of the inning. I know Nolan Ryan once recorded 4 strikeouts in an inning once because of the rule.

    Anyway, no way I could be an ump. I did read a memoir from one once though. Extremely funny.

  5. I'd never make it as an umpire. I could never judge fairly. At least not in football. I'm to biased. I don't have enough patience to last for an entire baseball game. I'd fall asleep, those things run so late at night.

  6. I've never been a huge baseball fan, but I can really appreciate the work that umpires put into their job and the crap the have to put up with.

    I'll never forget Billy Martin kicking dirt onto an ump's shoes during a game. While it's funny now, I'm betting the ump didn't think so then :)

    I've been meaning to drop by and say thanks for commenting on my posts, I really appreciate that :)

  7. Even after all of that, when Umps make a mistake their lives can be endangered. Irate fans can be vicious, especially those who are parents. :-)

  8. YES! Michael took my suggestion for his names. I AM ALL POWERFUL BOW BEFORE ME YE MORTALS.

    Whew. Got carried away there. I knew about the 4th strike rule. Leave it to a lawyer to know a technical way to strike out and still get to first base. I had to use the same kind of trickery to get to first base on dates.

    *ba dum bum*

    I'll be here all week.

    I'm enjoying these posts.

    Also: I posted reviews of 8, 9, and 10 of Shadow Spinner. That book is seriously good. You need to stop marketing it as young adult and start marketing it as "I scared the crap out of Pagel and probably others". (That's a new category I'm sure Amazon will use.)

  9. Wow 10 years of training?? Crazy. Kinda like the gondoliers in Venice--takes them 20 years before they reach the status of a professional gondolier.

  10. Before I clicked on the link, I guessed you were going to go with undertaker today.

    I love baseball but I couldn't be an umpire. I would be plagued by self-doubt, especially calling balls and strikes. The abuse from players and managers would be nothing compared to my inner torment.

    It's so much easier to heckle from the cheap seats.

  11. Perhaps the most hated profession in the world...apart from IRS agents. Hate umpires with a passion.

  12. Crazy! I couldn't take the hate...

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  13. Sheena: Yeah, I think it does.

    JKIR,F!: It's one of those professions where you have to realize that everything you do is going to be hated by someone.

    Alex: That's true.

    Rusty: I think it counts as a strikeout as pitched by the pitcher but doesn't get recorded as an out for the game.

    Elsie: I'd probably be good at it in that respect; I have no particular care about any team over another.

    Mark: I spent too much time at minor league games as a kid to be a fan, I think.
    And no problem.

    C.Lee: heh heh

    Michael: It's gonna be a dvd view.

    Briane: Okay, now, I'm trying to visualize how you steal to first under those circumstances.

    I'll see if Amazon will accept that category. And I appreciate the reviews!

    Pk: Really? That's kind of amazing. It's not that hard to be a cab driver.

    TAS: Well, the whole umpire thing has been on my mind with going to my daughter's games. It's interesting watching the different styles they have.

    S.L.: I read that they're actually going to be doing some computer umpiring in specific circumstances.

  14. Allison: I can certainly understand that.

  15. Well, you're right as far as I know - except that if you are scoring at home - which I used to do - it's an out in your scorecard. It's just a quirk of the rules that makes it hard to put it into a box score. At the end of the day when you look at the scorecard it will show 28 outs (for baseball). Which is one more than standard.

    But like you said, the runner wasn't *really* out because the catcher has to catch the ball first.

  16. Rusty: Except in our games, it can be a lot more than 4 an inning. heh

  17. Don't do baseball or softball. Used to play rounders as a school kid in England, much the same. I knew one guy who used to do soccer refereeing in his spare time, he loved it, but seeing how refs are shouted at, I cannot imagine why unless it was because of the power it gave him.


  18. I did not know I could steal first base! Ha! Wish I would have known that 20 years ago! ;)

  19. I don't care enough to learn the rules either. It's pretty funny that it's a strategy in your daughter's league. Honestly, it sounds more entertaining to watch than regular ball games. But then again, anything does.

  20. Jo: I'm sure there is a great sense of power that comes with any job like that.

    Kimberly: It might have come in handy!

    Jeanne: Sometimes, it's very entertaining. Sometimes, it's just watching girl after girl get walked. We have a couple of pretty good pitchers, though, so it's not always something we're doing.

  21. Well, I'm just not sure about the outfit. Pearls would go nicely though with the all black.
    Really, though, good info!

  22. Donna: Would that be a choker or something that dangles?

  23. Oh, definitely choker...it goes with the game!

  24. I used to play softball as a kid, and one game the umpire never showed up, so my dad filled in. He called me out on strikes. I didn't take it very well.

  25. I could never be an umpire--or at least don't have the desire to be. Once I was recruited to ref a soccer game because they didn't have any and I was there. I had little idea what was going on and did a horrible job.

    For a 6 figure salary I'd be willing to learn what it takes to be an umpire, but I'd need a job guarantee before I'd go through the training.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  26. Donna: I'd suggest matching earrings, but, as my daughter has discovered, you're not allowed to wear earrings during a game.

    M.J.: Oh, man, I would never, ever do that! I mean, I would never agree to ump a game my daughter was playing in.

    Lee: Yeah, I just don't care about baseball enough. I'd be like, "You're out. You're out, too. You're all out. Game's over."

  27. Sorry, I'm not a fan of sports. I can't imagine having to be bored by my least favorite sport all day long. :)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

  28. Kristen: Yeah, I'm not either. Except when my daughter's playing.