Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Less Than A Week Away!

Well, here we are less than a week until my regional! The long wait is finally about over, and I'm getting pretty excited.

We should be finding out soon who the rest of the teams will be. The "host" team will be Parish Little League. They won the District 7 tournament. Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed with the baseball at the tournament. I don't know if the host team will perform too well. But, we'll see. Suprises do happen.

Other than all of that, preperations at the field are under way. Today the batters eye is going up in center field. and the yellow capping will be going up along the fence as well this week. Tim is going to start rolling the field, and raising up the infield a bit, to make it flatter. I think I even heard them say a new home plate is going to go in. They are also going to replace all of the wood on the bleachers I'm told to make them safer, and look better.

And, I'll also be updating this blog every night if I can while at the tournament. So, look for that, if anyone is even reading it... :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Yet Another High School Incident....

Well, as my tournament draws near, I'm still doing high school summer ball to give myself reps at the level I expect to see at my tournament. Monday night saw an incident that made me lose all respect I ever had for a coach, and hurt the reputation of a school that has been known for how well it treats officials not only at baseball games, but all other sporting events it hosts during the school year, or summer.

To say there has been tension between myself and a perticular coach at this particular high school is putting it mildly. He is not the head varsity coach, but rather the pitching coach, and until this last season, was the head JV coach. He's known me for years-since I start umpiring-Seeing me umpire JV games my first several years as I learned the game from an umpire's perspective. The more I thought about the past after this incident Monday night, the more I realized he has always treated me like dirt. He formed an opinion of me when I was a young umpire, and never left any room for that opinion to change over the years as I grew. It came to a head last summer at a summer ball game I was umpiring. I made a call he disagreed with. And, he treated me like dirt. It became aparent he wasn't going to forget that incident through the basketball season, either. He is the boys JV basketball coach, and he treated me about as well at the two or three games of theirs I did last season, as he did after that incident at the baseball game the previous summer. Then came this summer's baseball season. Right after I got back from San Bernardino I was doing a home game there, and called a balk. He imediately started to get in my face after my explanation, and said the call was bull shit over and over, ending up with statements such as "Your bad", and "You're bull shit". I ejected him, of course, and on we went.

Well, on to the incident Monday night. I was working a doubble header. My partner is developing. He made some calls that were not popular with him, and that started the process of getting him all worked up. He all ready didn't like me, and now he was upset at both of us. Game two I was on the bases. What started most of the shit house that happened, was in the top of the 5th. His assistant started popping off about balls and strikes in the dugout. They had been doing this stuff all game, and my partner wasn't dealing with it. I decided I would look over and make eye contact with the assistant, and not say antying. They had had some banger plays go against them, and they probably didn't appreciate the strike zone. At this point his team was down 11-0, and it was the bottom of the 5th. The second call happened in their half of the 5th, and his assistant coach started popping off at me again. I couldn't hear exactly what he said, but I heard something about me wanting to go home. So, I said "What?", and he started in on me about having made the call before the play, and that I was cocked and ready to call him out before it happened. I told him to knock it off, and he didn't appreciate that. By that time, the coach that really didn't like me was over in my face telling me to stop talking to him, and that he would deal with him.

Long story short: I got him to go back to his box, but seconds after that, the assistant started back in on me. He said "So I can't talk over here?" to which I said, "Not comments like that, no. You need to know your role." This pissed him off, and I ended up ejecting him. He decided to act like a 3 year old, and go into the club house where all of our personal belongings and gear was, and MOVE them out into the team locker room. After the game he was waiting for us to tell us "THIS is the coaches office, and you are not welcome in here."

Now our association has to deal with that crap with the head varsity coach, and school's AD.

Aren't adults great? They just know how to behave, huh?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Post Season Play Has Begun

Well, this week started my first Little League post season games. Monday night I went up to Salem with Randy and Brandon to work tow Junior baseball district games. I had the plate for the first game, then we worked a 4 man on the second game with John. I had forgotten how painfully slow Junior games go. I was doing everything I could to keep us moving at a good pace, but those half innings just take forever and a year to complete. I did pretty well, though, and got it done in about two hours. Not bad at all for a Junior game. We started the second game a half hour late because of how long my game took.

My game itself wasn't horrible. The kids just struggle. Most of them are 13, and one year removed from playing on a 60 foot diamond. So, the pitching is pretty....ugly. That, and the hitting isn't fantastic. Most of them are lucky to get the ball out of the infield. Every now and then you find a pitcher than can bring it, and a kid that can hit the ball hard.

One of the coaches I know very well. Not personally, I just know "him". I don't know if he tries to do this, but most of the time it feels like he is pushing as many buttons as he can with umpires, other coaches, or other players, just to see how far he can push it. I've learned how to manage his games, so now when he does do those things, it's easy for me to shut him down. It usually takes a few innings, but he eventually straightens out.

The game itself was close. It ended up being a 7-6 score I believe. I had to end the game by ringing a kid up on strikes, which I hate doing. But, the pitch was what we like to call a "cock shot". Meaning, right down the middle of the plate, around thigh high. The kid hung the pitch. The batter just froze.

The second game went...long. We started at about 8:30 PM. We ended at 11:30 PM. I'll leave it at that.

Last night I did a 9-10 year old district baseball game, and then a 10-11 year old district game. It's fun to watch the kids, just because they are having fun. But, the games are.....ugly. I enjoy doing them simply for the fun of seeing the kids have fun. They get excited when the ball is hit out of the infield, and even more excited when a team mate scores a run. We had three rather...intense coaches in one dugout. We could tell it would be a challenge at the plate talk, and they were in my dugout, as I was working 3rd for the game. The problem I had with them, was they were a little too intense for 9-10 baseball. They were pretty intense with the kids, and as a result, the kids I think struggled because of it.

Tonight I have another high school summer game, and then Saturday we have an 11-12 baseball district game.

On the 21st of July we're driving up to Port Orchard to watch Randy work his Big League tournament. I'm looking forward to that.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Two More Down, Four To Go

Well, the week is almost over, and I've gotten two games in, with two doubble headers this weekend ahead of me. My first game back was an eventful one. I had to eject the home manager in about the 6th inning of the game for language, and arguing a balk I called. He decided to accuse me of "always screwing him on balks", said "you're bad", and "you're bull shit". I guess he just really wanted to go.

This particular coach is only an assistant with the school's varsity team, and had a run in with me last summer, that it feels to me like he is still angry about. I can be proud that through his entire tirade of accusing me of screwing him all the time, I remained calm, and never raised my voice. He kept using what we call the "you" and "You're" words, which made it easy for me to go get him.

Last night's game was much easier. Nothing worth mentioning, really. So, now it's a few days off, and back to work early Saturday morning. Then, another doubble Sunday afternoon.

I picked up a few Little League district games next week up in Salem, so I'll kick off my Little League post season finally.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Back From California

Well, Friday the 16th I left for California on my road trip to instruct at the Jr. Umpire School in San Bernardino. My dad rode along with me to Berkeley, CA, where we have family, then flew home from there, while I continued down to Southern California. We left Albany at 9:15 or so Friday night, and drove through the night, arriving at 6:30 the next morning.

The drive itself was tedious and long, but I was excited for my chance to instruct. I arrived at the Western Region Headquarters at about noon the next day, and began to get settled in, and meet the rest of the instructional staff as they arrived. Once everyone was there, we had a quick instructors meeting to get the week started, then went to help get the students checked in, etc. After that we began class, and broke up later that evening to get the kids some free time, and have our final instructors meeting of the night.

This is about where things went south as far as the kids' behavior for the week. We were in the middle of our instructors meeting when Dana came in from doing the "lock down" check to make sure they were in their dorms for the night. He informed us that they had gotten into a "Sprite Fight", and the dorm floors, and some of the walls were covered with Sprite. That would be the beginning of the week.

Now, granted, not nearly all of the kids were having trouble behaving. It was less than 10 out of 46 or so students that caused trouble the whole week. However, when they screwed up, boy did they screw up. I won't go into all the details, but needless to say, it felt like every time we took a breath, we were dealing with another incident. Now, don't get me wrong. I had a ton of fun, and enjoyed my time instructing. I would do it again in a heartbeat if invited. It was just the added stress of dealing with behavioral issues that made it hard.

The trip home was less lonely, as I had Bryan with me. At least I had someone to talk to. Again, we stopped in Berkeley to sleep, and visit family. Unfortunately, though, I didn't get to spend much time at all with my aunt. Her partner, Terri, had a sudden death in the family. They had to fly back east for the services, and I only got to see Terri, and one of my cousins before I left for Oregon. My aunt, and other cousin took a later flight in exchange for compensation and cash, probably because their flight was over booked.

The rest of the drive home was un-eventful. Bryan had never been across the Golden Gate Bridge, so we drove across that real fast Saturday morning, then visited with Terri and my cousin Jacob before leaving town for home. We got home a little after 11 PM Sunday night.

Now, it's back to umpiring! I have a game tonight, and tomarrow night. As well as Saturday and Sunday, both doubble headers. I continue to get more and more excited by the day as my regional approaches.

All in all, I had a lot of fun down at the school. I met some real cool guys while instructing with them. I do hope to keep in touch with some if not all of them. Hopefully I will be invited back down again next summer. I would enjoy that chance again.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Summer Ball Has Started

Well, with the spring season finsihed, and summer beginning, summer baseball has begun. I umpired two high school summer games this week, both behind the plate. They went pretty well. I'm trying to use a bigger strike zone, and it's working. Tuesday I was at South Albany, and no one really complained. Last night was another story. You'd think I was calling strikes in the dirt, and after they hit the backstop. Of course that wasn't the case. I'll agree that it wasn't a "spring" strike zone, but it wasn't that God aweful, either. I'm feeling very good now about my game, though. I think I'm where I want to be in terms of my tracking, and hustle. I knew with some hard work, I would work out the kinks I was having early this spring, and I have.

I leave tomarrow night, Friday the 16th, for San Bernardino to instruct at the Junior Umpire School. I'm getting pretty excited about this. My dad decided he wanted to ride down with me to Berkeley, where I was planning on stopping to visit family, and then fly home. So, he will be with me roughly 1/4 of the journey. It will, of course, be a very long drive, but I don't mind. I like driving. I'm a little over a month away from my tournament now, and the excitement is finally setting in.

I got an e-mail confirmation from Doug, the Chief Umpire for the tournament, confirming my hotel reservations, and asking for a short bio from me. Debbie, our district administrator and tournament coordinator, also let me know I'm getting pins from the district to trade with other umpires and players. They have a bussy week planned for us, and it will be pretty exciting.

I'll post another update after I get back from California detailing how my week went down there. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Regular Season Is Over

Well, the regular season is over for me in terms of high school ball. The playoffs have started, but I don't anticipate getting any playoff games. I have some issues with that, but I'll keep those thoughts to myself, just in case....

I did get a league playoff game last Saturday to determine seeding for the state playoffs. The game itself wasn't all that great, but it's a playoff game none the less, I guess.

In other news for me: I was asked to come down to the Little League Western Region Junior Umpire School as an instructor in June! I've accepted the offer, and will be going down there with Bryan, who went down to the week long school with me, Randy, and his dad in January. I look at this as an oportunity for me to become an instructor at the "adult" school in the future. Because airfares are too expensive to the LA area, I'll be driving it both ways. 15+ hours each way. Should be.....fun.

I'm also about 2 months away from my regional now. I think I'm almost ready. I got confirmation e-mails about my shirts, pants, and hat that I will recieve, and my hotel accomodations. Things are beginning to finalize finally!