ML2014Out, Safe, or Obstruction - I Know, Just Kick Her In The Ribs!

AUGUST 10, 2019 - This is an awesome learning lesson video for plate umpires. It seems like such a simple play, and watching the ball on the ground makes it a rather easy delayed "Safe" call. The reason it is interesting is because of everything that could have happened, did happen. Yet, when I experiencing the pickle play between home and third I became much too myopic in my viewing of the play.

Kick Ribs YT


TOO TIGHTLY FOCUSED - You can't see the forest because you're too close to the tree. Well, that is what happened to me. Nobody realized it at the time. I conveyed confidence, poise, and calmness, but I know what I was really thinking while it happened. I was overly focused on the catch and the tag. Have you all seen the video where the dancing bear passes through the video, and nobody sees it? Well, that is what happened to me in this play. I was focused too tightly and did not absorb all of the elements, yet I had good form, was in a credible position, and was patient with my call... A great umpire moment, but I still missed the dancing bear.

Dancing Bear YT


POSITIONING - If I had to do this over again, I would have been better served either being at the third-base line extended behind the plate, or even closer over the play. Why?

TAG - When was the tag applied? All I could see was the catcher's back and not the application of the tag.

OBSTRUCTION - Yes, the catcher was in the baseline and then backed out of the way so that when the runner was 15 feet from home plate she when was not hindered. I would not have called obstruction on the catcher for being in the baseline without any hindrance.

KICK TO THE RIBS - What the slowed-down version reveals is a direct kick to the ribs before the catcher had the ball. It was part of her leap that I did not see at the time it happened. NOTE: I know that this catcher in no way meant to hurt the runner. It was all just part of the excitement and attempt to catch the throw and make the tag. But the kick did happen, and it did inflict unneeded pain.

CRYING - Yes the runner got up sobbing. Not solely because of the impact with the ground and the scraped bleeding elbow as she reached for the plate, but she also just got kicked in the ribs... Wow!

WHAT IF - So what if the catch was successful and the same tag was applied, would she have been out or safe? Or would you have had the presence of mind to call "Time" and then "Obstruction"? This is a play that I will run through my mind dozens of more times and resolve to work on my positioning and patience as I try to absorb all of the different elements of the play, in real-time, so that the most credible call in future games can be made.

Make it a great game! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah