My favorite topic – umpires

April 27, 2009

by Aaron Schultz

Looking back at my days at the Herald Journal, I have noticed a familiar trend that I would really like to break.

Every single spring for the past eight years or so my column writing drops off significantly.

There are many reasons for my lack of columns come springtime – busy coaching baseball, getting ready to start Wildcat baseball, and the start of the Crow River Review, are just a few.

And every single winter I vow to myself this is going to be the spring that I change my bad habits and keep on writing a column throughout the spring.

Well, this year has been better, but if not for this column, I was in danger of falling into that same pattern.

I failed to write one last week, even though I started one – it just never got finished.

Of course, if the column is just going to be me talking about writing columns, I guess it doesn’t matter much if I write one or not.

With that being said, I’ll move on to my main topic for the week – umpires.

Writing about umpires is always a safe bet for me since each and every game I could pick apart an umpire’s performance and stomp on it.

Yet, I refuse to even consider umpiring, myself.

I know, it doesn’t make any sense.

Still, this time around, through six high school games, I don’t have too many beefs with the umpires I have had.

Yes, there is one particular umpire we had for back-to-back games in the Cities that was far from good.

But he was that way for both teams, and really it didn’t have a direct outcome on the game, so I can live with that.

Then, the umpires we (the Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity varsity baseball team) had for Wednesday’s game at Heritage Christian weren’t all that good.

Overall, they did a fine job, but there were two calls that got me going for the first time this spring.

Again, like my column writing, I told myself that this year I wasn’t going to get worked up by an umpire, and that lasted to our fifth game.

The first call that really set me off was when LP/HT senior Jeremy “Rock” Quaas was hit by a pitch on the hand.

Now, he wasn’t awarded first base because the ump said he didn’t move.

Normally, that always gets me worked up, but I was fine with that call.

The part that really upset me was when the pitch that hit Rock in the hand was called a strike.

All Rock did was take his hand off the bat while trying to get out of the way.

Well, Rock didn’t move quick enough and the ball hit him.

According to the ump, Rock stuck his hand over the plate, and that is why the pitch was called a strike.

This is just silly, as the bruise on Rock’s hand points out.

No one is going to stick their hand over the plate and let it get hit by a pitch – it was a very bad call, in my mind.

Despite being very upset by the call, I kept my cool, for the most part.

But then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, with the score tied and the winning run on third base for Heritage with no outs, a non-call was made that really got me mad.

With my infield in, the Heritage batter hit a ground ball back to my pitcher, who fielded the ball, checked the runner back to third, and threw on to first base to get the out.

Well, my first baseman (Taylor Schultz) was in front of the bag when he got the ball and instead of retreating to the bag, decided to just tag the runner out.

The Heritage runner then started to run backwards, which, forever, has been an automatic out.

When leaving the batter’s box and heading to first base, you, as a runner, can stop, but you can’t go backwards or you are out.

The umps never made a call until my first baseman finally tagged him.

Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled with this, and let the umpires know exactly how upset I was.

This was followed with a stern warning from the umpire I had the run-in with earlier.

Five games in and I have already been warned.

You know, I wouldn’t get upset so much if more umpires out there knew the rule book.

Anyways, here is to a calmer me for the rest of the high school baseball season.