Most of the jokes and critiques you hear about umpires involve their poor eyesight behind the plate.(1) But what most people don’t notice is how often umpires are in the right spot at the right time. That is because we tell the future.
It’s also called positioning.
We spend a lot of time here talking about not only where the umpire should be, but also when the umpire should be there and what her responsibilities are when she’s there. So, for example, if I’m the base umpire(2) with runners on base, then I am responsible for fly balls hit into certain areas of the field and also for the runners on base, including tag ups, missed bases, and any plays that they might get into. I also need to know where my plate umpire is, so that we aren’t duplicating effort on possible plays at third. That’s a lot of stuff to cover and I only have one pair of eyes, so it’s key that I know where to stand to watch all of those things.
Most people don’t see umpires positioning themselves. We become invisible out on the field.(3) But the next time you watch a game, watch the umpires for a couple of plays and note where they stand to see what they’re supposed to. Most of the time, they’re in position before the play even happens, because that’s their job to know what the players are going to do before they do it.
(1) Even my SO-CALLED-FRIENDS have joined in on the poor eyesight gags. You try calling a hundred pitches in a row while wearing pleated pants and see how well you do.
(2) That’s the one not behind the plate for those of you not familiar with the lingo. 🙂
(3) Which is good. No one pays to see umpires. …except maybe me, now.