Lots of stuff this weekend.

A lot of games and a lot of stuff. Called a million balks – mostly, oddly, fakes to first. I know that I have just recently become comfortable with knowing the difference between a jump step and a legal disengage – and I think many umpires fail to call that one (it always comes as a surprise unless you are really focused, and it’s easy to just say “he stepped off”) and pitchers don’t really learn it until they get called.  I also had an obstruction of a runner coming around 3rd who was thrown at at home – that’s a nice high profile call. I had a catchers obstruction (CI). I had two kids in one game swing at pitches that hit them.  One over the fence HR. One extra inning game. And I had a pitcher drilled in the chest with a rocket line drive back through the box – it knocked him down and he left the game, but the coach sent me a note last night indicating that he is OK.

A few negatives -  I probably missed a batters interference (a right handed batter struck out and walked to the 1st base dugout as the catcher was attempting to throw out R1 stealing. I didn’t watch the batter  - add that to my list of things to get better at –  and the coach and catcher both complained. The throw looked true but that doesn’t matter).  I also thought about but didn’t call two force play slide rule violations in that same game.  Runner slides low to break up double play, probably NOT directly at base. Good baseball plays and no one was looking for anything, but probably needs to be enforced in FED.  And my timing has been a little quick on the bases this year.

That’s it


2014 in full swing..

After a slow, rain and snow filled March, my 2014 season is up and running.

I’ve been fortunate enough to get a handful of varsity baseball this year, and, as we already know – the better they are, the easier they are.  I find the biggest difference, and the one that makes higher level ball easier to call, is that the batters swing at strikes. I’ve had way fewer borderline pitches to call, because the batters are swinging at them. It makes a huge difference. By contrast, I had a U13 50/70 game the other day, with probably 2 dozen beautiful pitches to hit just above the letters and maybe a bit off the plate that I had to call, one way or the other. I heard both catchers in the dugout moaning that I had a better zone for the other team. I probably should have had a bigger zone for both.

Softball today, a mix of high school, travel and rec over the weekend, and away we go.

And, in case you need a refresher, here’s one from the archives:

Obstruction vs Interference

Here’s a very brief explanation of obstruction vs interference as it relates to baseball and softball rules:




2 great games, 4 great pitchers

So regular season HS games started this week and I had 2 great games. The 1st one was really great, because it was over in an hour and a half. Two public high schools with good programs. Home team won 2-1 on a beautiful field on a beautiful day. Both starting pitcher were great, and probably gave up 6 hits between the two of them. I think there was one walk. And a bunch of great pitches. A lot of fun, everybody was nice – a great way to start.

My 2nd game, last night, was between two smaller private schools, and was an almost-equally great game*. Home team won 1-0 in the bottom of the 10th. Both starting pitchers were really good and each went 6 innings. I assumed we’d get a run when the 2nd pitchers came in, and we did – 4 innings later.   In this one, the pitchers were way ahead of the hitters. The kids on both sides took way too many strikes, all over the zone. And they were badly over matched with a 2 strike count.  We had a couple of innings where they should have scored and didn’t, including a successful missed base appeal that killed a rally. A very enjoyable couple of games.


* Only downside was that it went 3 hours – but that wasn’t even such a downside.

Opening Day

It’s opening day for varsity baseball here in NJ. And it’s my 1st regular season varsity plate. I’ll be thinking about it all day. Today I’ll be looking up: line-up cards, DH,  things that we give team warnings for, FED vs OBR differences.  We’ll see how it goes.

Had to share…

Go right to around 1:50 and check out the ump at 3rd

All Star System 7 2500 HSM

hsmI took the plunge. I work on lots of field with tight backstops and have taken more than one rebound to the top of the head. I just can’t imagine that the protection isn’t better than a traditional mask – especially when it comes to an unusual bounce or something that causes me to change my position. And now that more guys are wearing them, I won’t feel so silly. I was going to pull the trigger a few years ago, but my wife bought me a new traditional mask for Christmas that year, so I’ve used it. I can’t wait to get it, and then try it out. I may hate it.

Looking To Become An Umpire in New Jersey?

Here are two great places to start:

New Jersey Sports Assigning Bureau

All County Assigning





I’ve mentioned before that I actively participate in the great forum umpire-empire.com. The guys and ladies over at ump-emp (as I call it, for short) are a real nice group, and show a full degree of respect for each other and for the umpiring avocation.  The site is a daily part of my life, and the screen names  become real, honest personalities One of the most active and respected members passed away this week, and I figured I’d share this tribute to Michael Taylor, of Salisbury, MD:

Posted Image

Another Rule 7.13 – this one in MLB

So everyone is talking about the new “no collision” rule in MLB – rule 7.13, which is quoted below.  The REALLY cool thing is that Little League rule 7.13 deals with runners leaving early, and that rule (based on my blog traffic analytics), is a highly searched term – in fact, it accounts for the majority of traffic to my site*.

Here is the official wording from the rulebook on the new rule, which is Rule 7.13:

(1) A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball). In such circumstances, the Umpire shall call the ball dead, and all other base runners shall return to the last base touched at the time of the collision.

Rule 7.13 Comment: The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 7.13. If the runner slides into the plate in an appropriate manner, he shall not be adjudged to have violated Rule 7.13. A slide shall be deemed appropriate, in the case of a feet first slide, if the runner’s buttocks and legs should hit the ground before contact with the catcher. In the case of a head first slide, a runner shall be deemed to have slid appropriately if his body should hit the ground before contact with the catcher.

(2) Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 7.13 if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner and that contact with the runner was unavoidable.

* All time site visits by keyword search:

little league rule 7.13 91
paul simko umpire 43
batter’s interference 40
little league runner leaves early 31
little league rule leaving base early 27
little league rules leaving base early 18
softball umpire blog 16
umpire blog 16
runner leaves early in little league 15
batters interference 14

FED Illegal Hybrid Pitching Position

OK. I think I have solidified a small but important point in my brain. Here’s the legal set up for the set position:

For the set position, the pitcher shall have the ball in either his gloved hand or his pitching hand. His pitching hand shall be down at his side or behind his back. Before starting his delivery, he shall stand with his entire non-pivot foot in front of a line extending through the front edge of the pitcher’s plate and with his entire pivot foot in contact with or directly in front of and parallel the pitcher’s plate

So now I think I have locked in that the PIVOT foot has to be in contact with or directly in front of AND parallel the rubber, while the front foot just has to be in front of the rubber and CAN be open to 1st.


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