So I attended the New York State Baseball Umpires Association 2017 clinic yesterday. The featured instructor – Cowboy Joe West – was unable to attend due to union business in Chicago. While that was a little disappointing, the major and minor league and local guys (and gal) that were there were enthusiastic and clearly enjoyed sharing their skills and experience. Rob Drake and Lance Barrett from MLB shared tips and stories from their major league experiences. Drake is a real character and Lance, while a bit more reserved, has the presence that you would expect from a guy that has made it to the top of his profession. I found Rob Drake’s explanations of the workings of replay review particularly interesting. The MiLB umpires – Chris Segal (who is also a major league call-up), Dan Merzal (a personal favorite of mine) and Jen Pawol (who has a chance to be the first female to make it to MLB) obviously enjoy teaching and sharing, and the local NY State guys (who’s names I do not know), were enthusiastic teachers as well. While there was not the intense feedback and detailed personal instruction that I always look for in a clinic, this was a fun experience with a few worthwhile takeaways. Drop step double play footwork, and a slightly different way of taking a steal at second from the B position are elements that I hope I can incorporate into my game in the spring. I enjoyed the time spent with Rich Verost and Kevin Kane, a couple of very good umpire and buddies, and met a bunch of nice guys from Binghamton and throughout the state. All in all, it was a nice way to spend a couple of days – and who’da thunk I’d avoid the snow by being in Binghamton NY?