2. Beware of balls
terminology for what happens when you try to track a ball as it passes directly
over your head, causing you to lose sight of it.
3. Don't chase
down a batted or thrown ball; that's the players' job.
Don't laugh; it's
happened. Former major leaguer Ron LeFlore flunked umpire school in 1988 for
his instinctive reaction to play the ball like the outfielder he once was
rather than getting into proper position.
4. Don't get spun
around by line drives hit directly at you; you'll fall on your butt or, worse,
get pegged there.
the time that no sooner had he remarked that he had never seen Jeromy Burnitz
hit a line drive than Burnitz nailed first base umpire Terry Craft in the
posterior. "It went up one side of his [butt] and down the other,"
5. Make sure your
fly is zipped.
Basically, the job
comes down to this: If I can quit worrying long enough about wiping out Tejada,
about baseballs that either explode, tempt me to field them or put me on my
can, and about keeping my pants on properly, then all I need to do is nail
every single call. Great.
"Umpiring is a
gift," says ump Tim Timmons, 39, who also assisted in my training,
"like the hitter who has the skill to hit that 90-mph slider or the pitcher
who can do things with a baseball no human being should be able to do. Those
are real gifts, and so is umpiring. You can't teach instincts."
umpires are, in fact, closer to perfect than you might imagine. There were
167,341 at bats last season over 2,429 games. According to the 2006
"Umpiring Year in Review," a report put together by MLB officials, the
men in blue made only 100 incorrect calls, excluding balls and strikes (and in
that discipline they were judged to be 94.9% accurate). Not once did a club
protest a game. (A protest can be filed only if a team believes umpires
misapplied the rules.)