The Correct Call!
DON'T BE A DUSTY! - Umpiring Tip For Success
Don't Be A Dusty!
NOTE: The use of the name Dusty is purely fictional.
As a field ump, I have always prided myself in my ability to keep the bases clean. This concept grates on many of the more established "seasoned" umpires. It seems that in generations past, taking the time to clean the bases was looked down upon. For the life of me, I can't understand why.
TIP #1 - Don't Be A Dusty... Keep Those Bases Clean!
As umpires, we have complete control over our appearance (uniforms), our mechanics, and our portion of the field. If our uniforms are wrinkled and dirty, then people judge us as unprofessional. If we are in the wrong position to make a call, or use odd mechanics, then people judge us as inexperienced. And if our portion of the field has filthy bases, then we are judged as being lazy. I refer to this latter umpire as a Dusty.
I have learned that by cleaning the bases regularly, coaches, players, and fans, will take notice. If they are kept clean, then your status in their minds will be elevated and they will be thankful that you were assigned to their games.
SOLID GOLD CONCEPT
I take very little grief when I make calls on the bases. Why? I am NOT a Dusty. My bases are kept clean and when everybody can clearly see the base where the action occurs, then they have much less to argue about. Why? Because we all saw clearly the same evidences.
I know, I know, coaches may still complain, but I promise you that it won't be as much. If your uniform looks good, your positioning and mechanics are spot-on, then the clean bases will help seal the deal.
This is difficult when the field umpire and the base umpire do not agree on this concept of keeping bases clean. The plate umpire is in control of the game. The field umpire is there to make the plate umpire look good, but ultimately the responsibilities of the game falls upon the plate umpire. I have worked with Dusty's that don't realize why the games are better and more fun when I am their field umpire partner and the bases are kept clean. The games just seem to run smoother. There are less complaints from coaches when calls are made on the bases. I giggle when I am out in the field and there have been no issues on the bases throughout the game. Then, there is a critical play at home and nobody can even see the plate when the action occurs and Dusty must deal with the heat of the moment because he opted not to keep home plate clean.
For me, the biggest conflict occurs when Dusty and I switch positions and home plate is kept clean by me, and the bases are kept filthy by Dusty. This happened to me recently in Orem and when I stated that I would like the bases kept clean, Dusty stated simply, "I don't clean bases!" This caught me off guard because I kept them pristine for his plate game, yet he refused to return the favor when I was behind the plate. Dusty was clearly from the old school mind set. At the end of most half innings, he would go to the pitcher's plate and kick it with his shoe and then walk to his water and snack bag hanging on the first base line fence. I had two options: 1) Have a heart to heart and create ill feelings with this more senior, set in his ways, umpire. 2) Since I was the only one bothered, I could clean them myself.
IT'S A LONG WALK
I opted to just walk to third after the last out of each full inning and clean third, then walk to second and clean second, and then when needed continue on to first. By the time I returned to home, the pitch was just going down to second and I cleaned home plate and donned my mask and said, "Play Ball!" Yes, it is a rather long walk, but I refused to let a Dusty completely ruin my game. What did my partner think? Who knows.
After taking the long walk for three innings, you would think a light would turn on in Dusty's head, but it never did. At the end of the game he was quickly gone and we had no post-game. Do I like this umpire? Yes. He is a great guy. Is he a good umpire? Absolutely! This particular Dusty hustles and has lots of game management experience. I believe this particular Dusty was just a bit clueless when it came partner unity. Do I want to work with this partner again?... Not really. Why? It was as though I was working one man when it came to the field management duties.
On page 42 of the Umpire Manual it states, 3) Cleaning Home Plate or the Pitcher's Plate: If time has not been declared, call "time". Move to a position facing the backstop with you back to the field of play. Use your brush to clean the plate using short, crisp strokes.
Why is there no mention of base cleaning responsibilities? Because most fields have the right kind of dirt and the bases rarely need to be cleaned. It does not mean that field umpires do not have the responsibility, just because it is not in print in the Umpire Manual. Instead, you have to adapt to the fields where your games are assigned.
OREM CITY BALL FIELDS
If you accept assignments in Orem, then don't be a Dusty! If you don't believe it prudent to keep the bases clean, then don't accept Orem, Utah games. Orem has horrible dirt on their fields and all you have to do is look at the bases and they become dirty. I can understand why some might give up on even trying to keep the bases in Orem clean, but we are being paid good money and part of our responsibilities are to keep home plate, the pitcher's plate, and yes, even 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bases clean. Did I mention that you should tell your assignor to schedule you in another city, other than Orem, if you won't clean the bases? And if you won't clean the bases, then you should consider blocking me as an umpire partner. Life is too short for contention, and if you are set in your ways and refuse to clean the bases, then block me as a partner when I am assigned the plate. And because life is so short, both our lives will be easier. I know the benefits of keeping the bases clean and I do not need another Dusty to ruin the game where I am behind home plate!
May all your games be conflict free... Don't be a Dusty!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah
ARE YOU A DUSTY?.. WHY? / WHY NOT?
NOTE: The use of the name Dusty is purely fictional.
I noticed you cleaning the bases last night at my granddaughters game and I mentioned to my wife that we don\'t see that ever.