Fellow Umpires: Have you ever had a game where you just couldn't get comfortable with your own strike zone? I know we all admit to missing a pitch here and there, but for some reason yesterday, I just couldn't get in my own zone.
I usually don't hear much about my behind-the-plate calls. I must have developed a zone where it was agreeable enough for the pitcher, the batter, the coaches and the fans. I'm smart enough to know not to get too pleased with a good inning or a good game. You can build up some credibility but it only lasts so long if you're not paying attention.
During this game yesterday I just started second guessing. There was a pitch that I called a ball that I could have gotten away with calling a strike. The defense team “wanted” it but they were not very disappointed. I had a tough time seeing the outside corner of the plate so I started questioning my consistency – maybe I wasn’t inconsistent but it just felt that way. I even got a “don’t start squeezing us now” comment from a fan which I can optimistically translate into meaning that up until then I’d been OK. I didn’t buy that one, honestly.
All-in-all there weren’t many walks and I only had two called strike outs – one for each team. That wasn’t by design, it just happened. The game ended 5-2 so it wasn’t notable in any way.
Throw in some errors, passed balls and well-timed hits and I probably went unnoticed. Like someone who knows what’s going on behind the scenes, though, some things are not what they appear.
How to get back on track? More games, work "slower" and don’t beat myself up.
I've gotten into umpiring after years of playing and coaching baseball. I officiate at the youth league level (9U-15U) and I can tell you that it's different than what I thought it would be. If you're new to umpiring, take a look around this blog, read up on officiating, maybe attend a camp. It's a great way to stay involved with youth sports!