Someone commented to me last week that I looked angry while I was behind the plate. This was a friend that said it and I explained that I was "working" and trying to convey a certain amount of seriousness. I really do enjoy being out on the field and it was surprising to hear that i was giving off some sport of non-fun aura.
I remember that last year Manny Ramirez was ejected from a game for a bit of arguing and some helmet/bat tossing. I didn’t see it live but rather on ESPN’s SportCenter, where the host mentioned that Joe Torre thought the umpire had a “quick trigger.” Mr. Torre has to protect his players but let’s all acknowledge that there are things that happen in and around home plate that only the umpire, catcher and batter know.
I talk to catchers some and also give the batter a “Ready to do some hitting?” if there’s an opportunity. I’m not taking sides but if a 12-year old backstop throws a bullet to second base and gets a would-be base stealer, I’m going to give him a quick “Nice toss.” All this helps with some familiarity, as does the “Your shortstop can really pick it” comment I might mention to a 3B coach as he makes his way across the diamond.
My approach works for me – so far. I’m not the type to engage the crowd much and I’m not comfortable with my colleagues that take this too far. I’ll answer questions about how much time is remaining in the game or comment back when someone asks how many games I’ll be here for. I generally don’t initiate that conversation or try to make them laugh or like me. Once the game is over I disappear into the parking lot. I would rather them appreciate the hustle and the game management since that’s why I’m there.