This discussion started weeks ago when I was chatting with some umps from around the states.
Been watching the Regional semi's and finals, and I note some mechanical differences that my friends and I discussed. Now, I am in SE Region, and I do not mean to criticize anyone else's region or their mechanics. Just pointing out some differences. For instance:
I was taught there are only 2 ways to stop play: "Foul!" and "Time!" Don't use "Dead Ball!" <---you see that a lot of those on HBPs.
It's a "Foul!" not a "Foul Ball!" (We know it's a ball we are talking about!)
Called strike mechanics: I usually stay forward because (during regular season) I am often with a rookie FU or am by myself, so I need to stay pointed at the "sport" taking place on the field. I don't go to the side with as much histrionics as I have seen. And the call of a "Strike!" varies a lot as well! My WR buddies told me I sound off in such a way that I am scaring the kids! (They'd love the guy who did the Delaware-New Jersey game last night!)
Sometimes U1's angle is a lot different that what I was taught. U2's position with no men one, R1, R2, seem to differ in the 4-man system.
It seems that the differences are diverging more every year. And my friends & I concluded that since Andy K retired, the standardization among all LL levels is not there any more.
Now, I don't think any of this affects to the proper officiating of the game; but I wonder in the LLWS how the teamed umpires from around the world will work out. I still think the basic calls will be mostly right.
What are your experiences in the different Regions?
Great questions and observations. Since I am close to Williamsport, PA, I can get to the umpire clinics there pretty often. But even they are limited in what they can teach.(60 versus 90, and now 70) During the regular season here in SE PA I am usually alone for most games. We just don't have the volunteers needed and I am against a dad volunteer to "handle first for me"! It is only in the round robin and play offs we ever have 2 or more. (Final gets 3 PU and 2 BUs) During tournament time we have 1 except for semi's and finals, where we have 2. I mostly work the plate all year. Out of 64 games I did this year, 61 were behind the plate. Williamsport training is good and organized, but they do teach same method to call strike, and same to call out. I think the individual quirks come in when guys watch others. They pick up habits they like from admiring someone elese and emulate that.
If it were not for the forums on the Internet and my love of learning the game, I would still be a Smitty umpire.
Now to my observations. I think the only individualized options we have as Plate ump is the Strike call and the 3rd Strike looking call. So I am OK with each ump having his own methodology.
On the 60 foot field, I do notice that a full grown man is more noticable especially when there is 6 of them like LLWS play. If I were to ge a game someday in the future, I would have to study hard for placement and distance at my given position. I would be fine at the plate, but even then having 5 other huge men on the field would make my sight lines different from my standard season. Honestly? in all of my 23 years I have never umpired ONLY 2nd or 3rd, I would need training. (Especially if I were going to be on TV)
You have been international and have seen much more. I have only been here in SE corner of the state of Pennsylvania. (Remember our Districts and Regionals are done by PAID umps here.)
So you see more than I do. I wish I could go to other areas and observe, I'm sure each location could teach me something more!
Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!
There is a stigma amongst baseball umpires when it comes to "Dead Ball." Unfortunately for me, I do a lot of girls fast-pitch softball, and "Dead Ball" is the norm there to kill play immediately during unrelaxed action, such as HBPs, Interference, balls entering DBT, batted balls hitting the batter in the box, etc. etc. I say "unfortunately for me" because I end up bringing that mechanic with me when I do baseball, and my colleagues look at me funny and then say, "He must be a softball umpire."
The only times softball umpires use "Time" are when a coach or player requests it and is granted, or when play is relaxed and the umpire wants to make an announcement or clean off the plate.
I personally don't get hung up on "Foul" versus "Foul Ball" or "Out" versus "He's Out." But there are others who do, and it bothers the heck out of me when that ends up being the discriminator between getting and not getting a bid to do Regional or World Series tournaments.
There are those who teach, "Don't look to the side when you call a Strike, because you may miss something." I suppose that could be true, although it's highly unlikely. And it's even more unlikely if you're working with a four- or six-man crew during regionals and the world series.
As for differences in positioning, I have noticed that, and it's been that way for quite a while, even when Andy was still LL UIC. It floors me that some regions will not let U2 take fly balls in the "V' on the 60' diamond. They want U2 busting in, and make either U1 or U3 (four-man) or U7 or U9 (six-man) take all fly balls. If U2 is already out there, let him/her take those!
Another thing that's also bugged me is how U1 and U3 button-hook into the diamond while U2 comes into the working area on a clean base hit. Now you've got three adult umpires (in some cases, three very large adult umpires) clogging up the infield. I've always felt the wing umpires should just float past their bases in foul territory (staying out of the runners' ways), and then bust into the cutout only when there's a play there.