Given a slow board, encouraging some unbiased discussion on a subject that often observed, and legal.....but "mystifies" me as to why PU's do it.
Looking for input from umpires (here)----with non-umps welcome to join in.
I'm not an umpire but have served many decades in Little League, and played as a catcher.
With this LLWS just concluded, and locally, I have seen PU'S set up back of the catcher of course; but, for a right handed batter, set-up between the catcher and the batter;
for a left handed batter, set-up between the catcher and the batter. IOW, not directly behind the catcher; or slightly favoring a catcher's shoulder depending on a right or left handed batter.
It puzzles me as to how a PU, set-up between the catcher and batter, can effectively make calls on low outside pitches.
Guess it must be okay---but still cannot see how low outside pitches, with the ump's sightline (seemingly) blocked by the catcher.
Au contraire, mon ami!
I think that the best way to see low-outside ("money") pitch, you need to position in the slot. By taking that positon, your head is just aft and to the left side of the catcher's head. You can see straight through the entire zone. And in the Little League, you usually don't get the fireballers like Japan, so you need to see if the pitch drops too low when it's coming in. If you square up directly behind the catcher, your sight pitcure of the vertical motion (especially the low ones) is hampered. Thus in Little League, you might be guessing if that ball was just high enough and didn't drop down.
It is a skill for the pitcher to catch that part of the plate, so you owe it to him to call it right. And you better not guess it, because you could be disadvantaging the batter.
I am 6'4", so getting down can be a biomechanical challenge! I have been working this constantly, and being in the slot is so much better. Most foul balls will go past my right ear rather than smack me in the faceplate. It is easy to squat straight down and get the dimensions of the dynamics of the zone by being in the slot.
The sight line is not blocked by the catcher! In fact, you see that low-outside area better.
Interesting, thanks for the input Mike.
Doesn't being 6' 4" make a big difference as to the sightline, as you described.?
Come to think of it, if memory serves, one of those LLWS Umps, was very tall.
[I'm 5' 5" and "shrinking" in my old age]