OK all you umpires, what would YOU have done?
I am not second-guessing myself, not in the least, but there are some here who are questioning it, so I throw it out there to y’all.
Belarus was leading Poland 11-0 with two out and no one on in the 5th. We were one out from being done.
Poland hadn’t been able to get out of its own way for an hour and a half. Despite what I wrote yesterday about balks being generally ignored, we called 10 in this game – all for the same reason (failure to stop and set), and all came after repeated warnings and mini-clinics.
Anyway, Belarus was loving this stomping it was putting on Poland, and its kids were even heard to laugh and mock the Poles at times. It was that bad.
So anyway, it was the top of the 5th, two were out and the Poles had a rare baserunner via a walk. I was the 3rd base umpire, so I was “inside” and closest of the umpires to the pitcher when the shortstop asked for time. All the infielders came to the mound. At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I quickly realized the pitcher didn’t have the ball anymore, so I knew the hidden-ball play was coming.
It was my personal moment of truth – let it play out, run the risk of the final out being made on a “gimmick” play that would give the Belarus kids one final reason to laugh at their opponents, or call “time” and force the ball to be returned to the pitcher.
I chose the latter.
Most all my fellow umpires agreed with me, but a couple of the Lithuanians questioned why I would not allow Belarus to do something that’s well within the rules.
My answer: it’s all about respecting the game and NOT disrespecting your opponent. I didn’t want to see the scene I thought MIGHT occur, so I kept it from happening. As co-tournsament director and co-umpire in chief, I made a decision that I thought was in the best interest of the game and the tournament,
So, that said, what would YOU have done?
COOL SCENE: I looked around at about 10 o’clock, and what did I see? Sam Griffith had the plate for Czech-Republic vs. host Vilnius, Lithuanian umpires Zilvinas Bareinke and Edgaras Matusevicius had the bases and were wearing their new light blue shirts, courtesy of Jack Townsend and Zane Clutts, the crowd was sizable and boisterous, albeit smoking and drinking, Poland and Belarus were warming up for the next game, and horses were being trained on the racetrack that surrounds the field. It was baseball”s version of heaven on earth.
AFTER LOSING 13-3 to Belarus in their first game Tuesday, Poland’s players laid in the bleachers as though they’d just played a 20-inning marathon, then proceeded to lose 17-2 to Kaunas and surrendered after 3 1/2 innings, citing a lack of pitching…as though they had any measurable pitching to begin with.
STANDINGS AFTER two days: Belarus 2-0, Kaunas-Lithuania 2-0, Czech Republic 1-1, Vilnius-Lithuania 0-2, Poland 0-2.
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