Topic and Focus Pre-games

Crew chiefs should consider starting the pre-game with their partners a few days before your game. Use the Rule Book, the CCA Manual and this article as your sources for material. Choose one of the pre-games below. Send an email to your crew and divide up the topics, with each member of the crew taking one or two items and leading the discussion during the on-site pre-game. Suggestion: add the appropriate material from these pre-games to your basic pre-games; examples – conference play, difficult coach.

Topic Pre-games

The Mechanics Pre-game
  • Select the focus items (Section 1) and Mechanics Changes (Section 2).
  • Use Section 6 to review the in-game umpiring situations.
  • Review college signals – both standard and umpire-to-umpire.
  • Section 7 has good material; it can be used for either 3-umpire or 2-umpire assignments:
    • Three-umpire: crew chief takes the first All Umpires section (there are two) and the parts of the Plate Umpire section which involve the crew. U1 takes the Base Umpires and First-Base Umpire section; U3 takes the Third-Base Umpire and the second All-Umpires
    • Two-umpire crew: take the parts from Sections 2, 6, and 7 which apply to the 2-umpire system; or the first few pages of Section 10.
  • Sections 9 and 10. Think of these sections as comprising two distinct parts – the runner configurations and the play action parts (hit to the infield, PI covers, U1 covers, U3 covers, etc). Choose either the appropriate System (2-ump, 3-ump) for the upcoming game and:
    • Select one or two of the runner configurations and review the play actions parts for just that configuration; example: use the Runner on First configuration and discuss all the play actions for each of the umpires (plate, U1 and U3; or plate and base).
    • Select one or two play actions and discuss all the runner configurations: example – the Hit to the Infield action for every runner configuration.
The Rules Pre-game

Use the Rule Book, Case Book, and recent interpretations/clarifications. Tell the crew to prepare with specific examples of a rule and its complementary Case Book plays, and interpretations. Use the tough and/or controversial ones: interference, obstruction, illegal pitch, appeal plays, look-back rule, hit-by-pitch, etc.

The Game Management Pre-game

This pre-game can be used, or parts of it, for the Difficult Coach and the Rivalry game situation (see the Focus Pre-games section below). There are also elements of these items in the Basic Pre-games. Some items for discussion (most of these topics can be found in Locker Room articles):
• Lineup card management
• The use of warnings (informal, formal); use the EWE method
• Handling situations and arguments effectively
• Handling ejections, protests and forfeits
• Game conditions – weather, darkness, end of game rules and protocols
• Team tendencies.
• Administering option plays
• Breaking up conferences

Focus Pre-games

These pre-games will focus on the matchup and be used less often. This material can be added to a basic pre-games as well.

First game of season

You may want to start this pre-game a few days before the actual game date, especially if you or your partner is a less experienced umpire. Contact your crew and tell them to review these items.
• New rules, Case Book plays, and interpretations; include the completely removed rules.
• New and revised mechanics.
• CCA manual In Focus items (Section 1).
• Quick refresher of the mechanics (2-ump or 3-ump as appropriate).
• Use the appropriate items from the Pre-game with less experienced partner pre-game (beginning of document).

Conference play begins

By now you have probably worked a number of games and the intensity gets to another level when conference games start. You should be familiar with the rules and mechanics changes, so these can be less emphasized during your pre-game. The game management discussion will take more time as the teams and coaches are now in the last stages to make the playoffs. Suggestions:
• What optional rules for this conference: tie-breaker, halted game, travel policy.
• What rules have been an issue, either because of frequent violations or umpires’ lack of knowledge or confusion.
• What mechanics have been an issue and why.
• Review these Sections in the CCA Manual in this order 6, 1, 7.7, 4, and 5.
• Use the appropriate bullets from the Game Management pre-game above.
• What team tendencies trends have been observed.
• What are the trouble spots for each umpire in the crew; a nicer way to put this – “what two or three items are you working on today.”

Rivalry game

• Communicate with game management personnel when you arrive,; ask where will they be during the game.
• Review Game management items in detail; crew remains calm at all times.
• Emphasize sportsmanship during the coach/umpires meeting.
• Be on high-alert all game; watch for flare-ups and fireworks; handle them quickly.
• Discuss how to handle: illegal slides, intentional HBP, catcher and /batter interchanges, etc.
• Maintain strong presence between half-innings.
• Monitor the dugouts, especially for inappropriate chatter.
• Make sure all umpires are aware of formal warnings.
• Review the ejection protocols in the CCA manual.

Difficult coach

• Review why this coach is considered “difficult” and have a game plan.
• Focus on working your “best game” (mechanics, rule application, management).
• Do not allow the discussion of the coach to dominate; cover the other important pre-game topics.
• Discuss the importance of informal and formal warning, and that coaches cannot continue to argue judgment calls.
• Exchange among the crew the “use rule book verbiage” examples each uses.
• Emphasize sportsmanship during the coach/umpire meeting.
• Be a team; do not let the coach talk to you about another umpire; do not allow “divide and conquer”.
• Discuss that the crew must be consistent in their approach and dealings with the coach.
• Make sure all umpires are aware of formal warnings.
• Ask each umpire what their tolerance level is.
• Review the ejection protocols in the CCA manual.