When It Rains, Be Ready
Before It Pours
When a flood comes or lightening strikes nearby,
any umpire would suspend the game. When the field is mushy enough to make it a
tough decision whether to start, or continue play, but it is not clear cut, one
way or the other, what do you as the umpire-in-chief do to prepare yourself to
make that decision? Safety of the players must play the pivotal role your
Here is a list of things to keep in mind when faced with
- " Final check of the weather - on TV or Internet
for a last minute weather forecast. If the game is at 5:30 pm and rain isn't
due until midnight, well and good. However, if heavy moisture is expected in
two hours, it is good to know what to do if it does.
- " Meet with both managers - before the game and let
them know what you know and when the weather is coming. See what they know. The
decision regarding the field and whether to play is their decision. The
decision works better if it is a collaborative one.
- " Schedule improvisation - means seeing if the game
can be postponed, and if the schedule will allow the game to be played on
another off-day for both teams.
- " Ground rules to cover the conditions - includes
understanding if the game has to be played to its conclusion, or just 3-1/2 to
4 innings, or if suspended, will the game be resumed, or ended.
- " Know the teams situation - including if a team
really needs to get the game in, or whether the other team doesn't care and
could use the rest. Understand that the teams, while moaning and yapping about
playing or not playing under the existing conditions may belie their real
reason to continue or quit the game.
- " What's available - in the way of a tarp or
Diamond Dry to help dry out the field. How much water will the field hold, or
does it drain well?
- " Key areas of the field - are the mound and plate
area. Next the base paths and infielders normal locations. The outfielders can
play in slop and wet unless it becomes a lake. Ask the pitchers if they are
slipping on the mound. Once the players are sliding around, the game has gone
on too long.
- " Know the rules - means that a game may not be
called for at least 30 minutes once it is suspended. Get both managers involved
again. If they agree to play or to stop, the umpires are off the hook. If they
cannot agree, then the umpires must decide. If someone at the game can use
their cell phone or laptop to look at the weather, it can help with the
- " Lightening - is not to be messed with. No game is
worth someone getting struck by lightening. If the game is suspended and
lightening is spotted in the area, someone can get struck just sitting on the
sidelines under cover.
- " Legal stalling - will start the minute the
weather becomes an issue. The team behind will want to hurry everything to
catch up. The ahead team will move at a snail's pace. The team in the lead will
try to make three pitching changes and then start to make other defensive
substitutions. When at bat, the winning team will want an offensive conference
in which the coach tells his batters not to swing at anything. All these
tactics are not legal. Keep the game moving at the same pace as if there were
- " Not everyone will be happy - with the called
game, or the playing in a really damp environment. It is tough on veteran and
new umpires alike to have to deal with all the whining and begging. In the end,
do as much advance planning about the coming storm, the team standings and the
conditions of the field as possible, and then do the best using good judgment
and instincts to deal Mother Natures and two teams.