CA District 47 Little League

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Nicky Trevino kept a log (below) from his travels to the 2011 Regional JR BB tournament in Irvine, CA.  Below is the recap of his trip:

Final Day

My room mate termed it "Ground Hog Day", as it seemed like each day we would wake-up, shower, eat breakfast, clean our umpire gear and/or do laundry then off to the ball park by 11:00 a.m.  We would finish the three games around 10 pm then off to eat "dinner" and hang out with the umpires for a couple of hours off premises.  We are all very tired, and I just never imagined the fatigue would be so cumulative as it was.  Fortunately we had nice breezes each day that kept the temperatures down.

The final game was Arizona vs Idaho.  We all thought that Arizona, fresh off our 13 inning battle, would be tired and out of pitching - wrong again!

Arizona came out swinging, had their ace on the mound, and at the end of seven innings shut out Idaho 10-0.  The game went fairly quick, right around two hours and there were no controversies on the field.  We ran a six person crew so we had four line umpires alternate the lines each inning, and I was on one of the lines.  Wouldn't you know it, I went back out on the field in left and the first or second batter hit a fly ball near the foul line and over my head.  I opened up and watched the ball sail over my head, straddled the line looking at the ball, and the left fielder dives to make the catch about two feet in fair territory and slides into foul territory.  I wait until he lifts his glove and shows me he has caught the ball,  I signaled fair, then out and you could hear the crowd change their cheer when I signaled the out - depending on what side they were on.  I had another catch in right field as well where the fielder caught it over his shoulder running towards the outfield fence.  Those could very well have been the most exciting plays of the game as Arizona handled Idaho fairly easily.  I might add that Arizona only had ten players, and when I ejected one of them earlier in the tournament (helmet slam and profanity) they were down to only nine players and still managed to fight through and win the tournament.

They are a well coached group and they should do well at the World Series.

I drove home today and finally got in about 8:30.  It is so good to be home.

Thank you to all who sent emails as it was good hearing from you when I was away.  Hopefully either Paul Eaton or myself can get a World Series assignment in the next few years, but I am just not sure my knees can handle another week like this one.  I also want to say a huge thank you to our D.A., Bruce Barnett, who not only approved my application but also stopped in and caught a couple games.  Once again, seeing a familiar face goes a long ways in these times away from home and I appreciated Bruce's efforts and support.

Day 8

I miss Northern California, and was pulling for the team from Rocklin in one of the semi-final games as they were playing Idaho.  Well, not the whole state of Idaho, but the team from Nampa, Idaho.  I sat out this game as the crew consisted of six umpires so two of us sat out the first game, and two sat out the second game.  Northern California has played so well, pitched so well, and mashed the ball in prior games.  They just made too many errors in this game and had trouble at the plate so Idaho won the game to move on to the final today.

I had the 7:00 game between the scrappy team from Arizona vs. So. Cal.  I had the plate for this game and it was billed as the game of the tournament.  After hearing that in my prior game I kind of thought it would be just another game, and I could not have been more wrong.  Those who were at the game, as well as the umpires, described it as "epic".  This was possibly the biggest and most intense game any of us had ever umpired.

Our crew had a thing going to see who had the quickest complete game and I was right on track to do just that and finished five innings in just about one hour.  Arizona carried a 3-1 lead into the 7th inning and could not add to their lead.  Up to that point the game was characterized by good pitching and small ball.  So. Cal. Came up in the bottom of the seventh needing two runs to keep the game going and they did just that.  It was so intense as their fans had packed the stadium and were cheering (screaming) at every pitch.  Arizona's fans started cheering (screaming) for their kids and the sound was way loud.  I had to scream as loud as I could to put the ball back in play.  The crowd hung on every pitch, but So. Cal. could only score two runs, we go to extra innings, and our umpire from the Bay Area had the quickest game in the books.

What transpired in the next SIX innings was nothing short of incredible.  Just when you thought one team would be out of pitching, they would bring in a new pitcher who seemed to throw harder than the one before.  There were some amazing defensive plays in this game, including an al out dive and catch by the center fielder to prevent runs from scoring.  Nevada's middle infield have possibly the quickest and most agile players I have ever seen.  On numerous occasions they fielded ground balls on the edge of the grass and still made an out.  So. Cal. loaded the bases once and there was a low fly ball to center field and the runner from third took off for home.  The center fielder caught the ball, nearly doubled the runner at second, and the runner from third had to return to third.  If that runner would have just stayed on the bag until the ball was caught he would have scored and won the game for So. Cal.

Arizona opened it up in the top of the thirteenth inning and scored five runs.  So. Cal. Came up to bat, had bases loaded again but could not score a run and the game ended at 10:30.  Yes, a three and a half hour battle between two very good teams.  It was sad to see either team lose with such an effort as they both gave.  I was totally exhausted, soaking wet from perspiration, and my legs felt like noodles.  Incredible efforts from both teams, our umpire crew, and the fans.

So, today's final is at 6:00 pm between Idaho and Arizona.  I am sharing an outfield line position for tonight's game.  Usually the prestige in these tournaments comes from your assignment on the final game.  Although I am sharing a line tonight I had the game of the tournament, and probably my life, last night.  Who knows, we may have yet another battle tonight.

Day 7

First game was Nevada vs. Montana.  We had some good games today, and some more balk calls that raised the ire of two managers.  We had one pitcher start in the stretch position, come to a stop, the step toward first base with his left foot, then continue his pitching motion.  I balked him on his third pitch which did not go over well. Later our evaluator said to allow the pitch as there were no runners on base.  Now I know, but it teaches awful mechanics.

N. Cal. vs. WA.  Not much to report here as my room mate had the plate and he called a great game.  I had loaned him my metal indicator and he nailed the game.  He is from Bend, Or. and is a great person and a fantastic umpire.  We did have an overthrow out of a gate which our third base umpire got and awarded bases perfectly.

Or. vs. So Cal.  This was supposed to be the game of the day and I was honored to have the assignment.  Both of these teams came in as aggressive and strong hitting and pitching.  So Cal. came out swinging and hung five runs in the first inning.  The final score was 15-2 so it did not end up being the game it was billed to be.  It was hard to keep any rhythm in this game, and it took about an hour and forty minutes for five innings.  So Cal. is very strong and looked unbeatable.  I tried to move the game along and it ended with the better team winning.

I was assigned one of the semi-final games tonight, Arizona vs. So. Cal and it should be an incredible game.  We will see what happens tonight.

Day 6

After a much needed, and appreciated, day off we resumed play on Saturday.  First game for me was Washington vs. Montana.  I had second base for this game and our plate umpire did a great job of moving the game along.  One of my most enjoyable moments of my experience down here was when I came to the side to get a drink of water between innings and I heard my name "from above".  Usually down here when you hear your name it is not a good thing as you are about to get corrected for something.  The field I was on is lower than the stands and walkways, so when I looked up expecting to get corrected about something I see my boss and D.A., Bruce Barnett.  Bruce is a very funny person, the ha-ha kind of funny, and he says "Hi Nicky, nice pink shirt.". Even though he got a zinger in about the pink shirt, I was so happy to speak with someone from home and to that point I had not realized how much I was missing everyone back home.  We could only chat a few seconds between innings and I hep to see him again while he is traveling down here.  The only real thing in this game that held us up was when Washington wanted to bring in a new pitcher, he then changed his mind and wanted to bring in a different pitcher.  Since he had already announced the change the plate umpire told him he had to pitch to at least one batter, which the Washington manager did not agree with.  This went to the Tournament Director who ruled he could change his mind if the pitcher did not actually pitch to a batter.  Then, while the pitcher was warming up the Tournament Director comes down and informs the plate umpire that this pitcher cannot pitch as he had already played catcher for four innings.  The Washington manager then decided that he did not want to make a pitching change after all.  Oy vey!!

Second game was Oregon vs. Norther Ca. (Rocklin) which had me at first base.  Rocklin's pitcher is very good and will play D1 baseball for sure.  I can't remember a game where I had so many out calls at first base or in the outfield on a rotation.  Once again our plate umpire did a great job and we moved right through that game.  Oregon mounted a late game comeback but it fell short for their first defeat. 

Last game was Southern California (San Clemente) vs Nevada and I had the plate.  After two very long games in my prior two plate assignments I was committed to a shorter game and a less tight strike zone.  Sure enough the game rolled right along with no major hiccups and our crew really worked well together.  I had a very good game and once again the evaluator said I looked really good.  We had a lot of ground outs and fly outs and the batters were swinging early in the count which helped move things along.  The only issue we had in this game was when So. Cal. wanted to change a pitcher who was marked as ineligible but the manager thought the pitcher was eligible.  The manager ended up deferring to the Tournament Director and put in another pitcher.  The next inning the Tournament Director informed me he had miscalculated the days rest and the pitcher was in fact eligible.  That player did pitch later in the game and So. Cal. was very gracious about the mistake.

Yesterday was a great day of umpiring.  Our crew for the day melded well and we got together when we needed to and moved the games along.  It is so fun to work games with umpires you are comfortable with and this was a fun day all around.

Day 5

We went to the 11-12 regional in San Bernardino yesterday and the guys were able to see the umpire's dorm and go down below in the stadium where the teams and umpire evaluators are during the game.  We watched part of one game, ran over and got a bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant, and then went back to watch the Idaho vs. Oregon game.  We were able to watch the game from the "Mayor's Tent" which kept us out of the hot sun.  Behind the outfield fence is a grassy area where people set up their E-Z ups and the space was getting to be a premium as the tournament grew in popularity.  To keep things in order, one of the volunteers now assigns space for the "tents" and that area is called "Tent City".  Any prior Regional umpire is welcome in her tent and she treats us very nice.

After the game we did some laundry in preparation for today's game.  Why a special run to the laundromat you ask?  We have been issued a pink shirt for the three games today.  Yes, one pink shirt to wear for three games.  Yes, the same shirt that will be dirty and smelly will be worn for three games today.  I have assignments at first, second, and then the plate for the final game so at least mine should remain fairly clean through the day.  That's right - pink.  This is in recognition of breast cancer awareness, so it will be for a good cause.  Please, no comments or requests to wear pink shorts in our District.

Time to iron the pink shirt and head to the ballpark. 

Day 4

This was a crazy day of baseball, no other way to put it.  First game for me was at the plate for Idaho and the host team Laguna Niguel.  My plate meeting was great, my crew was ready, and the first three innings were incredible.  I was in one of those umpire zones, seeing the ball well, tracking everything, and was keeping the game moving quickly.  With bases loaded and no outs, a batter hit the runner from first going to second and the second base umpire was all over the interference - great call and decisive.  The runners all moved up one base, including the runner from third who had scored and the base umpires all started back to their positions.  The second base umpire should have returned all runners so I had to get that straight and make sure we were all on the same page.  We got together, put the runners where they should have been and moved on.  The very next pitch I had a catcher's interference, which pushed a run home.  It was at this point the game seemed to turn to the bad.  The Idaho team has a coach that is a bit out of control and he fueled his coaches, pitcher, and catcher to where the game became very negative.  Nothing was going Idaho's way and they wanted us to know that, especially my zone.  They kept saying it was homerville, and it was the most one sided called game they had ever seen.  I may have missed a few pitches here and there but the game was called correctly.  To really run things foul, Idaho was staging a two out bottom of the seventh comeback with bases loaded.  There was a ball hit through the infield and the runner from second tried to score and we had a throw offline and I had a swipe tag out at home.  Things erupted and one of the coaches said "That was a high tag!". Mind you, he admitted it was a tag, his beef was the runner's leg hit home before the tag.  Since it was the game ending out, two of their coaches wanted to appeal.  The winning team had all but left the field, and one of our crew was standing near the exit so I asked the manager "Which of my crew, who were "100' away, do you want me to ask?".   He first pointed to the first base umpire then said "No him!" while now pointing at the third base umpire near the exit.  I pulled our crew together to see if they had anything different, which they did not.  The out stood, we exited amidst some disparaging remarks.  Hate to end a game like that.

So, way bummed about my game ending like that, and once again taking a long time, we had to get ready for the next game of Utah and Alaska where I was at first base.  The game moved along fine and Utah had no answer for Alaska's pitcher.  We made it to the sixth inning with not much to report aside it was just one sided.  Alaska came up needing two runs to mercy rule Utah.  They score one run and leave runners at second and third.  Utah decides to intentionally walk the next batter and on the first pitch the pitcher does not have a decent stop but we all let it go as it seems like it is just a matter of time for this to be decided.  Well, on the next pitch the pitcher blows through the pitch and the third base umpire says "That's a balk, oh, I am sorry".  He hangs his head, and he proceeds to apologetically award bases and had no idea that walk balk was a walk off game ending balk.  He starts to return to his field position when he hears over the loud speaker "And that concludes our game with Alaska winning 12-2".  I do not know which was more priceless of a facial expression - his initial look when he called the balk, then hung his head and said "Oh, I am sorry"', the look on his face when he heard the game just ended, or the combined looks of his partners who can't believe what just happened.  Wild and crazy stuff down here.

Last game for me was Arizona and Hawaii.  The umpire who had the balk call on the previous game was at the plate, so we were all wondering how that was going to go.  Early in the game Arizona had runners at first and third, threatening to score with a 3-2 count, and the batter had what appeared to be a foul tip third strike which would have ended the inning.  The first base coach asked that the call be appealed as he saw the ball hitting the ground.  We got the crew together and affirmed the ball was fouled and hit the ground, put runners back where they were, and the next pitch the batter struck out.  This scenario happened again later in the game with a much different outcome.  Hawaii jumped out and scored first and held that lead until the bottom of the seventh.  It was deja-vu all over again.  With no outs Arizona has a runner at first base, and the batter gets called out on a dropped third strike and takes off for first.  The runner on first base, obviously confused that the batter was already out, hesitates and runs to second.  The catcher throws down a bit off line and the second baseman catches the ball and jumps to gain distance to make the tag.  In the process of jumping, and making the tag for the out, the second baseman stepped/cleated the runner.  The runner gets up to his knees, grabs his helmet and slams it into the ground and drops a very LOUD "F-bomb".  I had to eject the player and when the play is over everyone is yelling that it was a walk as it was another 3-2 count and the plate umpire never signaled a strike.  So I tell the manager that his player, one of his best, has been ejected, and then report to the plate umpire the same so he could record it and report it to the scorekeeper.  So, all this time the fans are going crazy as they think it was a walk and the runner at second should not have been called out.  Once again, we bring our crew together and we ask what the plate umpire had.  He said he had a strike call and the batter was out.  Whether he signaled the strike call or not, the batter was out but it did not look good.  In that process, remember he was the umpire who called the balk in the prior inning, we asked him why he had not addressed the runner standing on first base.  He said "I have no idea who that runner is, where did he come from?".  I am telling you, this guy is a classic.

Wild and crazy day at the ballpark indeed.  Once again, I had good marks all day and just had the misfortune of another long game.  Those of you who work games with me know how much I dislike long games, so it is not for lack of trying to speed these games along

We have today off and the body will much appreciate that.  We are heading to San Bernardino to watch a few games at the 11-12 Western Regional as today is there first day of their tournament.  I am looking forward to saying hi to many of my good friends there, especially Bill Carter, the Western Regional Umpire-In-Chief.  Bill Carter came over and watched a few games on Tuesday.  Bill Carter sent me an email some time ago about a rules question and a Western Region qualification question.  Bill Carter said hi to me after my game on Tuesday.

Day 3

Beautiful weather continued yesterday, I do miss this weather as I grew up down here.  In the afternoon and evening we get a nice ocean breeze and it is so soothing.  Traffic on the other hand is something I do not miss.

Yesterday had a lot of interesting baseball, but not really good baseball.  At times it looked like minor baseball with the ball being overthrown two times on one play or dropped fly balls.  First game was Idaho vs. Alaska.  My roommate, UIC from Bend, Or., thinks there is a storm brewing in the Idaho dugout.  Something just seems dysfunctional there.  My assignment for that game was 2nd base and that is the busiest position of responsibility on our four umpire mechanics.  The game went well and I settled in to the position about the second inning.  Nothing really major to report about that game, although we switched crews for the games yesterday and had some crew adjustment to work through.

Second game was Hawaii vs. Laguna Niguel and I was assigned first base.  I had my busiest game in regards to calls, and staying on my toes.  The Laguna Niguel team, host League team, just happens to have Mike Witt as one of the coaches.  He played for the Angels and Yankees and was an all star a few times.  Anyway, the game was tight and emotions were a little high.  Towards the end of the game the Laguna Niguel team hit two batters and walked another and the last batter that was hit to load the bases had turned to take the ball in the back.  Laguna Niguel's manager said the batter was over the plate and would not drop it.  When he knew he exhausted his time, and patience,  with the plate umpire he was on his way back to his dugout when he told the 3rd base umpire "This is horsesh@t".  The third base umpire ejected him.  Laguna Niguel won the game, but will be without their manager.  Can you believe that I was not involved in that altercation?

Third game was Arizona vs. Utah.  Arizona is good, very aggressive and has good pitching.  It was a close game to the end when Utah started throwing the ball everywhere except where it needed to be.  I was back to my familiar third base position but had three, yes count them three, times when I had outfield fly ball coverage and either the first base umpire went out or even one time when the second base umpire went out FROM INSIDE!!!  Geesh, that is as bad as it gets.  Fortunately the evaluator saw that they were my responsibilities and did not mark me down.  This always makes a crew look bad and I was very upset with that fact, not to mention I was tired and cranky.  One time when our first base umpire went out when I did, on the way back to my position the second base umpire yelled over to me "Hey Nicky, that was awesome how you guys turned that four man mechanic to two man!". That made me laugh and helped me finish out the game. 

This morning I am sore.  I have the plate this morning, then first base, and finish at second base.  We have Friday off and I am looking forward to it.  Most of us are going to head over to San Bernardino, about an hour away, to catch opening day at the 11-12 Regional.  I wonder if Bill Carter will still call me Ricky.

To my Folsom umpire brothers, I want to let you know I am representing today.  I have on the FNLL t-shirt you gave me with the big "F" on it.  I am wearing it proudly!

Day 2

My assignments today (first day of tournament) were 3rd, plate, 3rd.  Having two of the same position in one day helped.  My first game went well, (Montana vs. No. Ca. - Rocklin) no missed calls but my partner at second and I went out once on the same ball, then I recovered to take second in his absence.  Really the only issue in that game.  As stated before, these fields are HUGE!

Our second game was Nevada vs. Oregon, and I had the plate.  It was a three o'clock game that had nine pitching changes, went eight innings, and took three hours and fifteen minutes!  Not only did it drag on, but opening ceremonies were being held up due to this game.  Once the game was finished we had to hustle and change, then run over to the adjoining field where they were waiting on us.  I felt like everyone was pointing at me, and our Western Region UIC and President greeted me and told me "Are you the one who had the three hour game?". When I told him I was he said "This is the last regional assignment you will ever get". At that point it honestly did not matter.  Oh the game you ask?  I nailed it!  One of my best games in a while.  I  was not nervous and just had a blast - other than for that three hour thing.

Last game started a little late, Washington vs. So. Cal.  So. Cal. Team is good, but Washington fought hard.  I have seen some STRANGE pitching mechanics in two games but the Washington pitcher kept opening and closing his glove, even in the stretch.  He blew through a pitch and I balked him.  The Washington manager would not let up on me for three innings, just saying little gems from his coaching box.  I gave him a warning and he responded with "Blue, I am feeling a negative vibe from you".  This manager better get ahold of himself or he may have a short tournament.  We finished the game about 10:30, then had to do evaluations for two games since we had to hustle to make the opening ceremonies.  I had good marks all day, no missed calls.  I arrived back at the hotel around 11:30.  Surprisingly, the old body feels good this morning.

Day 1

I left Sunday morning for my trek to the Junior Baseball Western Region Tournament which is being held in Irvine, Ca.  I left home at 4:30 am as I had to drop off two motorcycles along the way and pick up one.  I arrived at my folks' house at 5:30 where I spent the night.  This morning, Monday, I left at 7:00 am and had to drop off another motorcycle and one more stop to drop off some parts.  All of these items made for a very difficult Saturday as I was trying to get things ready to go and NOTHING was coming together.

So, after my last stop Today headed to the fields to go over the ground rules, then off to a meeting where all the teams were introduced, player by player, and then the umpires were introduced.  Once we were introduced we were excused and were taken to dinner by the host League at a real nice Western-Themed steak hose.  After dinner I was sitting there listening to guys share some umpire stories and it dawned on me - Tomorrow is the beginning of the tournament.  I received the notice of this assignment back in January and it always seemed like it was light years away, and now it is time.

There are two fields here, and there are six games a day for the first three days, fourth day is a day off, back for another two days of six games per day, then two days of two games and then the final game.  There are eight umpires, two crews of four each, working half of the games each day.  So, for this old body working three 90' diamond games per day will be a lot.  Tuesday assignments have me at 3rd, plate, and 3rd.  Rotations are a little different, but should settle in with them fairly well - hopefully quick enough not to miss a rotation.

These fields are HUGE, lines are 365' and I can't remember what straight away center is.  The fields they have used before were not available this year so they had to use these city fields which have many leagues, and the local high school playing here.  There is a lot of territory to cover out there.

Weather looks good for the long term forecast.  We were warned by the tournament director that it gets very hot down here, up to 85 degrees!  If they only knew of our 100+ degree games they would not be that concerned.  We do have some umpires from Wa. And Or. So I guess they just need to cover everyone.  People here are great, tomorrow's games start at noon, then 3:30,   And 7:00.  I will try and update this log each day, but with that last game starting at 7:00 I probably will not be able to touch base until the next morning.  Thanks to all of you who have worked with me along the way and have helped me become a better umpire.  Until tomorrow.

Little League Pledge
I Trust in God, I Love My Country and Will Respect its Laws.
I Will Play Fair and Strive to Win, but Win or Lose, I Will Always do My Best!!!
Parent/Volunteer Pledge
I will teach all children to play fair and do their best.
I will positively support all managers, coaches and players.
I will respect the decisions of the umpires.
I will praise a good effort despite the outcome of the game.

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