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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Basic Lineup Card Management

The other day I received a letter on a basic topic that is often not discussed locally:
I'm a new umpire to the high school level. I have several years of little league where there was little if any lineup management.  Today was my first game behind the plate at the high school level and I had very little clue how to handle the lineup and substitutions. Could you maybe post something on your blog or point me to a good system to try out?  I know many guys use their own system that works for them unfortunately our association meetings never spoke a word about it. I appreciate your time and your blog, 

Below is my K.I.S.S. method that has worked well for me. Others use specially printed cards and more extensive methods.

Exchanging the Lineup Cards
Your first contact with the lineup cards is at the plate meeting. There is a dance to the lineup exchange, and it goes like this (I got the moves like Jagger). . .
1. Receive the home team's card in duplicate;
2. Receive the visiting team's card in duplicate;
3. Check the home team's card.
  A. See if there are nine or ten players listed. Check for duplicate names. Be sure the players are listed by name and number.
  B. Count the positions, 1 to 9 and DH. This ensures there are no position errors.
  C. If there is a DH, state out loud, "DH Jones in the three hole, pitcher is Adams."
  D. If high school, ask if all substitutes are listed on the card.
4. Repeat above with visitor's card.
5. Give each manager a copy of the cards.
6. Fold the cards and place them into your card holder or pocket.

Recording Information
After the plate meeting I will make two columns on the back of the folded lineup cards and write the name of the team's manager in each column. Then I will get behind the catcher during warm ups. Here is my usual pattern:
I allow two warm up pitches, then get behind the catcher and introduce myself. While looking at two pitches from each side, I will ask the catcher if the pitcher throws anything unusual. After the sixth warm up pitch I will step out and announce "two more" to the catcher and on deck hitter. I then write the name of the catcher under the name of the manager. Repeat this pattern with the visiting team.

ALWAYS address the manager and catcher by their first name.

When a substitution is made, draw a line through the player's number and write the substitute's number beside it. Then announce the change, for instance, if there is a pinch hitter point to the hitter and tell the opposing manager, "7 for 12." If there is a press box, look at the press box and point at the batter.

You do not care about defensive positions! Only changes to the lineup need to be recorded.

If there is a substitution on defense, record the substitution as above, point to the player's position and tell the opposing team, "7 for 12." If there are multiple substitutions, go to the opposing manager and report them. Make the press box aware of the changes as well.

When a player re-enters, first draw a line through the replaced player's number. Remember that a player that re-enters is locked into his original position in the lineup, so draw a circle around the player's number to show he has re-entered. The substitute player cannot re-enter the game. Announce to the opposing team, "re-enter 12 for 7."

Courtesy Runners
When a courtesy runner runs for a player, I will write the number of the runner in the team's column on the back of my card and designate whether it is a runner for pitcher or catcher. For instance, when number 4 courtesy runs for the catcher, I will write 4c on my card. Then point to the runner and announce, "Courtesy runner." If number 4 runs for the catcher later in the game, there is no need to annotate it again. Always let the opposing team know whether the runner is a courtesy runner.

Defensive Visits / Offensive Visits
When a manager or coach visits the mound, I will write the inning and outs in the team's column. For instance, if the pitching coach visits in the third with one out, I will write "3,1" in that team's column. For visits after the first I will remind the coach of the number of visits, "That's your second visit," etc.

If there is an offensive visit, I record it the same way as the defensive visit ("3,1") and I circle it to show that it was an offensive conference.

Pitching Changes
Pitching changes are handled just like any other substitution. However, be sure to ask the manager whether it is a "straight change." Look to see whether you have any other questions about the lineup and ASK. If the pitcher was the DH, is he staying as the DH? Is there a double switch? There are few things worse than having a lineup screw up, so be sure to ask the questions and avoid a sh**house.

I like to keep my card holder in my ball bag pocket. Professional umpires keep the card in the shirt pocket. Wherever you keep it, make sure you can get to your card holder and pen without delay and fumbling around.

Some umpires like to use a bullet pencil. Others like a pen. Both have their disadvantages. Pens can leak and pencils can break. Two popular choices are the thin Zebra pen and the Space Pen by Fischer. Red ink can also be useful to highlight changes.

If there is a warning or ejection, make your notes immediately on the back of the lineup card. Write yourself reminders about what was said. It will save you time when writing your report.

The lineup card is a great game management tool for the umpire. However you use it, make sure your method is simple, quick, and efficient. Hope this information helps!


Jesse said...

Thanks a million! I didnt expect such a quick response!
Your the man!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Pete, I am now going to buy a couple zebra pens and make the modifications. This article was very helpful and informative.

Anonymous said...

you say not to pay attention to defensive changes, but the following paragraph discusses them?

Anonymous said...

forget it Pete, I read it wrong! :)