Thursday, June 26, 2014

worst ejection ever

I umpire amateur baseball and I was working the dish at a game for 17 yr old's the other night. The game was going really well and was tied in the 6th (it's only a 7 inning game) when a lefthander for the Sox attempts a pickoff at 1st. My partner would have the primary call on the balk/no balk view and he saw nothing to indicate that there was any problem with the move. We have an instant rundown and the 1b promptly throws him out trying to go into 2nd. The 1st base coach then goes to my partner to argue that he broke the plain with his leg and therefore balked and he's out there demonstrating to my partner what the guy had allegedly done. Normally just the demonstration itself is enough to get my trigger finger itching since I wouldn't want any coach out there putting on a show in an attempt to show me up but my partner didn't react to his histrionics. The coach wanted him to go ask me for some help, which he isn't obliged to do in the least since it's his primary call and he doesn't need to seek help on it. Now when your partner comes to you to ask for help in any situation your only job is to answer whatever question is asked of you, you don't elaborate or give opinion, just answer the question. My partner comes to me and asks "Did you see a balk?" to which I simply answer "no" and we each return to our positions. Once coach hears that he isn't going to get a balk and he's going to be getting an out he starts to come unhinged. His first mistake was to call my partner "pathetic". He didn't call the play pathetic nor did he call the decision pathetic, he called my partner pathetic and that's a huge difference since he's now made it personal. Just like that, my partner coolly and succinctly dumps coach from the game. As coach is leaving the field he's still bellowing about how my partner is pathetic and then he looks at me and says "and you're not much better". All I could think was "what did I do?" but whatever he's leaving so it should settle now right? Not so fast. Coach left the field and stood right beside his dugout outside the fence. I wait one pitch and then turn around to address the coach and say, "You can't stay there coach, leave the park." Coach insists "I have left the park" and all of a sudden we're into a grade 3 "no you didn't/yes you did" argument. Eventually I say "No you didn't Sir, now leave the park PLEASE" and I think a note of civility made him realize that he should probably go stand somewhere else so he heads down the 3rd base line and stands with his arms folded outside the left field fence to watch the rest of the game. As he's walking however he needs to get a few more cents in so he's yelling about how we owe the league reimbursement for our game fees because of how bad we are. I personally didn't much care what his comments were at that stage, I just wanted him to go so that hopefully the game could settle.
The game did not settle.
In a tie game in the 8th (so we're already into extra innings) the starting pitcher for the A's (now playing 2b) complains that a strike call on him was too low and I hadn't called that all game. I pretty much brushed the comment off by saying actually I have called that there tonight. The guy swings at an obviously low pitch on the next pitch and pops out to 2b. After the play I can still hear him complaining to his team about "he hasn't been there tonight, right?". In the bottom of the 8th the A's catcher complains to me that I didn't give him a strike call on a pitch that I thought was high. I try to keep a good relationship with a catcher because he's your only protection back there and if he ever wanted to get retribution he could pull a glove and you'd end up taking an 80 mph fastball to the head. Something like that would definitely get a catcher ejected and likely suspended but I'd still have to endure a fastball to the head, so be nice to your catcher. Anyway, I did my best to explain to the catcher that I had thought that pitch was high. In the meantime however I had his pitcher flapping his arms at me like he's trying to take off and giving me the WTF attitude. Pitchers don't need to be coddled although they too can be dangerous if they want to hurt you. We managed to get through the 8th and 9th with the score still tied and nobody else required to watch the remainder of the game from the parking lot.
And then the other shoe dropped.
During the inning break after the 9th while the Sox warmed up for the 10th the A's only remaining coach came out to talk to me on the 3rd baseline. There are things that you cannot say to an umpire and the most hard and fast rule in umpiring is that you cannot argue a strike zone, arguing balls and strikes gets you turfed faster than Billy Hamilton going from 1st to 3rd. Anyway, the first thing out of coach's mouth is "So what happened to your strike zone? You were calling it here and now you're not calling it here." I don't want to stir things up, I don't want for any more grief in this game so I simply say to the coach, "Coach you need to go back to your bench" and I keep repeating that while he kept meandering on the same topic. The coach kept talking about it but had taken a couple of steps from me when he dropped his first F-bomb in the conversation and that's something that I just won't ignore. You can swear around me if it can't be heard elsewhere but you don't swear to or about me in the course of trying to make your point. I won't let you disrespect me because you want to enforce your will on a moment. So, I dumped him and coach not only went over the line but the line was a dot on the horizon from where he ended up.
Coach took three steps toward me, got right in my face and purposefully bumped me. I was so surprised that I actually said, "Did you just bump me?" Coach didn't stop there though, he bumped me another 2 times and responded to my question with a "I'm going to hit you." It got to the point that I simply needed to raise my voice a little and be more directive with a simple "GO!" and a point off the field. Coach refused to leave at first before realizing that it'd be in his best interest to limit the issue as much as possible and leave the field.
At this point we had to decide if the game could continue since both of the A's coaches had been ejected from the game. We didn't know of a reason why not until actually one of the coaches from the Sox contacted the league's Senior Umpire who advised me on the phone that the game could not continue if all of the certified coaches for a team had been removed from the game. So the game officially ends as a forfeit since an end result was never officially determined.
The story doesn't end there however. I left the field and I was standing behind the backstop chatting with the umpire going on the field for the next game and waiting for my partner to join me when the first ejected coach came up to me, threw a quarter in my direction and said, "here, that's all you're worth". I said as he walked away, "that's classy coach".
One of the pains from a situation like this is all the paperwork involved. I had to fill out 3 reports from this incident alone, an ejection report and 2 umpire abuse reports. I'm assuming that each coach will get a suspension from the league although that's not my decision. The general reaction when I've told this story is one of "what has the world come to when people behave like this over a game?", and that continues to be my own general reaction.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Be thou my vision

one of my fave songs of all time played by one of the most fantastic guitar players I've ever listened to. the song doesn't really begin until 3 minutes in and there is a control freak thing that Roby gets on about no clapping for his songs but it's all an amazing piece that makes me want to learn it myself. just watch how the man plays that tune, that's all him. very cool.
enjoy. I know I always have.

to me this is one of those hymns that needs to be pulled away from the rigidity of normal time signatures and Roby has a real blues lilt that works for me on many levels. the lyrics are such that they just speak to me like few other hymns from the existentialist/modern (as opposed to post-modern) era get to me. I know that I've gotten my labels wrong while trying to explain eras wrong but that was the best way that I could describe my thinking there.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my Wisdom, and thou my true Word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

spring issues

checking in.
it's been over 2 months since I wrote anything here and I just had to make some sort of a comment on my situation.
I commuted to work on my bike today. first time this year. as Easter came and went the weather was mild so that the 4 foot snowbank in the front yard shrunk down to 6 inches of dirty snow and ice over the course of a 4 day long weekend for me. I had the day off yesterday as part of Easter so one of my assignments for the day was to take both bikes up to the gas station and make sure that the tires have the correct PSI in them to take us into spring. it was nice to be out yesterday but the thrill of the morning commute to work was a nice topping to a mild with a slight bite 1 degree morning.
Easter morning service was nice. I like Easter morning. There's a traditional dance that a few select members of the community do to "Was it a morning like this?" on Easter morning and every year I like watching it get performed. I suppose I enjoy it a lot because I don't have to do it. Dancing as art is beautiful but I just don't have the skills or experience to pull it off. I've never been asked to perform it and actually I don't see a scenario where I'd say yes to that question. It's one of the things that my church community does that I just have no interest in doing myself. I enjoy watching it a lot but I don't want to do it myself. There's just a vulnerability there that I'm not comfortable with on top of the complete anxiety of having to be in the limelight like that.
anyway, this year they decided to do something different with the Easter dance. no one "performed" it, it was done as a group dance activity. I thought at the time that it must've been because nobody volunteered to do the dance this year but Wendy's perspective was actually that for a lot of years some people have been requesting more opportunities for communal dance for the community as a whole. I didn't ... couldn't participate in the communal dance ... and in all honesty I thought the exercise was a flop. I wonder if my perspective that the dance was a flop is just a reflection of not wanting to be a part of the dance and unwillingness to enter the spotlight to ensure that our rituals remained the same. I wasn't asked to perform the dance but I would've said no anyway. I didn't join in on the communal dance but I've never really dealt with my own uncomfortable feelings over issues like that in my community. I don't believe that I'm responsible for my own feelings that the ritual failed but I also didn't invest in the ritual outside of the investment of spectator. I never have invested in that area outside of the investment of spectator. I'm not saying that I'm willing to do the dance myself in the future, I'm just not there. All that I'm saying is that I missed how it used to be done. I enjoyed how it used to be done immensely. I have to come to grips with it all.
non-involvement is going to mean that I have no say whatsoever in how things turn out. on one level I freely admit that i'm not in a place where I should make decisions for the group since i'm having a hard time keeping my own crap together but that also carries the price that things may not be as I want them to be. I don't have the capacity to invest more right now though.
I think I should just sit with this for awhile.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No, not out of the wilderness

I've had an anxiety disorder for all of my adult life.
I had thought I was ok around my birthday in the beginning of December but then as I looked back at the things that I wrote in that time period I realized that I was not ok and I was indeed struggling. I remember saying to my church community that I was hoping that I was coming out of my wilderness experience ... I hadn't come out yet. I'm not sure that I'm out of my wilderness even now, 2 months later.
I started my Christmas holidays on December 24th but by that time I had not slept well in some time and I was racked in anxiety. I had attended worship the Sunday before Christmas and had felt completely disheartened with wondering what the entire point of faith was. I had moped my way to prayers, more out of desperation for some sort of answer as opposed to some great amount of faith that God was there to answer my many questions. I cried because I didn't have the capacity to cope. My entire Christmas vacation was mostly 2 weeks of drowning in a morass of anxiety. Despite that Wendy was wonderful to me. We talked about my anxieties and she offered comfort where she could. I saw my naturopath for acupuncture 4 or 5 times to try and stabilize my mood and I went to the doctor at least 3 times in the 6 weeks that came after Christmas. Acupuncture helped to stabilize my mood a good deal and I had several conversations with medical professionals about how I could be doing my care better.
I couldn't sleep. That was an ordeal for me because I've always been a fantastic sleeper. When I'm on my game I can be asleep within minutes, dare I say seconds, so to lay in bed for hours with a racing mind drove me around the bend a few more times. I'm still not sleeping well but at least it isn't the complete train wreck that it was last month. Last week the simple stressor of changing my caseload around was enough to give me a sleepless night and a sick day the next day. I've always considered myself really adaptable and accommodating but I've been floored of late just how much a little stressor irritates me.
I'd try to do some things to be active but it was also right in the middle of the most brutal cold snap that I recall in my decade and a half in Winnipeg. Most of my activity over the actual Christmas season was the several times (sometimes several times a day) that I was required to shovel out our walkways and driveway. A trip out to go grocery shopping nearly threw me into a full bore panic attack. It didn't help that I was also dealing with some fasciitis pain in my left foot which meant that I'd need to take things easy if I wanted to do anything terribly taxing, like walking or standing.
It even seemed like some of the things that I volunteer for were extra burdensome so that I seriously considered quitting most of my extra-curricular stuff.
No I'm not out of the wilderness.
I've only had 5 cups of caffeinated coffee since Christmas and I miss it terribly. I get tired of herbal tea even though it has obviously helped me to settle a good deal. Several times I've considered that I need to return to things that give me more peace, like playing the guitar but instead I try to fill my time with useless time-fillers like watching an old movie that I've actually already seen. I do enjoy watching old movies so I suppose it's ok for my soul if I'm getting comfort out of that. It's the useless time-fillers that I object to.
As we speed our way toward Valentine's Day, Wendy's birthday right on it's heels and another stay-cation at home, I begin to stress a little about the things of life. I've noticed on the horizon a cramp in my neck that I sometimes get when I'm stressed and I think, really? More?
I really do question why it is that such things happen to people. My neighbour is struggling with cancer so that he's tired all the time and he doesn't enjoy the things that he's always enjoyed. He told me this morning that the best part of his day is his daybreak prayer walk along the river's edge. I asked him to remember me on his prayer walk, because I need it and I still believe in the effective prayers of a good man. If it brings peace to either of us then it'll be well worth it.
I still haven't caught up on my phone messages at work from the sick day I took last week. I just work my way through answering 10 messages when it seems like there are 15 more waiting for me on my phone. The work doesn't stop because I need to take a deep breath and find a better way to cope.
I'm still here though. Still fighting my way along my path. The path is in the wilderness I suppose but I'm also not alone. I have friends who love me. Thankfully so.