umpire "mechanic(s)"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 14 22:31:54 UTC 2005

Actually, "self" instead of "sell" was a misreading on my part. I'm
finally having to admit that eyes that are myopic, presbyopic, and
glaucomatic are no longer able to read the smaller typefaces. My
thanks and my apologies to those who went to the trouble of replying
to my mistaken comment.


On 10/14/05, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: umpire "mechanic(s)"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Thu, 13 Oct 2005 13:03:57 -0400, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >On 10/13/05, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at> wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >> The instructors stressed timing, clarity, and the power of each
> >> mechanic to help 'sell' the call.
> >
> >"... '_Self_ the call"? Say what?
> Assuming "self" is a typo, I take it Wilson is questioning the notion that
> an umpire has to "sell" his calls. This also seems to be a common umpiring
> expression, and indeed the ump at the center of the ACLS controversy used
> it in an interview with the New York Times:
> -----
> But Eddings criticized himself for not being more emphatic in signaling
> that the ball was in the dirt. After the pitch, he made a hand motion to
> his right before pumping his fist, which most observers thought was his
> sign that Pierzynski was out.
> "The only thing I'm down on myself is I should have sold it either way,"
> Eddings said. "I should have either said, 'No catch,' or, if I did have a
> catch, that he was out. Which I never said: 'He's out.' "
> -----
> So "selling" a call with an emphatic mechanic establishes the authority of
> the ump's decision (and avoids the sort of mess that Eddings found himself
> in). More here:
> -----
> [interview with former MLB ump Doug Harvey]
> On a close play, you have to sell the call. You want to let them know
> that, hey, I see it, and I know what I'm doing. So, whamm, you put
> something behind it. Like a home-run call down the line. You take a look
> at it; now you come up, and you kinda half skip, jump, and bam, sell that
> thing with your hand hard to let them know you saw it good. Same way with
> an out call. You give a little bit more to your motion—bingo!—so that they
> can see the action, and it makes you look more sure of yourself, that
> you've nailed it.
> -----
> Selling the call is a part of umpiring that brings the crowd on to your
> side. The woo'ers can't say you missed the tag if you signalled the tag
> was high after you gave the safe sign. They know you are claiming the
> fielder did not have possession when you are juggling with your hands
> after the safe call. That little bit of confidence and showmanship can go
> a long way towards you taking charge of the diamond.
> -----
> --Ben Zimmer

-Wilson Gray

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