Photos of readers

Meet Jeff Chamberlain, a reader who sent two photos. His captions are indented:

The first one is my interpretation of “solitary outdoors exercise.”  I manage some woodlands (for wildlife and hunting, and lately also for jogging and trail walking).  The implement on the front of the tractor is for picking up brush and grappling out roots.  It’s a beast.

When I retired from regular work 20 years ago I went to professional baseball umpire school.  Since then (in non-plague years) my “job” has been to officiate about 100 ballgames per year, working college and high school contests in the spring and various collegiate and adult leagues in the summer (plus some teenage tournaments).  This year we’ve had no baseball so far, but several of the summer leagues are planning to re-open in early July (with a variety of safety protocols in place, one of the more visible of which will be that we will call balls and strikes from behind the pitcher, not the catcher).  So here I am (with only a little staging) inventorying and cleaning the gear, awaiting the blessed day when there will again be baseball.


33 thoughts on “Photos of readers

  1. Can’t really tell what part of the country this is but the photos are interesting. I guess that is a Kubota Tractor and front lift but the backhoe is something different? Very useful attachments.

    1. I too was wondering what neck of the woods this is – Jeff – without disclosing more info than you want, where are you living, working, playing?

      1. No secrets: Upstate NY about 20 miles east of Albany. The tractor is a Kubota 5200. The implement on the front of the tractor is a Blue Diamond grapple, and the backhoe is a Woods. (I had both on a previous tractor.)

        1. Thanks. I very much enjoy the posts that bring out the tractor crowd! I’m sure a lot of us would like to have the various tractors of our youth – from me, a Cub, H and M.

            1. Judging by the comments on this and several previous posts about readers, there seems to be quite a few WEIT folks who have past or current experience with tractors and other farming equipment [I remember one discussion of wire vs twine for balers :-)]. Many of us grew up on farms of various types – ours was corn, wheat, beans, and chickens with one regrettable year of tomatoes. Like many others, I left that behind [in 1968], and never got to experience some of the “luxuries” of today’s machines.

  2. The implement on the front of the tractor is for picking up brush and grappling out roots.

    Kinda looks like what those farm-boy GIs who landed in Normandy fashioned for Sherman tanks to deal with the hedgerows.

    Say, Ump, maybe you could explain the Infield Fly Rule for readers of WEIT sometime. Twenty-five words or fewer. 🙂

    1. Why even have the infield-fly rule? Is it invoked that often? Might be interesting to see what the runner does to avoid being “popped” into a double play and how the fielder responds. I bet there could be some hilarious defensive screw-ups. I suppose there is a reason why the rule is there but I don’t like rules that seem artificial.

      1. The rationale is to keep an infielder from intentionally flubbing a pop-up in order to turn a double-play. That’s why it applies only when there are fewer than two outs and at least two runners on base.

        See? Even that took me 36 words. 🙂

        1. I know what the rationale for the rule is—I’m just questioning its necessity. How about allowing the fielder to let the ball drop to try to turn the double play? — but the runner may suddenly break for second, meaning catching the ball could be the better option. The hesitation might make the fielder drop the ball with the result that everyone’s safe. I suppose this was the way it was once upon a time and there were complaints, hence the introduction of the rule. Was the rule introduced when there wasn’t much offence and eliminating a rally-killing double-play situation was deemed desirable? Will have to google.

          1. I know there have been a number of efforts to repeal or replace the rule, but I don’t know the current status. Maybe our resident umpire, Mr. Chamberlain, can fill us in.

            Not many here could accuse me of being a hidebound conservative, but I’m still not comfortable with the 1973 rule change that allowed the American League to adopt the designated hitter.

            And I was never a keen on artificial turf. As the old Phillies third baseman Dick Allen once said, if cows can’t eat it, major league ballplayers should have to play on it. 🙂

            1. I hear you regarding the DH. One of the interesting things about baseball is that players are expected to have two very different skills: hit and play defence. I don’t think there should be an exception for the pitcher. And not having the DH means more strategy, plus the rather fun situation when the pitcher actually gets a walk or hit, even a home run, against his counterpart.

              I still have a baseball guide to the ‘74 season (yes, I’m a hoarder). In it there’s an article called “The Designated Hitter: A Successful Experiment”. The writer obviously thought the DH was a good idea and urged the NL to adopt it asap. Well, here we are some 45 years later and the NL still has not done so. I’m not complaining.

        2. Almost: Not just 2 runners on. There must be a potential force play at 3b, so runners on 1b and 2b or bases loaded. And add “cheap” before “double play.” The IFR has been in effect since ~1895 and in its present form since ~1905. I’ve not experienced any actual baseball participant who wants to eliminate it.

          1. I think the arguments having been coming from the Sabermetricians. See here and here and here.

            I’m not saying it’s a winning case, Ump, but it’s a case.

  3. Let’s hear it for all the umps who support kids and adults play the game within the rules! Couldn’t do it without them. Growing up, they were in the background of our young lives, but always there to keep things on the level.

  4. Calling strikes and balls from behind the pitcher? Has this been tried before? Is it going to lead to even more controversy than the normal procedure? Can it work?

    This may be an interesting experiment, but how is the ump to see through the moving pitcher and interpret the position of the ball as it passes over the plate, given the distance effect? At least from behind the catcher the foreshortening effect is small.

    I always thought calls at the Major League level were somewhat problematic, at least for the calls of strike on balls that so clearly were well off the outside corner, as seen by overhead cameras.

    1. “When I was a boy”, all of the home plate umps stood behind the pitcher, mainly because the umps generally could not afford any protective gear needed to be behind the plate.

    2. They wouldn’t have to stand directly behind the catcher to see the balls and strikes easily. Presumably they stand at least six feet behind for proper social distancing. It would seem to me a better place to see balls and strikes. It always seemed to me that umpires behind the catcher lose sight of the ball right as it crosses the plate. Even if they can see it, it’s at an angle to its trajectory. From behind the plate, they will have a good view of the batter’s knees and shoulders, delimiters of the strike zone. (I’ve never been an umpire so what do I know?)

      1. Lose sight of the ball? Hell, purblindness is an occupational requirement for most umpires. 🙂

        (I kid the “blue”! Mucho respeto!)

    3. Calling B/S from behind the pitcher is permissible and sometimes occurs. For example if the home plate umpire gets injured late in a game it may make sense for one of the base umpires just to move behind the mound for a few remaining outs rather than delay the game to change into plate gear. Neither position is perfect, but behind the plate is clearly the better choice for seeing pitches better. I don’t know how much better. Ask again after I’ve done some games from behind the mound.

  5. I suspect that going to umpire school is the big difference. Right out of high school I had a job down here in Wichita at Beechcraft working on their recreational area. I thought mostly driving a tractor and mowing but they had 3 baseball fields for kids baseball and I had to take care of the fields. This was all for employees and their families and the kids played baseball there. Unfortunately they also wanted me to umpire the games. Maybe the worst job I ever had and I did not last a month. The kids were not a problem but their parents…..

    1. You are better than I, if you could ump kids.

      About twenty years ago, I had a student (he was 17 years old at the time) who was paying for school, in part, umping little league and ref-ing youth hockey. He quit the SECOND time he had to go to court. The first, the parent got probation. The second (different parent) state prison, and my student got hospital time. Imagine: going to Rahway for ten years mandatory (that was a plea bargain, IIRC) for assaulting a minor at your kids youth hockey game.

  6. I know this is not where, but I don’t know what else to do. I am trying to send you reader photos. HOW DO I DO THIS?

  7. Nice tractor…a couple sizes bigger than my Kubota…tractors are magnificent tools. As Randall pointed out above, I noticed the back hoe was not Kubota…or maybe it is a spin off?

    Good on you keeping busy umpiring around your community; hopefully you can get back to it soon. Can’t have trust in sports without umps/referees, etc. I don’t know what baseball umpire school is about, but I’ve looked at some of the test questions NFL umps have to answer; no surprise that a large majority are lawyers.

      1. I blew up the image, and there is “Woods” as well as numerical identifications. No sign of Massey. Still a mystery at this point.

  8. I have a grapple that is very similar, maybe one size larger, and mostly use it to move river rock around.

    Umpire seems like an interesting choice. I can definitely see the appeal of it.

  9. Nice rig! With just 1.5acres to tend, my newly-acquired 1950 Ford 8N (a gift from my best pal in HS) that I bought a recent-vintage tow-behind 5ft Land Pride finishing mower for does all I’ve needed.

    And when my artistic-welder neighbor bought the place next to him that hadn’t had its grass mowed yet this season, I found the upper limit to my rig. But I only came close to stalling, and that on blades that haven’t been changed yet. In any event, he liked the result so much that he just came home with a 1947 Farmall cub with Woods underbelly mower.

    1. Those old Woods mowers were pretty good. Used one for many years under a Model B Allis Chalmers until both were wore out.

  10. Jeff: I played baseball, hardball – through high school and college – and into my thirties. And the umps were always the adults in the room. Tip of the cap.

    1. We are SUPPOSED to be the adults in the room. We can’t lose our cool. This is why watching police lose theirs when there life is not threatened just annoys me endlessly. That’s a lesson they are supposed to learn and it seems way too many of them don’t.

  11. Hey, a fellow official, I’m excited. I, too, have spent more than twenty years behind the plate although I’m now primarily a softball umpire (and I do basketball, football, and volleyball; my wife says who are you a lot). And can confirm, we spend a lot of time spiffing up equipment.

    Being six feet behind the catcher is just about impossible. Your chances of seeing the corner is about nil and even right on top of them, they sometimes move a little bit and cut off your view.

    I’ve never heard anybody really discuss getting rid of the IFF. The key thing to remember is that it protects the offense.

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