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[Baseball umpire 13]

Last Day in Saint-Lo

My wife and I managed to hide out in the hotel restaurant Saturday evening. The Paris team went into town to celebrate. Next morning we kept a respectable distance at breakfast. I informed the Paris coach in the lobby that I had requested a fax from the National Umpiring Commission confirming that his team would play home team. I had also asked for a clarification should Alex appear on the line up. It had rained all night and the wind had not let up for a minute. The promised fax never arrived.

At ten we checked out of the hotel and left the Paris team in the lobby. At the field the Saint-Lo team was again immersed in emergency landscaping after the night of showers. I congratulated them on their good work, the field was almost playable. "Yes, we are National Champion ditch diggers," their third baseman quipped.

My partner was back from Paris promptly twenty minutes before play ball at eleven. He took the plate and I took the infield. After a night of partying in Paris he was in excellent shape. The Paris team made a less impressive performance.

The President of the Federation delivered an envelope from the Commission spelling out that Paris would be home team for game two and that Alex was automatically disqualified for two games until the special hearing could be held. This was a not very subtle way of saying that we would probably therefore see him in game three.

The P.U.C. managed to score a run in the bottom of the first, but Saint-Lo blasted nine runs in the top of the second. Paris never got back in the game and we called off the massacre in the bottom of the seventh on the point spread: twelve to one in favor of Saint-Lo.

We were fortunate to have no rain and no arguing. Yann kept control of the game as well as a crystal clear strike zone. I had an easy time in the infield with no close calls. It was nice not being noticed.

I took the plate in the last game, but Alex appeared as catcher. The Paris coach protested immediately upon seeing the lineup. I responded quoting from the Federation rules, "If this is an official protest coach, I need a check for 500 francs made out to the Federation."

"No, this is only an objection," he clarified. He missed a chance to convoke a special hearing on the protest. I would have to write out the objection in full on the back of the scorecard.

We got the final game of the play-off underway on time at 2 pm. There was still no rain but the dark clouds continued to sweep by boding impending disaster.

Paris was no better in game three than they had been in game two. Saint-Lo continued to blast long balls over the fence. In the bottom of the sixth, a long ball to center field hit a tree and bounced back onto the field. Yann ruled a home run, but the Paris coach wanted to argue. He insisted the tree overhung the field and that the hit should be ruled a ground rule double. I agreed to trot out to center field to take a look, and indeed some trees hung over the fence in fair territory. Others did not. I ruled it a home run and play continued with Saint-Lo now leading twelve to two.

Alex was like an angel through the whole game. He never missed a pitch (in fact I was never touched by a ball during the whole weekend). He criticized his own teammates for complaining about calls. He even went out of his way to explain a foul ball call that the third baseman didn't like. The third baseman fielded a dribble on the line before it went foul, so I called the hit fair and Paris got on base. Alex called time out to huddle with the third baseman to explain that he had better shut his big mouth and get in the game.

In the top of the seventh, Sam, my American friend on the Paris team who also coaches the Juniors, kept Paris alive with a home run to right field. But it was a short-lived rally. Saint-Lo scored again in the bottom of the inning, and Paris was unable to score in the top of the eighth. I ended the game thirteen to three in favor of Saint-Lo in eight and a half innings.

After the game I got a clarification from some spectators that the home run off the trees for Saint-Lo probably hit a tree in fair territory and should have been ruled a double instead of a home run. The President told me that the call was a toss-up, but the important point was that nobody objected, I had control of the game.

I sought out the Paris center fielder, Alpha, and apologized. I also asked him how I was doing. "Your zone still moves."

He was absolutely right. "Alpha, you should have seen me two months ago. I didn't even have a zone."



[Baseball umpire 15]

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