Friday, September 10, 2010

Umpire Study: Jaksa/Roder Manual

And another requisite of an umpire you’ve got to know that rule book from one end to the other and know when and how to apply the rules to the situation

-Cal Hubbard, Hall of Fame Induction Speech, 1976
Umpiring requires many things: poise, confidence, the ability to communicate, knowledge of proper mechanics, presence. . . but the most important thing is knowing the rules and how and when to apply them.

The baseball rulebook is certainly imperfect. It is vague, incomplete, and reading it often leaves you more confused than before you started. In order to correctly apply the rules of baseball the umpire must study both the rulebook and interpretations of the rulebook. Fortunately, there are a few authorities for interpreting the rules. While it is fortunate that we have these resources, it is unfortunate because sometimes these authorities can conflict.

One of the most respected authorities for rules interpretation is The Rules of Professional Baseball: A Comprehensive Reorganization and Interpretation by Chris Jaksa and Rick Roder. The Thirteenth Edition of the Jaksa/Roder Manual (as it is commonly called, or the "J/R Manual") is a complete rewrite of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball. It reads more like a textbook than a rulebook, which is not surprising since it was designed as a classroom textbook for the Joe Brinkman Umpire School (the Brinkman School was later aquired by Jim Evans).

I recently read the J/R Manual from start to finish. No, that's not exactly right. I didn't so much read the J/R Manual as study it from start to finish. The writing style is simple and direct and it can be read from cover to cover, but understanding the rules requires some work and takes study. I found very little ambiguity in the writing, although sometimes I had to focus on the material to understand the rule interpretation. Nearly every section has multiple examples that aid the student in understanding how the rule is applied in a real game situation. The J/R Manual is neatly organized into topics, such as:

Part IV: The Pitcher
16. Positions of Windup and Stretch
17. Pitching Proscriptions
18. Balks
19. Substitute Pitchers
I find the J/R manual incredibly insightful and useful. As an amateur umpire some of the information is inapplicable, but knowing the OBR is a solid foundation for any rules deviations in amateur baseball. Thankfully, the Jaksa/Roder Manual incorporates the rules differences in NCAA, NAIA, and NFHS rulebooks and elaborates on these amateur rules in an Appendix. My J/R Manual is full of hand written notes concerning the high school and college rules differences.

The J/R/ Manual is available for $39.95 from the ABUA website.

The Bottom Line: The Jaksa/Roder Manual is well organized and well-written. It is easy to comprehend and the many examples give the reader the opportunity to process each rule at the reader's own pace. I highly recommend the J/R Manual.

No comments: