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RussMatt Chatter

All the news, updates, and alerts RussMatt umpires need…



  • We are seeing umpires charge a defensive conference during a pitching change when the catcher goes to the mound to talk to his pitcher. This is not a defensive conference. In this case, the catcher is permitted to go to the mound and speak to the new pitcher without being charged a defensive conference. We would prefer the catcher confirms signs and strategy at the time of the of the pitching change but he is allowed to go to the mound a second time without penalty



  • For today, Thursday, March 14: First point of contact is Alex or Chris should there be any situations needed to be addressed
  • Attention umpires working at Lake Myrtle: On the other side of the lower umpire locker room, there are showers accessible for all of you to use following game(s)
  • RussMatt Video Mechanics Gram #2: Among a number of teaching points conveyed in this video is our base umpire slashing inside with no awareness of Status of Baseball – had this turned into a potential diving catch on the warning track or a boundary decision, U1 cannot provide any information for his plate umpire, at least he can’t credibly provide this information




  • With so many games being played simultaneously, especially at Lake Myrtle and Osceola, inevitably a game will run long and a umpire scheduled for a second game will not be off the field in time. Should you be the partner in this situation, please convey this information to the Site Director or a UCU representative – allowing for enough time to make switches and have the game start on time with two umpires
  • Today at Osceola there were a lot of football scores with games running long – thanks to all of the umpires who were flexible and ready to jump into a slot when/if needed
  • In a game yesterday there was a rule improperly applied. In conversation with the crew today, it was communicated one member knew the rule was not being applied properly but did not insert himself in the on-field discussion and fix it. This crew (yes, the entire crew is responsible) breakdown cannot happen in a NCAA baseball game – if you are on the field, regardless of whether you are the senior or most junior member of the crew, step up and make sure the rule in question is applied properly 
  • A brief message on the “Wedge” concept we teach as part of our training program curriculum: On plays at the plate we are observing umpires losing their relationship with the catcher and automatically moving to the right when the catcher moves in front of the plate – this is NOT  a default position. Just because the catcher moves up does not mean that we as umpires have to move. Remain neutral until the catcher’s movements actually force us to move. In other words: Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do
  • Continuing our Hit By Pitch focus. A clarification and a video…..
  • Sometimes the worst possible place to see all of the critical pieces and rule on a Hit By Pitch is behind the plate –  our vision gets obstructed by a catcher’s movements or even the hitter’s. As umpires we need to acknowledge when this occurs. In this situation, our eyes should immediately scan our partners and identify whether they may have additional information. This is not only acceptable but encouraged – we would like to see the plate umpire in this situation get help from a base umpire. As a base umpire, you should only be offering information to your plate umpire to change the call if you believe he may have been obstructe and are 100% sure in your judgement  
  • This week on the UCU digital platforms, we are going to be posting video segments from a rules conversation featuring NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor, Randy Bruns, John Porter and Chris Marshall. This discussion on the Hit By Pitch rule is informative and timely





  • There were no issues related to the time change over night into this morning – thank you all for continuing to arrive on time
  • The Florida heat can be relentless. Please make sure to hydrate as needed
  • Rules reminder: If there is a rules question and a potential protest is imminent, locate the Site Director or a UCU representative. Should you be working a game at one of the auxiliary sites, get out the rule book and make sure the rule is being applied properly
  • The Hit By Pitch rule has been changed this year. If the batter is hit by a pitch and the home plate umpire, having determined he intentionally allowed himself to get hit, keeps him in the box,  A STRIKE IS TO BE CALLED – EVERY TIME!



  • SET YOUR CLOCKS AHEAD NOW….Don’t wait until 2 AM. RussMatt schedule game numbers continue to increase tomorrow – let’s continue to model the collective professionalism to-date related to arriving at game sites on time

  • For the umpires who are staying in RussMatt housing: If you have not already done so, please give Brian Troupe a check made out to RussMatt, LLC as soon as possible. If you will not see Brian, you can give check to Chris Marshall, Alex Skandalis, or Dan Miller when you see them at a game site
  • When you see the locker room water supply running short, notify one of us and we will go out and replenish. Please don’t wait until all of the water is gone to do so
  • Two quick on-field observations – these are becoming a theme. Base umpires are still consistently setting up too deep in B and C. And, despite emphasizing since day one, too many umpires are buried in the base touch instead of viewing the catch through completion in the outfield. Should a routine fly ball surprise the plate umpire, end up on the ground and a coach requests a crew consultation, the base umpire who was buried in that touch at first base is in no way credible to provide any information – with only two umpires on the field it is imperative for both to be viewing the critical pieces of the catch in the outfield
  • Had a discussion with an umpire today regarding NCAA tobacco policy: The zero tolerance of tobacco products is not a UCU mandate – it is solely driven by the NCAA. Please do not bring into any RussMatt locker rooms
  • And finally tonight. Periodically we will post RussMatt Video Mechanics Grams – click the play button below as we discuss the increased scrutiny stemming from Pace of Play initiatives, conference administration protocol and the fact there is no longer any “Down Time” for umpires. It is paramount we maintain focus and awareness on the field at all times




  • Uniforms: In all of our messaging – E-mails, Conference Calls, website, everything – we have stated the crew must be uniform in terms of shirts being worn. The default is the MLB style blue or black with the side panel. Our expectation going forward is this will be adhered to
  • There was a National Anthem Standoff at a RussMatt game this morning. In a 2014 interpretation, the NCAA stated: Code of Ethics—National Anthem Standoff—Any umpire shall eject any player, coach, manager or trainer for violations of the Coaches & Players Code of Ethics, p. 10. Conferences may choose to implement additional penalties (See Appendix D).  The UIC is to warn the head coach of the offending team that should any player not return to his dugout area immediately after the playing of the National Anthem and the Flag has been retired, the head coach and player(s) shall be ejected immediately 
  • At the conclusion of game 1 of a doubleheader, please make sure the start time of game 2 is communicated to both coaches. This morning there was an instance where one coach had the start time while the other one assumed a different start time and had his pitcher start warming up – yes, he was not very pleased. Conversely, if the previous game went long, just ask the coaches what the new start time will be instead of standing on the side for 20-30 minutes
  • If you dip or smoke, please do not do it in the locker room. This is an NCAA violation
  • ArbiterPay – Our ArbiterPay account is set up to deposit money into ArbiterPay on the pay date and it will automatically transfer to the bank account you have linked to ArbiterPay.  So while you may not see the balance in ArbiterPay, if you click through the ArbiterPay activity and check your bank account balance, you will see the money was deposited
  • First RussMatt Friday with high volume of games this year. While there were a number of teams delayed by the traffic, pleased all of our umpires are respecting what we know is a difficult central Florida traffic situation and arriving on time. This weekend provides more challenges and we want to reiterate to all of the umpires who may be arriving – account for traffic and assume it will be far worse than even what your navigation is telling you
  • To the umpires who are arriving and may not be acclimated to the Florida heat – HYDRATE!
  • Looking forward to a great weekend of baseball – as always, we appreciate your efforts



  • OSCEOLA UMPIRES – VERY IMPORTANT…STARTING TOMORROW, FRIDAY, MARCH 8: There is a change in parking and locker room. In terms of parking: Follow signs for bus parking. This will take you to Gate 1 of Osceola Stadium across from Gateway High School. Follow signs for Bus parking and park there

  •  Locker Room: The locker room next to Field #1 has been very cramped . Going forward, the locker room, the old visitors locker room directly next to the backstop of Field #4 , is where RussMatt umpires will change  

  •  As crowds pick up, please be careful entering gates – we don’t want anyone getting hurt in this situation
  • Reminder: In NCAA baseball there is an “Official Warning.” The rule book states: An “Official Warning” is a warning from an umpire that carries the words, “This is your official warning. If you continue, you will leave me no option but to eject you.” Slang terms such as, but not limited to, “knock it off;” “that’s enough;” “don’t say anything else;” or, “I’ve heard enough” do NOT constitute an official warning. To the pro guys: We get that this is not the way it is done in minor league baseball – at RussMatt,  it is the expectation!
  •  Schedule starts to pick up tomorrow. To all of the umpires who have been here, showing up on time, working hard and being flexible with the changes resulting from the rain – thank you. Please know we appreciate your efforts. To the umpires arriving : Florida traffic is worse than you could possibly have imagined – please account for it with goal to arrive one-hour before schedules start time
  • Don’t forget: Saturday night into Sunday morning, clocks move forward and we lose an hour’s sleep. More important, Sunday RussMatt start times will reflect the time change 





Every year United Collegiate Umpires produces a preseason video for our conference coaches, administrators and umpires. Click the play button below to access this year’s video featuring NCAA Division I Coordinator, Chris Marshall and UCU Rules Interpreter, Brian deBrauwere


  • With so many umpires arriving, changing, and exiting same locker room, there are instances where someone accidentally picks up the wrong shirt, plate pants or some other type of equipment. Please be aware of this and double check before exiting locker room
  • There will be times when FlightScope representatives are setting up tracking technology on backstop at RussMatt – THIS IS PERMISSABLE

  • Many RussMatt diamonds have high netting that is flush with the outfield fences. At plate meeting yesterday, a head coach eluded to this netting being played differently, sometimes a home run over the net extension, sometimes a home run if it hits the net extension above fence – not sure he was referencing RussMatt games, or not. In case he was: The baseball must clear the netting in fair territory for it to be a home run. Should the baseball hit this net extension above the original outfield fence and carom back onto field, the ball is live and in play

  • A photographer complained that an umpire was disrespectful to him on the field. The RussMatt photographers have been great with us (they are providing the Photos of the Day and are planning to forward many more at conclusion). The school and local newspaper photographers are working hard and doing their jobs. These men and women are accustomed to making sure they do not interfere with play on the field – please allow them to do their jobs and be respectful
  • Yesterday there were a lot of rain issues. Thank you all for being flexible with the many time/site changes that resulted







  •  The RussMatt daily game inventory ramps up this weekend. With the time change effecting games on Sunday, it is imperative we do not have any swings and misses related to late arrivals

  • NCAA Division II National Coordinator, Scott Taylor (pictured above), spent the day today at Heritage Park in Osceola. Scott will return for more RussMatt baseball later this month
  • Lake Myrtle streaming is now live on all but two of the RussMatt diamonds
  • VERY IMPORTANT: When there is an ejection resulting in a suspension to a player or coach. The head coach or a team representative must be notified on the field
  • Conference administration protocol and awareness…this is becoming a common theme. Base umpires must know status of base runners, base coaches, bench coaches, and on deck hitters as a defensive conference is taking place. One comment conveyed by a veteran umpire mentioned how we have been so conditioned to watch the head coach or manager at all times in case he made a signal to bring in the reliever that it can be very easy to fall into the trap of not being aware of our new additional responsibilities
  • There should not be any coaches or players on chairs outside of dugout. If a coach pops out to direct a fielder or flash a sign, he must be back inside at time of pitch
  • Did we mention that Sunday we move our clocks forward???



  • EJECTION PROTOCOL – VERY IMPORTANT: The ejecting umpire must be the umpire to make initial call to Dan Miller or a UCU representative and submit the report – NOT the calling umpire or the crew chief, the umpire who actually ejected the coach or player. Additionally, when submitting report, please be descriptive in what was said and occurred – stating the coach made a personal threat regarding how bad we are as officials is not sufficient. What did he actually say? This is always extremely important, more so when it involves a post-game ejection
  • First payroll via Arbiter Pay for RussMatt will be released tomorrow, to include games through today, Sunday, March 3
  • Rain is in the Monday morning forecast. Please check your schedule for game time and site changes
  • Observation from yesterday that can help all of us going forward with conference administration: Following a balk call,  the defensive coach came out to discuss call with the base umpire. As he was making his way to the umpire, the batter inquired with the home plate umpire who turned his attention away from the field and engaged in a explanation of the balk. As this was taking place, the catcher briefly went out to the mound without either member of the crew being aware of it. While this did not result in a bigger issue, it certainly could have. With the new conference rules, there is no longer any down time – we must be aware at all time of defensive and offensive conferences




  • Home plate umpires: At conclusion of game, when possible, please hand the game baseballs to the catcher,walk over to dugout and place in corner or, If you have had problems with the home team and do not want to potentially incite a post-game situation, place them on home plate – they can be retrieved from there. The optics of just throwing them down or into a dugout never look good
  • Appendix E Getting The Call Right: When a crew gets together for a conference to review a play, the head coach must return to the dugout or coaching box. Once final decision is made following crew conference, the manager is subject to ejection should he return to continue discussion. As we fast approach the RussMatt window with excessively high daily game counts, let’s be consistent in making sure this protocol is followed
  • When a head coach comes out to discuss/argue a call, please make sure the calling umpire does not have multiple people engaging him. Today we had a situation where there was an animated head coach and two players surrounding the base umpire. In this situation, the plate umpire needs to remove the players and provide opportunity for head coach and umpire to discuss the call one-on-one
  • Received two umpire complaint phone calls today – both had nothing to do with balls, strikes, safes, or outs – the concern was about approachability on the field
  • Lights. Should you start a game and need lights turned on before conclusion, notify a grounds crew member, Dan Miller, or a RussMatt representative. Grounds crew members have been instructed to be accessible when the possibility for a request to turn on the lights is imminent
  • Another hot day is expected tomorrow – please hydrate
  • For many umpires working RussMatt for the first time, locating fields and knowing where to go upon arrival can be stressful – the following informational slates should help



  • Rules are in focus tonight. Earlier today a RussMatt coach conveyed a concern regarding the Hit By Pitch rule, specifically how the “freezing” element of the rule has been applied this week. It is important for there to be consistent and uniform application of this rule. To clarify: If a batter “freezes’ without making an overt movement to get hit by a pitch in the batter’s box, he is to be awarded first base. Please read the following slate below transcribed from Q&A with NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor, Randy Bruns. More important, understand and apply the rule appropriately which, in turn, will create the consistency and uniformity the coach is seeking

  • More rules. Out observing this week we have seen a number of pitcher’s who are not compliant with the Windup and/or Set regulations. Let’s be consistent in identifying and addressing 







  •  The above modifications slate from NAIA Coaches Handbook provides a good reference for the umpires working NAIA games here at RussMatt
  •  Status of the Baseball: It is imperative, especially in two-man, to prioritize the catch in terms of entire crew seeing the defensive player fulfill all of the requirements for a catch. Far too frequently we are seeing umpire’s buried in the touch of first base. Occassionally, will also see a plate umpire focused on R2s touch of third base without any awareness of the fly ball in the outfield for the assumed third out. Yes, it is important to identify the base touch – this can be accomplished with a glance. Most important, should there be a catch or a trap on-field discussion and a crew consultation results, if the base umpire was focused on the base touch and not the catch/no catch, he is not credible in providing the information his partner is looking for
  • Quick observation from today: Witnessed a base umpire who, without any type of difficult call, made quite an impression with his hustle and presence. Every time there was a walk with no one on base he arrived at his “B” position before the batter/runner reached first base. This same umpire was consistently moving from “C” to “B” for calls at first base, as well. Many of us may believe this is not noticed – please know, it most definitely is, by coaches, administrators and coordinators
  • Many umpires are traveling in pairs. Should you be caught up in traffic and will not arrive an hour prior to game time, please notify Dan Miller with a short text. RussMatt has Site Directors who are tasked with identifying umpire arrivals and knowing your status is very helpful when a UCU representative is asked
  •  One additional housekeeping item: Upon arrival in locker room after game, please knock dirt off shoes 
  • Special thanks Jimmy Fields and Terry Byrd for being so accommodating in starting game today 25-minutes earlier than scheduled start time. These situations will take place when teams are playing split doubleheaders and the first game is over quickly. Please know we appreciate your efforts and thank all of you in advance for understanding when we will ask you to get ready for a game sooner than was expected  



  •  GROUNDS CREW MAINTENANCE: With so many games being played simultaneously at RussMatt sites, there will be occasions when the grounds crew will be delayed in prepping the field. In the event this occurs, please remain patient and professional at all times. There should never be a situation where a member of the umpire crew insists a game be started before the pre-game field preparation has been concluded. In the past, this has been a common complaint from coaches. With the invitational in its first week, let’s eliminate this issue entirely and cooperate with the grounds crew members who are all out here daily working hard

  •  Continuing with the grounds crew theme: In the event a field needs maintenance, for any reason, after the game has started, contact a member of the site’s grounds crew, Dan Miller or the respective Site Directors: Chain of Lakes – Michael Congrove, Cell #: 321-432-2363, Lake Myrtle – Rob Sitz, Cell # 407-694-6511, Osceola Heritage Park – Dave Barnard, Cell # 207-376-8147
  •  In the event of weather/rain situation questions: Initial point of contact should be Dan Miller followed by Chris Marshall and Alex Skandalis. Please do not contact RussMatt principles with weather-related questions
  •  Umpires should arrive for the plate meeting 10-minutes prior to scheduled game time. With so many games being played, a field may fall behind schedule. Should this be the case, please just let the team complete there I/O before making way toward the plate
  •  Yesterday in our first “RussMatt Chatter” we discussed bench jockeying. Observing games today we heard on multiple occassions, “get him a bucket, he is throwing up.” This IS bench jockeying – shut it down before the situation escalates

  •  The above Q&A slate is transcribed from the Excel Spreadsheet the NCAA forwarded to all umpires (yes, this is a little bit easier to read and understand). Specifically, this slate addresses situation when the home plate umpire is hit by a pitch or foul ball. Traditionally, the catcher, as a courtesy, will go out to the mound to give the umpire a few moments. Apparently, to date here at RussMatt, there has been some confusion regarding this rule. Going forward here is how we are asking our umpires to handle these situations: If you need time, allow the catcher to go visit the mound. As long as his visit does not otherwise delay return to game action, this will NOT be a charged defensive conference. If you are momentarily shaken up and do not need time, simply explain to the catcher you are fine and ready to continue. If the catcher has defensive conferences remaining, he can still go to the mound but it will be a charged conference
  • 10-Run Mercy Rule: Prior to every 9-inning game, please inquire at plate meeting. For RussMatt games 1). There must be a game scheduled immediately following on same field. 2). Both coaches must mutually agree to start the game with the run rule in effect. In the past at RussMatt, problems have occurred when there was no such discussion at the plate meeting and then a game got out of hand and a coach wanted to broach the 10-Run Rule. At this point it is too late! Obviously, there is no 10-Run Mercy Rule in scheduled 7-inning games
  • Halted/Suspended Game Rule:  All suspended games due to rain, darkness, field light failure, curfew or field lights/time restrictions, where 5 innings or more (4 ½ if the home team is ahead) have been completed, shall be declared an official game.  Should a tie score regulation game (5 completed innings or 4 ½ completed innings if the home team is ahead) be suspended due to rain, darkness, field light failure, curfew or field lights/time restrictions, it may be resumed if the coaches agree to do so at plate meeting during pre-game ground rules. Umpires, in terms of this rule: 1). Should you be involved in a halted game situation, for any reason, contact Dan Miller immediately to inform him of all relevant information such as inning, score, etc. when game was halted 2). Prior to game at plate meeting, in addition to discussing the 10-Run Rule, inquire whether they will be playing with halted game provision
  •  Lake Myrtle Streaming: We viewed the testing today and have been told they should be live any day now – hopefully by the weekend. When we are informed, will convey this information and solicit your help in accessing plays for training purposes 
  •  Dan Miller received the following Tweet from Judson University Head Coach/AD, Chad Gassman. Keep working hard, it is noticed and appreciated



Introducing RussMatt Photo of The Day, Courtesy of Bryan Klabik of C&M Photography.

Bryan has informed Dan Miller he will forward a Google Drive comprised of RussMatt 2019 umpire photos at the conclusion of the Invitational. Dan will subsequently forward the photos to the umpire’s featured. 

Please thank Bryan and his staff when you see them working hard at all of the RussMatt sites.


Introducing RussMatt Plate Meeting Photos




  •  Thank you to all of the umpires who were so flexible and accommodating yesterday with the rain throughout the day and subsequent time changes. Please know we appreciate your efforts
  •  In terms of the rain: We have been assured yesterday was an aberration – let’s hope so. In the event of a forecast with rain expected, we will create a text chain for each RussMatt site comprised of the umpires scheduled to work that specific day. This provides the most efficient way to communicate directly
  •  Florida traffic is very real. If you have not worked RussMatt before, please allow for additional time to arrive at site one-hour before game time. In the event an umpire is not on-site a half-hour before the game and, after communicating with partner he may be late, someone must notify Dan Miller  
  •  As the game inventory begins to increase, it is imperative and required for all umpires to confirm with their partner the night before. Having these conversations also provides opportunity to communicate whether one, or both, umpires have a game preceding  
  •  FAKE TAG: In NCAA baseball rules, the simple act of faking a tag is NOT considered obstruction. If the fielder actually obstructs the progression of the runner because he occupies a position in the baseline, that is obstruction
  •  New 2019 NCAA baseball rules administration protocols. It is vital for our RussMatt staff to consistently and uniformly administer these protocols. We would like to highlight two needing to be addressed….
  • Between Innings for the 120-Second Time Limit: The base umpire should be monitoring the stopwatch between innings and let the plate umpire know when there are 30-seconds remaining, followed by another notification with 15-seconds remaining
  •  Defensive and Offensive Conference Administration: It is our responsibility to keep records of ALL conferences on the field and communicate with the respective coaches. With the changes in conferences in terms of limits and no longer having free offensive conferences when their is a defensive conference, it is vital to maintain awareness at all times. Note: At some point it was accepted practice for the plate umpire to brush the plate off as a timing mechanism. Unfortunately, doing so, prevents him from fullfilling responsibility to maintain sight of the mound conference. While the plate umpire administers the conference(s), the entire crew is responsible for ensuring proper protocol is followed at all times
  •  Reminder: In Coach’s Corner section of our website at there are entire sections with content prominently featured to ensure our staff umpires are not only familiar with the new protocols, but consistently and uniformly administering them properly. This our expectation for our conference umpires and all umpires assigned to work RussMatt games
  •  Bench Jockeying: Shut it down early! Do not allow a bench jockeying situation to escalate – this is of no benefit to the respective teams, their coaches and players, or the umpires. Additionally, please familiarize yourself with associated penalties
  •  Gates: There are gates ringing many of the RussMatt fields. Whether it is players or grounds crew members leaving them open, please be aware and have someone close them prior to the ball being put in play. This is only a problem when it is a problem – proactive officiating can eliminate the need for reactive officiating when a game is decided because a baseball went out of play due to an open gate
  •  Lake Myrtle Umpires: For umpires scheduled to work the main field or fields 1-4, there is a lower level locker room. Umpires scheduled to work on fields 5-8, there is a higher level locker room
  •  HUSTLE and EFFORT on the Field: Hustle and effort are a choice. When this is absent, it is reflected in on-field body language. This is not acceptable to the RussMatt staff, the UCU staff and coaches who are all watching