UmpTalk #7: Five Shades of Gray

Unlike the sweaty novel 50 Shades of Gray your spouse probably reads, we’re going to talk about the truly seedy side of umpiring this week – the unwritten shades of gray in baseball.

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We talk this week about those rules that, no matter how well defined, seem to evoke different interpretations in every umpire you ask.

The Five Shades of Gray:

  1. Strike Zone
  2. Balks
  3. Infield Fly
  4. The “Neighborhood Play”
  5. Ejections and Arguments

We talk about how these really are subject to interpretation depending on your league, the situation and your own level of comfort with the play or situation.

Sound off in the comments and tell us your interpretations for these shades of gray!

You can send comments or feedback about this or any episode of our show to

Music used with permission – Matt Wessel “You’re Out! (Ode to the Umpire)

One thought on “UmpTalk #7: Five Shades of Gray”

  1. IMO, using “deception” as an explanation for a balk is unwise. There’s legal deception, and illegal deception. There are specific actions that are balks, and we need to use proper terminology when explaining a balk that we call.

    “No stop”
    “Behind the rubber”
    “No step”
    “Feinted to first”

    Deception should be used as a tiebreaker only – not as the primary reason for a balk. Use rule book terminology (specifically the balks list in 8.05) to explain balks to managers and we’ll all be the better for it.

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