Every one of us has jumped the gun.
We’ve all declared a runner was out, only to watch the shortstop’s throw sail past the first baseman. We’ve all had to cut our home run call short after seeing the ball clank off the top of the fence. It even happens in the Major Leagues.
When you jump the gun, it leads to a very jarring experience for the listener, especially when their only means of following the game is on the radio. And when it happens, the listener has every right to question your credibility.
No broadcaster does this intentionally, of course, so what are the root causes?
- You are “out in front” of the call because your speech pattern moved faster than the actual play developed. This might happen from speaking too quickly, or because you started the call too soon.
- The umpire may have a delayed signal, and you make the call on your own to avoid breaking your speech.
- You hurry through the call to return to a supplemental topic you were discussing before the ball was put in play.
- You assume the outcome because the outcome appears obvious.
- You simply weren’t paying attention.
The last two are particularly inexcusable, but all of them are preventable by seeing each play through to completion.
You might do this more than you think, because most of the time you can get away with it. It’s akin to not running hard out of the batter’s box. No one really notices until a runner is thrown out at first, despite the infielder booting a groundball.
If you find yourself consistently ahead of the play, you can work on slowing down your speech pattern. If you don’t want to change your pace, you can use the crack of the bat as a timing mechanism. Start the call at contact, or implement a pause after contact to keep you “on time.”
As mentioned above, sometimes an umpire may have a delayed signal. Under this circumstance, it’s okay to create a slight gap of dead air and then qualify after the fact with something along the lines of, “delayed call from Joe Smith at first base.” The listener will understand, and calling the play in this manner is better than the alternative.