When regulations change: From baseball to banking

Pitcher Brad Penny #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is ejected from the game by umpire Rob Drake in the 3rd inning against the San Francisco Giants while manager Jim Tracy holds him back on July 14, 2005 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

Steve Orinick, a baseball umpire in Bloomfield, N.J.

Jeremy Hobson: Tomorrow marks two years since the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Law was enacted. And a poll out this week from Lake Research Partners finds three out of four voters favor the law. You probably won't get the same opinion on Wall Street, where there's been a lot of grousing about the new regulations. But right now, we are going to go far away from Wall Street for a totally different take on the challenges of adjusting to new rules.

Steve Orinick: Hey guys, come on in. Don’t mind him -- say hello -- I’ll put him in the basement. Come on, Rocky.

Hobson: That’s Steve Orinick, a baseball umpire in Bloomfield, New Jersey. I stopped by his house earlier this week for an interview in his back yard. And I started by asking him to tell me about a new rule that he had to adjust to. 

Orinick: Well, one of the primary rule changes, one that was very significant, was in high school baseball they switched the standards for bats so essentially all of the bats had be replaced this year.

Hobson: All the bats?

Orinick: All the bats. And the whole idea behind it is the new bat standards are supposed to make bats more comparable, in performance to wooden bats.

Hobson: Because a lot of people are using metal bats now.  

Orinick: Yeah, they still are but now there’s another type of certification that they have to be tested and approved, something that’s called a BB core standard that’s a batted ball coefficient of restitution.

Hobson: That sounds positively Wall Street.

Orinick: Well, what it is, it’s primarily a safety issue. You know, I have had a couple instances where pitchers have been by a line drive in the head. Which you know could be very bad to say the least.

Hobson: Not a good thing. So, with this new standard -- who makes this standard? 

Orinick: This is what’s called the National Federation of High schools that set national standards.

Hobson: And they decided to do this for safety reasons?

Orinick: Yeah, they write the rulebook.

Hobson: How often are they updating this rulebook?

Orinick: They update it every year.

Hobson: Are there new standards like this every year or do they say you know what they rules are fine for now?

Orinick: No, they never do that. They always change something. The NCAA went to a two year change cycle where the rules only change every other year.   

Hobson: Have you ever had a rule change that has bothered you?

Orinick: No, no. Not really, that would be similar to a police officer saying: “Well, has there ever been a law that you don’t like?” There are some that I don’t think are particularly necessary but that’s not something that I would really be involved in.

Hobson: Are there lobbyist who go before the board and say we don’t like this rule change?

Orinick: You know, I don’t know. At the national level I would assume yes. If there something that you feel strongly about I’m sure they could be approached, you could write them a letter, or possibly speak to them. 

Hobson: Well, how easy is it for you -- on the ground -- to adjust to them?

Orinick: Well exactly, it’s fairly easy. You’re required to, once you’re certified to do, for example, high school baseball, you’re required to go to a minimum of three meetings every year and the rules changes are discussed. So basically, you have to be made aware of what the changes are and how the changes are going to be interpreted.

Hobson: So, you used to work in finance.

Orinick: Yes, that’s true. I used to work on Wall Street.

Hobson: What did you do?

Orinick: I was a business analyst for a securities firm.

Hobson: Do you see any similarities with what you’re having to deal with and what Wall Street is having to deal with?

Orinick: Well yes, I guess on some level it's similar in the sense that rules change, laws change; you have to comply with them. And before you comply with them, you really have to understand them. It's probably more analagous to a police officer on the street --

Hobson: What you're doing now --

Orinick: Yeah, you know, where you have a set of rules that have to be applied in real life.

Hobson: Now, it's 106 degrees outside today. Do they have rules about how hot it can be for baseball players to play on the field?

Orinick: No. In fact, in my 20 plus years, I've actually only had one game cancelled because of the heat, some years ago.

Hobson: Maybe it's time for a new rule.

Orinick: It may be. It's a summer sport, and if you don't like summer sports you could always get involved in something like football.

Hobson: Steve Orinick is an umpire here in Bloomfield, N.J. Thank you so much for talking with us.

Orinick: Thank you Jeremy.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

Steve Orinick, a baseball umpire in Bloomfield, N.J.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...