KPIX 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on CBS 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — So I’m listening to the Giants game the other day and the broadcasters were remarking about the umpire’s strike zone. “He likes the low strike,” was the comment. The conversation evolved into the different strike zones of various umpires, some high, some low, some outside, some inside.
Really? Is that what they refer to as the “human element?” There’s an article that actually breaks down the umpires with the five smallest strike zones and the five largest strike zones.
Baseball purists have often debated whether there should be a uniform strike zone or one left up to the interpretation of the umpire. Why should an umpire have any discretion about the parameters of a strike zone? Baseball rules clearly state a strike zone goes from knees to letters and corner to corner.
Simply put, it’s time for the automatic strike zone. Get rid of the umpires, the bad calls, and the inconsistent strike zones. The technology has been there for years. The patents are all over the internet. They can adjust for the size of the batter, the breaking pitch, and where the pitch enters and exits the strike zone in relation to the batter.
I’m usually a traditionalist when it comes to baseball, but in this case, it’s time to recognize the obvious. Those who argue in favor of the human element are missing the point. Get the call right. Who doesn’t appreciate a tennis players’ right to challenge a line call? That technology can change the outcome of a match. Surely, the right or wrong strike call can do the same for baseball.
You want the human element? Enjoy it with the base umpires, but spare me the “that’s the beauty of baseball” argument. There will still be plenty of bad calls to go around for all of you to shout your venom at good ‘ol Blue.
For the sake of the “human element,” however, I propose a trial period in which 40 or so games are used on a trial basis to determine what effects the automated strike zone would have on baseball. Then again, we can always wait another 40 years and enjoy the Marty Foster’s of the world. I know Joe Nathan wouldn’t mind.
See you on TV.
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