Friday, April 03, 2009

New Way to Evaluate Umpire Strike Zones

In what is a positive step for MLB, there is a new way to evaluate the balls and strikes calls of major league umpires. The previous method was not employed in all ball parks and had some issues. The first issue was that it interpreted home plate as a rectangle, which misses some of the nuances of a five sided plate. For example, a curve could miss the front of the plate and cut across the back portion of it. The ump could correctly call that a strike, but would be judged wrong by the system.

Naturally, the umpires aren't too happy about the whole thing. Nobody likes to have someone looking over their shoulders as they do their jobs. That's understandable. But when the technology is there to improve the game and make it as standardized as possible, MLB has to take that opportunity. Let's face it, fans that watch the game see most of the game from behind the pitcher and to see the inconsistencies of umpires around the league drives fans nuts.

The umpires have three things going against them in their angst. First, there is a perception that the umpires are arrogant and think they are as important as the game and players themselves. Second, most fans think umpires have a great job and get paid really well for what amounts to nine months of work. Finally, umpires are found all over the minor leagues and in colleges and high schools around the country. If these guys aren't happy with their jobs, then there are thousands who could take their place.

Anyone who has watched games over the last ten years knows that the strike zone has been a joke. Most pitches above the belt are considered high by major league umps. Tom Glavine and others made a career of moving the strike zone two or three inches off the outside corner. Anything that improves the calling of the zone by umpires is a great thing.

Umpires may not be happy, but they should just accept this because there is no turning back. The technology is in place and there will be oversight. From the Fan's perspective, it's about time.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

As long as we don't get into the realm of replays and reversals or challenges for balls and strikes. Umpires should be held accountable for their mistakes and perhaps penalized in some way, but it shouldn't interfere with the progress of a game.