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Go go machines please
Published on April 3, 2007 By terpfan1980 In Baseball

Something I've wished for over the last few years is that sometime soon Major League Baseball will wise up and take the job of calling balls and strikes away from the human umpires and give the job to machines.  Make use of the cool ESPN/FOX style technology that tracks where a ball crosses the strike zone and determines without a doubt whether the pitch is called a ball or a strike.

As a co-worker mentioned today, when he was watching the Orioles' season opening game yesterday the strike zoe that was being called by the umpire was so tight that the pitcher didn't stand a chance of getting a strike call unless he quite literally grooved the pitch straight over the heart of the plate.  I told my co-worker that this is a pet peeve issue of mine and that I think things have gotten worse since the MLB did away with the review process they had been using over the last few seasons.

The Umpires union pitched such a fit about the idea that there were always machines looking over their work, and always reviews of the calls of the balls and strike that the league wound up, as best I can tell, basically shutting down that "program" and letting things go back to where they were before with the human umpires applying their own version of the strike zone, rather than applying a consistent rule book strike.

That's a big reason why I want machines handling the job and want the umpires out of it.  Let the home plate umpire watch the plate for foul tips, for close plays at the plate, etc.,  but for god's sake, take away the job of calling balls and strikes and let a machine do it.  Heck, if you're worried about jobs for umpires, have an umpire monitor the computer/machines and let them check the display to relay the proper call down to the home plate umpire through some sort of closed circuit or otherwise encrypted communication to ensure who is making such calls.  But most importantly, get back to a point where the strike zone is from the knees to the numbers, as wide as the plate and no more.

No outside strike zone. No strike zone that is about the size (height wise) of a mans dress belt.  Just a strike zone that offers the pitcher plenty of opportunity to use space high and low, inside and outside of the box that should make up the zone.

Perhaps then pitchers wouldn't be so tempted to throw at hitters, and hitters wouldn't find the job of jacking balls out of the park so easy either.  Instead both sides would do their jobs as the rules say they should.


Comments (Page 1)
on Apr 03, 2007
Rule book strike zones.  What a concept. 
on Apr 04, 2007

Making a machine do the calling detracts from the game.  I know it is aggravating when you can see that he has blown a call.  But I have seen many times when the ump made a call that I could not make until I saw the slo mo replay - and he was right.

Errors are a part of the game.  IN the end, they do really equal out.  Unless the ump has it out for a team and/or player.  That happens as well.  But thankfully rarely - and those are not around long.

on Apr 04, 2007

Making a machine do the calling detracts from the game. I know it is aggravating when you can see that he has blown a call. But I have seen many times when the ump made a call that I could not make until I saw the slo mo replay - and he was right.

You say that but yet professional tennis has used machines for years and that is an awfully quick game, with serves that exceed 100 miles-per-hour bouncing on a spot that is equally difficult to track and see.

The fact is that ESPN/FOX is able to show the track of the ball within *seconds* of the pitch being made.  They can slow down the pitch to show the location within a 3D strike zone and in most cases the pitches that are called balls are anything but.

Getting the human element out of the balls and strikes business would do much more to make the games faster as pitchers would be able to make use of the strike zone that they are supposed to have.  It would detract from the game if you are a fan of the big fly and have to see a bunch of home runs that shouldn't exist, but otherwise it takes the game back to the point where a .330 average is a heck of an accomplishment.  It would take the game back to the point where 25 home runs per year was a good season.  It would also probably take the game back to a point where pitchers could throw more than 6 innings per game, and most pitchers would be able to stand a strong chance of winning more than 20% of their starts, and wouldn't need 35 starts to achieve a 6-15 record.

on Apr 04, 2007

You say that but yet professional tennis has used machines for years and that is an awfully quick game, with serves that exceed 100 miles-per-hour bouncing on a spot that is equally difficult to track and see.

Baseball is a game of aesthetics, not inches.  No 2 fields are identical, nor are  the outfield fences.  IN that, the game is more of a pastoral event, instead of a track meet or even a tennis match.  I am not saying it cant be done, or that it would not be as fast.  When I say it would detract, it would not be the same baseball. It would be more like football (instant replays and all).  Remember George Carlin's schtick?  There was a lot of truth in it.

on Apr 04, 2007

Why don't we replace pitchers with batting  machines?

Sorry, Terp, can't agreee with you here

 

on Apr 04, 2007
Why don't we replace pitchers with batting machines?


beat me to it. baseball's supposed to be a human game I thought...
on Apr 04, 2007
I think they should standardize the strike zone, instead of letting each umpire define what he thinks is a strike or ball. Let the umps stay. No more job loss to fracking machines!!!!
on Apr 04, 2007

Nice try on the analogy of taking out pitchers and putting in batting machines but that doesn't relate.  Baseball -- by the rules -- is a game that is played by having a (human) pitcher pitch the ball towards home plate where it will be determined if the ball was a strike or a ball (or a foul, whatever) based upon where the ball enters the strike zone when crossing the plate.

Having machines determine where the ball passes through, or fails to pass through, the strike zone doesn't affect the rules of the game.  It only ensures that the rules are properly applied and that legal strikes are called as such, while balls are also called as such.

The umpires in the MLB have grown progressively worse at calling balls and strikes over the years.  Especially since the years of the use of the inside chest protector.  The umpire crouches down, peers over the shoulder of the catcher (at an odd angle) and tries to determine what he/she sees in front of them.  Where did the ball cross?  Did it suddenly drop 3 inches (and out of the zone, or into it)?  Did it curve into the zone at the last second?  Was it 6 inches off the plate or right on the corner?

All things that a machine can easily spot and track.  Take it further if you want and have the machine *tell* the home plate Umpire what the call was, and why.  Make it indisputable so that both hitter and pitcher know what is happening and the game would be massively improved.

Pitchers would still have an arsenal of pitches to use in a rule book strike zone.  A strike zone that would be more like a 2 foot x 3 foot virtual box over home plate rather than a 3 inch x 4 foot virtual box for some Umpires, or a 1 foot by 1.5 foot virtual box for others.

Such is what the game deserves.  It's what fans deserve, and it's what pitchers deserve to help take the game back to greatness rather than the bastardized long ball sport it has become.

on Apr 04, 2007
I still disagree, terp. If baseball replaced umpires with machines, I would no longer follow the game. And I have a feeling I wouldn't be the only one.

Umpires are part of the game, like it or not. Sure, they're not perfect, but the game wouldn't be the same without them.
on Apr 04, 2007

If baseball replaced umpires with machines, I would no longer follow the game. And I have a feeling I wouldn't be the only one.

Umpires are part of the game, like it or not. Sure, they're not perfect, but the game wouldn't be the same without them.

Their humanness (is that a word?) makes it the game it is.  I agree with Gid.

on Apr 04, 2007

If baseball replaced umpires with machines, I would no longer follow the game. And I have a feeling I wouldn't be the only one.

I'm not saying that all umpires should be replaced with machines.  I'm saying the function of calling balls and strikes should be enhanced by machines.  Use technology to help Umpires call balls and strikes.  Have the ball tracked with technology and provide the information on whether the pitch was a strike or a ball to the home plate umpire so they announce the call and move on to the next pitch.

The umpire is still needed to call plays at the plate, tell us if there was a foul tip, etc.  They are still needed for those elements and a lot of other elements, and shouldn't be eliminated there at all.  And please, don't think that by suggesting that machines would help with the balls and strikes calls would let the humans be lazy.  While that is potentially a danger, there are still many other things going on in the game that require the attention of the umpires, and those things should keep that from happening.

on Apr 05, 2007
I still don't think the machines belong there, terp. I'm not kidding, I would abandon the game entirely if they used machines to call balls and strikes. And I honestly think a lot of fans would be right there with me. It would cease to be the same game the minute they started doing that.
on Apr 05, 2007
I wouldn't like to see machines call strikes or balls, either. I think the biggest problem both pitchers and batters have with the home plate ump is if they're consistent or not calling pitches. If a pitcher hits the outside corner and it's called a strike he's going be angry if the same pitches later on are called balls. Pitchers will adjust to a strike zone provided the umpire's strike zone (no matter the size) is unchanging.

Minuscule strike zones made add to home run totals, but I think the main reason for all the home runs is expansion. There's too many teams and not enough quality pitchers.

I would like to add I do hate when star pitchers and batters get calls their way. Where any other pitcher's same pitch would have been a ball or any other batter taking the same pitch it would've been a strike. Despite hating that I still prefer humans over machines.
on Apr 05, 2007

I still don't think the machines belong there, terp. I'm not kidding, I would abandon the game entirely if they used machines to call balls and strikes. And I honestly think a lot of fans would be right there with me. It would cease to be the same game the minute they started doing that.

And I'll ask again, you ever watch a tennis match?   Has it ruined Wimbledon?  The U.S. Open?  The French Open?  or any of the other professional tennis tournaments where machines tell the umpire that the ball bounced over or on the lines?  Not at all.  Viewers in the stands, and viewers at home watching on TV don't notice it at all.  Instead they can be confident that the calls they here for faults, balls that were out, etc., are correct.  And I ask what is wrong with that?

on Apr 05, 2007

And I'll ask again, you ever watch a tennis match?

Apples and Oranges.  I dont watch tennis (or golf).  I would prefer to watch paint dry.  I am with Gid on this one.  It would ruin the game.

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