We now have technologies like PitchTrax[sup]TM[/sup], which can tell the position of the ball as it crosses the plate to within 1/2 an inch. This is much better accuracy than your average home-plate umpire, who seems to call balls and strikes based more on where the catcher holds his mitt after catching the ball than where the ball actually went.
I propose that we stop using these all-too-fallable human beings behind home plate, and start using electronic means to call balls and strikes in a game. Maybe we can ease into this gradually, by allowing one “pitch track challenge” per half-inning, sorta like they allow 2 instant replay challenges per half in the NFL.
After all, nobody goes to a baseball game to see the umpires!
Of course, the strike zone is determined not just by the poistion of the ball over the plate (horizontally), but also by the height and stance of the batter (vertically). How the hell are you going to account for that electronically?
Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we just replace the players with robots too? After all, players make mistakes too, and no one pays to see errors…
Even better, let’s just feed all of the players’ stats into a computer, and see who would win each game in a perfect world? That way, things will always work out the way they should: no bad calls, no bad plays.
[Homer Simpson voice from the “Flaming Moe’s” episode]: By the way, I was being sarcastic. (Well, duh.)
True, this presents a greater challenge. I believe PitchTrax[sup]TM[/sup] just assumes an “average” height batter in an “average” stance when it projects the strike zone onto the screen.
Okay, maybe eliminating the home plate umpire was a bit drastic. But why not give him a little “help” by electronically detecting whether the pitch passed over the plate or not? If it could be done instantaneously, maybe showing up as a red or green light on a gadget worn/carried by the home plate the umpire, it wouldn’t slow down the pace of the game. (Any more than it’s already slowed down, that is.) The umpire would still have to decide whether the ball was above or below the strike zone, but could let the electronics tell whether it was inside or outside.
Tennis has been using similar technology for a while now. The Cyclops beeps when a serve goes long. If it seems to be twinking out, the umpire can overrule it and/or have it turned off. Seems like a good system to me.
I went to the one game playoff and had to watch the Bucky Dent HR in person. I moved west shortly afterwards.
Back on track, I’d like to see an electronic assist as well. Why not measure each player’s height and store it in a database. The whole crouching thing is BS in my opinion. I’d keep the ump and give him a silent indicator that he can hold in his hand. One buzz for strike, two for ball. That way he can overide it if there is an obvious error.