ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
It is time for a Robot Ump Revolution!
No sport except (perhaps) tennis carries as much reverence as Major League Baseball. The goal of Instant Replay is to “get the play right.” Yet, every day in summer the plate appearances, innings and even games are being sullied by terrible play calling by the home plate umpire.
In a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs in June of this year (2016), the home plate umpire got 1 in 6 calls WRONG. In fact in 3 games this series saw strike/ball call errors of 12%, 17% and 18%. (Explanation here.)
I an era of unprecedented parity, a single game could mean the difference for a team to win a Wild Card. In a recent appearance by 2016 NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta May 31st against the Dodgers, he threw 4 clear strikes for what should have been the third out of the inning walking the batter and prolonging the inning by another 18 pitches. This had been happening all game, creating immense frustration. In this instance, it caused his pitch count to soar and necessitated Arrieta being pulled. The Dodgers jumped on the relievers, took a 5 run lead and left Hector Rondon (2nd only to Kershaw in WHIP) warming the benches. However, whether it is my team (the Cubs) or the struggling Atlanta Braves – shouldn’t baseball at least TRY to get such a key part of baseball correct?
The argument “it’s always been that way” is invalidated by the mere existence of instant replay.
The argument that it would take away from the historical feeling of the game is invalidated by the adoption of the designated hitter or the new slide rule. Hell, why not get rid of the foul ball poles so we get more “excitement” from human umpires guessing whether it is correct or not?
Tennis – with an even stronger sense of tradition, adopted Cyclops and Hawk-Eye in the 70’s and adopted it for major tournaments by 1980. We haven’t had another John McEnroe since and there is virtually zero argument allowing the players to focus on their game.
There are a number of ways to adopt this. My favorite is to equip the umpires with Google glasses giving them a real time virtual reality strike zone that gives them computer assisted accuracy so they can continue to call game. Shoot, MLB could charge $3.99/mo for a special feed to allow fans to see what the umpire is seeing.
Regardless, enough is enough. If you’re going to try to get all the other calls in baseball “right,” how about giving the players a consistent strike zone so they can focus on their game which would also decrease the time of games – something dear to MLB’s red-laced, spheroid heart.