In the midst of the Armando Galarraga controversy where Jim Joyce ruined a perfect game for Galarraga, baseball fans are debating on whether instant replay should be expanded in the MLB and to what extent.
Some folks are even suggesting a computerized strike zone. Tennis uses a computerized system to determine if balls were within the boundaries of the playing field. In baseball, many telecasts have their own computerized strike zone to show fans whether the pitch was a strike or ball. It’s obvious that the technology exists to have a computerized strike zone, but would it be beneficial for MLB? Would it be overkill? How should MLB handle a computerized strike zone?
A computerized strike zone would run off baseball purists
A computerized strike zone could be the thing that would turn many baseball purists away from the game. Normally, baseball purists are against any major changes to baseball. Most baseball purists are against the use of instant replay because it distracts the human elements of the game. Some purists prefer that games are decided by human error over getting the call correct because they feel it represents a more realistic experience.
A computerized strike zone could make baseball more like a video game than an American experience. I believe that most baseball purists would tolerate limited use of replay, but any use of a computerized strike zone will likely result in purists boycotting baseball.
A computerized strike zone could be time-consuming
If a computerized strike zone were used, then how often would it be used? When could it be used? You don’t want managers calling for a replay every other pitch. How many replays would managers be allotted per game?
A computerized strike zone would eliminate errors
A computerized strike zone would help to eliminate the inconsistency of umpires’ strike zones during games. In addition, it would take away an umpire’s ability to make the game about himself.
A computerized strike zone would still require a home plate umpire?
Regardless of how a computerized strike zone is used, a home plate umpire would still be needed for various situations. If there was a wild pitch, a bunt down the foul line, or a call that needed to be made at the plate, you’d need someone in position around the plate to make the call.
Should MLB consider a computerized strike zone?
A computerized strike zone is something I wouldn’t mind seeing available during the ninth inning of postseason games. Each manager would have two challenges to use if they felt the call was inaccurate. This would help to prevent situations like Jim Edmonds in the 2005 NLCS or Eric Gregg’s strike zone for Fred McGriff in 1997.
Depending on the system’s success, I could see it being expanded into the 9th inning and extra innings of regular season games. If the computerized calls were made upstairs, umpires would only have to make a quick call upstairs to see if their call was correct, making the process efficient.
Of course, Selig needs to install replay for situations like Armando Galarraga and Dom Denkinger first.
Jason Major, “Top 7 Worst Playoff Umpiring Mistakes.” Joe Sports Fan. Oct 23, 2009. June 9, 2010.