Philadelphia Phillies legend Mike Schmidt is tired of seeing umpires screw up balls and strikes. Bad calls at the plate are as old as the game of baseball, but do they have to be? We have had technology like the K-zone for quite some time, so it couldn’t be that difficult to have a computer determine balls and strikes.
What would be difficult, however, is using a force field to call balls and strikes. A force field (is that even a real thing?) is used to keep things out of a certain area.
“I think the umpire at home plate should not call balls and strikes,” Schmidt told Harry Mayes and John Marks on 97.5 The Fanatic on Thursday. “I think they should have a force field over home plate and if the pitcher throws and the ball touches the force field a little bell goes off and it’s a strike.”
Schmidt believes computerized balls and strikes would help speed up the game.
“That would expand the strike zone to the point where the hitters would now have to swing the ball, which would shorten the game,” the Hall of Famer said. “The umpire needs to be at home plate for the safe and out calls at home plate and foul balls and fair balls and basically to run the game but we’re going to see at some time — my guess is within the next 10 years – that you’ll see the balls and strikes just like the line calls in tennis.”
I’m not sure I agree with that. Judging by most of the games I’ve seen, I’d say it’s more common for a pitch that is outside the strike zone to be called a strike than it is for one that’s in the strike zone to be called a ball. If a computer was making the calls, players wouldn’t have to swing at anything that was even a fraction of an inch off the plate. Wouldn’t that mean more walks, deeper counts and longer plate appearances?
All that said, this probably will happen at some point. Technology always seems to win over the “human element,” and there’s no reason to think baseball will be any different in the long run.
H/T Hardball Talk