Mike Schmidt wants ‘force field’ calling balls and strikes, not umpires

Mike-SchmidtPhiladelphia 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

Umpire Will Little does awesome karate kick to avoid ball (GIF)

Will-Little-karate-kickThe New York Yankees had their first home game of the season on Monday, and lots of cool stuff happened during the pregame ceremonies. Being that it was Derek Jeter’s last ever home opener at Yankee Stadium, he and former teammates Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera — aka The Core Four — threw out the first pitch together. But somehow an umpire stole the show.

With New York leading 2-1 in the fifth inning, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Jonathan Schoop ripped a double down the third base line. Umpire Will Little had to think fast with the ball coming his way, and he reacted by busting out an epic karate kick to avoid being hit by the ball.

Not only that, but Little was still able to make the correct call while putting his athleticism on display. Sorry, Jeter — you’ll have plenty more opportunities to own the night at Yankee Stadium this season. Monday belonged to one of the guys in blue.

GIF via SB Nation

Umpire Sean Barber blew strike three call on Nick Punto (GIF)

Sean-Barber-blown-callThe Oakland A’s beat the Seattle Mariners on a walk-off home run from Coco Crisp in the bottom of the 12th on Thursday, and they have umpire Sean Barber to thank for helping to keep them in the game.

Barber completely blew what should have been a strike three call on A’s infielder Nick Punto in the fifth inning. Mariners pitcher Roenis Elias threw a curveball on a 2-2 count that was not even close to missing the strike zone, yet Barber called it a ball. Punto went on to single, steal second, and score on a Sam Fuld triple.

Punto’s run cut Seattle’s lead to 2-1 heading into the sixth. The A’s later tied the game in the eighth and Crisp played hero in extra innings. Had Barber made the right call (which was a very easy call to make) in the fifth, the Mariners would have kept a 2-0 lead at the time. That may have been the difference in winning and losing the game.

Umpire Brad Myers got hit in the nuts by a Brandon Phillips line drive (Video)

Sometimes you just have no chance.

Umpire Brad Myers got hit in the nuts by a Brandon Phillips line drive during a spring training game between the Reds and Indians on Monday, and the dude immediately went down in PAIN!

Myers made his best attempt to jump out of the way of the ball, but, instead, it was his balls that got crushed! He moved right into it!

You think Myers is going to wear a cup in the field from now on? I mean the look on his face said it all:

Umpire Brad Myers

Phillips did send a few tweets about it after the game:

Yup, that Myers sure needs to watch his McNuggets from now on.

Obstruction call on Will Middlebrooks wins game for Cardinals (Video)

One of the most controversial calls in recent memory gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night. Umpire Jim Joyce, who notoriously screwed up Armando Galarraga’s perfect game, called obstruction on Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks for impeding the path of Allen Craig, who was trying to score following an overthrow by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a fielder’s choice with one out in the ninth.

Even though Craig was thrown out at the plate for what would have been the last out of the inning, Joyce called obstruction, which gave Craig and the Cardinals the winning run.

Here’s a clear look at the play:

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Umpire has the best ‘Whoomp, there it is!’ strike three call you’ll ever hear (Video)

Umpire-whoomp-there-it-isHave you ever heard a more impressive “Whoomp, there is is!” strike three call than this one? What’s that? You’ve never in your life heard a “Whoomp, there it is!” strike three call? Exactly, which is why this guy is the man.

There have been plenty of recreational league umpires who try to make a name for themselves with enthusiastic called third strike shenanigans. Typically that involves flailing one’s arms and raising one’s voice, but the gentleman you see above took it to the next level. Yelling just wasn’t going to cut it, so he decided to bring “Tag Team” into the mix. For that, we salute him.

PS: Anyone else thinking “D2: The Mighty Ducks?” I know I am.

H/T SI Hot Clicks

Dee Gordon called out on controversial stolen base attempt

The Los Angeles Dodgers were hurt by a controversial call from second base umpire Bill Miller during Game 2 of their NLDS series with the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves were up 4-3 on the Dodgers in the top of the ninth inning. After striking out Skip Schumaker to start the inning, Craig Kimbrel walked A.J. Ellis. Manager Don Mattingly pinch ran for Ellis with the speedy Dee Gordon. Kimbrel tried to pick off Gordon, then threw a ball to Ethier. Mattingly decided to send Gordon on the second pitch.

Catcher Gerald Laird made a good throw to second and Gordon was called out to clear the bases and give the Braves two outs. TBS showed the play several times on replay, and it was hard to tell whether Gordon got in there safely, though I think he did.

This is the best angle that seems to show Gordon’s hand touched the base before he was tagged out:

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