clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Working The Plate (Not In A Blanton Way)

Thanks to the magic of blackmail photos, Blez has allowed me to continue writing for AN despite my blasphemous contrarianism regarding the notion of a computerized strike zone. It seems that folks on AN seem to have a lot to say about home plate umpiring, so let the discussion continue with some additional thoughts I have on the home plate umpire...

  • I have always believed that you can actually call balls and strikes better from behind the pitcher than from behind the catcher. When viewing the "center-field angle" (whether on TV or in the bleachers), I feel one can call balls and strikes with far more accuracy than when viewing it from the "home plate umpire's view" (behind the catcher). I think home plate umpires would actually do better if they were stationed right behind the pitcher. Note that from this position an umpire could still make calls at home just fine, as he would still start as close to the plate as any runner and could thus be "right on top of the plate" by the time any play at the plate occurred. Just saying...

  • In writing yesterday's post, I didn't even consider whether an electronic system might not be highly accurate. My point was that even if a machine were at 100% accuracy, I would still prefer the human element. What I don't like, however, is MLB's tolerance of umpiring that doesn't attempt to mirror a computer. Pitchers who have been utterly wild should still get a strike call if they suddenly nip the outside corner; in reality, pitchers are often punished for being wild and rewarded for being "around the plate". Similarly, rookies and veterans should be pitching to the same strike zone; in fact rookies often have to "prove they can throw strikes" before getting the benefit of the doubt. These conventions are ridiculous and should not be tolerated.

  • If the home plate umpire doesn't rule a check swing to be a swing, why can't the catcher just directly appeal the check swing to the base umpire? For that matter, why does the base umpire need to wait for an appeal to say "that was a swing"? Base umpires don't wait for someone to ask whether there was a balk, or an overslide, or running outside of the basepath. What's the big deal about check swings that you only make the call if you're asked, and the catcher can't even ask you directly?

Add any of your own, discuss, and enjoy that this time I made it through the entire post without mentioning Angel Hernandez. Oops.