Enforcing the rules “ruined” baseball? Huh. How about that.

59 Comments

There’s an article over at The Atlantic that makes a good observation: since the introduction of Pitch f/x and its attendant camera-aided Zone Evaluation (ZE) system which tracks missed calls after each game and judges umpires by their accuracy, strikeouts have gone way up and offense has gone down. Why?

Before cameras, it turned out, umpires had been ignoring strikes around the knees. Pitches between 18 and 30 inches above the plate, which are technically in the strike zone, had been called balls for years. But the presence of cameras encouraged umpires to lower the strike zone . . . a lower strike zone invited more low pitches, more low strikes, and more strike outs. These variables on their own explain a good chunk of baseball’s offensive drought.

 

The conclusion, in the form of the article’s headline:

source:

That’s funny. Because the way I read it, what allegedly “ruined” baseball here is a more accurate enforcement of its strike zone as defined.

Which really means that nothing has been “ruined” at all. Because baseball can, if it wants to, change the strike zone. It has many, many times in its history and, if it deems that offense has been reduced to unacceptable extremes, it can simply raise or shrink the zone.  But I guess a story entitled “The simple technology that improved umpiring but which led to an unintended consequence which can easily be remedied” doesn’t really grab the reader.

Personally, I want umpires to call an accurate zone. Whether that results in offense going up or down I don’t care, because that can be dealt with in many ways. But having umpires call balls balls and strikes strikes is pretty damn important. As far as that goes, Pitch f/x and Zone Evaluation have helped baseball, not ruined it.

 

Phillies, Jake Arrieta having a “dialogue”

Getty Images
3 Comments

No, not like a Socratic dialogue, in which each side, in a mostly cooperative, but intellectually confrontational manner interrogate one another as a means of testing assertions and finding truths, though that would be an AMAZING thing for baseball players and teams to do. Rather, low-level talks about possible interest in Jake Arrieta, baseball free agent.

Arrieta is probably the top free agent still available, now that Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer have signed. Philly has money — it’s a big market — and could use a pitcher, but Jon Heyman, who, much like Plato did for Socrates, reported the dialogue, says they’re not looking to go long term with anyone.

It may make sense for Arrieta to take a so-called “pillow contract” and come back on the market in a year, but if he’s willing to accept a one-year deal, there are a lot of teams other than Philly who may offer one, and you’d have to figure Arrieta would prefer to pitch for a team more likely to contend.

Dialogues are cool, though. You should go have one over lunch.