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

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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.

 

Long time NL umpire Dutch Rennert has died

MLB.com
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MLB.com reports that long time umpire Dutch Rennert has died at the age of 88.

Rennert retired as a National League umpire after the 1992 season, so a lot of you didn’t get a chance to see him. But believe me, if you got a chance to see him in action, you’d remember him. He had one of the most distinct strikeout calls in history. He’d go turn to the side, go down on one knee, point with purpose and bellow “STRIKE . . . ONNNNNNEEEEE!”

It was quite the scene, man:

 

I used to love it when Rennert called a game I was watching on TV. I always knew the count.

Rest in Peace, Dutch. I cannot vouch for the peace of whoever is on the cloud next to yours, though.