Until a World Series is decided on a blown called third-strike from an umpire, it is unlikely that serious talks about switching to an electronic strike zone will begin. However, recently, buzz around the topic has been deafening; and some players aren’t afraid to express their displeasure with the current system.
“I’m just saying it’s pretty obvious that he needs to stop ruining baseball games,” said Detroit Tigers’ second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Free Press when asked about umpire Angel Hernandez. “Candidly, leave the game. No one wants you behind the plate anymore. No one in this game wants you behind the plate any more, none of the players.”
The comments came one day after Kinsler was thrown out of a game by Hernandez for arguing balls and strikes. Before leaving the dugout Kinsler was caught audibly yelling, “do your f***ing job!”
Sad thing is, Ian Kinsler will get fined for speaking the truth. Would speak volumes if MLB 'overlooked' this one.
— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) August 15, 2017
It’s not that every MLB player shares this displeasure for all umpires. There are some that do their job well and you won’t hear about them on a day-to-day basis. However, if the technology exists (spoiler alert: it does), then why not put something with such insane accuracy to use?
Ben Zobrist sure thinks we should. Just over a week ago, Zobrist, utility-man for the world champion Chicago Cubs, let a pitch go that would be called a strike and effectively ended a rally — and the game. As most players do, he argued to no avail. As most players don’t do, however, he publicly voiced support for an electronic strike zone.
“‘It’s just an unfortunate situation,’’ Zobrist said to the media. ‘‘Now that we have the technology, we should probably get it right.’’
The bad news for Zobrist is that the guy who could make this happen thinks differently. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred feels eliminating the human-aspect of the game isn’t the right move. “The fact of the matter is they get them right well over 90 percent of the time,” Manfred told MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince recently. “And there is a human aspect to that, a work aspect to it that’s always been an important part of our game. I don’t think you can just jump to the conclusion that if you have [the] technology to do it that’s the right thing for your product.”
Without the support of Manfred, change is most likely not imminent. The entire sports world would hate to have to wait for an umpire to make a mistake in a big situation, but that might be what’s necessary for change to occur.