Sunday, September 09, 2007

More on the MLB "GameDay" strike zone

In a post here, I wrote about the sudden disappearance of the strike zone on the Gameday feature provided online by Major League Baseball.

The main view of the pitching "action" dropped its graphic representation of the strike zone area. Probably it served to embarrass the league to some extent because sometimes a pitch well inside the box would be called a ball, and a pitch well outside the box would be called a strike.

I had taken note of two such instances recently.

It's not that easy for MLB to get rid of the strike zone on GameDay, however. I'll recycle the graphic from the Rays' ninth-inning comeback victory against Toronto in order to illustrate:

Near the top of the graphic, note the photos and information for Jeremy Accardo and B. J. Upton. Just below, note the horizontal bar just underneath. Under Accardo, you'll note five rectangular boxes--the strike zone with pitch locations for the last five hitters Accardo faced.

Likewise, under Upton you see the position relative to the rectangular strike zone of the pitch he knocked over the fence.

Moving in for the closer view revealed another way in which MLB has moved to cover the tracks of erring umpires. In times past, the log of pitches was color-coded for a graphic such as the once above. In other words, the dot near the bottom of the strike-zone box would be blue, just as it is in the full graphic above (the larger frame that shows the right-handed batter and the path of the pitch).

MLB can't get rid of the evidence completely without entirely eliminating the pitch history under the player photos. Until then, it will remain possible to reconstruct--with a bit of effort--the pitch locations and how they were called by the plate umpire.

Is it worth this much trouble, Major League Baseball? Are the umpires being that whiny about it?

For what it's worth, umpires, I don't pretend I could do the job better than you do. I'd let my attention wander, a pitch would come through and I'd be like "Uh, sorry, missed that one. Could you do it over again?"
Technology lets us look over your shoulder, and it's going to show us when you screw up.

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