It’s a cry as old as the game itself: “Kill the umpire.” No sane person takes it literally because it’s just a figure of speech, but getting rid the home plate umpire is as good a way of improving the game as we can think of right now.
Of course, we’re not talking about killing the guy. We’re just talking about getting rid of him. Think about it. The technology already is here in the form of the center-field camera. Those cameras can draw a precise strike zone box that conforms to major-league rules on every single hitter. If a pitched ball lands on the box or inside of it, a loud beep goes off to indicate a strike and it’s recorded as such on the scoreboard. Silence and it’s a ball.
Hopefully, some day.
The Philadelphia Phillies‘ pitching staff knows the frustrations all too well. Cole Hamels was taken out of a game when he became frustrated with the umpire in a loss at St. Louis earlier this season. A.J. Burnett was tossed by an umpire for mockingly calling a ball outside. None of this would have happened with the technology currently available, a center-field camera with a strike-zone box.
Think about for a second. A center-field camera equipped with that technology would eliminate the changing strike zone every umpire seems to have. It can be done too. Similar technology has worked well in tennis over the course of the last two years and the calls have been impeccable. Balls that land on the line or inside get the beep; balls that land outside of it do not and that system has been universally acclaimed. If a play needs to be called at the plate, the first- or third-base umpire runs in to make the call. If there’s a question there, they go to the replay.
The more arguments baseball takes out of the game, the faster the game, and it’s impossible to argue with the visual evidence — or a computer.