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Robot Umps (at Home Plate).........Your Thoughts?


Motor City Sonics
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Last two pitches Niko Goodrum took today were not strikes by any definition known to baseball.  I can see pitch height being something one can argue to a degree, but OVER THE PLATE is a clearly defined standard and I am sick and tired of hearing about This Guy's Strike Zone or That Guy's Strike Zone.    Time to try it out.    It  hurts the game

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5 minutes ago, Motor City Sonics said:

You're as sick of it as I am.  

Makes me wonder if the ump had to take an urgent dump or something..............

I have always been staunchly against it, in baseball & in football. But after the refs missed that delay of game yesterday in the Lions game, I'm all for making it automated.

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I am all for it.  I dislike the replay reviews because they slow down the game's momentum often at a key point in the game. They have made football unwatchable.  It's not as bad in baseball, but still bad.    I'd rather they get an out/safe call wrong once in a while than go through that.  Balls and strikes are different though.  Having inconsistent home plate umpires can destroy entire games. I am ready for an electronic strike zone.       

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1 hour ago, Tiger337 said:

I am all for it.  I dislike the replay reviews because they slow down the game's momentum often at a key point in the game. They have made football unwatchable.  It's not as bad in baseball, but still bad.    I'd rather they get an out/safe call wrong once in a while than go through that.  Balls and strikes are different though.  Having inconsistent home plate umpires can destroy entire games. I am ready for an electronic strike zone.       

Not a fan of pitch framing?

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I would be good with it.  There are too many bad calls that effect the outcome of the games.  Let the players decide the outcome and computers and sensors call the balls and strikes.  I can see baseball traditionalists not like it.  This would be a major change to the game.

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I  see a lot of odd-off calls relative to where the ball passes  relative to the box painted on the screen in the broadcasts, vs what they are called by the umpire...but I haven't decided if the deviation is due to bad calls, or by bad schematics in the broadcasts.  I think it's the same box painted on the screen for every batter...not tuned specifically to the physical characteristics of the individual players.

And naturally, you're going to have different strike zones for someone like Frank Howard, vs a squirt like Jose Altuve.

Which leads me to wonder about robo umps, who will diligently calibrate the strike zone for each individual player...through out each and every game in their entirety? How accurate and dependable will the calibrators be, and how would one appeal malfunction?

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9 minutes ago, Useful Idiot said:

I  see a lot of odd-off calls relative to where the ball passes  relative to the box painted on the screen in the broadcasts

There can be certainly be inaccuracies in the "Bally Box" and as a matter of fact, when we used to be able to get strike call maps from Brooks baseball in real time, the umps were often more accurate in that box than in the (then) 'Fox Box.'  But that aside, there is no excuse for what happened today to Niko where the ump gave the pitcher 2 ball widths additional on both sides of the plate in the same AB! There is no perspective or video inaccuracy can explain/excuse that. I have a fair amount of sympathy for the umps when players bitch about calls missed a little low or high, but umps should not be misjudging pitches on the horizontal axis.

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3 minutes ago, gehringer_2 said:

 But that aside, there is no excuse for what happened today to Niko where the ump gave the pitcher 2 ball widths additional on both sides of the plate in the same AB! 

I don't disagree with you on that.  I was just trying to state my rationale specific to the issue of robo-umps.

Sometimes I wonder if the umps might realize they made a bad call to the benefit of "team A", and intentionally make a call against them trying to balance the books in their own conscience?  I'm probably giving it too much thought, but I've often wondered if they do that sort of thing.

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FWIW, I don't mind the replay reviews at all, compared to what some other posters have stated.

I like them because the TV crew uses the time involved with the review to show slo-mo footage of the plays in question.  Even when the calls go against what I might prefer they might be, I still find peace in knowing the actual truth.

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Electronic strike zone is 10 years overdue.  Do it.  Also, let's calibrate the vertical strike zone based on each batter's height, knees slightly flexed, so that Rickey Henderson can't duck under it.  You still need a home plate umpire for checked swings, plays at the plate and so on.  But this nonsense about every umpire having his own strike zone is ridiculous.

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I predict it will make a lot changes in the game. There will a lot more 4 pitch walks, a lot more 3 pitch Ks, Batting averages will go up, scoring will go up (well, unless they just set the machines to call a bigger zone), and the differential between great players and the rest will come down because the machine won't be biased toward giving 'benefit' of the doubt to either Cy Young winners or a batting champions.

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27 minutes ago, Useful Idiot said:

Aren't the strike zones different in the American vs National Leagues? Seems that I've heard comments to that nature, but not really sure if that's official, or just prattle from broadcast announcers.

I don't think they are supposed to be. Way back in the day, the National league moved away from the outside chest protector and the AL did not, and that did lead to a difference for a number of years because AL umps were looking from above and NL umps from the side. That meant the AL zone was more accurate left right but the low strike was approximate while in the NL up-down was more accurate but the outside was more approximate. The leagues eventually all got on the same page with inside padding and positioning. The definition of the zone was always the same, but the batters still got a different effect.

Edited by gehringer_2
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The inconsistency is infuriating. We always knew when it was off but now we know when it is just a little off. In theory yes to robot umps, in practice it seems like a sterilizing assault on the texture of the game. No human being could ever call balls and strikes as well as a sensing device. I’ll take any answers off-line. I’m a long time fan first time caller. 

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I’m back Rush. Megadittos.  If they were to implement this they would have to put adhesive sensors on various parts of the players bodies to accurately capture the dimensions for each specific player. It would be a very invasive procedure but you would avoid players moving their jerseys and pants around to their benefit. Of course if they had cheerleaders putting sensors on the players the union might buy into this.

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18 hours ago, Motor City Sonics said:

Last two pitches Niko Goodrum took today were not strikes by any definition known to baseball.  I can see pitch height being something one can argue to a degree, but OVER THE PLATE is a clearly defined standard and I am sick and tired of hearing about This Guy's Strike Zone or That Guy's Strike Zone.    Time to try it out.    It  hurts the game

I am 100% behind making the calls more accurate in anyway they can.  I hate the "human element" argument for keeping refs in certain positions.  Keep the ump there to manage the game, but the K zone is pretty static

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16 minutes ago, John_Brian_K said:

  the K zone is pretty static

A friend of mine and I both have 31" inseams in our trousers, yet I am 5" taller than he is.I don't believe that any one single standard could be fair to both of us. And then I always see those trousers on the racks in the stores with 36" inseams.... Freaks of nature though that I am sure they are, their zone would no doubt be different than mine.

So, you would need some expert means to calibrate the robo umps to each successive batter. And it would have to be real time...due to the possibility of pinch hitters

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There might be some wiggle room with height, but width is supposed to be absolute.     No, not the same strike zone for Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve, but my solution would be taking a photo of each player's stance and programming it in to the computer.  That's not that hard to do.   

But yesterday the 2 pitchers had different strike zones form the start of the game, and even then the strike zone seemed to change from beginning to end.  That's not acceptable.   (The ump really wanted that game to end, he had to go to the bathroom or something).   

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6 minutes ago, Useful Idiot said:

A friend of mine and I both have 31" inseams in our trousers, yet I am 5" taller than he is.I don't believe that any one single standard could be fair to both of us. And then I always see those trousers on the racks in the stores with 36" inseams.... Freaks of nature though that I am sure they are, their zone would no doubt be different than mine.

So, you would need some expert means to calibrate the robo umps to each successive batter. And it would have to be real time...due to the possibility of pinch hitters

they could start with a hybrid system. The laser calls the plate by beeping in the ump's ear, he decides on the up-down and then makes the final call. Probably 80% of the worst bad calls are on width rather than height so you'd be rid of all those.

Or just do it by %of height. Bottom of zone is x% of the batters standing height, top is y% of his height - whether he wants to crouch or not will not affect what he has to cover. That would be as fair to as many players as whatever the Umps are doing now.

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16 minutes ago, Useful Idiot said:

A friend of mine and I both have 31" inseams in our trousers, yet I am 5" taller than he is.I don't believe that any one single standard could be fair to both of us. And then I always see those trousers on the racks in the stores with 36" inseams.... Freaks of nature though that I am sure they are, their zone would no doubt be different than mine.

So, you would need some expert means to calibrate the robo umps to each successive batter. And it would have to be real time...due to the possibility of pinch hitters

I don't think this is as big a deal as you  posit. The zone goes from below the waist to above the waist. If a guy has long legs he has more zone below his waist, less above, and vice versa. Even for people with different inseams if you are approximately the same height your knees to shoulder distance varies less than the difference in the height of your waist, so a lot of it comes out in the wash in terms of a strike zone.

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I found the following interesting for a number of reasons. 

https://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/strike_zone_rules_history.shtml

When I first started playing ball as a child, I could have sworn that the shoulders were defined as the top of the strike zone, then following the sport from an armchair in later years, learned that it was lower. So I just suspected that I had been misinformed earlier.  Now it makes sense though, since I would have "come up" during the 1963 era rules. 

I still think there will be considerable variance with the  "at a point midway between the shoulders and the top of the trousers" formula....as there is considerable difference in back bones.  My friend often jokes that I must have an extra vertebrae. 

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Just do it in real time, it takes less than 5 seconds.  Make the batter stand still, no crouching, and define the top and bottom of the zone.  If Rickey wants to crouch after that, that's fine, but his strike zone is defined by his standing posture.  You don't need a human to do it, just a fixed position camera near each dugout with some recognition software.

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