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View Full Version : Neyer: Computers calling Balls and Strikes!



paulrichjr
09-11-2007, 10:21 AM
Now this would be really odd. Would everyone look at the scoreboard to see what the call was after every pitch? Would the hitter shout at the outfield after a pitch that he considered boderline? I don't see this happening at all.


http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=neyer_rob

Umpiring system needs to improveposted: Monday, September 10, 2007 | Feedback | Print Entry

Umpires are in the news again lately, thanks mostly to Chipper Jones, spurring Dayn Perry to raise a popular notion among my young, tech-friendly colleagues: taking the umpires out of the ball-strike equation. Perry:

For several seasons, the QuesTec system has been tracking ball-strike calls and keeping record of how often umpires correctly identify those balls and strikes. QuesTec is now in use in half of all major-league parks, and MLB badly needs to take this a step further. That means giving the job of calling balls and strikes, part and parcel, to the computers.

Such a drastic move will require time and R&D on the part of MLB and QuesTec and concessions on the part of the umpire's union, but it's all plainly worth it. When you take into account all the human errors, the (patently silly) practice of giving veteran pitchers and hitters all the borderline calls and the recent suggestion that umpires tend to accommodate pitchers of the same race, there's no reason not to make the switch. To put a finer point on it, watch any major-league game and ask yourself whether, say, 25 percent of the ball-strike calls look incorrect after replay or imaging. Over the course of an entire game, it adds up, and that level of inaccuracy makes a mockery of the game.

Well, let's start right here: 25 percent. I don't think anything close to 25 percent of the ball-strike calls are incorrect. A significant percentage might look incorrect, due to the deception that comes with center-field cameras that are higher than the pitcher and off to one side. One thing I've noticed over the years is that many pitches that look like balls from center field look like strikes when seen from a camera that's directly above or directly behind the plate. So, 25 percent? I believe the true figure is much closer to five percent than 25 percent.

Of course, five percent is too high. The umpires know which ballparks are equipped with QuesTec, and human nature suggests that the umpires will perform more conscientiously when they know they're being systematically evaluated. Human nature also suggests that it's natural for them to resent this process, and that goes double for the veteran umpires who spent so many seasons with little meaningful evaluation at all. But those guys won't last forever, the younger umpires will make the necessary adjustments, and eventually every ballpark will host QuesTec (or something even better).

Is that good enough? No, not unless MLB is willing to fire umpires who don't eventually meet the standards of their profession. Should MLB consider automating the balls and strikes completely? I wouldn't take anything off the table. I feel a strong connection with the game's history, and I think something would be lost if umpires weren't behind the plate using their best judgement. The equation is simple: would we gain more with automation than we would lose? I don't have any idea, but I think the first step is to make the current system as good as it can be. And we're not there yet.

oneupper
09-11-2007, 10:38 AM
The "history" of the game excuse was made moot when the DH was introduced almost 35 years ago.

RoboUMP is a necessity. TOO much of the game rides on strike and ball counts. I hate seeing those 6 inch out of strike zone strikes when the ump has to go pee or thinks he left the oven on. Too many umps 'strike zones" expand and contract according to the situation.
(Bobby Cox's constant complaining and ejections probably buy him a better strike zone from umps who wish to avoid conflict).


Questec, however, from what I've read, is NOT an accurate measurement of the strike zone as defined in the rules. You would need some sort of "force field" type of set up, which takes into account the geometry of the plate and which can be ajusted for each
batter. Perhaps each ball could require a microchip (I'm just speculating here), to correctly track its trajectory vs. the strike zone.
In any case, if we can launch a missile to within inches of a target thousands of miles away, I don't see why we can't design a strike zone system.

For those who like the "human" element, I've got these large green sheets of ruled paper you can use instead of MS Excel (or your favorite spreadsheet program).

It's the 21st century, folks...we have the tecnology, let's use it.

Johnny Footstool
09-11-2007, 10:55 AM
The DH is one thing, but balls and strikes are the absolute heart of the game.

According to Perry, "Over the course of an entire game, it adds up, and that level of inaccuracy makes a mockery of the game." Well, then the entire game has been a "mockery" since its inception.

It's as if Perry believes the subjectivity of balls and strikes is a new thing that will ruin baseball. Nonsense. Yes, the game is subjective. That's part of its appeal.

And the thing is, that subjectivity won't go away with a computer behind the plate. People will still insist that the last pitch caught the outside corner, and the computer's sensors are out of calibration. Kind of like how people dispute their radar- or laser-measured speed when they get pulled over on the highway.

Having a computer call balls and strikes won't *fix* anything. And I don't believe anything is broken, anyway.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 11:16 AM
I agree with JFS. There will always be a subjective aspect to the game. Elimiante the "problem" calling balls and strikes and what about being safe at 2nd on a close throw? What about whether the ball was fair or foul on those wierd plays where it's hard to tell? What about when the outfielder makes a catch at a weird angle and you can't tell if it was trapped or took a very short hop? The game will never be perfectly called all the time. To expect that it would be, no matter how many robots, computers and antenas are mounted on the field is silly.

It's not about excell vs. green sheets of paper. As much as I moan and complain about bad umping thowing a machine out there woln't do anything. People will say the machine sucks. Or the antenna is bent. Or the home team's machine fudges.

Keep the umps. Review more of their plays to make sure they aren't blowing *too* many calls.

westofyou
09-11-2007, 11:36 AM
The "history" of the game excuse was made moot when the DH was introduced almost 35 years ago.

First suggested in the mid 1890's by Pirates manager Connie Mack, it took a reemergence of deadball era numbers from the 1960's (ummm that's "context" to some out there.;) ) to stir that stone to the top of the pot again.

If all works out the same expect to see computers in the batters box as the only judge in about 80 years.

oneupper
09-11-2007, 11:42 AM
While I respect the above opinions, there is something I don't get..

Why isn't it like excel vs. green sheets or
Cars vs. Horse drawn buggies or
Calculators vs slide rules or
whatever technical advance has been made..

There is a task at hand:. To determine if a sphere, traveling at high speeds has traversed a certain physical space.

Humans have performed this task, since basically they were best and only alternative.
They were trained and selected (eyesight)...

Lets face it...its not easy. Given the task, umps do a pretty decent job.

We now have the option of machines that could perform this task with a much higher degree of accuracy.

I have a hard time thinking why we shouldn't consider it.

RedsManRick
09-11-2007, 11:49 AM
I see absolutely nothing wrong with replacing a human function with something that can be more reliably done through an automated system. Bottom line is that the only reason umps/refs exist is to enforce the rules of the game. They are not the game itself. If you can improve the accuracy and consistency with which the rules are enforced, without otherwise negatively affecting the game, then by all means do it.

I'm sorry, but I do not see umpiring as a core part of the game that should not be changed, particularly for the sake of improvement. If we can prove that a computer can call balls & strikes more accurately than a person, then why wouldn't we want that? I refuse to believe that the game is better for having inconsistent strike zones and incorrect calls.

However, this doesn't mean that the umpire is gone. The umpire is still there to make the calls that a computer cannot. This includes plays at the bases, catches vs. traps, and behavioral issues. Heck, you can still have the ump announce the ball/strike calls -- just have the quest-tec send him a signal on his counter. Maintaining the flow of the game is important. There is a legitimate argument about not moving to computer when it cannot make decisions at the same speed as an ump. But bottom line, the umps exist to enforce rules. The goal should be to do so as well as possible and they should have whatever tools at their disposal allow them to do so.

Roy Tucker
09-11-2007, 11:53 AM
I like Questec as a training and evaluation tool. A proper strike zone needs to be precisely defined and measured and held accountable for. But I want to keep the human element of umps.

For that matter, doesnt Questec have to be adjusted for each batter (knees, belt, armpits). Who does that, a human or a machine?

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 11:54 AM
We now have the option of machines that could perform this task with a much higher degree of accuracy.

Because we have technology at hand, does not mean it required for use.

We have the means for artifical insemination, should that completley replace the traditional method ?

We have the means to use cameras, video, satalites, etc for policing the steets, should they replace police officers?

We have pocket PC's and palms...should they totally replace all paper calenders? (I use a pocket PC, but also use a giant wall calender for some planning tasks).

Because we have the technology, it doesn't follow that we should use it. The game has gotten along fine since the late 1800's with mk 1 eyeballs and humans behind the plate. There are a lot bigger issues jeprodizing the "integrity of the game" than ball's and strikes.

gonelong
09-11-2007, 12:04 PM
Sign me up for robo-ump. Get tired of watching games decided in part by bogus 3-2 called strikes.

GL

cincinnati chili
09-11-2007, 12:11 PM
Bottom line is that the only reason umps/refs exist is to enforce the rules of the game. They are not the game itself. If you can improve the accuracy and consistency with which the rules are enforced, without otherwise negatively affecting the game, then by all means do it.

Amen.

I don't go to the game for the sake of the pagentry of watching slightly overweight middle-aged men in black/blue suits and black hats. Maybe it's a nice, cute peripheral detail. But it's not essential to the game.

Certainly the league will need to have its ducks in a row before instituting this. The technology has to be significantly more accurate than the human eye, or this will get roundly criticized. But if this is done correctly, it will be a great thing. The better team will win more often if umpires screw things up less often.

nate
09-11-2007, 12:25 PM
Or why not have the RoboUmp be a backup that the manager can ask to arbitrate, say, 2 times per game?

RedsManRick
09-11-2007, 12:28 PM
Because we have technology at hand, does not mean it required for use.

We have the means for artifical insemination, should that completley replace the traditional method ?

We have the means to use cameras, video, satalites, etc for policing the steets, should they replace police officers?

We have pocket PC's and palms...should they totally replace all paper calenders? (I use a pocket PC, but also use a giant wall calender for some planning tasks).

Because we have the technology, it doesn't follow that we should use it. The game has gotten along fine since the late 1800's with mk 1 eyeballs and humans behind the plate. There are a lot bigger issues jeprodizing the "integrity of the game" than ball's and strikes.

So what exactly is the case for not using the technology? I don't think anybody advocates the forced retirement of all umps. They do advocate utilizing technology to replace a specific function which umps perform. When you can use the technology to do something better, you do. Where you can't, or when the side effect is undesirable, you don't.

We don't use artificial insemination instead of sex, because sex is enjoyable. However, insemination is available to those who wish to become pregnant and cannot otherwise.

We don't replace police officers with cameras because cameras cannot perform all of the functions of police officers, such as putting handcuffs on people, making decisions, and interviewing people. However, cameras have freed up to focus on things other than watching people run red lights.

We use pocket pc's because we cannot carry around a giant wall calendar in our wallet for reference and the squares on the paper aren't big enough for all our information. However, that doesn't mean we cannot also use a wall/desk calendar for other functions.

The game has gotten along fine is quite possibly the lamest argument I've heard. People got along fine before penicillin, cars, email, or dishwashers. They get along better now. I'm not going to not use a dishwasher simply because I'm capable of washing dishes by hand. Maybe you just consider washing the dishes by hand an irreplaceable part of the cooking & eating experience. I, for one, don't.

The "a lot bigger issues" argument also makes no sense. We now have to choose which things we'd like to improve? Better strike zone enforcement or get rid of steroids? Is that our choice? We can only do one or the other? Says who? Absolutely ridiculous. It's a completely irrational reactionary position.

If you want to make the case that human determination of balls & strikes is a fundamental defining aspect of the game and that you are against changing the nature of the game in that manner, then fine. I'd disagree with you, but you'd have a reasonable case. However, the argument above is laughable. We haven't completely replaced police officers, sex, or paper calendars. However, we have developed better ways to accomplish the thing which they accomplish. Police officers and paper calendars in particular have very little intrinsic value beyond the purpose for which they were created. If you can find a better way to achieve said purpose, then why not do it?

If you want to make the argument that a computer strike zone management system would be inferior at calling balls & strikes or would adversely affect the game in some other manner, well then you have an argument. Nothing personal at all Ltlabner, I just don't understand the logic of your position.

Johnny Footstool
09-11-2007, 01:08 PM
People, people, did we learn nothing from "War Games"?

Install a computer behind the plate, and the next thing you know, it'll start playing Global Thermonuclear War, but for *real*.

RANDY IN INDY
09-11-2007, 01:12 PM
Heck, let's just build a bunch of robots to play the game and get rid of the players.:rolleyes:

Johnny Footstool
09-11-2007, 01:17 PM
OK, how about this: the ump behind the plate has a HUD in his mask. Sensors around the outline of the plate and in each player's uniform create an image of a real-time 3-D strike zone projected onto the ump's display. When any part of the ball enters any part of the strike zone, the entire zone turns red. The ump then makes the call.

The system is calibrated at the start of each half-inning. The calibration details and the results of each pitch are recorded and available for playback after the game.

I could go for a system like that, because it's just a tool to assist the umpire.

RedsManRick
09-11-2007, 01:43 PM
Heck, let's just build a bunch of robots to play the game and get rid of the players.:rolleyes:

Because the entire point of the game is for humans to play it. The point of umpiring is simply to maintain the conditions in which the game can be played. They are not the game itself.

I don't know of any fans who pay for a ticket to go watch the amazing talent of the umpires at work.

Besides, players are utilizing technology to do their jobs better than ever. They have contact lenses in their eyes to see better. They use bats that are harder and lighter. They wear uniforms that better handle body heat (cue the Seinfeld reference).

I guess we should've stuck with leather helmets too. After all, they were good enough and their use created a certain condition in which the game was played. Players were certainly more wary of pitches without the armor of today.

Are you guys also against all instant replay in football and basketball? Because a system which instantly alerts the home plate ump to the location of the ball and then allows him to announce the ball/strike would be the least intrusive, least time consuming version of technology aided refereeing we have in sports today. In fact, the fan watching a game couldn't even tell. I fail to see how getting calls incorrect for the sake of some imagined "purity" adds anything to the game other than your comfort with what you're used to. I have not heard an objective argument against it.

KronoRed
09-11-2007, 02:05 PM
Sign me up for robo-ump. Get tired of watching games decided in part by bogus 3-2 called strikes.

GL

Agreed.

You can still have the ump there in case of computer failure and for plays at the plate, but it is well past time that umpires and their ridiculous strike zone differences become part of the past.

gonelong
09-11-2007, 02:05 PM
Because the entire point of the game is for humans to play it. The point of umpiring is simply to maintain the conditions in which the game can be played. They are not the game itself.



Spot on.

I can't understand why some people would rather have a significant portion of the game influenced by the umpires rather than the players.

GL

Johnny Footstool
09-11-2007, 02:19 PM
Spot on.

I can't understand why some people would rather have a significant portion of the game influenced by the umpires rather than the players.

GL

More than a century of history?

Maybe some of them can't understand why some people would want a significant portion of the game influenced by computers rather than people.

I'm all for helping umpires do a better job, but I do understand why people might not want them taken out of the equation.

cincinnati chili
09-11-2007, 02:26 PM
I think that umpiring has gotten better in recent years, but there are still way too many games decided by improperly called balls/strikes.

It would also eliminate a lot of nonsense, like catchers "framing" pitches. So many times, an umpire judges whether the pitcher hit the glove, rather than whether the ball crossed throught the imaginary box above the plate. Also, calling some pitches is an impossible task. Unless an umpire has x-ray vision, he can't alawys tell whether a curve ball crosses through this imaginary box. So he guesses.

It rarely pays to have a good curve ball anymore, unless you're given the veteran benefit-of-the doubt.

gonelong
09-11-2007, 02:33 PM
More than a century of history?

History? Good, put it in the musuem with the rest of it. :)



Maybe some of them can't understand why some people would want a significant portion of the game influenced by computers rather than people.


What influence would the computers have? The whole idea of them would be to remove or at least minimize the influence umpires have, not replace it.


I'm all for helping umpires do a better job, but I do understand why people might not want them taken out of the equation.

I guess I understand why people might not wan them taken out of the equasion ... they are grumpy old farts with "get of my lawn", "things were better back in my day", don't need "this new-fangled do-hickey" syndrome. :p:

GL

cincinnati chili
09-11-2007, 02:36 PM
More than a century of history?

Maybe some of them can't understand why some people would want a significant portion of the game influenced by computers rather than people.

I'm all for helping umpires do a better job, but I do understand why people might not want them taken out of the equation.

Johnny, I appreciate your empathy and open-mindedness, but I wouldn't placate those people.

Not one person here has convincingly argued that we should keep umpires because they do a better job than the computers would. Arguing tradition for the sake of tradition is usually weak, but these are particularly weak. There were better arguments for segregated public school systems, denying women the right to vote, and denying people a jury trial, than I see in this thread.

The stakes are too high. Pitchers who throw true strikes should be rewarded.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 02:39 PM
So what exactly is the case for not using the technology? I don't think anybody advocates the forced retirement of all umps. They do advocate utilizing technology to replace a specific function which umps perform. When you can use the technology to do something better, you do. Where you can't, or when the side effect is undesirable, you don't.

We don't use artificial insemination instead of sex, because sex is enjoyable. However, insemination is available to those who wish to become pregnant and cannot otherwise.

We don't replace police officers with cameras because cameras cannot perform all of the functions of police officers, such as putting handcuffs on people, making decisions, and interviewing people. However, cameras have freed up to focus on things other than watching people run red lights.

We use pocket pc's because we cannot carry around a giant wall calendar in our wallet for reference and the squares on the paper aren't big enough for all our information. However, that doesn't mean we cannot also use a wall/desk calendar for other functions.

The game has gotten along fine is quite possibly the lamest argument I've heard. People got along fine before penicillin, cars, email, or dishwashers. They get along better now. I'm not going to not use a dishwasher simply because I'm capable of washing dishes by hand. Maybe you just consider washing the dishes by hand an irreplaceable part of the cooking & eating experience. I, for one, don't.

The "a lot bigger issues" argument also makes no sense. We now have to choose which things we'd like to improve? Better strike zone enforcement or get rid of steroids? Is that our choice? We can only do one or the other? Says who? Absolutely ridiculous. It's a completely irrational reactionary position.

If you want to make the case that human determination of balls & strikes is a fundamental defining aspect of the game and that you are against changing the nature of the game in that manner, then fine. I'd disagree with you, but you'd have a reasonable case. However, the argument above is laughable. We haven't completely replaced police officers, sex, or paper calendars. However, we have developed better ways to accomplish the thing which they accomplish. Police officers and paper calendars in particular have very little intrinsic value beyond the purpose for which they were created. If you can find a better way to achieve said purpose, then why not do it?

If you want to make the argument that a computer strike zone management system would be inferior at calling balls & strikes or would adversely affect the game in some other manner, well then you have an argument. Nothing personal at all Ltlabner, I just don't understand the logic of your position.

Actually people died in huge numbers before penecilin. The world was hugly ineffecient before cars and to a lesser degree emails. These advancements were gigantic leaps forward. The question I responded to was 'if we have it why not use it?' No technology exsists that would represent a gigantic step fowrad in robo ump technology. Youd like to implement a system that is going to create just as many problems as ups (just different ones) to solve what? The few times where a bad strike/ball call actaully effects the game?

Throwing an unproven thechnology out there that introduces new problems to solve an overall minor problem....that strikes me as particularly lame.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 02:48 PM
Several people have stated that the computer system 'would be better' or 'elminates the errors' yet there been nothing offered here that substantiates these claims. Its not about 'get off my lawn' (which is an arrogent and condesncending pile of crap anyway) its about actually acheiving the intended benefit.

No one has provided any evidence that the existing systems wouldn't have their own issues with adjustment, callibration , accuracy, interfearence and claims of fudging.

Without an actuall improvment in the accuracy of calls, you are just replacing one problem for another.

RedsManRick
09-11-2007, 02:52 PM
Several people have stated that the computer system 'would be better' or 'elminates the errors' yet there been nothing offered here that substantiates these claims. Its not about 'get off my lawn' (which is an arrogent and condesncending pile of crap anyway) its about actually acheiving the intended benefit.

No one has provided any evidence that the existing systems wouldn't have their own issues with adjustment, callibration , accuracy, interfearence and claims of fudging.

Without an actuall improvment in the accuracy of calls, you are just replacing one problem for another.

I guess you glossed right over the conditional of my entire thesis. IF it is better...

George Anderson
09-11-2007, 02:53 PM
Does the computer change its zone if the player changes his zone during an AB??What would keep someone like Adam Dunn going to a Pete Rose type crouch when he has a 3-0 count in order to get a walk??

Danny Serafini
09-11-2007, 02:54 PM
Ltlabner, you're going on the assumption that the computers could not improve upon the ups at calling strikes. If it was proven they did would you be in favor of using the computers?

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 03:03 PM
Ltlabner, you're going on the assumption that the computers could not improve upon the ups at calling strikes. If it was proven they did would you be in favor of using the computers?

If a system was developed that worked and didn't involve obtrusive mechanical means I would not have a problem with it per se.

Then again they could develop wood bats that hit the ball 800 feet or lazers that zap foul balls (the what if game is fun!) but it doesnt neccesarly mean its a good idea to employ it.

But no, if they had a real system I could go for a system where it was used to either grade the ump or as a double check.

oneupper
09-11-2007, 03:03 PM
Several people have stated that the computer system 'would be better' or 'elminates the errors' yet there been nothing offered here that substantiates these claims. Its not about 'get off my lawn' (which is an arrogent and condesncending pile of crap anyway) its about actually acheiving the intended benefit.

No one has provided any evidence that the existing systems wouldn't have their own issues with adjustment, callibration , accuracy, interfearence and claims of fudging.

Without an actuall improvment in the accuracy of calls, you are just replacing one problem for another.

There are a number of patents for strike/ball systems. There is obviously an interest.

What is probably lacking is money. No one is going to design/build a prototype, without a reasonable expectation of payback (an order) down the line.

The only "buyer" (initially at least) for such as system would be MLB. So without their stated interest (at the very least), I doubt a system would be designed/built.

Any upgrade will have problems of its own. Heck your car dies sometimes, right? That only happened to horses when they actually ....DIED.

It would have to be tested, calibrated, etc, used in trials, improved...etc. Sure. And you will always need a backup, which initially will be the ump himself. But that is all part of the design/planning process.

I have NO DOUBTS a well-designed system would be more accurate that human umps. I believe it would make the game better.

It's a matter of the will to take this on.

BuckeyeRedleg
09-11-2007, 03:06 PM
I see absolutely nothing wrong with replacing a human function with something that can be more reliably done through an automated system. Bottom line is that the only reason umps/refs exist is to enforce the rules of the game. They are not the game itself. If you can improve the accuracy and consistency with which the rules are enforced, without otherwise negatively affecting the game, then by all means do it.

I'm sorry, but I do not see umpiring as a core part of the game that should not be changed, particularly for the sake of improvement. If we can prove that a computer can call balls & strikes more accurately than a person, then why wouldn't we want that? I refuse to believe that the game is better for having inconsistent strike zones and incorrect calls.

However, this doesn't mean that the umpire is gone. The umpire is still there to make the calls that a computer cannot. This includes plays at the bases, catches vs. traps, and behavioral issues. Heck, you can still have the ump announce the ball/strike calls -- just have the quest-tec send him a signal on his counter. Maintaining the flow of the game is important. There is a legitimate argument about not moving to computer when it cannot make decisions at the same speed as an ump. But bottom line, the umps exist to enforce rules. The goal should be to do so as well as possible and they should have whatever tools at their disposal allow them to do so.

Great post. You have me on board. It just makes too much sense.

cincinnati chili
09-11-2007, 03:17 PM
Does the computer change its zone if the player changes his zone during an AB??What would keep someone like Adam Dunn going to a Pete Rose type crouch when he has a 3-0 count in order to get a walk??

Not all umps called Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson "by the book." Some umps routinely called the high strike on these guys, and they probably should have. I don't blame either one of them for stretching (or crouching) the rules to their own advantage, but they were probably frustrating the purpose of the knees-to-armpits rule. They did it to psych out the pitchers (fine) and to confuse the umpires (not fine).

I imagine they'd have to do it with some sort of height matrix. The league would measure the guys at spring training. If they were 6'2", the machine would uniformly call balls/strikes the same for 6'2" guys.

oneupper
09-11-2007, 03:20 PM
I imagine they'd have to do it with some sort of height matrix. The league would measure the guys at spring training. If they were 6'2", the machine would uniformly call balls/strikes the same for 6'2" guys.

You could measure every player accurately and use his profile when he came to bat.

dabvu2498
09-11-2007, 03:25 PM
You could measure every player accurately and use his profile when he came to bat.

What would prevent a hitter from crouching a little deeper when he was being "measured?"

And then what if someone makes a significant change in his stance during the course of the season?

Would you also measure every player in professional baseball on the chance that they might be called up?

camisadelgolf
09-11-2007, 03:55 PM
If a computer judge balls and strikes, I think there will be pitchers who throw pitches that would normally be called balls but trick the computer into calling them strikes.

Danny Serafini
09-11-2007, 04:10 PM
If the ball passes through the strike zone you're not exactly tricking the computer. The problem is with those pitches being called balls in the first place.

bucksfan2
09-11-2007, 04:19 PM
I think this would be a horriable idea. Part of a baseball game is adjusting to the umpire. I have no problem if a strike zone call or two is missed in a game. All I want is consistancy. Personally I enjoy the human error factor of the game. I think close judgement calls make being a fan even better. It gives you something to talk about. When you take human error out of the game IMO you make the game a little less interesting and a little worse off.

gonelong
09-11-2007, 04:23 PM
Several people have stated that the computer system 'would be better' or 'elminates the errors' yet there been nothing offered here that substantiates these claims.

Which specific "computer system" has been advocated to be implemented in this thread? Of course a computer system "would be better" or "eliminate the errors" ... otherwise nobody would bother to implement it.


Its not about 'get off my lawn' (which is an arrogent and condesncending pile of crap anyway) its about actually acheiving the intended benefit.

Once you get your undies out of the drastically unreasonable bunch they are in, go ahead and toss the in the wash while you are at it.


No one has provided any evidence that the existing systems wouldn't have their own issues with adjustment, callibration , accuracy, interfearence and claims of fudging.

No one has provided any evidence that any future system that is implemented would have any issues with adjustments, callibration, accuracy, interference, and claims of fudging.


Without an actuall improvment in the accuracy of calls, you are just replacing one problem for another.

Keep on tilting at those windmills.

GL

RFS62
09-11-2007, 04:36 PM
You want to see a system that works, look at tennis.

It's a resounding success.

Let the umpires still make the indication of ball or strike, prompted by some kind of electronic interface. That way they get to keep their little signature calls.

But turn the decision making over to the machines. I'm beyond sick at seeing things like 10 years of the Atlanta Braves pitching staff getting the six inch outside strike because of their reputation.

Level the playing field. Make the calls accurate. The umps still get to call all the plays except balls and strikes.

And use instant replay on disputed home run calls. It's much faster than a 15 minute argument.

Clint Hurdle was on XM today and had a great quote on this subject.

I'm paraphrasing, but it was something like "tradition is a great thing, but sometimes it comes at the expense of vision."

It takes vision to make this change, not dogged adherence to tradition.

George Anderson
09-11-2007, 04:44 PM
I think instead of totally blowing up the way a game is called by replacing humans with computers you would be better off using the computer to gauge how well a umpire calls a game and use this gauge to better help the umpire improve his zone. I have forever wanted to see MLB umpires that dont perform sent down to the minor leagues just as the players are sent down when they dont perform. As with alot of union jobs the umpires that are protected by their very strong union dont have the incentive to improve their work. They become lazy and complacent because they have strong job security and very little if anything will happen if they dont perform their jobs adequately.

The players union will be more likely to accept umpires demoted to the minors before they would ever be for computers replacing their umpires. Lets just tweak the system and not totally blow it up.

oneupper
09-11-2007, 04:48 PM
It takes vision to make this change, not dogged adherence to tradition.

Voice of experience there. :D

M2
09-11-2007, 04:58 PM
The strike zone is the strike zone. Hitters and pitchers deserve to know exactly where it is and how it will be called. Whatever system can do the best job of calling it accurately is the one I want.

Seems to me that an electronically-monitored zone is an inevitability. You'll still need an umpire as a backup in case the electronic system fails. I think RFS has it right (loved the tennis analogy). Let the umpire signal ball or strike, but have the computer system feed him the information.

BCubb2003
09-11-2007, 04:59 PM
We'll probably be complaining that the Diebold programmer set up the ESPN RoboUmp metrics to favor the Yankees and Red Sox.

gonelong
09-11-2007, 05:07 PM
The strike zone is the strike zone. Hitters and pitchers deserve to know exactly where it is and how it will be called. Whatever system can do the best job of calling it accurately is the one I want.

Agreed.


Seems to me that an electronically-monitored zone is an inevitability.

Without a doubt. Might as well get there sooner rather than later.


You'll still need an umpire as a backup in case the electronic system fails. I think RFS has it right (loved the tennis analogy). Let the umpire signal ball or strike, but have the computer system feed him the information.

An excellent idea from RFS. The umpires will still have a feeling for the strikezone since they will still be seeing it and could be an adequate replacement in a pinch.

GL

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 05:11 PM
Once you get your undies out of the drastically unreasonable bunch they are in, go ahead and toss the in the wash while you are at it.

:rolleyes:


No one has provided any evidence that any future system that is implemented would have any issues with adjustments, callibration, accuracy, interference, and claims of fudging.

Your lack of understanding of mechanical/electronic devices is apparent. ALL machines require adjustements and callabration to maintain their accuracy especially those that measure things. Many machines, especially those with electronics are subject to interfearence and outright malfunction.

That's not to say a system could be developed that greatly reduces the chances for error or "fudgery" but it might be helpfull to understand machines before day-dreaming about what is possible.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 05:14 PM
By the way, where is the laundry list of games that have been decided by bad ball and strike calls?

Bad calls have been made that effect games but those are typically out in the field (plays at the plate, etc) where only fantesy land automation could make a decision.

But has there been an actual study done (not just people on the other side of the TV griping at bad balls and strike calls) that shows that the course of baseball history has been altered by the strike zone being poorly enforced?

My guess is that it's more of a cumulative effect that single games being won or loss. RFS's example of the Braves in the 90's for example. That is, a single game might not be decided by one strike/ball call, but certian teams get advantages, etc.

cincinnati chili
09-11-2007, 05:20 PM
Part of a baseball game is adjusting to the umpire. I have no problem if a strike zone call or two is missed in a game.

I'd rather see the athletes focusing on other things.

I have a big problem if missed calls could have been avoided.

I'd rather see the athletes influence the game rather than externalities.

GullyFoyle
09-11-2007, 05:20 PM
If you watch MLB Enhanced Gameday with the Pitch FX you can see that the strike zone changes depending on the batter (not every game has this feature)...

I'm not advocating that this system is ready for prime time but the way it tracks balls in flight is amazing. Much better than having people guess where the ball was over the plate (edit: not meaning umps but the guys they pay to watch the game). It tracks speed of ball leaving the pitchers hand, speed over the plate, degree it diverted from a straight line and in what direction. Once they get it calibrated better watch out...

http://www.slate.com/id/2172223/fr/flyout

M2
09-11-2007, 05:27 PM
By the way, where is the laundry list of games that have been decided by bad ball and strike calls?

I don't have a laundry list, but Game 5 of the 1997 NLCS is the only one I'd need on it.

Beyond that, I want the most accurate system, period. Seems to me if the argument is to have the electronic system to monitor how well umps call the strike zone then it's time to cut out the middle man and go with what has already been determined to be the more accurate system.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 05:30 PM
IBeyond that, I want the most accurate system, period.

Yep. I'm really not getting the arguments that missed calls are simply a part of the game. Since when? And, of course, if an electronic system wasn't an improvement, there'd be no sense implementing it. I'm all for anything that could remove or significantly interefere with an attempt at bias on the part of the umpires--whether intentional or not. This wouldn't change the way the game is played one iota--it would only ensure that the calls being made are the correct ones. Who wouldn't want that?

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 05:33 PM
I don't have a laundry list, but Game 5 of the 1997 NLCS is the only one I'd need on it.

Beyond that, I want the most accurate system, period. Seems to me if the argument is to have the electronic system to monitor how well umps call the strike zone then it's time to cut out the middle man and go with what has already been determined to be the more accurate system.

You will need an ump at home plate to determine foul tips, close plays at the plate, etc. I don't think it's reasonable to expect the 3b/1b umps to run home for those sorts of plays.

If you only have the machine, then you are short an ump for the other home plate duties. If you have a home plate ump, but let the machine call the strikes you end up with more of an "on deck circle ump" which doesn't make much sense.

cincinnati chili
09-11-2007, 05:37 PM
Clint Hurdle was on XM today and had a great quote on this subject.

I'm paraphrasing, but it was something like "tradition is a great thing, but sometimes it comes at the expense of vision."

It takes vision to make this change, not dogged adherence to tradition.

Here's what I have to say to Clint Hurdle:

"Being quotable and funny is a great thing, but sometimes it comes at the expense of knowing how to manage a bullpen."

It's sinful that the Rockies have multiple quality bullpen arms, yet Hurdle continues to kill their wild-card chances by putting Jorge Julio into key situations.

[end thread hijacking]

registerthis
09-11-2007, 05:38 PM
If you only have the machine, then you are short an ump for the other home plate duties. If you have a home plate ump, but let the machine call the strikes you end up with more of an "on deck circle ump" which doesn't make much sense.

I haven't read anyone here who advocates getting rid of the home plate umpire. His role would essentially become like that of the other umpires on the field.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 05:38 PM
Yep. I'm really not getting the arguments that missed calls are simply a part of the game. Since when? And, of course, if an electronic system wasn't an improvement, there'd be no sense implementing it. I'm all for anything that could remove or significantly interefere with an attempt at bias on the part of the umpires--whether intentional or not. This wouldn't change the way the game is played one iota--it would only ensure that the calls being made are the correct ones. Who wouldn't want that?

Since the inception of the game? Last I checked, there we're quite a few MLB games going on tonight.

Speaking only for myself, I agree that reducing the number of bad calls (in all aspects of the game, not just balls and strikes) is an desirable goal.

I'm just not sold that a system that can accuraltey call balls in strikes considering the number of variables and the mechanical limitations (i.e. you can't have probes and sensors hanging down like a boom mike) is possible in the forseabable future.

M2
09-11-2007, 05:39 PM
You will need an ump at home plate to determine foul tips, close plays at the plate, etc. I don't think it's reasonable to expect the 3b/1b umps to run home for those sorts of plays.

I don't think a single person here has suggested not having an ump behind the plate.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 05:43 PM
Since the inception of the game? Last I checked, there we're quite a few MLB games going on tonight.

Show me where it says that missed calls are part and parcel with the baseball contest. Simply because it's been allowed to happen doesn't mean nothing should be done to prevent it from happening in the future.


I'm just not sold that a system that can accuraltey call balls in strikes considering the number of variables and the mechanical limitations (i.e. you can't have probes and sensors hanging down like a boom mike) is possible in the forseabable future.

Clearly, what's being argued here is theory. You keep coming back to this point of not believing that a computer could call a game better than a human being. Fine--I disagree, but putting that aside, the argument being put forth is *if* a computerized system could be implemented that was more accurate than an umpire, why would you not use it? Why the opposition to such a clear improvement to the game?

Johnny Footstool
09-11-2007, 05:44 PM
The strike zone is the strike zone. Hitters and pitchers deserve to know exactly where it is and how it will be called. Whatever system can do the best job of calling it accurately is the one I want.

Seems to me that an electronically-monitored zone is an inevitability. You'll still need an umpire as a backup in case the electronic system fails. I think RFS has it right (loved the tennis analogy). Let the umpire signal ball or strike, but have the computer system feed him the information.

See my post at the top of Page 2 of this thread.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 05:47 PM
I don't think a single person here has suggested not having an ump behind the plate.

I missread what you wrote earlier about cutting out the middle man.

Basically have a home plate ump who's duties are limited to plays at the plate, calling foul tips, throwing out managers, and carying the offical score card in his back pocket.

I guess I'd rather have the ump make the calls and the machine back him up because it provides a fail safe. If either the machine or ump soley makes the call, it can be questioned ony any number of levels (bias, grudges, interfearence, whatever). If the ump makes the call and a manager freaks out about it, the ump can quickly refer to the electronic system and say, "see, even the machine agrees with me".

That manager/fan may still question the call, but now they are questioning two sources which tends to make them look silly. If the goal is accruacy and integrity, it seems this system would provide more of both.

It also beneifts umps with....flexable strike zones who are otherwise decent umps. The league can show him the results of the electronic scoring and use it as a teaching aid. The game benefits because an otherwise good ump will overcome a weakness.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 05:49 PM
See my post at the top of Page 2 of this thread.

I don't think the umpire should have the discretion of whether or not to call a ball or strike after a computer has told him what the pitch was. If the system is calibrated to accurately read balls and strikes, then I don't see why the ump's judgment should play a role. Line judges in tennis don't take the computer's reading under advisement--it is what it is.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 05:50 PM
I If either the machine or ump soley makes the call, it can be questioned ony any number of levels (bias, grudges, interfearence, whatever).

How, exactly, could a computer be accused of bias, grudges or interference?

M2
09-11-2007, 05:52 PM
See my post at the top of Page 2 of this thread.

My question is are you talking about aiding the ump there or having him relay what the system has determined? I'm for the latter and against the former. For instance, if the system says strike, but the ump wants to call it a ball, I don't want him to have the authority to make that change.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 05:52 PM
Show me where it says that missed calls are part and parcel with the baseball contest. Simply because it's been allowed to happen doesn't mean nothing should be done to prevent it from happening in the future.

Clearly, what's being argued here is theory. You keep coming back to this point of not believing that a computer could call a game better than a human being. Fine--I disagree, but putting that aside, the argument being put forth is *if* a computerized system could be implemented that was more accurate than an umpire, why would you not use it? Why the opposition to such a clear improvement to the game?

Obviously it isn't written anyware. But that the game has survived and thrived for over 100 years even with the flaws and missed calls tells me that defacto it's "part and parcel". It is part of the game simply because it has been part of the game. Doesn't mean that improvements can't be made of course.

I haven't said I wouldn't use it. If we are all dancing around in the world of make believe and fantesy and such a system exists, I have said a few times that I would be ok with it. I might dissagree on how it's implemented but I agree that it would be helpfull.

How is that confusing?

Chip R
09-11-2007, 05:53 PM
I think instead of totally blowing up the way a game is called by replacing humans with computers you would be better off using the computer to gauge how well a umpire calls a game and use this gauge to better help the umpire improve his zone.


They already have this. It's called Questec and it's been around for a few years now.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 05:56 PM
How, exactly, could a computer be accused of bias, grudges or interference?

Umpires are subject to bias and grudges.

Machines are subject to interfearence. Since we don't know the exact system employed I can't say exactly ABC will happen, but trust me, all machines are subject to errors.

If it's based on light/laser beams they can be blocked, defective, inaccurate. The beams can be distorted by contaminates in the air.

If it's based on a HUD and sensors in the players uniform and balls the sensors can fail and the HUD can lose it's accurcy due to vibrations, shock from foul tips or dirt/dust. Sensors in uniforms will be subject to body heat, body sweat, dirt, dust, shock from sliding/foul tips/collisions. And those sensors have to be robust enough to survive washing after every game, but small enough to not inpede the player.

Again, since the system isn't defined I can't say what can go wrong. But if you know anything about machines/electronics/computers you know that they will go wrong and can be inaccurate if not maintained well.

M2
09-11-2007, 05:58 PM
If the ump makes the call and a manager freaks out about it, the ump can quickly refer to the electronic system and say, "see, even the machine agrees with me".

And if the machine doesn't agree with him? There's already a rule on the books about not debating balls and strikes. It's a good one because the game would devolve into a constant strike zone debate without it.

I'm no engineer, but I'm pretty sure the way most things get built is to use the best, most accurate option as the primary system and the less accurate options for backup. Just have the machine make the call and then there's never any argument.

Once again, why have the machine "teach" the strike zone to the umps? If the machine does the best job of watching the strike zone, then use the machine.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 06:01 PM
Obviously it isn't written anyware. But that the game has survived and thrived for over 100 years even with the flaws and missed calls tells me that defacto it's "part and parcel". It is part of the game simply because it has been part of the game. Doesn't mean that improvements can't be made of course.

I just think that's a lousy argument for keeping *anything* around. The idea of a machine--rather than a human--making such calls is very foreign, but if it's an improvement, so what? If/when something like this goes forward, I expect to read a lot of columns from the old guard about how the game will be ruined, the beauty of "human error", and some misguided analogies to having robots pitch and bat. And there will be very little in the way of substantive argument put forth as to why this should not occur--just a play to nostalgia and the "way things should be".


I have said a few times that I would be ok with it. I might dissagree on how it's implemented but I agree that it would be helpfull.

How is that confusing?

I guess what confused me was things like


Because we have the technology, it doesn't follow that we should use it. The game has gotten along fine since the late 1800's with mk 1 eyeballs and humans behind the plate. There are a lot bigger issues jeprodizing the "integrity of the game" than ball's and strikes.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 06:02 PM
I'm no engineer, but I'm pretty sure the way most things get built is to use the best, most accurate option as the primary system and the less accurate options for backup. Just have the machine make the call and then there's never any argument.

Well, that's were we dissagree. There will still be arguments with the technology available today. Now, if down the road a fail safe system is implemented that has been tested in every way imaginable and shown to be accurate then by all means.

Even then, you are subject to mechanical breakdowns and electronic gremlins. But at least in that scenario it's one game every 10 years that's effected due to computer/mechanical freakout.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 06:06 PM
I just think that's a lousy argument for keeping *anything* around. The idea of a machine--rather than a human--making such calls is very foreign, but if it's an improvement, so what?

I'm not saying that's "because it's always been done" it's a reason to keep umps around. But I do dissagree with the notion that the integrity of the game is called into question with the current system or that without such an improvement the game will fail. Somehow us lowly humans have stumbled along this long without the game taking on the status of ganip-ganop.


I guess what confused me was things like

Well sure, you pick out the my first quote from eight pages ago and take it out of context. Try reading my reply to Danny Saferni or others since then.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 06:08 PM
Machines are subject to interfearence. Since we don't know the exact system employed I can't say exactly ABC will happen, but trust me, all machines are subject to errors.

...

But if you know anything about machines/electronics/computers you know that they will go wrong and can be inaccurate if not maintained well.

What you're describing would likely occur so infrequently as to scarcely warrant a mention. I can't imagine baseball installing a system that hadn't been tested under every conceivable condition in order to assuage the concerns of the players, managers, umpires and fans. If a little dirt or a foul tip were enough to throw the sensor off, then it has no business being used in the first place.

M2
09-11-2007, 06:11 PM
Well, that's were we dissagree. There will still be arguments with the technology available today. Now, if down the road a fail safe system is implemented that has been tested in every way imaginable and shown to be accurate then by all means.

Even then, you are subject to mechanical breakdowns and electronic gremlins. But at least in that scenario it's one game every 10 years that's effected due to computer/mechanical freakout.

And when you've got a system on the fritz, then you'd have an ump behind homeplate to take over. Manual backup. It's as old as the hills.

I don't think anyone's saying the machine will never miss a call, but anyone taking the position that the machine can be used to "teach" the umps what is and isn't a strike has already made a de facto that the machine is more accurate. So, if it's more accurate, use it.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 06:13 PM
Somehow us lowly humans have stumbled along this long without the game taking on the status of ganip-ganop.

Nor have I called the integrity into question, simply because everyone has to play under these conditions (although there are more than a handful of players who can attribute at least a portion of their success to their reputation with the umpires). But enough with the human being pity party--the game is all about human achievement, this discussion relates only to ensuring that what is achieved is done under the fairest possible conditions.


Well sure, you pick out the my first quote from eight pages ago and take it out of context.

I don't believe it was taken out of context, and it wasn't your first quote. What context should it be placed in? Perhaps you've changed your mind or position on the issue since you wrote that, which is fine. But since you asked why some might find your position confusing, I posited an answer.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 06:13 PM
What you're describing would likely occur so infrequently as to scarcely warrant a mention. I can't imagine baseball installing a system that hadn't been tested under every conceivable condition in order to assuage the concerns of the players, managers, umpires and fans. If a little dirt or a foul tip were enough to throw the sensor off, then it has no business being used in the first place.

Well, back to my question about balls and strikes actually effecting the outcome of a game. M2 replied with one game 10 years ago. That qualifies as "occuring so infrequently as to scarely warranting a mention" to me. See, we are where we need to be already!

Kidding aside, I think the effect on the game is more cumulative than anything. Some umps have horrable strike zones that penalize both teams. Others favor the big-name player so the effect isn't a game winning run due to a bad ball being called, but it does put extra base runners on the paths, or keep them off.

Someone else mentioned it earlier but the cost of such a system will be pretty stiff. It will be an interesting hot-potato to see who ends up paying for it (although ultimatley it will be the fans, most of whom don't care about balls and strikes anyway).

Johnny Footstool
09-11-2007, 06:14 PM
History? Good, put it in the musuem with the rest of it. :)

Yeah, that will go over well in a sport absolutely steeped in history and record-keeping.


What influence would the computers have? The whole idea of them would be to remove or at least minimize the influence umpires have, not replace it.

A computer calls a borderline strike against the home team, and the players get upset and end up losing the game "because of the machine."

In other words, the same kind of influence that the umpires can have on the game.



I guess I understand why people might not wan them taken out of the equasion ... they are grumpy old farts with "get of my lawn", "things were better back in my day", don't need "this new-fangled do-hickey" syndrome. :p:

GL

I for one don't want to have to listen to Bob Feller grouse about how many more strikeouts he would have had if the computer would have been calling the game. Or, conversely, to endure endless debate about how many times Adam Dunn was rung up on borderline pitches that the computer would have called balls.

But there's that history thing again. We should really put that out to pasture.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 06:15 PM
And when you've got a system on the fritz, then you'd have an ump behind homeplate to take over. Manual backup. It's as old as the hills.

I don't think anyone's saying the machine will never miss a call, but anyone taking the position that the machine can be used to "teach" the umps what is and isn't a strike has already made a de facto that the machine is more accurate. So, if it's more accurate, use it.

And I'm saying that if you have an ump back there, why not use him and use the technology to improve what he is already doing. There's really no need to reinvent the wheel. You need him back there anyway for the other duties, so why not use the technology to improve what he does?

Besides, I'd love to see fans howling when an ump who hasn't "really" called balls and strikes in years has to jump into the game when the machine melts down. I'm sure there will be no issues then.

M2
09-11-2007, 06:17 PM
Well, back to my question about balls and strikes actually effecting the outcome of a game. M2 replied with one game 10 years ago. That qualifies as "occuring so infrequently as to scarely warranting a mention" to me. See, we are where we need to be already!

Boy you missed the point. Nowhere did I say that was the only case of blown ball and strikes calls over the last decade. However that game was beyond egregious and if it were the only case of balls and strikes being a problem (and it isn't), I'd still be for the change just so something that awful could never happen again.

Johnny Footstool
09-11-2007, 06:18 PM
My question is are you talking about aiding the ump there or having him relay what the system has determined? I'm for the latter and against the former. For instance, if the system says strike, but the ump wants to call it a ball, I don't want him to have the authority to make that change.

The ump relays the call on the field, and it's also automatically relayed to the official scorekeeper.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 06:18 PM
Someone else mentioned it earlier but the cost of such a system will be pretty stiff. It will be an interesting hot-potato to see who ends up paying for it (although ultimatley it will be the fans, most of whom don't care about balls and strikes anyway).

I think the real impediment to installing such a system will come from the umpires themselves. They would--naturally--view such a shift as downsizing their responsibilities (and, by extension, their salaries). I don't think you'll have too difficult a time convincing the players and management that it's for the best. Unless your name is Greg Maddux.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 06:21 PM
Boy you missed the point. Nowhere did I say that was the only case of blown ball and strikes calls over the last decade. However that game was beyond egregious and if it were the only case of balls and strikes being a problem (and it isn't), I'd still be for the change just so something that awful could never happen again.

Dude...check your humor circuit.

Note the "kidding aside" comment in the next paragraph and the exclamation point.

Geez...you technocrats should relax and lay off the caffiene.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 06:21 PM
A computer calls a borderline strike against the home team, and the players get upset and end up losing the game "because of the machine."

A strike's a strike--even if it's "borderline".

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 06:21 PM
A strike's a strike--even if it's "borderline".

Oh, I'm sure the other team and fans will see it that way.

M2
09-11-2007, 06:32 PM
And I'm saying that if you have an ump back there, why not use him and use the technology to improve what he is already doing. There's really no need to reinvent the wheel.

Unfortunately the trapdoor in your argument is the optimal way to "improve" what he's doing is to not have him do it. You're admitting the machine does a better job of calling balls and strikes. If it didn't, then it couldn't "improve" or "help" or "teach." Once you've taken that leap then there's really no going back. You've made the determination as to which one is the better system and shame on you if you don't use it.

The wheel's already been reinvented in this case, or more accurately filled with air. This isn't new technology. It's literally been around for decades.

oneupper
09-11-2007, 06:32 PM
This is a real interesting debate. I'd like to jump in with an issue that's being overlooked IMO.

How important ARE ball and strike calls?

From some posts here, one gets the impression that its only on a few occasions when someone is "rung up" or "squeezed" in a critical situation the call was "important".

I beg to differ. I've seen enough research here (Cyclone792 has done some fine stuff) to convince me that a single strike/ball call anytime during a PA can have a HUGE influence on the outcome of that PA.

If umps miss 5% of all calls, then they have messed up 5-8 PAs per game (I'm assuming 250 pitches per game, about 100-150 actually called balls or strikes). Thats 8-12% aprox of all PAs of a game. That's a LOT of influence, IMO. That doesn't account for messing with pitchers/batters "heads" with their variable strike zones.

We can argue if these things "even out" in the end over the course of a game or a season. But to me, at least, it's pretty clear that for the GAME...the accuracy of these calls is extremely important.

M2
09-11-2007, 06:35 PM
Note the "kidding aside" comment in the next paragraph and the exclamation point.

Noted them the first time. You still seemingly missed the point, so I figured I'd better underline it.

M2
09-11-2007, 06:35 PM
This is a real interesting debate. I'd like to jump in with an issue that's being overlooked IMO.

How important ARE ball and strike calls?

From some posts here, one gets the impression that its only on a few occasions when someone is "rung up" or "squeezed" in a critical situation the call was "important".

I beg to differ. I've seen enough research here (Cyclone792 has done some fine stuff) to convince me that a single strike/ball call anytime during a PA can have a HUGE influence on the outcome of that PA.

If umps miss 5% of all calls, then they have messed up 5-8 PAs per game (I'm assuming 250 pitches per game, about 100-150 actually called balls or strikes). Thats 8-12% aprox of all PAs of a game. That's a LOT of influence, IMO. That doesn't account for messing with pitchers/batters "heads" with their variable strike zones.

We can argue if these things "even out" in the end over the course of a game or a season. But to me, at least, it's pretty clear that for the GAME...the accuracy of these calls is extremely important.

Stellar post.

RedsManRick
09-11-2007, 06:45 PM
This is a real interesting debate. I'd like to jump in with an issue that's being overlooked IMO.

How important ARE ball and strike calls?

From some posts here, one gets the impression that its only on a few occasions when someone is "rung up" or "squeezed" in a critical situation the call was "important".

I beg to differ. I've seen enough research here (Cyclone792 has done some fine stuff) to convince me that a single strike/ball call anytime during a PA can have a HUGE influence on the outcome of that PA.

If umps miss 5% of all calls, then they have messed up 5-8 PAs per game (I'm assuming 250 pitches per game, about 100-150 actually called balls or strikes). Thats 8-12% aprox of all PAs of a game. That's a LOT of influence, IMO. That doesn't account for messing with pitchers/batters "heads" with their variable strike zones.

We can argue if these things "even out" in the end over the course of a game or a season. But to me, at least, it's pretty clear that for the GAME...the accuracy of these calls is extremely important.

I was just thinking to the wonderful parallel of steroids. We don't really know how much effect they've had on the outcomes of games. We don't even know who has used them and who hasn't. However, you read article after article about unfair playing fields and the ruining of the game.

Yes, the analogy isn't perfect for a number of reasons. However, one of the major components of the steroid issue holds. It's not just the actual advantaged gained or not gained.

It's the added externality affecting the outcome of the game that is not within the control of the players. We've come to accept that Greg Maddux will get strikes that Aaron Harang won't because we've had no better alternative for so long. However, we won't accept that Barry Bonds gets to hit the ball longer than other guys.

I guess I just don't see the problem in using an electronic system to remove human error from the realm of what should be a purely objective decision - whether or not the ball crossed over the plate.

Ltabner is right, the technology won't be perfect either. But it will more accurate. Why is more accurate a bad thing?

Do you object to tennis' system? If so, why? If not, how is the matter of calling balls & strikes different. Again, we're working on the premise that the electronic system would be more accurate and reliably so. If it isn't, I don't think you'd find a person in this discussion supporting its use.

registerthis
09-11-2007, 06:47 PM
Oh, I'm sure the other team and fans will see it that way.

Who cares? Accuracy is accuracy. The whole point of this exercise is to eliminate perceptions.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 06:53 PM
What would be equally interesting to me is to develop an electronic system to determine where the ball landed and who *should* have gotten to it for a better defenseive metrics system. Such a system is even more mechanically challenging than a balls & strikes system.

The game has survived this long with bad umps behind home plate, but we'ver never really seen where better defensive metrics can take us. Again, not a justification to keep umps who can't find a good strike zone with a map, but I think a mechancal means to measure and provide data for the defensive metrics end of things is far more interesting.

oneupper
09-11-2007, 06:56 PM
I
Do you object to tennis' system? If so, why?

Well, tennis hasn't been the same since McEnroe retired...:D

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 06:57 PM
Who cares? Accuracy is accuracy. The whole point of this exercise is to eliminate perceptions.

That's just it, it woln't.

People can't even accept what the radar gun on the score board is telling them, or what a players weight is listed as. You really think they will roll over and say, "well, I guess the machine said it was a strike" when their team's chances for the NLCS just went poof? Heck no, they will come up with a laundry list of reasons as to why they got shafted. Especially in an emotional setting like that. Having a machine certinally reduces the number of reasonable arguments they might have (a good thing) but I don't think it eliminates them.

You can say, "well the machine said...." all day long and people will come up with all sorts of reasons why the machine is wrong. Just as they often do with the umpire now. Or radar guns. Or voting machines. Or your bathoom scale.

You may increase the accuracy of the balls and strikes (a very good thing) but I highly doubt you put the perception issue to rest. So if that is your sole justification, you are on thin ice, IMO.

I know it isn't your sole justification, just responding to this singular post.

RedsManRick
09-11-2007, 07:01 PM
What would be equally interesting to me is to develop an electronic system to determine where the ball landed and who *should* have gotten to it for a better defenseive metrics system. Such a system is even more mechanically challenging than a balls & strikes system.

The game has survived this long with bad umps behind home plate, but we'ver never really seen where better defensive metrics can take us. Again, not a justification to keep umps who can't find a good strike zone with a map, but I think a mechancal means to measure and provide data for the defensive metrics end of things is far more interesting.

Umm... the issue with balls and strikes is that they have to be called live. I'm sure if the umps could look at every pitch via instant replay and then make their, they could be more accurate.

Luckily defensive metrics don't have to be created live. Thus, we don't need the computers to make the instantaneous decision of who should have fielded it. Rather, we can look at every single ball hit via reply and know exactly what trajectory it was hit at and where it landed. We can then use that data to create metrics many many days after the event occurs. Oh wait... you mean people are doing that right now!?

Sure, a triangulation system on every ball hit would aid the creation of better defensive metrics even more.

Of course, you've yet again created a false dichotomy. I'm glad you'd find better defensive metrics more interesting. Me too! So let's do both! Woohoo for technology!

Please move on from the "it won't make it perfect so we might as well not even try to improve it" line.

And you're right, perception issues will never be solved absolutely. But you can bet that even though people still debate calls in the NFL, there are a number of bad calls which have been overturned and correctly so thanks to instant replay. Is it perfect? Nope. Is it better than it used to be? Yup. Tennis.. same thing.

M2
09-11-2007, 07:03 PM
Or your bathoom scale.

That one's probably telling you the truth. You just don't want to hear it.

RedsManRick
09-11-2007, 07:06 PM
That one's probably telling you the truth. You just don't want to hear it.

Personally, I'd rather have somebody who has spent the last 30 years judging people's weight tell me how much I weigh. Definitely better than some machine.

Heck before scales, people had to guess how much things weighed. They got pretty close. If it was good enough then, why'd they event invent the stupid scale?

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 07:08 PM
That one's probably telling you the truth. You just don't want to hear it.

Hey wait a cotton-picken second. I'm tired of your.......

Oh wait.

Damn...you are right! :p:

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 07:16 PM
Please move on from the "it won't make it perfect so we might as well not even try to improve it" line.

I have no issue with using technology to reliably improve the accuracy of balls and strikes if such technology existed. Since I have made that clear on a number of occasions, and you continue to hound on it, I'd suggest you move on along yourself.

I do, however, take exception with the notion that has been floated early on and often in this discussion that with the advent of a mechanical/computerized system all will be wonderfull and perfect and delightfull. And that somehow all problems related to the calling of all balls and strikes would dissapear.

RedsManRick
09-11-2007, 07:35 PM
I have no issue with using technology to reliably improve the accuracy of balls and strikes if such technology existed. Since I have made that clear on a number of occasions, and you continue to hound on it, I'd suggest you move on along yourself.

I do, however, take exception with the notion that has been floated early on and often in this discussion that with the advent of a mechanical/computerized system all will be wonderfull and perfect and delightfull. And that somehow all problems related to the calling of all balls and strikes would dissapear.

Would you mind directing me to the happy happy joy joy posts to which you refer? A lot of us said it would be an improvement. I don't think anybody said it would be perfect and that all problems would magically vanish.

Ltlabner
09-11-2007, 07:48 PM
Would you mind directing me to the happy happy joy joy posts to which you refer? A lot of us said it would be an improvement. I don't think anybody said it would be perfect and that all problems would magically vanish.

Sure...re-read the thread.

If you aren't able to descern where people were making the case that it would eliminate perception issues, a strike would be a strike, their would be no arguing calls and with the right bit of technology everything would be accurate then I don't know what to tell you.

Roy Tucker
09-11-2007, 09:35 PM
Interesting BP article on Questec at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=3326. The article is from 2004 so I don't know what kinds of improvements have been made.

I always worry about people thinking technology is the universal panacea to a problem. I'd be cautious about using it as a primary source of calling balls and strikes. At least till it can be proven and documented that its better.

I'd opt for training and measuring umps based on Questec. Tell them, "this is the strike zone, call it". and then measure them on how well they do call it. And put teeth in what happens if they don't.

Right now, nobody playing the game really knows or cares about Questec. Once it becomes the primary source of balls and strikes, there could very well be a whole new set of issues and gamemanship that hasn't developed yet. Not to mention the curse of unintended consequences.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know.

RFS62
09-11-2007, 09:41 PM
Well, I tried to read the 4 pages since my last post, but it's just too much. So, if I'm repeating something already stated, I apologize.

Let me tell you, all the same arguments and concerns were voiced ad infinitum when tennis first went to their system. Pretty much a carbon copy of this debate. And since they've gone all in, the technology has evolved into something incredible, far superior to the old "totally human" system.

It's a simple fact that humans can't possible judge the movement of a hurtling sphere, spinning and curving at speeds up to 100 mph, and detect it's position in space with near 100% certainty and precision.

The idea that umpires are right as much as they are is a tremendous testimony to their incredible skill and talent.

Doesn't matter. We've got a better system, and it's only going to improve. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when the change takes place.

And just like tennis, there will be a staunch group of traditionalists who think the game will somehow be diminished by adding this technology.

They're wrong. The game will be made better. The game is what's important here, not the ego of the umpires union.

Nothing is bigger than the game. No person, no union, no group, no tradition.

The prime directive of all umpires is to get the call right. Physician, heal thyself.

red-in-la
09-11-2007, 09:53 PM
That one's probably telling you the truth. You just don't want to hear it.


Mine just keeps telling me to come back alone next trip.

GAC
09-11-2007, 10:16 PM
Who is Bobby Cox gonna argue with now? :lol:

gonelong
09-11-2007, 11:08 PM
:rolleyes:
Your lack of understanding of mechanical/electronic devices is apparent.

Only to you.


ALL machines require adjustements and callabration to maintain their accuracy especially those that measure things.

Some require more care than others. I said it wouldn't be an issue, not that it wouldn't be neccessary.


Many machines, especially those with electronics are subject to interfearence and outright malfunction.

Many seem to operate just fine on a daily basis. Do some R&D, testing, and implement one that will work if/when it is found.

GL

gonelong
09-11-2007, 11:27 PM
A computer calls a borderline strike against the home team, and the players get upset and end up losing the game "because of the machine."

In other words, the same kind of influence that the umpires can have on the game.

The player can get upset all he wants. A strike is a strike no matter if a human or non-human umpire calls it.

I think the difference is that a non-human system would call that strike each and every time (or darn close to it) while a human would have a wider variance (be more likely to miss one here and there). That is the influence I was thinking of.



I for one don't want to have to listen to Bob Feller grouse about how many more strikeouts he would have had if the computer would have been calling the game.

:laugh:


Or, conversely, to endure endless debate about how many times Adam Dunn was rung up on borderline pitches that the computer would have called balls.

Ah, we'll have endless debates about one thing or another.


But there's that history thing again. We should really put that out to pasture.

I'm really not sure what we are debating with the "history" angle. Umpires have been in the game for a century. They have just been a mechanism to allow the players to play the game. Changing the mechanism that allows the players to play the game won't devalue the grand history of the game IMO.

GL

Cyclone792
09-11-2007, 11:57 PM
Interesting discussion, I must say.

Personally, I don't have a dog in this fight, though I'll be honest and say that my initial reaction was "no, I don't think I'd want this."

But then I asked myself why. And honestly, I really couldn't come up with any type of viable reason why I wouldn't want new technology aiding (or in some cases, replacing) some calls on the field. Probably the best reason I could think of was tradition, but tradition is just the product of a specific environment. And that specific environment (i.e. tradition) can be (and has been) altered in the past, sometimes for the good (wildcards), and sometimes for the bad (DH). So there stands a good chance that my initial thought isn't the best route to take.

After thinking about it for a bit, the single most important key for me with calls on the field is that they're the correct calls on any given play or pitch. It pretty much doesn't matter to me who (or what) is making the calls, just that the calls are correct. If new technology presents an option to improve what the game currently has, then it probably needs to be considered for implementation.

All that said, I do think woy may be correct though with his comment on the very first page stating that it could be 80 years for this type of change to take place. There's no other reason for it except that's just the way baseball is. If this type of change takes place anytime soon, I'd be extremely shocked.

Johnny Footstool
09-12-2007, 12:02 AM
I'm really not sure what we are debating with the "history" angle. Umpires have been in the game for a century. They have just been a mechanism to allow the players to play the game. Changing the mechanism that allows the players to play the game won't devalue the grand history of the game IMO.

GL

Well, the game is steeped in history, especially historical statistics (much more so than tennis). Those statisitics were influenced by human umpires. Take the human umpires out of the equation, and suddenly statistics will start to change. We'll have ushered in a new era, sure, but we'll also have burned a bridge in terms of the history of the game.

I kind of see this like comparing live music to a digitally mastered recording. Sure, you can use technology to remove all the fret buzzes and missed notes, but some of us actually like the idea that there's a human performing who can potentially make a mistake.

RFS62
09-12-2007, 12:17 AM
If I thought humans could do the job better and get the calls correct more consistently than machines, I'd be all for keeping humans making the calls.

Ask yourself this... do you want Eric Gregg and Angel Hernandez or do you want the Hal2000?

I want Hal. He may lock me outside the pod doors every now and then, but I'll bet he doesn't give Glavine that call six inches outside and low just because he's Glavine.


http://fusionanomaly.net/hal.jpg

gonelong
09-12-2007, 12:41 AM
Well, the game is steeped in history, especially historical statistics (much more so than tennis). Those statisitics were influenced by human umpires. Take the human umpires out of the equation, and suddenly statistics will start to change. We'll have ushered in a new era, sure, but we'll also have burned a bridge in terms of the history of the game.

I don't think it would alter stats any moreso than integrating baseball, introducing a DH, or lowering the mound. I suspect the players would adapt pretty quickly to a more standard strike-zone.


I kind of see this like comparing live music to a digitally mastered recording. Sure, you can use technology to remove all the fret buzzes and missed notes, but some of us actually like the idea that there's a human performing who can potentially make a mistake.

IMO thats a great argument for not replacing the players with robots, but it doesn't do much to sway me on the umpires.

GL

RedsManRick
09-12-2007, 01:33 AM
I kind of see this like comparing live music to a digitally mastered recording. Sure, you can use technology to remove all the fret buzzes and missed notes, but some of us actually like the idea that there's a human performing who can potentially make a mistake.

I'd compare it to sticking to cassettes instead of CDs because something about analogue is more real than digital.

The game is the band, the umpires are simply the thing which let you hear the band. You might as well get as good as quality a recording as possible, so that you detract from the quality of the band itself.

Sure, some people will have some emotional attachment to their cassettes (or 45s or 8 tracks), but that doesn't mean it's better.

cincinnati chili
09-12-2007, 02:33 AM
Let me tell you, all the same arguments and concerns were voiced ad infinitum when tennis first went to their system. Pretty much a carbon copy of this debate. And since they've gone all in, the technology has evolved into something incredible, far superior to the old "totally human" system.

It's a simple fact that humans can't possible judge the movement of a hurtling sphere, spinning and curving at speeds up to 100 mph, and detect it's position in space with near 100% certainty and precision.

The idea that umpires are right as much as they are is a tremendous testimony to their incredible skill and talent.

Doesn't matter. We've got a better system, and it's only going to improve. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when the change takes place.

And just like tennis, there will be a staunch group of traditionalists who think the game will somehow be diminished by adding this technology.

They're wrong. The game will be made better. The game is what's important here, not the ego of the umpires union.

Nothing is bigger than the game. No person, no union, no group, no tradition.

The prime directive of all umpires is to get the call right. Physician, heal thyself.

Great post here and throughout this thread.

It occurred to me that before they introduce this in the major leagues, they could do a trial run at Triple A or the World Baseball classic or something. That would allow them to work out the kinks.

I'm too lazy to look it up, but I'm guessing Cyclops didn't debut at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.

Cedric
09-12-2007, 03:23 AM
While I respect the above opinions, there is something I don't get..

Why isn't it like excel vs. green sheets or
Cars vs. Horse drawn buggies or
Calculators vs slide rules or
whatever technical advance has been made..

There is a task at hand:. To determine if a sphere, traveling at high speeds has traversed a certain physical space.

Humans have performed this task, since basically they were best and only alternative.
They were trained and selected (eyesight)...

Lets face it...its not easy. Given the task, umps do a pretty decent job.

We now have the option of machines that could perform this task with a much higher degree of accuracy.

I have a hard time thinking why we shouldn't consider it.

It's a GAME.

Johnny Footstool
09-12-2007, 10:58 AM
I'd compare it to sticking to cassettes instead of CDs because something about analogue is more real than digital.

The game is the band, the umpires are simply the thing which let you hear the band. You might as well get as good as quality a recording as possible, so that you detract from the quality of the band itself.

Sure, some people will have some emotional attachment to their cassettes (or 45s or 8 tracks), but that doesn't mean it's better.

Cassettes were digitally mastered, too.

A more apt comparison is live human performance vs. processed performance. Like seeing a play versus seeing a filmed version of the play.

And yes, the players are the one's whose performance is the most interesting by far. But the umpires, especially the home plate umpire, also perform. I like the fact that they can potentially screw up. It adds drama to the game.

Johnny Footstool
09-12-2007, 10:58 AM
It's a GAME.

A-friggin'-men!

registerthis
09-12-2007, 12:09 PM
I want Hal. He may lock me outside the pod doors every now and then, but I'll bet he doesn't give Glavine that call six inches outside and low just because he's Glavine.


:laugh:

BCubb2003
09-12-2007, 12:21 PM
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Tom."

cincinnati chili
09-12-2007, 01:11 PM
It's a game where millions of dollars are on the line. It's a game that will suffer if the fans believe that randomness or externalities determine the outcome.

I'm not advocating this technology for high school tournaments.

dabvu2498
09-12-2007, 01:16 PM
It's a game that will suffer if the fans believe that randomness or externalities determine the outcome.



Like the wind or the rain? Or a pebble in the grass that causes a bad hop? Or a freak injury to a star player? Or a starting pitcher that had too much to drink the night before?

Randomness and externalities can not be eliminated from baseball.

cincinnati chili
09-12-2007, 01:18 PM
Like the wind or the rain? Or a pebble in the grass that causes a bad hop? Or a freak injury to a star player? Or a starting pitcher that had too much to drink the night before?

Randomness and externalities can not be eliminated from baseball.

Good point. Arbitrariness is the word I should have used.

registerthis
09-12-2007, 01:20 PM
It's a game where millions of dollars are on the line. It's a game that will suffer if the fans believe that randomness or externalities determine the outcome.

But, as others point out ad nauseum here, we've accepted the fact that umpires will miss a goodly number of calls throughout any given game. It's just the way the game is, the argument goes. So why would the game suffer more under a system that would undoubtedly be an improvement?

There will unquesitonably be a PR sell required by baseball to convince the general public--if and when such a system is introduced--that it is indeed an improvement. But beyond that, I don't see why the game would "suffer" any more than it did when the DH was introduced, baseball was integrated, or any of the othger myriad changes the sport has gone through since its inception. Seems like quite the natural progression to me.

M2
09-12-2007, 01:21 PM
It's a GAME.

... and so?

If I'm playing gin rummy I like to know there's the proper 52 cards in the deck. I wouldn't take kindly to it if someone swapped out the one-eyed jacks for two extra suicide kings.

dabvu2498
09-12-2007, 01:26 PM
Good point. Arbitrariness is the word I should have used.

I still think there will be an issue of arbitrariness.

No matter how right MLB could make this system, there will still be complaints. Maybe they would be valid, maybe not. I just don't see a way to make the umpiring of a game "perfect" in the eyes of players, management, coaches or fans.

Would such a system make the calling of the game better? Dunno.

But it's certainly something I'd want hard evidence of, through at least a couple years of testing at the minor league level.

BCubb2003
09-12-2007, 01:51 PM
I'm surprised this has become an idealogical battleground. I can definitely respect the argument that coping with the umpire is part of a being a ballplayer, but it's 62's argument that would sway me. I've always been bothered by the idea that veterans get calls that rookies don't, and that pitchers like Glavine and Maddux have "earned" a big strike zone.

RedsManRick
09-12-2007, 01:55 PM
Like the wind or the rain? Or a pebble in the grass that causes a bad hop? Or a freak injury to a star player? Or a starting pitcher that had too much to drink the night before?

Randomness and externalities can not be eliminated from baseball.

And yet they still cut the grass to be uniform, rake the dirt to get rid of as many pebbles as possible, and try to keep all the pitching mounds the same height.

Just because you can't ever reach perfect doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to improve -- especially when the "randomness" isn't really all that random. It's not just that umps miss calls sometimes. It's that Maddux gets strikes that Belisle doesn't. It's that righties have a lower strike zone called against them than do lefties.

Here's an interesting table and commentary from Dan Fox at BP. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6502 (subscription required). He's done a lot of work with the Pitch/fx data MLB is accumulating.



Several years ago I took my older daughter on a fossil hunting trip in the Cretaceous Badlands of western Kansas, in what was then the Western Interior Seaway. After just a few minutes of struggling to see the bits of fossilized bone, shell, and teeth that our guide could see so well, the concept of "search image" had become crystal clear for both my daughter and myself. The basic idea is that we see what we're trained to see. Our minds interpret the data coming from our eyes using predefined patterns that have been influenced and built up from experience. So to our guide, what was clearly a shark tooth of the species Cretoxyrhina literally right in front of our noses, was for us simply another piece of jagged rock. I'm happy to report that we eventually caught on and made a contribution or two as the day wore on.

I was reflecting on this experience as I examined the called ball and strike accuracy of umpires when broken down by count. To understand why this happened examine the following table, keeping in mind that the mean CSAgree% is 81.4 percent and the mean CBAgree% is 94.6 percent:



Count Pitches CS CSAgree% CB CBAgree% Agree%
1-0 6653 2690 .803 3963 .945 .887
2-0 2349 1078 .828 1271 .943 .891
3-0 1155 710 .883 445 .948 .908
1-1 5066 1199 .772 3867 .950 .908
1-2 3871 400 .670 3471 .962 .932
2-1 2359 616 .756 1743 .952 .901
2-2 2637 336 .732 2301 .969 .939
3-1 1048 388 .799 660 .952 .895
3-2 1168 184 .788 984 .966 .938
0-0 20415 8960 .837 11455 .928 .888
0-1 6971 1450 .790 5521 .944 .912
0-2 3078 233 .695 2845 .968 .947

Now, take a look at the bolded numbers. They differ in a statistically significant way from the overall mean at the 95 percent confidence level. Notice how far they deviate from the means--at 3-0, over 88 percent of called strikes are actually strikes, while at 1-2 and 0-2 the percentages drop to 67 percent and 69.5 percent, respectively. In other words, at 3-0 (and 2-0 to a lesser extent), umpires are more likely to see the pitch as a ball, and with two strikes (likewise at 2-2), they're more likely to see the pitch as a strike.

Note that in the cases where there are two strikes this is exactly the opposite of the intent of the pitcher, where experience tells us they typically try and get hitters to chase, and therefore should result in more thrown balls. One possible explanation is that umpires, even in the short span of several pitches, have their search image modified, and as a result tend to model their calls on the prevailing trend.

What this indicates is that while umpires may, in the words of George Will, be "natural republicans–dead to human feelings," they are prone to at least some of the same biases and perceptions as the rest of us.

Will machines magically fix everything? Of course not. But machines don't know who's pitching. They don't know who's hitting. They don't know they count. Thus, they can't have their perceptions influenced by these things.

Umpires are amazing and I have all the respect in the world for what they do and their ability to do it. But the calling of balls and strikes is one of the few areas which should be very black and white. There should be no subjectivity involved. No amount of training informed by a computer tracking system will allow an ump to get outside of his human limitations: conditions (shadows, rain), positioning (hard to see low pitches), psychology, etc.

There are aspects of an umpires job which simply cannot be replaced by an automated system.

Given the analogies earlier, I would draw another. You are going to watch the symphony. The purpose of doing so is to enjoy a certain set of songs played live by the very best musicians. Do you want them to have music in front of them or not? Sure, they know the songs by heart and will get the right notes, the right inflections, etc. 95% of the time. It will be a wonderful concert I'm sure. But why not let them keep the music in front of them to confirm their perceptions, their memories? Does it detract from the performance in any meaningful way that they might not be playing 100% from memory? Not in my estimation.

M2
09-12-2007, 02:00 PM
I've always been bothered by the idea that veterans get calls that rookies don't, and that pitchers like Glavine and Maddux have "earned" a big strike zone.

Me too. It's a preposterous notion that different pitchers and hitters get different strike zones.

One thing an electronic system would do is put an immediate stop to that nonsense.

So you'd get uniformity no matter what and I've yet to hear anyone argue that human eyesight would be more accurate or even roughly comparable.

registerthis
09-12-2007, 02:08 PM
I just don't see a way to make the umpiring of a game "perfect" in the eyes of players, management, coaches or fans.

The idea isn't to make it "perfect", and no one has suggested that is the case. The idea is to make it *better*, and unquestionably a computerized system that could accurately determine balls and strikes would be an improvement.

Who cares if people complain about a computerized system? People complain now--in heaps and bunches. MLB's sole goal should be to provide a playing situation that is as fair as possible. Not "perfect", not "beyond complaint"--but as fair and accurate as can be obtained. If a computerized ball-and-strike system would help accomplish that, I don't see how one could be opposed.

registerthis
09-12-2007, 02:08 PM
So you'd get uniformity no matter what and I've yet to hear anyone argue that human eyesight would be more accurate or even roughly comparable.

It worked for RoboCop, so it should work for MLB too.

dabvu2498
09-12-2007, 02:11 PM
The idea isn't to make it "perfect", and no one has suggested that is the case. The idea is to make it *better*, and unquestionably a computerized system that could accurately determine balls and strikes would be an improvement.

Who cares if people complain about a computerized system? People complain now--in heaps and bunches. MLB's sole goal should be to provide a playing situation that is as fair as possible. Not "perfect", not "beyond complaint"--but as fair and accurate as can be obtained. If a computerized ball-and-strike system would help accomplish that, I don't see how one could be opposed.

I don't disagree. But I would want proof that a new system actually would be better rather than just someone telling me it's better and automatically running it out there.

Like I said in the rest of the post you quoted... Test it in the minors. If it actually is better, use it.

registerthis
09-12-2007, 02:19 PM
Like I said in the rest of the post you quoted... Test it in the minors. If it actually is better, use it.

If/when such a system is implemented, I'm quite certain that's exactly what MLB will do. heck, they couldn't even implement a steroid policy at the major league level without running it through the minors first.

M2
09-12-2007, 03:16 PM
It worked for RoboCop, so it should work for MLB too.

I'd buy that for a dollar!

Johnny Footstool
09-12-2007, 03:19 PM
... and so?

If I'm playing gin rummy I like to know there's the proper 52 cards in the deck. I wouldn't take kindly to it if someone swapped out the one-eyed jacks for two extra suicide kings.

Who is swapping out cards? Baseball has been played with the same 52 cards since it's inception.

Why is everybody acting like this is a new problem that *must* be solved?

registerthis
09-12-2007, 03:36 PM
Why is everybody acting like this is a new problem that *must* be solved?

Because, for the first time since the game's inception, we have been presented with a better alternative to umpires calling balls and strikes.

M2
09-12-2007, 03:36 PM
Who is swapping out cards? Baseball has been played with the same 52 cards since it's inception.

Why is everybody acting like this is a new problem that *must* be solved?

No, it's played with a rotating deck dependent on the umpire. We accept it as a "good enough" system, but the point is that it *can* be done better. It doesn't have to be, but why wouldn't you do it better if you could?

As has been mentioned, the sport already uses an electronic system to check how accurate the umps are. The reason the electronic system can be used in that way is because it's more accurate and more consistent.

Johnny Footstool
09-12-2007, 05:29 PM
No, it's played with a rotating deck dependent on the umpire. We accept it as a "good enough" system, but the point is that it *can* be done better. It doesn't have to be, but why wouldn't you do it better if you could?


Because, for the first time since the game's inception, we have been presented with a better alternative to umpires calling balls and strikes.

"Better" is a subjective term. "More technologically precise" is a more accurate term.

Personally, I kind of prefer having a human element to deal with.

oneupper
09-12-2007, 05:36 PM
Personally, I kind of prefer having a human element to deal with.

Yep. Some people like buying stuff with a sales rep or over the phone. Others like placing those orders online and not dealing with people.

Beer-drinking, however, is best done in the company of fellow REDS fans...

Cheers..:beerme::beerme::beerme::beerme:

RedsManRick
09-12-2007, 06:00 PM
"Better" is a subjective term. "More technologically precise" is a more accurate term.

Personally, I kind of prefer having a human element to deal with.

A ha. So there's the real point. I'm glad somebody finally stated it. You simply don't want greater accuracy at the expense of human judgment.

I'm curious, what is your stance on instant replay in the NFL and the line judging system in tennis?

registerthis
09-12-2007, 06:04 PM
[QUOTE=Johnny Footstool;1463354Personally, I kind of prefer having a human element to deal with.[/QUOTE]

I guess we just fundamentally disagree here, then. I'd prefer to lessen the "human element" in factors that affect the play of the game as much as possible. If that means taking the responsibility of making a ball/strike count away from the umpire, so be it.

M2
09-12-2007, 06:10 PM
"Better" is a subjective term. "More technologically precise" is a more accurate term.

Personally, I kind of prefer having a human element to deal with.

Seeing that the strike zone is supposed to be uniform, by definition the more precise way of monitoring it would be better.

Personally I could give a hang about the human element when it comes to umpiring. They're paid to get the calls right and they don't add anything to my enjoyment of the game. In fact, they either get the calls right or they detract from my enjoyment of the game. Will he or won't he get the call right is anathema to the job umps are supposed to be doing.

Johnny Footstool
09-12-2007, 06:18 PM
A ha. So there's the real point. I'm glad somebody finally stated it.

I though I was making that point in my previous posts about performance and allowing for human error.


You simply don't want greater accuracy at the expense of human judgment.

I'm curious, what is your stance on instant replay in the NFL and the line judging system in tennis?

Instant replay in the NFL is a great thing, because is allows fans the opportunity to go get another beer.

Also, even with all the technology available, the call is still up to the judgment of the officials.

A more apt comparison to the automated strike zone would be suggesting that each player's uniform be equipped with sensors that could register whether or not the player was holding, or touched a receiver while the ball was in flight, etc. Or having a special video officiating staff that could monitor each and every player and ensure that each and every rule was enforced to the letter.

I'd rather just let them play -- bad calls, missed calls, and all.

Johnny Footstool
09-12-2007, 06:26 PM
Seeing that the strike zone is supposed to be uniform, by definition the more precise way of monitoring it would be better.

Technologically monitoring the strike zone would eliminate the potential for individual pitchers/hitters to adapt to the way a certain ump is calling a certain game, thus removing an element of human performance (adaptation) from the sport.

Personally, I think the game is a lot better when Aaron Harang realizes that a certain ump will call strikes on sliders that are two inches outside, and he is able to adjust and exploit that fact.

BuckeyeRedleg
09-12-2007, 06:31 PM
"Better" is a subjective term. "More technologically precise" is a more accurate term.

Personally, I kind of prefer having a human element to deal with.


I like the idea of keeping the Ump still just to convey balls and strikes from the computer.

To everyone watching, there would be no noticeable difference, except we'd know that the correct call was being made 100% of the time.

And If something goes haywire and the computer is down the ump can take over and call balls and strikes like the "old days".

M2
09-12-2007, 06:36 PM
Technologically monitoring the strike zone would eliminate the potential for individual pitchers/hitters to adapt to the way a certain ump is calling a certain game, thus removing an element of human performance (adaptation) from the sport.

Personally, I think the game is a lot better when Aaron Harang realizes that a certain ump will call strikes on sliders that are two inches outside, and he is able to adjust and exploit that fact.

I'd prefer to have the pitcher and hitter attempt to adapt to each other and the game situation. The stuff you're talking about actively detracts from the game as far as I'm concerned. Once again, I don't want the game determined by the fact that someone got the extra kings while the other guy got stuck looking for a third jack that wasn't in the deck.

Ltlabner
09-12-2007, 06:56 PM
I'm currious, and this is a genuine question, how will bumping the accuracy of calls from say 90% to 98% make the game play that much more enjoyable?

Now, one area where I can see a benefit is the idea of the big names getting always the call. It's a small step, but a step none-the-less towards leveling the playing field between the Red Sox and the Royals (whether that step is worthy of the implementation of a mechinical system is another question, it does seem like it would level the playing field to *some* degree).

I guess I've always excepted umpire mistakes as part of the game that players have to deal with. Just like sun in your eyes, bad travel schedules, fans that yell/boo/throw stuff at you, crappy dougouts and clubhouses for the visiting team, etc. Never once have I thought, I'm not going to the game tonight because umpire X is behind the plate. I've booed and moaned about bad calls, but I don't think I've enjoyed the game any less because of it.

So if suddenly 4 or 5 balls/strikes go a different way during the course of a game, how does that make the game any more enjoyable for me up in the stands?

Again, I'm asking serriously....no snark inmplied or intended.

M2
09-12-2007, 07:06 PM
I'm currious, and this is a genuine question, how will bumping the accuracy of calls from say 90% to 98% make the game play that much more enjoyable?

It would cut out some extraneous nonsense. Frankly I don't know that it necessarily makes the game more enjoyable, but it does level the playing field. I'm for that. Like you, I don't think reputation should earn you a call. I don't think caprice should enter into the equation (once had an ump tell me he didn't think it was right to end a game on a called strike).

A vague strike zone doesn't have to be part of the game. Far as I'm concerned it doesn't add anything to the game. So why not tighten it up?

Chip R
09-12-2007, 07:10 PM
If the technology is there, I'm all for them using it to call balls and strikes.

Think about this. You have a guy standing there trying to judge whether or not a round object traveling on average about 85 mph that is curving, moving side to side, floating around like a feather in the wind, sinking or rising will cross a 17" wide area in a zone that is totally subjective. Yes, I know there is a certain area where that is supposed to be but it isn't called like that. It is up to the judgement of the guy behind the plate. Where else do you see that? In tennis at least there is are visible boundries that most people can see the ball bounce in. Umpires do a great job calling balls and strikes but it can be better. As for tradition, I'm all for tradition but back when they started playing ball they didn't have access to the technology we have today. Technology doesn't have to be the opposite of tradition. The two can work hand in hand. They never used to have lights at games up till the 1930s but night baseball hasn't killed off the sport - even on the north side of Chicago.

RFS62
09-12-2007, 07:41 PM
I'm currious, and this is a genuine question, how will bumping the accuracy of calls from say 90% to 98% make the game play that much more enjoyable?


Those are your numbers and you still don't see the benefit? That would be a tremendous difference, and I don't even think it's that bad.

But it's not the 8% difference you cite that matters most, although it certainly would be desirable to eliminate such a big margin for error.

It's the ONE call that rings someone up when they shouldn't be rung up. It's the ONE call that makes the difference in a ballgame.

All bad calls aren't created equal. One bad call can have a devastating effect on a game, or even a pennant race.

And you never know when that one bad call is coming. If you watched much tennis, you'd see how much it's done for that sport. Eliminating errors in officiating is a fantastic thing. It overwhelmingly trumps any concern for the ego of the umpires, IMO.

The idea that a batter having to adjust to an umpires style makes me sick, personally.

It's a terrible feature of a very flawed system.

The strike zone is the strike zone. Bad umpiring is bad umpiring. There's nothing romantic about the allure of an umpire interjecting his personality or personal prejudices into a game.

Roy Tucker
09-12-2007, 07:57 PM
I still would like to see some in-depth description of how this technology works.

From what I've read of Questec, judging of balls and strikes is not done in real-time, i.e. within a second of when the ball hits the catchers mitt. That the evaulator has the luxury of time to figure it out, to sit back and ponder it.

How would a ball/strike be communicated to an ump in a timely fashion? How is the strike zone determined? Armpits, letters, belt, thighs, what? Are there sensors that do it or is it a human that adjusts a dial? When is it determined? When the batter first takes his stance? Is it before every pitch? When the pitcher takes his wind-up? Is it automatic or does a human determine when it happens? I'd like to see the use cases.

I may be all wet but I need to be convinced the technology truly is better. Not *can* be better, but *is* better.

RedsManRick
09-12-2007, 08:16 PM
I still would like to see some in-depth description of how this technology works.

From what I've read of Questec, judging of balls and strikes is not done in real-time, i.e. within a second of when the ball hits the catchers mitt. That the evaulator has the luxury of time to figure it out, to sit back and ponder it.

How would a ball/strike be communicated to an ump in a timely fashion? How is the strike zone determined? Armpits, letters, belt, thighs, what? Are there sensors that do it or is it a human that adjusts a dial? When is it determined? When the batter first takes his stance? Is it before every pitch? When the pitcher takes his wind-up? Is it automatic or does a human determine when it happens? I'd like to see the use cases.

I may be all wet but I need to be convinced the technology truly is better. Not *can* be better, but *is* better.

Pitch/fx is the system that you see when you watch the gamecast on MLB.com. The measurements are made in real time and the strike/ball assessment done instantly. I do believe that the vertical parameters for each player are set at the beginning of the bat by a person. However, the technology exists to automate this.

I think you're right, there are likely hurdles still yet to be jumped in order to make it as accurate as necessary and 'live' sufficient that you don't have umpires sitting back there waiting for the signal. But getting there is a matter of investment and interest, not major technological hurdles.

I could see the system phased in gradually. The umpire gets the a buzzer with a green light and a red light that lights up based on the electronic call. All the calls would still be at his discretion officially, but it would be there to inform him when he didn't feel comfortable making the call or wanted a "second opinion". The signal would not be public, outside of the data on enhanced gameday (which we already have) and the gizmo would be small enough that only the umpire could see it.

On calls where he felt comfortable, he could make it on his own. If he wanted the electronic call, he could use it without anybody knowing. His ego wouldn't be bruised and he might actually be a little better at self correcting, given instant feedback rather than trying to remember the experience of seeing a certain borderline pitch 2 hours later in his review session.

One of the biggest challenges of being an umpire is that you have to make every call and make it quickly. As a fan, we can pay attention 80% of the time and then blow up when we see a bad call. If the ump blinks, gets bad glare, or loses the ball in a shadow, or just has a little trouble on balls low and away, he has no 2nd opinion to fall back on.

This would be a fairly seamless transition, can be pitched to the public as simply a way to support umpires, rather than "replacing" them, would be virtually unnoticeable from the fans perspective and would likely have a net positive effect on accuracy. If down the road, the technology develops sufficiently and has the confidence of MLB leadership, perhaps you can move to a definitive automatic electronic call, but I can see the above as being a realistic step in getting there.

RFS62
09-12-2007, 08:28 PM
Doesn't take more than one inning of watching C.B. Buckner work to make me want to donate to the R&D effort on an automated system.

red-in-la
09-12-2007, 08:32 PM
What I do not understand is the argument that we should be sure to keep the errant calls by umpires a part of the game.

RFS62
09-12-2007, 08:36 PM
I still would like to see some in-depth description of how this technology works.

From what I've read of Questec, judging of balls and strikes is not done in real-time, i.e. within a second of when the ball hits the catchers mitt. That the evaulator has the luxury of time to figure it out, to sit back and ponder it.

How would a ball/strike be communicated to an ump in a timely fashion? How is the strike zone determined? Armpits, letters, belt, thighs, what? Are there sensors that do it or is it a human that adjusts a dial? When is it determined? When the batter first takes his stance? Is it before every pitch? When the pitcher takes his wind-up? Is it automatic or does a human determine when it happens? I'd like to see the use cases.

I may be all wet but I need to be convinced the technology truly is better. Not *can* be better, but *is* better.



Roy, I agree that unless the technology is completely nailed down, you'd never want to implement it.

I think the biggest arguments here are between those who don't want it no matter if it's proven to be accurate or not.

red-in-la
09-12-2007, 08:40 PM
There is tolerance in any system. But I find it hard to believe that any of the technologies that might be applied today could be as erroneous as an umpire.

westofyou
09-12-2007, 09:39 PM
I'm of the opinion that a system like this will always shaped by the perceptions that the rules makers have of technology and its place in the world. Currently the world is run by guys who listened to Radio drama and remember the DuPont Network, next will be the 3-4 Channel Brats, they never played Video games or owned a computer in primary school, after them will be the kids who grew up with technology leaking into every avenue of their existence.

Then they'll start to ponder it realistically.

RFS62
09-12-2007, 09:52 PM
I'm of the opinion that a system like this will always shaped by the perceptions that the rules makers have of technology and its place in the world. Currently the world is run by guys who listened to Radio drama and remember the DuPont Network, next will be the 3-4 Channel Brats, they never played Video games or owned a computer in primary school, after them will be the kids who grew up with technology leaking into every avenue of their existence.

Then they'll start to ponder it realistically.



If they hadn't already implemented Questec I'd agree with you.

That shows me two things. One, they recognize they have a big problem with umpire inconsistency and inaccuracy which affects games and the quality of the product on the field.

Two, technology exists already which can identify the umpires who are least capable.

If they didn't believe in it, why would they even consider Questec?

And if they weren't willing to move past their old school prejudices, why would they be using it now?

mth123
09-12-2007, 10:16 PM
If they hadn't already implemented Questec I'd agree with you.

That shows me two things. One, they recognize they have a big problem with umpire inconsistency and inaccuracy which affects games and the quality of the product on the field.

Two, technology exists already which can identify the umpires who are least capable.

If they didn't believe in it, why would they even consider Questec?

And if they weren't willing to move past their old school prejudices, why would they be using it now?

Three, there was a decaying relationship between the umpires and MLB over umpire pay and other union demands. IMO Questec was a response utilized to acquire evidence to beat the umpires down with (and it worked). As with all other things in this game, I believe that money was the motivating factor and not some desire for a better game. The fact that most of the umpires that got canned during this time deserved it is really just a fortunate by-product IMO.

I'm not sure I make the connection that existence of Questec is an indication of a willingness to use technology to improve the game as much as it was to improve profits. IMO the described system will only come into play if there is some evidence that there will be a return on investment that makes it worth investing. I guess a lifetime of watching the money battles play out publicly and take precedence over everything from the the integrity of a season and its World Series to long term player health has made me cynical that way.

RFS62
09-12-2007, 10:42 PM
What an appropriate night for C.B. Buckner to be working behind the plate.

Nothing I could type comes close to making the case like watching him does.

CTA513
09-12-2007, 10:49 PM
What an appropriate night for C.B. Buckner to be working behind the plate.

Nothing I could type comes close to making the case like watching him does.

Im not sure anyone knows the strike zone when Buckner is calling balls and strikes.

M2
09-12-2007, 10:51 PM
What an appropriate night for C.B. Buckner to be working behind the plate.

Nothing I could type comes close to making the case like watching him does.

Might as well get this guy to ump.

http://images.tribe.net/tribe/upload/photo/e6c/a13/e6ca1320-c066-483d-960d-992d077019b7

OnBaseMachine
09-12-2007, 10:58 PM
It's already been noted, but tonight was a perfect example of why MLB needs to switch to the Questec system. Two words: CB Buckner. A 3-2 pitch to Dunn was called strike three despite being six inches outside and nearly shoulder height. 2-2 pitch to Edmonds was much better than the pitch to Dunn, yet it was called a ball. Votto was also rung up on a very questionable call earlier in the game. That stuff has got to stop. I'm tired of seeing guys like Albert Pujols and Bonds getting small strikezones and then taller guys like Dunn and Howard constantly getting rung up on pitches at their ankles. It's time to do something about this, MLB.

MWM
09-12-2007, 11:22 PM
Personally, I kind of prefer having a human element to deal with.

Would you be saying that if the 97 Braves had been the 97 Reds instead? If an umpire ever pulled on the Reds what Eric Gregg (may he RIP) pulled onthe 97 Braves, I don't think there would be many here who would argue against a system that removed biases and reduced errors.

OnBaseMachine
09-12-2007, 11:27 PM
Would you be saying that if the 97 Braves had been the 97 Reds instead? If an umpire ever pulled on the Reds what Eric Gregg (may he RIP) pulled onthe 97 Braves, I don't think there would be many here who would argue against a system that removed biases and reduced errors.

I'm too young to remember that. What happened?

red-in-la
09-12-2007, 11:29 PM
I'm of the opinion that a system like this will always shaped by the perceptions that the rules makers have of technology and its place in the world. Currently the world is run by guys who listened to Radio drama and remember the DuPont Network, next will be the 3-4 Channel Brats, they never played Video games or owned a computer in primary school, after them will be the kids who grew up with technology leaking into every avenue of their existence.

Then they'll start to ponder it realistically.

If the world is still run by guys who grew up on radio, then those guys are watching their stock price and listening to computer junkies whose Harvard MBA degrees are still wet.

Although MLB seems to be stuck in the middle ages compared to the NFL, it is being dragged into the computer age (as you point out on a regular basis).

C.B. Buckner is simply symptomatic of virtually all umpiring. :thumbdown

MWM
09-12-2007, 11:35 PM
I'm too young to remember that. What happened?

The worst display of ball and strike calling I've ever seen. And it was the NLCS. The ironic thing was that it was the Braves on the losing end of the deal. Eric Gregg was calling strikes that were easilt 12 inches off the plate. Lican Hernandez must have realized what was going on and just kept throwing them out there. It was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in a baseball game. It was probably the most important determinant in who won that game.

SteelSD
09-12-2007, 11:43 PM
I completely agree with RFS. Taking the human element out of tennis "in/out" calls has improved that sport.

However, MLB is whole different animal as a strike zone should be defined by the batter's height rather than a simple "Strike or Ball" zone. IMHO, that's the challenge. Can an electronic system properly adjust by hitter. I think the technology is there to do so, but can it do so consistently? If the system knows who the hitter is, can it adjust if the hitter bends down prior to a pitch being delivered? Can that system give every hitter a realistic expectation that their personal Strike Zone will remain their personal Strike Zone over time?

While I prefer an objective estimate, I wonder about how those zones will be applied to players per AB or even per pitch given an electronic "Umpire". Certainly, an objective system is preferable if it's accurate, but will suck a system be more accurate given the differences in height we see for MLB ballplayers? I'm not saying that an electronic system couldn't be better, but what kind of assurances do we have that it WILL be better?

Lots of questions, but not a whole lot of answers right now.

LoganBuck
09-13-2007, 12:00 AM
However, MLB is whole different animal as a strike zone should be defined by the batter's height rather than a simple "Strike or Ball" zone. IMHO, that's the challenge. Can an electronic system properly adjust by hitter. I think the technology is there to do so, but can it do so consistently? If the system knows who the hitter is, can it adjust if the hitter bends down prior to a pitch being delivered? Can that system give every hitter a realistic expectation that their personal Strike Zone will remain their personal Strike Zone over time?



Couldn't they do something where every year a player is digitally imaged and that players personal strike zone is recorded? It would then be in a database, and the computer could access his baseline strike zone each time he came to the plate.

red-in-la
09-13-2007, 12:11 AM
I believe QuesTec already does this.....if not, being camera driven, I cannot see why it couldn't.

Guys, this is easy technology......no mystery at all.

mth123
09-13-2007, 12:15 AM
I like the idea of a more consistent strike zone so my vote is all for the technology should it be viable.

Even so, I just don't see MLB doing this unless there is a way to make a buck off of it. I'm having a hard time seeing how this will reduce cost or increase revenue, so I don't think baseball would make it any kind of a priority. Maybe there is a way that I had not considered.

Roy Tucker
09-13-2007, 12:43 AM
Interesting articles at...

http://www.slate.com/id/2172223/fr/rss/
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the-eye-of-the-umpire/
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/strike-zone-fact-vs-fiction/

Like I said, I'm familiar with implementing computer systems to solve complex problems and automating the strike zone is a Pandora's Box. Not insolvable, but not as cut and dried as many seem to believe. After all, imperfect carbon-based unit humans write the algorithms, design the software and hardware, and create the technological solution.

It would be fascinating as all-get-out to design and implement but pretty soon you'll have team programming coaches analyzing the source code looking for loopholes.

remdog
09-13-2007, 12:53 AM
Without looking it up I believe that the strike zone is defined as "....when the batter takes his normal stance...". I have to believe that technology could be developed (if it hasn't been already) that would image a batter just before each pitch and outline his strikezone for that at bat or even by each pitch.

When cameras were suggested for tennis I was all for it. Overall, tennis linesmen and umpires do a good job, much as baseball umpires do, but they are not perfect. Using the cameras gave the game greater validity and the feeling that the player that won did so by merit and not some mistaken call. It took awhile but tennis 'got it' and, I hope, so will baseball.

I'm probably thought of as 'old school' around here but this is one thing that I think would greatly increase the interest and value of the game. A consistant strikezone would level the playing field and more likely award victory to the team that performed the best without the input of an arbitrary (and perhaps biased) third party that never touches the ball during the play on the field.

Rem

Johnny Footstool
09-13-2007, 12:56 AM
Would you be saying that if the 97 Braves had been the 97 Reds instead? If an umpire ever pulled on the Reds what Eric Gregg (may he RIP) pulled onthe 97 Braves, I don't think there would be many here who would argue against a system that removed biases and reduced errors.

Maybe, maybe not.

But the Braves' pitchers were so successful thanks in part to the umps adding an extra inch or three to their strike zones.

If we were Braves fans instead of Reds fans, we probably wouldn't be pulling so hard for precision.

Oh, and I finally thought of a better counterpoint to M2's card analogy: every game is played with the same 52-card deck, but occasionally certain cards are wild.

cincinnati chili
09-13-2007, 03:12 AM
Without looking it up I believe that the strike zone is defined as "....when the batter takes his normal stance...".



It's not measured from his stance, but from "as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."

I realize that's open to interpretation, but I interpret this to mean the split second when the batter decides to swing or not swing.

In other words, Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson should not have been given the benefit of being in a goofy crouch.

Here's a history of the strike zone rule over time.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/umpires/strike_zone.jsp

Ron Madden
09-13-2007, 04:50 AM
Without looking it up I believe that the strike zone is defined as "....when the batter takes his normal stance...". I have to believe that technology could be developed (if it hasn't been already) that would image a batter just before each pitch and outline his strikezone for that at bat or even by each pitch.

When cameras were suggested for tennis I was all for it. Overall, tennis linesmen and umpires do a good job, much as baseball umpires do, but they are not perfect. Using the cameras gave the game greater validity and the feeling that the player that won did so by merit and not some mistaken call. It took awhile but tennis 'got it' and, I hope, so will baseball.

I'm probably thought of as 'old school' around here but this is one thing that I think would greatly increase the interest and value of the game. A consistant strikezone would level the playing field and more likely award victory to the team that performed the best without the input of an arbitrary (and perhaps biased) third party that never touches the ball during the play on the field.

Rem

I agree. The rules say the distance from the pitching rubber to home plate is sixty feet, six inches. The distance between the bases is ninety feet. Just as these rules are always enforced so should be the strikezone.

Johnny Footstool
09-13-2007, 10:23 AM
If you want to install tennis-style electronic eyes on the foul lines and home run line, I'm all for that.

remdog
09-13-2007, 11:10 AM
Well, in the game thread I did ask if we could get this for checked swings.

Rem