AJ & Darvish were right
This weekend, I was at a wonderful wedding talking baseball with one of the smartest guys I know on the subject. One of the first things he wanted to talk to me about was the use of replay on baseball.
When proponents of replay talk about its expanded use, they always buffer it with the phrase, "We'll never use it to call balls and strikes. We'll never take that human element out of the game."
My buddy Irv asks, "Why not?"
He pointed out the recent ejections of David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera as reasons why an electronic calling of balls and strikes, adjusted by batter, would take the argument out of the accuracy of calls.
As a traditionalist, I initially found the idea repellent. But once the reflex subsided, I thought about lines calls in the U.S. Open, which have become accurate to the point where it almost appears that judgments can be verified almost to the degree of whether the fuzz on the tennis ball is on the line.
So, it was no surprise this morning when Irv wrote, "Think AJ and Yu appreciate the human element?"
Irv, of course, was referring to the two-out 6th inning at bat of Houston's rookie Jonathan Villar amidst Yu Darvish's bid for perfection. Villar drew a six-pitch walk. But it was not the deciding pitch that drew the ire of A.J. Pierzynski who ended up being ejected for arguing with plate umpire Ron Kulpa on the breaking ball he called low.
"Was it a strike? I don't know," Pierzynski told reporters after the game. "Obviously I thought it was and Ron didn't, and I was upset we walked the guy and I said a bad word and I was ejected."
Was it a strike? We know.
Here are the six pitches:
- 0-0 - Strike Looking on a 78 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
- 0-1 - Strike Swinging on a 82 MPH Slider - Low
- 0-2 - Ball on a 78 MPH Slider - Low
- 1-2 - Ball on a 95 MPH Four Seamer - Outside
- 2-2 - Ball on a 80 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
- 3-2 - Walk on a 81 MPH Slider - Low
Here are the six pitches:
The video can be seen here.
"Pierzynski didn't like the pitch that I [called for a ball]. We had words about the [2-2] pitch," Kulpa told MLB.com. "And then [Darvish] walked [Villar] on the very next pitch and [Pierzynski] continued to argue on the pitch before. And so he got ejected."
But, Kulpa was wrong on the call and considering the circumstances, he was very wrong on tossing the Rangers catcher.
The bottom line is that AJ was right. Darvish was right.
So was Irv.
Reader Comments (3)
More to the point, while the above transcript tactfully inserts [2-2] pitch, etc, the actual quote from Kulpa was "3-1" pitch, a count never arrived at in the AB. This indicates that Kulpa did not know the count or, at the least, he was not interested enough in reviewing the replay prior to the interview. I am not suggesting he should have given the benefit of the doubt to Darvish, although most pitchers showing such command of get such latitude. However, he should not be allowed to pursue a player who in the heat if the moment says something inappropriate in understandable conditions and then affect the game by his apparent lack of appreciation of the circumstances and toss the battery mate in what is still a no-hitter.
The Strike Zone is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the bottom of the knees. Each player can be measured for their personal strike zone (including stance) and the "field" of possible strikes can be electronically established. There is no need for a human to call balls and strikes. We have the technology. Imagine how much better hitters will become if they can be 99.99% sure of the strike zone!
Sure this changes the game but i think for the better. Hockey officials review every goal. NFL reviews several calls per game Fans in both games like getting the call right and do not argue to go back to allowing wrong calls stand.
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