Friday, October 27, 2006

World Series on Fox

One thing I do NOT like about the broadcast (besides Scooter) is the computerized strike zone that they show on certain close pitches. In case you missed it, it's a square on the screen shown over the instant replay. As the ball crossed the plate, it marks a dot that tells viewers whether or not the ball was in the strike zone.

Two problems here:

- All it does is upstage the job the umpires do out there. It's not easy to umpire, and most of them do a good job. All this does is make the casual baseball fan that, "hey look, he messed up again, that was a strike. Wow, they miss a lot of calls."

- The reason the first problem happens so much is because the strike zone on the screen is wrong. I have no idea how they came up with it, but it isn't the rule-book strike zone. Which would be wrong anyway, because that's only in the rule book and is never enforced - kind of like how tar is cheating if a pitcher uses it. The "rule book" strike zone is from the knees to the bottom of the letters. A few years ago they tried to enforce the high part of the zone, but it didn't work. It did, however, spawn this network of computer zones in certain ballparks to grade umpires on whether or not they were following the new strike-zone rules. Most of them don't.

The strike zone has, over time, morphed into what you see today. Is it always the same? No. Does it depend on who the particular umpire is? Of course. That's part of the game, you will never get rid of that. It's what distinguishes a good umpire from a bad one.

Now, this is what I don't like about the computer zone shown on Fox. It ignores all this detail that I'm talking about and when the casual fan sees it, he or she thinks, "oh that's cool, I can see whether it was really a strike or not," therefore missing out on the nuance and history that is imbued in all things baseball.

That is all.


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