A Ball or Strike Calling ‘Box’ Has No Place in Baseball
Being a huge baseball fan, I was watching with interest the National League Wildcard game Wednesday night between the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets. As the game went along it became obvious that the home plate umpire was not having the best of games behind the plate. Pitches that were strikes in the superimposed box for TV were called balls and vice versa. Call it a bad night for the ump, but it was bad for both teams. This led to some of my friends holding a Facebook dialog with one of them saying we should use the box to call all balls and strikes. This is a claim of his he has expressed to me before.
While, I understand that if a pitch is a strike it should be called that by the umpire, there are reasons why an umpire doesn't agree with "the box". If you have ever been behind home plate, and I have as a catcher and an umpire, you know the catcher has a lot to do with an umpire's call.
Sometimes the catcher rears up as the pitch comes in causing the line of sight for the umpire to move as well and other times it is a matter of where the catcher is set up and what he does with his glove after catching the pitch to "steal a strike". These are just a few reasons for a "missed" ball or strike call. Remember that pitch is coming in at nearly, and sometimes over, 100 miles an hour from less than 60 feet away. He is human and mistakes will be made in a game with approximately 250 pitches being thrown.
To establish ball and strike calling based solely on "the box" takes away everything the game is all about. A game played by human beings. Besides, with no home plate umpire, who calls a runner out at the plate? After a couple of years of instant replay, I am still not sold on the idea. Oh, I want the call on the field to be right, but to stop and review plays just doesn't seem right to this fan.
Baseball is a great game and has been for a long time. It became great without instant replays and it will remain great especially if technology doesn't chisel away at it with a ball and strike "box". The "box" is great for fans to see on TV and complain about bad calls, but it has no place in the game now or in the future. Plus, I miss the arguments with the umpires and managers. Now that was part of the game that needs to come back.
To box or not to box? I say no thanks. I can't wait to hear the umpire say "play ball". I don't think a "box" can say that?