December 27, 2016
After watching one of the greatest World Series in history between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs last Fall, Rob Nelson was torn.
He was thrilled at the twists and turns of this amazing World Series as the Cubs ultimately won their first world championship since 1908.
However, he felt the strike zone was not being called consistently per rule book definition which caused plenty of gnashing of teeth in the two dugouts and homes across America. It is an area of baseball that has stuck in his craw for years.
For too many years, he has witnessed the unique strike zones that all umpires have which often times go against the rule book definition. He has a simple solution which could be the greatest rule in Major League history.
Simply utilize a mechanical strike zone in the Major Leagues similar to what tennis utilizes with the Hawk-Eye line calling system.
Hawk-Eye uses six or more computer-linked television cameras situated around the court. A computer reads the video in real time and tracks the path of the tennis ball on each camera.
These six separate views are then combined together to produce an accurate 3D representation of the path of the ball. The Hawk-Eye system was invented by Paul Hawkins, a British computer expert in 2001. It is now used in over 80 tennis tournaments around the world and takes the doubt out of close line calls, and it is 99.9 percent accurate.
“Everyone knows that each umpire has his own unique strike zone,” said Nelson who pitched in hundreds of games during his baseball career and is the owner of Big League Chew bubble gum.
“There are absolutely no negatives by having a mechanical strike zone which would allow precision with calling balls and strikes.
“The technology is there to do it now. If such a change was made, you would see the game advance as never before with game times being reduced because pitchers and hitters would know precisely what they were working with in the way of a strike zone on a daily basis. And it would be fair for everyone.
“If you truly want to see the greatest baseball players in the world perform at an even higher level, make the strike zone consistent.
“I honestly don’t feel such a change would be insulting to umpires. It is no more insulting than having a plane be put in autopilot for an American Airlines’ pilot.
“The toughest group of people to convince would be umpiring crews. But they should put their egos aside and realize the genius of such a change.
“It is silly not to take advantage of this technology now that we have it available.
“I couldn’t help but notice the strike zone on Kris Bryant of the Cubs a couple of times early in the playoffs. He is like Picasso out there with his knowledge of the strike zone to within a fraction of an inch. When an umpire rang him up a couple of times on questionable strike calls, he accepted it, walked away and didn’t cause a scene. He plays the game the right way.
“But if umpires are wrong about their calls, per rule book definition, why should the batter suffer? Or for that matter, why should the pitcher suffer? One consistent strike zone for all batters is the answer.”
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More insight into having a mechanical strike zone is explored by Rob Nelson who gives a number of reasons why the change would work to perfection.