Here we are in the National and American League Championship Series with Major League Baseball praying for the Yankees-Dodgers World Series for viewing eyes, and the Dodgers and Angels for weather. Can’t wait for those November games, can you?
The umpires, who deserve great respect for honest efforts, have had a rough start.
Missed calls that have affected results have been numerous. Those calls have been on fair balls called foul, hit batters missed, and really bad calls on the bases.
Television replay has reduced the room for undetected errors to just about zero. MLB should move to do the same thing to reduce obvious mistakes to zero.
There is no need to delay the game in doing so. Ball and strike calls are not subject to review. Everything else should be.
A fifth umpire should sit for every game in a replay booth on site. That umpire watches for mistakes in calls and when one is made buzzes the crew chief immediately and changes the call before play goes on.
There is no need for managers to have to challenge calls or for the crew on the field to review the video. The fifth umpire would be part of the crew, rotate them just as they do on the field.
That umpire’s call on video reviews would be immediate and final. If there is no obvious mistake, the call on the field stands and the game goes on.
Supplying the booth with television feeds is a matter of running cable. The home and road team’s broadcast can be fed to the booth along with any MLB or in-house feed.
We are looking to overrule obvious mistakes — don’t make the definition difficult. You look at the replay, the call was wrong and you correct it.
Most such mistakes are now seen by the viewing audience before another pitch is thrown, so why shouldn’t an umpire see it?
Umpires want their calls to be right. They should have no problem with this. Besides, it creates another job for a fifth umpire.
Ball and strike calls are another story. They are too numerous to be reviewed and that would slow the game down.
However, the “every umpire has his own strike zone” is bull.
The strike zone is defined in the rule book. There is ONE strike zone. MLB should insist on that.
All these television replays with boxes showing the strike zone and calls inconsistent with those boxed replays is a major problem.
Are these electronic boxes accurate in defining the zone and where pitches go or aren’t they? Are they just TV glitz masquerading as the strike zone?
If glitz, television has an obligation to stop using them. If they are accurate, they are telling us there are a lot of missed calls.
Yes, umpires are graded on their work and supervised, but that isn’t correcting the wandering strike zone.
The pitch calls are essential to the game. They need to be right. The game does not need hitter and pitcher umpires.
These issues need to be fleshed out by MLB’s rules committee. The game and its fans deserve it, not to mention the players.