Mike Schmidt: Home Plate Umps Shouldn’t Call Balls and Strikes
On ESPN 97.5’s The Fanatic, Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt joined Harry Mayes and Jon Marks and dropped this suggestion about the future of calling balls and strikes:
“I think the umpire at home plate should not call balls and strikes. I think they should have a force field over home plate and if the pitcher throws and the ball touches the force field a little bell goes off and it’s a strike. That would expand the strike zone to the point where the hitters would now have to swing [at] the ball, which would shorten the game. The umpire needs to be at home plate for the safe and out calls at home plate and foul balls and fair balls and basically to run the game but we’re going to see at some time — my guess is within the next 10 years – that you’ll see the balls and strikes just like the line calls in tennis. You’d think it would be something very easy to do with what they can do electronically in our world today.” Mike Schmidt on 97.5 The Fanatic
It’s not the first time we’ve heard this suggestion — Bobby Valentine suggested it in 2012 — but it’s certainly an idea worth considering. The technology is there, as Pitch F/X and derivative sites like Brooks Baseball can already tell us in real-time whether a pitch is a strike or a ball.
The expansion of instant replay has significantly curbed the amount of manager/umpire and player/umpire arguments, which added much more time onto the game than replay does now. Rick Renteria of the Cubs became the first manager to get ejected this season by arguing balls and strikes. Getting rid of these arguments, along with Schmidt’s observation that a regulation-enforced strike zone would force players to swing more, helps the pace issue some have with baseball. Additional rules that keep managers in the dugout for pitching changes, get rid of warm-ups before relief appearances (assuming the reliever warmed up in the bullpen beforehand), and limiting the amount of time a batter has to step away from the batter’s box would help in that regard as well.