Posted on October 14th, 2015 by Matt | Posted in Uncategorized
Every baseball fan knows the feeling – you are watching your favorite team play a close game, when a bad ball or strike call costs them a chance to score a run. As a fan, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing the bat taken out of a player’s hands due to a mistake by an umpire. Of course, umpires have an incredibly hard job, as the ball is frequently flying past the plate at more than 90 miles per hour. To get all of the ball and strike calls correct would be impossible for a human – which is why so many fans are now calling for the use of a robot strike zone.
This is a compelling option for one specific reason – the technology is already in place. Each stadium is already equipped with the gear to track proper ball and strike calls, and that data is used to evaluate umpire performance on an ongoing basis. So, instead of using that data to teach the umpires, why not just use the computer to call balls and strikes in the first place? It seems like an obvious step to take.
The Devil is in the Details
Getting calls correct game in and game out would obviously benefit baseball as a whole. It leaves a bad impression on fans when umpires get in the way of an otherwise good game, so having the computer call balls and strikes would improve the experience for everyone involved. However, it would have to be implemented in such as way that it would not slow the game down or fundamentally chance the course of action. The home plate umpire would still be required because there are other non-ball/strike calls and decisions that need to be made. Perhaps that umpire could be given a device that would indicate whether each pitch was a ball or a strike? Something that works seamlessly into the flow of the game would obviously be the goal.
Not If, but When
It seems like a forgone conclusion that balls and strikes will be called by ‘robot umpires’ at some point in the near future. Baseball resisted instant replay for years, only to add it and have it be largely successful. It will likely be the same story for the robot strike zone. Once the idea is seriously considered, there will be resistance at first until everyone finally understands that it is for the good of the game in the long run. Certainly long-time baseball fans will find the concept strange at first, but everyone will be able to enjoy a game that is fairly contested without the risk of a bad ball or strike call at a crucial time ruining the competition.
Posted on October 7th, 2015 by Matt | Posted in Uncategorized
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are two of the best young players in the game – on that point, there can be no debate. Both Trout and Harper combine power with speed in a way that is rarely seen. Trout has already established himself as the best player in the world with this performance over the past three years, but Harper is working hard to challenge him for that title. Hopefully, both of these players will stay healthy and baseball fans will be able to seem them thrive for many years to come.
Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing either of these great players in the 2015 playoffs. Both the Angels and Nationals have had success in recent years, although neither have been able to get all the way to the World Series. This year, each team has taken a step back, as the Nationals were blown away late in the year by the Mets and the Angels struggled to score runs for much of the season. The baseball playoffs will still be plenty exciting, but not having either Harper or Trout present is somewhat disappointing to the average fan.
Between the two, it seems more likely that Harper returns to the playoffs in the near future. The Nationals have a collection of talented players beyond Harper, such as Anthony Rendon and Max Scherzer. While they struggled with injuries in 2015, the Nationals could quickly rebound with the help of a few offseason adjustments.
The outlook for the Angels, however, is not quite as rosy. Trout is under contract for several years to come, which is obviously great news. On the other hand, so is Albert Pujols, who has already declined dramatically from his glory days with the Cardinals. After 138 games in the 2015 season, Albert has offered plenty of power with 38 home runs – but little else. He is hitting just .245, with a .306 OBP that is way below his career average. At this point, Pujols is contributing some benefit to the offense, but it is yet to be seen how long that will continue. There are six more years left on Pujols contract, including a $30 million salary due in 2021. It seems rather unlikely that Pujols is a significant contributor at that point. The money tied up in Pujols contract could weigh heavy on the budget for the next few seasons.
Hopefully both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper will be back in the playoffs in the near future. They are exciting young stars who both bring plenty of excitement to the game in their own way. Of course, baseball is a team game, and each player will need a solid supporting cast if they are going to move deep into October.