File this under the most awesome quote of the day. It's Hall of Fame worthy, and it's said by Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, in discussing whether or not human being umpires should be 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 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.”
Many have been calling for the robot umpires to take over the strike zone for years and that's essentially what Schmidt means with the "force field" comment.
Let's not let semantics get in the way here by imagining some force field hovering over the plate or an actual robot standing behind the catcher. Balls-and-strikes technology is already used on broadcasts and all over the Internet for every single pitch in every single game. Schmidt is right that we can't be too far away from having the ability to implement a system that lets us know immediately whether or not a pitch is a ball or strike.
The fallout would be amazing, too. Framing all of a sudden becomes irrelevant. Pitchers and catchers can't find ways to extend the zone by nibbling and the strike zone never changes due to which umpire is behind the plate. We'd be blessed enough to avoid an awful lot of player whining, which is unbecoming no matter who you are rooting for. Many umpires would be spared lots of undue stress and their injury risk would probably go down without having to be so snug right up on the catcher. And on down the line we go. The strike is no longer subjective. That would be outstanding.
Oh, and one final bonus: The problem children umpires -- a select few, I might add -- don't get to become the center of attention by ripping off their masks and screaming at the dugout anymore.
Hat-tip: Big League Stew