CC Sabathia speaks out in favor of electronic strike zone after blown calls in World Series

In Game 5 of the World Series, home plate umpire Lance Barksdale's performance behind the plate caused a bit of a stir in the seats and in the dugouts. Barksdale had few questionable calls on balls and strikes, in particular, two that were especially egregious. They made fans, players and analysts ponder about the introduction of an electronic strike zone sooner rather than later at the MLB level.

In the top of the sixth inning, Nats reliever Tanner Rainey threw a fastball that clearly looked to pass through the strike zone. Nats Catcher Yan Gomes assumed it was about to be called for the final strike on Astros outfielder Michael Brantley, but Barksdale called it a ball. As you can hear in the video below, Barksdale claimed he made the call because of Gomes' assumption. Huh? An umpire missing a call, fine. An umpire letting his ego get in the way to make the wrong call, not OK.

Then, in the seventh inning, Barksdale called a questionable third strike on Victor Robles. The call, on a 3-2 count, ended the inning, shortly after Juan Soto got the Nats on the board and Ryan Zimmerman walked on another borderline pitch. If Barksdale calls that a ball for the walk, it would have been a two-on, two-out situation for Washington, with the tying run at-bat.

Appearing on ESPN on Monday, newly retired MLB pitcher CC Sabathia said he's in favor of an electronic strike zone being implemented in the big leagues.

"Yeah, for sure," Sabathia said when asked if he supports automated-ball-strike system. "I mean, look at the reactions, [Ryan] Zimmerman not knowing if it's a ball or strike, [Gerrit] Cole on the last pitch not knowing if it's a ball or strike. We just want consistency and if you go to the electronic strike zone, we know if you throw it here, it's a strike, you throw it here, it's a ball. That's what we want every time out."

After the loss, Nationals manager Dave Martinez took the high road and opted not to criticize Barksdale's missed calls. Barksdale, 52, was promoted to a full-time MLB umpire in 2006. This is his first umpire assignment for a World Series.

As far as the electronic strike zone goes, after initial testing in the independent Atlantic League, the technology was used during MLB's Arizona Fall League games. If MLB wants to take another big step in testing the system, the league could try using it in spring training next season.

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

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