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 ansooner 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.
"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 . 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,If MLB wants to take another big step in testing the system, the league could try using it in spring training next season.