So we all know what happened…right? It’s bottom of the 9th, 1 out, Blue Jays are down 4-3, and Lawrie is at the plate with a 3-1 count. Ball 4 clearly sails by, and he starts his trot to first base, only to hear the umpire announce the 2nd strike. So he sets up again, ball 5 sails by, and Lawrie starts his much anticipated trot to first base again…just as the umpire punches him out with a called third strike.
Lawrie loses it, throws his helmet into the ground, it bounces up and hits the umpire as Lawrie’s laying into him, and now he’s suspended for 4 games. I guess the best part of all this was the beer that a fan threw at the umpire as he walked off the field.
So why am I bringing this up? It’s simple…this incident shouldn’t have happened. Every kid grows up knowing what a ball and a strike are. They are two clearly defined, mutually exclusive things. There’s no grey area. However, this umpire clearly thinks that balls and strikes are subjective, and it’s up to him to determine which is which. Thereby potentially changing the outcome of a game, as Lawrie should have represented the tying run on 1st base, instead of heading for the showers after being ejected.
People will probably argue with me, saying things like “well there’s a human element to the game, do you really want to get rid of it?” etc., I’ve heard it all before, and my answer is: Absolutely YES. In the age of technology, every single call in baseball – whether it be balls, strikes, a home run, an out at first, or a slide into home – can be reviewed and confirmed in seconds, and relayed back to the umpires on the field.
Check out this picture…if this picture can be created for every pitch, why aren’t the umpires being told what was a ball and what was a strike? Am I missing something? It’s a tough job to judge these pitches, why not leave it to a sensor system that doesn’t make mistakes?
Wouldn’t it be nice to take all the guessing, personal vendettas, and biased calls out of baseball (and every other sport)? I’m sure Armando Galarraga will agree with me, when the first base umpire ruined his perfect game on the final out by calling a runner safe, which he clearly wasn’t.
If anyone wants clear examples of places that this type of technology works, check out the out-calls in tennis.
Sigh…the MLB needs to move out of the stone age.