By: Ethan Hines
Setting the scene:
Something incredible happened on August 14th, 2018, something unprecedented in the career of a Mister Ben Zobrist. For the first time in his thirteen year career, Zobrist found himself ejected from a game and an important one against the Brewers at that. How did he get thrown out? He told umpire Phil Cuzzi “This is why we want an electronic strike zone.” after disagreeing with a strike three call. As most fans of the MLB know very well, this isn’t even close to the first instance in which a controversial call fires up players and or managers getting ejected from a game at all, especially not in recent times with replay and video available to everybody. Which is why the push for an electronic strike zone has grown ever stronger and why robot umpires may be in our near future. I don’t believe that Mister Manfred can ignore the fan outcry at certain calls as it increases with time toward certain terrible calls made that often change the trajectory of certain games. Now the integration of this strike zone would mean a lot for the game itself like, for example, removing the human error aspect of the game entirely, somewhat ensuring, higher accuracy on calls in the strike zone would allow the game to be more fair in the eyes of everyone unless a call doesn’t go a teams way in which case, of course that team will be upset with the call.
Photo: Courtesy of Ryan Spilborgh's Twitter account @spillygoat19
An analysis of this potential future:
In theory, an electronic strike zone has benefits like a higher accuracy on calls within the strike zone and at-bats like the Charlie Blackmon strikeout pictured above would be obsolete right? Well, not necessarily. While the removal of human error would be a nice touch for the game and a more accurate strike zone sounds appealing, there’s one element that can’t be forgotten here and that is the technological aspect of it. Some genuine concern should be had here as a strike zone of this variety could be hacked and messed with to give a certain team an advantage. Of course there are ways to counter any hacking or tampering of the zone like suspensions, fines and immediate ejections. The MLB would need a pretty good security system to go along with this strike zone. Of course, no security system is perfect so maybe monitoring the dugouts to make sure nobody is trying to tamper with the electronics. Of course that would prompt the argument of privacy invasion within the dugouts. No matter which route is taken with the implementation of the electronic strike zone, one thing is abundantly clear, it will change the way the game is played forever and certain steps will have to be taken to ensure fairness and complete accuracy.
What it begins to start:
At the dismay of many older fans of the game and at the delight of the younger fans of the game, these new technological additions to the game signal a new game for a new generation of fans. The electronic strike zone may or may not be as helpful as the addition of replay was years ago but it certainly will be a more risky move. This technological addition to the game would follow other additions like it and begin as a newer younger generation of talent has begun to surface as well. The game has begun to feel a lot different thanks not just to these potential and definitive changes but also due to other changes like the pace of play rules that the league has implemented recently. Some players like Jayson Werth pictured above don’t like these changes while others are excited about the idea of changes within the game like Anthony Rizzo. No matter the opinion however, these changes signal further evolution in the rules of baseball and further changes to the most historic sport in America. Whether these are good or bad changes are opinions of fans that are left up to interpretation.