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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Imaginary strike zone.

There are no physical limits to the strike zone. It is an imaginary three dimensional area hovering above ground. To make it even more elusive, it's size varies with each batter.

The pitcher imagines its location, then throws and hopes to place the ball within it. The batter imagines where it might be and swings through that area. Finally, the plate umpire imagines whether a baseball traveling over ninety miles per hour and moving erratically has passed through any part of it or possibly grazed the edge of it.

Pretty stupid. Especially when it's totally unnecessary. Just place an object behind home plate as a target and judge whether or not a pitch has hit it. Jeez, is that so complicated? Try an archery bull's eye on a tripod. Aside from being a fool proof strike zone, it allows those two most pathetic human beings, the catcher and plate umpire, to move out of harm's way and go someplace in fair territory.  If that description does not convince you, consider changing other sports to behave like baseball.

Basketball: backboard but no basket. Players shoot at an imaginary basket and referees imagine whether the ball would go through.

Football: no goal post. The place kicker imagines where the uprights and cross bar would be and officials imagine whether the ball went through.

Let's spice it up a bit. Vary the size of the imaginary basket and/or its height depending on the size of the basketball player. Vary the height of the cross bar and distance between the uprights depending on the size of the place kicker.

There. That should nail down the absurdity of baseball's strike zone. If it doesn't, consider stickball in which the strike zone was drawn on a wall. OK, it was usually drawn way to high but I'm sure Bud Selig, MLB commissioner, can deal with that.

So why does baseball have this most odd and primitive feature at the center of the game? Because it is ancient! Baseball officials and fans refuse to transform it while America's former national pastime slides into irrelevance. It's August 8. Go out and try to find kids playing baseball, especially something other than one of those dreadful organized games in which kids play only if their parents drive them. Kids don't ride bikes any more in part because their parents fear for the safety of the kids because so many parents are driving kids around so much. Ah, the irony.

A nice simple cheap low tech strike zone does the trick. A side benefit is that games will speed up; no catcher, no need for signs between catcher and pitcher. Of course, one of my other ideas would need to be implemented: runners may not leave the base until the ball is hit.

Starting count at 3-2 and limiting the batter to three swings would seal the deal.

Some fans may ask: how ever will you get the ball back to the pitcher and gather up all those baseballs? It's been done for about 100 years. Funny baseball never noticed. Ever watch tennis, especially Wimbledon or the U.S. open? Those ball boys and girls do a great job. We could train baseball ball boys and girls to do more than mostly sit around and occasionally interfere by grabbing a fair ball. Oops.

It all sounds too good to be true but a fundamental part of baseball could be improved with this simple common sense change. What are the chances it will be implemented? What are the chances it will be considered? What are the chances it will be mocked?

Baseball: the imaginary game.

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