Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ah, the elusive strike zone

MLB website:

 The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball. (For diagram of STRIKE ZONE see page 25.)

See my basic take on the absurdity of the strike zone:
SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 2009 Imaginary strike zone.

However, even the basic definition is ambiguous. Which knee? Try to get an answer to that. It's like asking a basketball person what part of the rim is used as the target, the front or the back. All you get is a blank stare. Two general concepts that I think are backward:

1. Some pitches curve around home base. In the history of baseball I do not think any pitch has curved around home base. Yet, you hear this often.
2. That people in the dugout can judge whether a pitch is high or low. How can they if they do not know which knee is used?

The overhead TV camera shot proves my point number one, that pitches do not curve around home base. The side angle shot appears to show that some pitches pass the batter's front knee high enough to be strikes but that they drop below his back knee. So which knee is used to judge? The rule implies singular, not both knees. My common sense suggests the front knee, the knee facing the center field camera, which provides most TV images of pitched balls. However, the poor umpire behind home has the opposite view and sees the back knee, not the front knee. The diagram of the STRIKE ZONE on page 25 of the MLB document shows a horizontal line running through the bottom of both knees. If both knees are used then the back knee controls as pitches are almost always lower the further they are from the pitcher. Note: The diagram also shows that the top of the strike zone is NOT the "midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants". The top horizontal line is clearly lower than the "midpoint", which helps explain the fattened but not smaller strike zone of recent seasons.

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