Re: these umpires suck
posted at 5/9/2013 12:47 PM EDT
Umpires are going to make mistakes even after a review.
But, while I agree we can't blame the home plate umpire last night for Webster's debacle, I also think the topic of balls and strikes and how they are called is worthwhile.
Ted Williams famously said the hardest skill in all of sports is hitting a round ball with a round bat squarely.
But I think MLB pitchers, especially starters, have a harder task/skill to master--throwing a baseball very hard, hard enough to put their arms/elbows/shoulders/etc at risk, and very accurately. Hitters only have to hit that ball solidly once or twice a game, but pitchers have to keep throwing 100 or more times a game and with an assortment of curves, cut fastballs, changeups, fastballs, etc toward a very small target made even smaller by having to stay out of the middle. To be effective, they need to throw strikes 67% of the time, give or take.
This is why most MLB teams carry 12 pitchers to cover just one position, and in the AL that position doesn't even have to hit.
The above is why I believe in umpires having liberal strike zones.
But MLB, I believe, prefers small strike zones because they favor hitters, which means more hits and runs and therefore more fan excitement. For the same reason pitching mounds were lowered decades ago and might be lowered again. Spitters are gone. And now encroachment on the size of the strike zone. Remember, every hitter feels free--including most of our guys--to express displeasure if he doesn't like a call. That's 9 different guys taking a shot at the ump. The pitcher and catcher, meanwhile, are expected to remain stoical on called balls inside the strike zone. Lester griped last year, and this Farrell told him to cool it because the umps are more than happy to seek retribution against griping pitchers.