Automate the Ball-Strike Call?

Adam Kilgore addresses the issue:

[Umpire Lance] Barksdale’s faulty ball-strike calls did not define the Houston Astros’ 7-1 victory in Game 5 of the World Series, and they did not deserve credit reserved for Gerrit Cole or blame assigned to Washington’s quiet bats and leaky bullpen. But they did overtake the conversation during the game, and they will provide a backdrop as Major League Baseball continues a seemingly inevitable — if potentially misguided — creep toward robot umpires.

All game, the Nationals fumed over borderline calls that went against them. Immediately and decisively, technology allowed them, their fans and anybody with an Internet connection to validate their anger….

It is precisely that scenario that prompts MLB’s consideration of an automated ball-strike system. Players, media and fans have instant access to data compiled by TrackMan and synthesized into binary outcomes. Ball or strike. Right or wrong….

The next logical step, of course, is that if everybody can see clear-cut results immediately, why shouldn’t they be used to determine outcomes rather than a failure-prone set of human eyes?…

The introduction of the system in the majors would come with undesirable consequences, some of them unintended and some unforeseen. It would change the way the sport looks as we know it. For 150 years, a pitcher who missed his spot in the strike zone and made his catcher lunge awkwardly often was punished with a ball; those would become strikes. The three-dimensional nature of the strike zone, and the human eye’s ability to recognize how a 90-mph projectile flies through that plot, means balls in the dirt have always been balls, even if they clip the very front of the zone at the knees. Those would become strikes. It would also eradicate the skill of pitch framing or expanding the zone throughout the game, skills that make baseball richer.

The final paragraph above is unmitigated horsesh**t.

All of the so-called undesirable consequences cited would result from actually enforcement of the actual strike zone. Which would be a big plus because (a) it would be enforced consistently and (b) there would be far less controversy about ball and strike calls.

Players, managers, and fans would quickly adapt to the subtle changes in the way the game is played. The “way that the sport looks as we know it” has changed dramatically — but slowly — for 150 years. But Kilgore is too young to appreciate that fact of life.

I have been in favor of automated ball-strike calls for many years. I’m conservative, which means that I’m in favor of demonstrably beneficial changes. I guess that makes Kilgore of The Washington Post a reactionary. How ironic.