Baseball STRIKE ZONE
Real, Imagined or METAPHYSICAL
difficult to understand
highly abstract or abstruse
of or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses
of or relating to things that are thought to exist but that cannot be seen
WOW, how times have changed since the summer of 1975, the first time ever that I Officiated a Youth League Baseball game, in a little town in Eastern Massachusetts. Youth Baseball back in 1975 was a game played by young kids. Learning: the game, Sportsmanship, the importance of Teamwork and most importantly having FUN.
Fast Forward 40+ years!!
2017, The attitudes of parents, players and especially coaches have warped into never-never land. The One Single thing that they ALL seem to have a Problem with is the STRIKE ZONE! Unfortunately, this seems to be TRUE even with today’s MLB players who seem to need someone to blame for their failure to swing at a STRIKE. Alas, I digress:
Did you know in:
1876 – “The batsman, on taking his position, must call for a ‘high,’ ‘low,’ or ‘fair’ pitch, and the umpire shall notify the pitcher to deliver the ball as required; such a call cannot be changed after the first pitch is delivered.”
High – pitches over the plate between the batter’s waist and shoulders
Low – pitches over the plate between the batter’s waist and at least one foot from the ground.
Fair – pitches over the plate between the batter’s shoulders and at least one foot from the ground.
Now that we have reviewed the History let’s LOOK at today’s Strike Zone Definitions:
The official strike zone is the area over home plate from the midpoint between a batter’s shoulders and the top of the uniform pants — when the batter is in his stance and prepared to swing at a pitched ball — and a point just below the kneecap. In order to get a strike call, part of the ball must cross over part of home plate while in the aforementioned area.
The home-plate umpire calls Strikes and Balls after every pitch has passed the batter, unless the batter makes contact with the baseball (in which case the pitch is automatically a strike).
Now let’s talk about “REALITY” as you can see between these two batter diagrams the many problems with the Strike Zone! The MLB picture above: the TOP of the zone is clearly somewhere in the letters. (Not to mention half way between the Top of the uniform pants & the shoulders.)
The Diagram below gives us yet another view of the Baseball Strike Zone for various ages. The BIG Problem below is clearly the fact that it displays the belly button as the TOP of the Pro Zone. Hence, the continuing debate!!
The Strike Zone as written (OBR):
“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.”
BIG Question: TOP of the Uniform Pants?
This is a question that we have been bouncing around for quite a while here in Massachusetts. I happen to believe that the TotUPs is at the top of the hip bone which IS in the latitude of/or in line with the Belly Button! Some of my fellow umpires believe that the TotUPs is actually where the batter wears his pants. Those of us that are carrying a few extra pounds tend to allow the front of our pants to be lower than the back and in some cases, this could be 6 inches or more THUS allowing for a much LOWER TOP OF THE STRIKE ZONE!!!
Now what can we discuss?
- Midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants: First what is the top of the uniform pants? I believe when written totups (see above Big Question) is an area touching the belly button. (When I try on or get measured for a pair of pants that is the area the tailor determines is the Top of Pants.) So clearly the belly button cannot be the MidPoint!! Even though it appears that MLB Umpires call it.
- Prepared to swing! At one time I was instructed to determine the Zone when the batter made his stride. Which was clearly inaccurate. Prepared to swing is when the batter has both feet in the box, bat is up around the shoulders and his eyes are on the pitcher.
- The Lower Level is clearly getting lower every season. This is mostly due to the Umpires Position and How he perceives the pitch as it crosses the plate. Let’s face it the hollow beneath the kneecap? Is easy to understand??
- Umpire Position Let’s agree HOW the Umpire sets up behind Home Plate determines his/her perspective of the Strike Zone!
- The Catcher Friend or Foe?
- The Ball
Here, we have another study of the Strike Zone which I find interesting. It takes time to get properly acclimated to the proper view. This appears to be a bird’s eye view looking down with the plate being the box between the 2 green rectangular areas. We have to remember that each the Right / Left Hand Batters’ box should be looked at individually.
The Right hand box shows that the Inside Strike is called more often than the Outside Strike. However the area seems to be condensing.
The Left hand box shows the Outside Strike is called while there does not seem to be an Inside Strike!
(Home Plate by Definition is: Home base shall be marked by a five-sided slab of whitened rubber. It shall be 17-inch square with two of the corners removed so that one edge is 17 inches long, two adjacent sides are 81/2 inches and the remaining two sides are 12 inches and set at an angle to make a point. It shall be set in the ground with the point at the intersection of the lines extending from home base to first base and to third base; with the 17-inch edge facing the pitcher’s plate, and the 12-inch edges coinciding with the first and third base lines. The top edges of home base shall be beveled, and the base shall be fixed in the ground level with the ground surface.)
Yet Another thing about the Strike Zone to remember is the BALL itself! WHAT???
Well, once You have established the Upper/Lower and Inside/Outside of the Strike Zone, you now have to Remember that IF ANY PART of the Ball passes through or touches the ZONE, it is a STRIKE! This adds 2 7/8 inches to either side of the plate as described above. (17 + 2 7/8 + 2 7/8 = 22 3/4 inches)
Watch for discussions on the following:
- Electronic Strike Zone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Tag / No Tag
- Interference / Obstruction
- and MORE
Let’s OPEN the discussion!!
HERE’S ANOTHER LOOK