Mike Schmidt actually might be onto something . . . on the future of calling balls and strikes.
The Hall of Fame Phillies third baseman went on a Philadelphia radio station Thursday and proposed a revolutionary change to baseball rules: Umpires would no longer be the ones calling balls and strikes.
Schmidt’s idea is that the strike zone could be adjudicated by a strike-zone-shaped "force field" that detected when a ball passed through it.
“I think the umpire at home plate should not call balls and strikes," he said. "I think they should have a force field over home plate and if the pitcher throws and the ball touches the force field a little bell goes off and it’s a strike. That would expand the strike zone to the point where the hitters would now have to swing the ball, which would shorten the game.
"The umpire needs to be at home plate for the safe and out calls at home plate and foul balls and fair balls and basically to run the game but we’re going to see at some time — my guess is within the next 10 years – that you’ll see the balls and strikes just like the line calls in tennis.
"You’d think it would be something very easy to do with what they can do electronically in our world today.”
Using the term "force field" makes this idea sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but there is nothing unreasonable about Schmidt’s idea. This type of technology already exists and is already used in broadcasts by TV networks, who instantly track the trajectory of the ball in relation to the (alleged) strike zone.
It does seem reasonable that if the "force field" were the same dimensions as the actual, rule-book strike zone, it would result in more swings and a quicker pace of play (but less offense).
Don’t look for this any time soon, but maybe one day arguing balls and strikes won’t just be frowned upon, it will be impossible.