UMPIRES SHOULD NOT CALL BALLS AND STRIKES. I have heard announcers discussing Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt’s comment that umpires should not call balls and strikes. Here is the report by Craig Calcaterra from the Hardball Talk website. Schmidt predicts that within ten years, balls and strikes will be called in the same way that line calls are made today in tennis tournaments.

I agree with Schmidt’s prediction (and there are a lot of days when I agree that it would be a good thing). The situation today is unstable for two reasons. One reason, and I think the lesser of the two reasons, is that umpire errors are important. I made an estimate in this post that the aggregate value of umpire errors in a game is about two runs a game (umpires are estimated to make mistaken calls on about one eighth of all pitches and a mistake on a strike call is estimated to be worth about 0.13 runs). If the errors are split evenly between the two teams, there is no problem, but if they were to split, say, 10 to 6 in a game that would be worth about half a run.

The more important reason is that televised games feature a grid which shows whether a pitch was a ball or a strike, and announcers consult the grid and comment on it. Over time what the grids show is going to create pressure for change.

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