Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel Explores How Pitch FX Technology Could Change Baseball
When A New Edition Debuts Tuesday, Sept. 27 On HBO
Complaining about balls and strikes is nothing new in the game of baseball. It's been going on throughout the history of the game… and over the years, has become a genuine part of the game… an art form practiced and perfected by some of the legends of the sport…But for all that time, it was just one man's opinion against another's. Not anymore.
Because now, high-tech cameras are in use in every Major League park… capable of mapping the precise path of every pitch…in real time.
Which means that today, everyone watching a game – from broadcasters to TV viewers to fans watching online – can see for sure whether a pitch actually hits the strike zone… or misses it.
Everyone, that is ... but the guy who gets to decide.
HBO'S JON FRANKEL: "So you're saying the guy at home, the fan in the stands, the--"
MLB NETWORK ANALYST ERIC BYRNES: "The guy at home they have--"
JON FRANKEL: "--guys in the dugout."
ERIC BYRNES: "Jon, they have it on the TV. We see the boxes. Why do millions of people at home sitting there watching on TV get to know whether it's a ball or a strike? Yet the poor dude behind home plate is the one left in the dark. That's bullshit."
So former MLB players Eric Byrnes says it's time. Time to take one of the iconic figures of American culture … the wise and judicious home plate umpire … and replace him with … yes … a computer.
JON FRANKEL: "Could you ever see a situation where you might want technology?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "Never, It's ridiculous."
JON FRANKEL: "But progress is a good thing, isn't it?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "Not in the game of baseball."
Jerry Crawford was an umpire in the Major Leagues for 34 years… and fought his share of battles with players and managers upset about balls and strikes.
[W]e went to Yale University and asked one of the leading mathematics experts in the country for some help...
Professor Toby Moskowitz agreed to analyze every pitch called by Major League umpires over the last three and a half years … about a million in all.
While Major League Baseball claims that its umpires get nearly 97% of the calls right… Professor Moskowitz found that since 2013 the umpires are actually only about 88% accurate… that they get 1 out of every 8 calls wrong… piling up more than 30,000 mistakes a year.
And that's including the easy calls ... the many pitches that go right down the middle ... or way off the plate ... that scarcely require a decision.
When the umps have to actually make a decision ... when the pitches are anywhere near the border of the strike zone … they miss at an even higher rate ... much higher.
YALE PROFESSOR TOBY MOSKOWITZ: "In that area they get it wrong 31.7% of the time. Just a little under one out of every three calls in that zone, they get wrong." ...
Former umpire Jerry Crawford says he doesn't trust the math ... or the technology... which he says is no match for guys like him.
JERRY CRAWFORD: "I don't care what the guy from Yale's looked at, to be honest with you. It's not even feasible. He's absolutely incorrect."
Major League Baseball, however, appears to disagree. The league has not only installed the computer system in every park… but for the last several years has actually been using it to try to tutor their own umpires…
Yes, after every game umpires are shown exactly where each pitch actually was ... so they can review what they got right and what they got wrong.
At least, that's what the league thinks is happening.
JERRY CRAWFORD: "About 20 minutes after the game was over, there would be a knock on the door. There would be a guy standing there. He'd have a disc. He'd say—'umpire Crawford?' I'd say, 'Me.' He'd hand me the disc.
JON FRANKEL: "And you would usually do what?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "I threw it in the trash."
JON FRANKEL: "Are you telling me you never sat down and used it as a learning tool to improve the way you call the game?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "No, I didn't. I never did."
September 27, 2016
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel: How Pitch FX Technology Could Change Baseball
This looks like must-see TV.