At the conclusion of Sunday’s probably-still-woulda-lost Cubs game, Anthony Rizzo expressed extreme displeasure with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez’s strike call that ended the game.
The pitch was not even close:
Angel Hernandez was ready to go home pic.twitter.com/pUmINdnhNS
— Robert O'Neill (@RobertONeill31) August 5, 2018
Usually, when this kind of thing happens, we beef for a couple days, nobody from the league or the umpiring crew says a word, and then we move on to ponder the implications of robotic umpires in an only-partially dystopian future (sure, Big Brother is everywhere, but they deliver the pizza directly INTO your stomach!).
Not this time. Some credit to Hernandez:
Just spoke with umpire Angel Hernandez at Sox Park. Angel said he looked at video of last pitch to Rizzo and that it was off plate by three inches, should've been ball four. "Rizzo was right… I'm not perfect."
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) August 6, 2018
Good. Fine. It was awful, but it happens. Moving on.
Interestingly, the call provided an opportunity for Joe Maddon to share his thoughts on an electronic strike zone, and he’s changed his mind in the opposite direction from most folks over the past year:
Joe Maddon has changed his mind on robot umps. He’s against it @WaddleandSilvy. Said he’s been told too many balls would be called strikes by just nipping the zone. Used low pitches as an example. Change came over last year or so.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 6, 2018
As I am still not *entirely* sold on an electronic strike zone (I think I would like to see teams able to use challenges on pitches – maybe two total challenges of any kind during a game), I don’t have a problem with Maddon’s perspective. I’m not so sure on the explanation, though. Too many pitches that touch the strike zone would be called strikes? Aren’t those … strikes? It’s not as if we don’t have plenty of non-strikes being called strikes today (and vice versa) – that’s the entire reason “pitch framing” exists.