The leaked Arizona plan to expedite the return from quarantine of the 2020 Major League Baseball season raises many questions about the potential execution and motives of the MLB.
But one part of the plan prompts far fewer questions thanks in part to the Sugar Land Skeeters: electronic strike zone.
The use of electronic aided strike zones to help umpires maintain social distancing while doing their jobs is among the details of the plan that would see MLB teams back on the field in May at Cactus League Spring Training facilities with abbreviated games and double-headers to catch up on lost time.
This move will expedite the future of baseball, a future that has been tested out during the Skeeters’ 2019 season.
Sugar Land and the rest of the Atlantic League joined the MLB in a partnership to test potential rules changes.
The “robo-ump” was in place by July. The Skeeters were able to again reach the Atlantic League championship series for the second straight year despite the game change.
The overall effect of adding a “robo-ump” is the aid it gives to the home-plate umpire.
The human element is still behind the plate and during the Atlantic League test, the umpires were instructed to still make their own calls.
The digital strike zone helped when the umpire wasn’t 100 percent sure about a close call.
When an ump needed help, he got a message in his ear if the ball or strike was in the zone.
The system was never in complete control. The human was still lifting his arm for a strike or stepping back for a ball.
While the human element is important to all sports, the strike zone is something that could use a little help in detection.
After all, a batter has a blink of an eye to decide if a pitch is a ball or a strike.
The same goes for the umpire.
The changes will help speed up and add integrity to the game, which will help the baseball in the long run.
And Major League Baseball can thank the Atlantic League for getting the ball rolling on the project we may see in Arizona.
For now, the plan is just a rumor. Let us hope that Major League Baseball can execute this plan safely.
Until then, I’ll be at home playing catch with my son Jackson and dreaming off baseball.
Reach Fort Bend Herald sports editor Ryan Dunsmore at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @duns_more and @fbheraldsports.