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Luke’s Draft Musings

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    • The problem isn’t just missing pitches here and there, as frustrating as that can be for the players and managers. When an ump is having a bad game the batters, pitchers, and catchers have no idea what the strike zone is going to be from inning to inning or even from pitch to pitch. How was Realmuto to know that last pitch was going to be called strike three to end the game when a better pitch to Harper had been called a ball just seconds earlier?    One of the main advantages of an electronic strike zone would be the consistency of that zone. What’s a strike now will be a strike next inning and next game and next year. I think that’s where the primary value will be found. 
    • As if my year couldn’t get any worse, Sisco starts doing good...
    • I've been in the robo ump camp for a while now, and these examples only strengthen my viewpoint.  The time has come to remove ball and strike calls from the umpire.  Make it happen.
    • I am still adjusting to all the new people, in part because I watch over the MLB app and I frenetically switch between the TV, radio, home/away feeds so everyone kinda blurs together (particularly after a few beers). I think Ben is awesome on color. I like Melanie the best so far on play by play. Her even, steady, slow, accurate calls are a classic style. I find her voice pleasing. Sure, she could work on the excitement a bit perhaps, but I think it is better to grow into excitement than to come to the door with it. She will find her signature call. She has the most upside of the lot I think.
    • I don't have a problem with the baseball knowledge or game calling accuracy of anyone on the TV or radio crews this year. I fully understand the difficult circumstances and that they're beholden to what they see on TV. I don't think any of them are dunces about baseball. I'm sure all of them are very nice people, too. The lack of excitement -- especially with Scott Garceau -- is the worst thing for me. Jim Hunter may not have known the sport, but at least he knew how to make a home run call. He was also an excellent setup man for Jim Palmer's often sarcastic retorts. Palmer was so great at underhandedly insulting Hunter for not even "getting it" after Palmer hinted at it and it was so funny. Their dynamic was far more entertaining than Garceau and McDonald.
    • In some areas of private industry, there's a (fairly brutal, honestly) performance management process called "stack ranking." In stack ranking, everyone's performance is compared against each other, using a combination of objective and subjective metrics. The elite few at the top get raises and/or promotions; the solid contributors get to coast along undisturbed; the struggling end up getting "help" to try to improve their performance; and the worst of the worst get fired. This happens on a monthly, bi-annual or yearly cadence depending on the company. Stack ranking of umpires would be based on their accuracy on calls compared to the "correct" call via video review / electronic strike zone. You could set up the strata exactly as you do for tech workers: give raises to the best, let the good ones keep going, pull the struggling ones from daily MLB games and have them work on their calls and improve in some kind of umpiring camp, and just fire the worst ~1% every year. The other thing you could do is add more umpires to the umpiring pool. This would increase the "overhead" cost of umpiring, yes, but by adding more umpires without adding more teams or games, you could set up a situation where only the best X% of umpires get to call MLB games on the regular. The rest would either call simulated games, extended spring training games, or minor league games until they get better.
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