Cleat Geeks

The Strike, Ball, Check Swing Call

Baseball is full of tough calls.  Did he get the foot to the bag before the mitt hit the chest?  Did he outrun the throw to first to score the game wining run?  Being an umpire for major league baseball is not easy.  You are expected to make the right calls every time or someone will be getting in your face.  One of the biggest compromises between the player/manager and the umpire is calling strikes.

Umpires are under the pressure of making the right calls.  With the speed of the baseball and depending on the movement, it can be a challenge to make the right call.  Today, most umpires do a great job at getting the right ball/strike call.  But there are the times where players disagree and they show their emotions very strongly.




The hard part comes when the ball hits the corners or boarders above/below the strike zone.  The home plate is 17-inches square with two of the corners removed so that one edge is 17 inches long, two adjacent sides are 8½ inches and the remaining two sides are 12 inches and set at an angle to make a point.       


It is not the easiest item to make huge calls.  Along with the ball placement on non-swinging batters, the check swing can bring about debate as well.

When the batter check swings and the home plate umpire is unsure about the call, he will point to either the first base or third base umpire depending on the batters placement in the box to see if the bat crossed the plate.   The check swing is very tough to call especially if the first or third base ump is called upon.

The MLB instant replay system is more advanced and popular than ever.  It’s most common uses are for fair/foul balls into the outfield, ground rule doubles, and force/tags plays.  The ability to go frame by frame gives the umpires a great advantage to make the correct call.  With all these uses for the replay system, is there any chance that strike/ball calls and check swings could be added for the use of replay? I say no!  

The reason I say no to ever adding the option to challenge the ball/strike call is that the game should not be totally manipulated.  It is great that the replay system is installed and being put to great use, but at some point, you have to let the guys play. I understand the manager is limited to one challenge over the first six innings and then two from the seventh on, but the possibility on using all three of those challenges on a ball, strike, or check swing calls is a waste of the system.

There are times where the umpire calls strike three in the ninth and the team loses.  But it is part of the game, one winner and one loser.  The game is already using replay to its advantage and this should not be added.  The umpire is not going to make the right call every time and teams have to live with that.

Overall, if an umpire needs help with a check swing in any point of the count, ask one of the base coaches.  It is better to ask for assistance than blow the call completely.  Also, there is no need to add this call to a replay option because the sport does not need total control.  Lastly, umpires have an even harder job than the players.  Mistakes will be made but checking with the other umpires or getting together at any point in the count/game is something I am all for. 


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