Monday, February 19, 2007
Could Major League Baseball use a "Smart Ball"
In the wake of a non-call during a game last week, FIFA has begun discussing the possibility of using technology to help eliminate officiating blunders. One idea that struck me was the Smart Ball designed by Adidas. The idea behind this is simply suspending a chip in the middle of ball that sends a signal directly to the referee's watch less than a second after the ball crosses the goal line. That sounds like an excellent idea, but I can't imagine this would be used too often in soccer matches. 99 times out of 100, the ball goes to the back of the net, and it is an easy call for an official. However, this did get me thinking about sports back home here on American soil. As many problems that we have with umpires creating their own strike zone, and catchers fooling umpires with moving the glove, etc. Major League Baseball should look into designing there own version of the smart ball. There would be little computer devices hidden inside each baseball that would send a signal to the umpire if the ball crossed the plate. It would just beep, or buzz or something simple like that and then he'd know if it was a strike or not. Of course, I know that it might take the cost per baseball up a little, and I imagine that MLB goes through quite a few baseballs during an average season. But other than that, it would take some control away from the officials, which in my mind, is always a good thing.
Update: An anonymous poster reminded me that even if the "smart ball" had a chip in it, it still wouldn't be able to tell if the pitch was high or low. I'll admit, there is a part of me, that deep down likes the fact that some umpires have their own interpretation of the strike zone. It adds a special element to the game, and the more a pitcher or hitter knows the umpires they know what they can and cannot get away with. Sometimes it is fun and exciting, and other times it is frustrating and makes you want to rip your hair out. However, I don't like that the umpires have so much control behind the plate. There needs to be more accountability and I hate the fact that umpires can get away with blowing calls, or calling their own version of strikes and balls, or using different hand signals for safe and out, and no one says anything about it. Bottom line, there needs to be more consistancy and responsibility from the umpires. Any time the MLB can improve those factors is good for the game.
Of course, they could always stitch computer chips into the players knees and shoulders to take care of that problem as well...