There’s been a lot of controversy in MLB over inaccurately called pitches, and the New York Times set up a simulation for fans to test their eye.
Umpires in the MLB aren’t always known for accurately calling pitches, even though that’s, well, their job. Some people call them out for genuine inaccuracy, while others try to argue just when their team is losing. Regardless of the situation, the New York Times is now allowing fans to test their accuracy from the comfort of their own homes.
In a new game called You Be the Ump, a simulation of real pitches from games in the league are recreated virtually that allow the player to get an umpire’s point of view. After the pitch is thrown, the player has to call whether it was a ball or a strike, and the game then reveals whether or not the player was correct.
This puts a whole new perspective on just how difficult an umpire’s job is. Not all calls will be completely accurate, especially with pitches that may be just inside or outside of the strike zone. An umpire’s job requires a great eye for detail, and without a box to show the strike zone and pitches coming in at extremely high speeds, 100 percent accuracy just isn’t realistic.
It’s impossible for umpires to be accurate 100 percent of the time
Some umpires truly aren’t great at what they do, which should raise concerns. Angel Hernandez, for example, has notoriously bad accuracy. Many question whether or not he’s the worst ump in the league, so he’s a prime example of an umpire that just hasn’t gotten the hang of the job.
However, when it comes down to umps that are roughly average and above, people sometimes don’t cut them enough slack. As the NYT game shows, it’s tough to make calls. Some balls and strikes aren’t as obvious as others, and it’s much easier to analyze a pitch when there’s a box shown on TV and freeze frames show exactly where the pitch crossed the plate.
Umps don’t have that luxury, and they’re bound to struggle with an imaginary line at times.