Mike Schmidt Wants Baseball to Replace Umpires With Science Fiction

Mike Schmidt

Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt wants baseball to implement his science fiction idea that would replace umpires calling baseball games with a force field. Following up yesterday’s idea to shorten MLB games to seven innings, Schmidt thinks that using a force field would speed up games.

The idea from the retired Philadelphia Phillie is that a Star Trek like force field over the plate would shorten the game by taking the human element out of the game. Replacing an umpire with this force field would make every strike zone the same and force batters to swing.

Schmidt idea is that if a ball crosses the force field a little bell could sound indicating a strike. The idea of a force field, while interesting, is just a continuation of the silliness that seems to be coming out from people who feel that baseball needs to be fixed. The suggestions so far have been enough to make many baseball fans roll their eyes.

Umpires replaced in baseball with science fiction force fields as Mike Schmidt wants could open up the game for a lot more issues and complaints. The first thing baseball would need to figure out is how to get the force field to actually work with the strike zone rule. The strike zone differs from batter to batter based on a point near the middle of the batters chest and their knees. So a six-foot six-inch tall player normally would have a different strike zone than a five-foot seven-inch tall player.

There are more problems that would arise from using a force field. The bigger problem is the removal of the human element from the game. Framing a pitch would no longer be a tool that could be used by a catcher to try to extend the strike zone. Players would no longer have the need to dispute calls by an umpire.

Removing the umpire from calling balls and strikes would make baseball boring, for both players and fans. It could not happen, at least not anytime soon. The technology Schmidt thinks that should replace the home plate umpire does not exist yet. The world may not be too far away from a technology that could be utilized, but do fans, players, anyone really want this?

There are so many other things that teams could do to bring in the fans without changing the game in any way. While games as they are can exceed three hours, the 12-second between pitch rule, if enforced would speed up the game and could keep the games below the three-hour mark. Teams that are suffering from low ticket sales could donate tickets to youth organizations or other groups to get people into the seats. While the teams would not make money from the tickets they give away, but the revenue from concessions and souvenirs would be more than the teams are seeing with empty seats.

More fan involvement would be a huge draw to people. A team app that would allow fans to use smart devices and phones would be something that would appeal to the younger fans that MLB seems to be scared of losing. Allowing fans to be able to connect their iPad or Android devices to see realtime stats, score cards, trivia about the players, replays, and participate in realtime with between inning fan games could bring in more people. More incentives like family deals, post game concerts, and other events should draw in fans. There are just too many things that MLB and teams could do to draw fans in with out messing with the purity of the game.

If Baseball would replace umpires calling baseball games with a force field as Mike Schmidt wants could take away jobs. Besides no longer needing the home plate umpire, it would reduce the need for at least one umpire. After a force field strike zone was introduced, how long would it be before sensors in bases and in balls are added to make a umpires call at one of the bases obsolete. Instead of even considering science fiction that would take the fun out of baseball, MLB needs to address what is already there and make it enticing for everyone.

Commentary by Carl Auer

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