View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The Strike Zone

The playoffs start today, and for those of us working in an AM-free zone, the only way to follow the action (sort of) live is with MLB's electionic equivalent of a souped-up Wrigley-field hand-operated scoreboard. ESPN has the radio broadcast rights to the games, but not the Internet re-broadcast rights, which MLB, with its usual sensitivity and generosity to its loyal fan base, is charging $10 for. Ten bucks, plus ads. Such a deal.

Anyway, this Flash applet that shows the game action includes a little graphic of a player at bat, and then spots the pitches in or out of a rectangular strike zone as they're thrown. Here baseball has worked itself into an 0-2 jam with nobody on. They have to show the strike zone by rule. But the umpires don't start calling strikes until around the waist. So if it's a high ball, the graphic has to show it around the player's head when, more likely, it was chest-level or lower. Of course, it would be too embarassing to get rid of the box and just show the real locations and the calls. Which means that Baseball now has to lie to us about what's going on on the field.

Look, this isn't of earth-shattering importance. But for a sport that spent how many year agonizing over what to do with 61 home runs, and that decided that a rain-out kept Bobby Bonds from being the first 40-40 hitter, this is awfully awkward.

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