Holy moly, do I still remember how words work?
So I just read this fantastic article on how the Cubs are using technology to improve their catchers’ framing ability, as well as their overall practice routine. It’s really interesting and I love that the Cubs are doing it and OH MY GOD I HATE PITCH FRAMING SO MUCH.
Sorry, give me a second to compose myself…
The advent of technology in sports and the new metrics it makes possible are all good things, which I fully support, but what kills me about pitch framing is that the metrics are being used in completely the wrong way!
Rule 2.00: The Strike Zone
The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
Let me highlight the important words: “…over home plate…”
So, you tell me, why are we trying to train catchers to fool the umpires, when we could be using this data to figure out which umpires aren’t calling strikes correctly? Because, unless I’m completely mistaken, the catcher doesn’t receive the ball with his mitt over home plate, which is where the umpires are supposed to call ball or strike. There must be some way to utilize this data to determine which umpires are most influenced by a catcher who frames well, thus determining which umps are, essentially, being lazy and waiting for the ball to hit the mitt before calling the pitch. And then, I don’t know, TRAIN THE UMPS TO DO THEIR JOB INSTEAD OF MAKING WELLINGTON CASTILLO LOOK BAD!
Full disclosure, I’m a really big Wellington Castillo fan.
I know this boat has probably sailed; that Baseball America article I linked to up there gives me hope that a progressive, savvy organization, like the Cubs, can teach their catchers to be better framers (even certain young, fairly established catchers who DO EVERYTHING WELL EXCEPT THE UMPIRES’ JOBS FOR THEM…ahem). Really, I just needed to get this off of my chest, plus I really wish I could get even one person to agree with me. Pretty please?
Oh yeah…I’m baaaaaaaack.