Umpires can’t like it. Most diehard fans who know the difference between a ball and a strike almost certainly won’t like it at first. If they like it at all, it’s because eventually it just becomes part of the scenery on television. It can be helpful to see whether an umpire has a consistent strike zone — more important than whether his calls fit the ESPN box on every pitch — and what kind of cases pitchers or hitters have. The crybaby players and the over-the-top armchair fan bases are even easier to pick out.
If the in-pitch K-Zone were on Tuesday night, it would have been more clear who was right in the Cardinals-Brewers game — home-plate umpire Rob Drake or St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. The Cardinals all-star bumped into Drake afterward while he went on a rant after which the umpire had to dry off. With K-Zone — or K-Zone 2.0, or whatever it’s called now — neutral viewers would’ve known immediately whether the pitch was lower than that box.
The painted-on strike zone seems to be nowhere near as obnoxious as the glowing puck and nowhere near as useful as the first-down line. Seldom do such so-called innovations go away, so expect more networks to follow suit. Thankfully, ESPN hasn’t touted it like television stations do their Super Doppler technology. At least not yet anyway.