I was checking my Twitter feed while bathing the other afternoon — I installed an umbrella-type device near the showerhead to protect my iPhone from absorbing any errant shower water — when I came across a simple, sublime sentiment via tweet by veteran Northern California journalist Andy Furillo:
“Memo to Trump: America can never be made great again as long as TV maintains the chimera of the definitive strike zone. Get rid of the [expletive] box.”
I didn’t even know what “chimera” meant, but I sensed I wholeheartedly agreed with Furillo’s sensibility. Then I looked up “chimera,” and after conceding this Twitter fella is much too smart to be in this column, I realized, he, indeed, was reflecting my exact point of view on the matter.
Get rid of the [expletive] box.
The K-Zone — and its various technological brethren — is killing us, one obscured pitch at a time.
It is the umpteenth set of training wheels in the infantilization of American society.
The intent of ESPN’s K-Zone superimposed box is plain, to tell us if the pitch is a ball or a strike. Before this, we had two options in this regard:
1. With our own eyes, we could see if the pitch were a ball or a strike.
2. The home plate umpire would indicate if it were a ball or a strike.
Now what we see or what the umpires see might be incorrect — K-Zone, meanwhile, is the be-all/end-all arbiter of the pitch’s location. Supposedly it is more science-based than, say, Louis Pasteur and, thus, more reliable.
Is that rectangle on our TV screen really, really the actual strike zone? Because if it is, yes, we can dispose of the balls-and-strikes ump. But is it really, really adjusting for every batter? It just feels like a one-size-fits-all contraption.
(Column Intermission: Here’s something I read in April: “Third baseman Miguel Andujar only the third player in Yankees history to collect extra-base hits in seven consecutive games before turning 24.” Save us all; you walk around telling people stuff like that and you will clear the room. The K-Zone and statistical debris go hand-in-hand. I’d like to remind MLB broadcasters and analytics savants of a much overlooked, nonstatistical fact — we’re just trying to relax and enjoy the game.)
(Column Intermission P.S.: Another ESPN excess is it puts up the following graphic when, say, it’s the top of the ninth, bases empty, two outs and the Red Sox are leading the Orioles 3-1: “Win Probability: Baltimore 1 percent, Boston 99 percent.” Hmm. If the game is over and you have lost, I guess your win probability is 0 percent. And maybe The Weather Channel will follow ESPN’s lead: “Sunrise probability tomorrow: No 0.000001 percent, Yes 99.999999 percent.)
Some people liken the K-Zone to football’s yellow first-down line as a technological breakthrough. No, no, no, no, no. The yellow first-down line is extremely helpful and extremely unobtrusive; the K-Zone box is extremely unhelpful and extremely obtrusive.
Why would you clutter and clog the most important part of the center field camera shot as we’re attempting to view the pitch crossing the plate?
It’s like watching a sunset through a screen door.
If you were airborne and looking down at the Grand Canyon, would you want a bunch of graphics blocking the majesty of the sight?
The score bug is invaluable, but everything else should be swept away.
It’s called tele-vision, not quell-e-vision.
People tell me I’m too old school and too old, but, trust me, millennial readers, I was too old school when I was too young.
Let us see the game.
I am tired of the visual clutter and the graphics overload. Why block the most important live action on the screen?
What if the adult film industry adopted the K-Zone modus operandi?
Uh, scratch that thought.
Q. As a proud former Terp, how would you handle the latest Maryland athletic crisis? (James McGrath; Milwaukee)
A. I am not a proud former Terp. Maryland athletics, as I have stated countless times, should be completely dismantled. I wouldn’t even start over. I would simply eliminate it from the face of the Earth.
Q. You complain of MLB strikeout rates. Isn’t this hypocritical with at least three out of every four of your columns being a swing and a miss? (Shad Meyers; Cumberland, Md.)
A. Man, it’s a tough room out there.
Q. If Buffalo Wild Wings adds sports betting, will The Slouch eat and bet simultaneously? (Jack O’Brien; Fairfax, Va.)
A. I will eat and bet simultaneously if Buffalo Wild Wings allows me to bring in something else to eat.
Q. Is ESPN going through an identity crisis? (William Robbins; Brookhaven, Ga.)
A. Yes. Nobody there can remember what the ‘E’ in ESPN stands for.
Q. Will North Carolina football players need to increase the price of their sneakers in light of the new tariffs on goods made in China? (John Huber; Montgomery Village, Md.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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