The umpires' calling of the strike zone is probably more consistent than it's ever been in the history of the game. The application of technology, going back to when Sandy Alderson was running the umpiring department has over time produced great consistency in that area.
I'm sure it is more consistent than ever. Also I believe that car travel is the safest it has ever been, that doesn't mean that I don't think we should stop looking for ways to make cars safer.
And I don't think we should stop looking for ways to improve how balls and strikes are called. I don't think we are at the point that we can't improve or shouldn't want to improve more yet.
Maybe we are at the point where we can't get better with human umpires, but I'd suggest that maybe MLB should be looking at which plate umpires do the best job and maybe have them do more games behind the plate. Right now, the worse home plate umpire and the best home plate umpire, in each crew, do the exact same number of games behind the plate. Maybe there should be changes in the crew rotation so that the best do more games.
The calls that bug me the most are the missed calls on pitches off the plate. These calls, to me, would be the easiest to fix. In most ballparks there is a camera right over the plate, so we can get a good view of the plate and we can tell if a ball is over the plate or not. Maybe we should allow managers to have the ability to appeal on obvious missed calls? Yeah, that wouldn't slow the game down. Silly idea Tom. But there ought to be a way to stop the most glaring of errors.
Maybe we be looking to go a step further. As long as we use human umpires, the strike zone won't be perfect. Maybe it is time to start looking at the idea of robot umps. That would be a pretty tough sell with the umpire's union, but if MLB wanted to get to perfection in balls and strikes, that would be the way.
There is an open question of whether baseball would want perfection on balls and strikes. Manfred seems happy with the way things are right now (at least publicly, behind the scenes it might be a different story). Maybe it is better for baseball that we have these things to talk about? Maybe we are better off with having an umpire to yell at? Is the game more exciting not knowing when Jose Bautista or Josh Donaldson is going to explode on an ump?
What do you think? What should baseball do to improve ball/strike calls?