Maybe the closest thing in sports to pitching is serving in tennis. Servers start play with a good serve. Servers only get two chances (faults) before they lose the point (double fault). Pitchers get to “miss” four times before a batter goes to first which is only one fourth of the way to a score.
In tennis, if the serve is out, it doesn’t make any difference whether the opponent tries to hit the ball or not, it is still a fault. In baseball, if the batter swings at a pitch out of the zone, even a half swing, it is a strike.
The tennis umpire can use an electronic system to determine whether close serves are in or out. Major League umpires, likely the best umpires anywhere, do not get electronic assistance. Based on an extensive survey, they miss call an average of about 14 pitches a game.
What if tennis gave servers four chances to get a serve in? There would be far more faults as servers try to either overpower or go for the corners on their first two or three serves. There would also be more aces and fewer rallies. In other words matches would be longer and more boring.
Because pitchers get four “misses” before a walk, they often pitch out of the zone to:
- Throw harder by sacrificing control
- Go for the corners
- Set up the next pitch
- Make a pitch break out of the zone
- Exploit a hitter’s weakness
With the Real Strike Rule,
- A pitch out of the strike zone is a ball, whether the hitter swings at it or not.
- Umpires would call pitches with the aide of an electronic system.
- Pitchers would walk a batter on three “misses” instead of four.
- All foul balls of pitches in the strike zone are strikes so if pitcher throws three in the zone and the hitter does not put the ball in play, it is a strikeout.
The Real Strike Rule would reduce the average of over 170 pitches per game out of the strike zone, reduce strikeouts, and put more balls in play. Bottom line: more action, shorter games, fewer yawns, and less chanel changing.