MLB officials on Monday thumbed their nose at PitchTrax, the innovative technology that shows balls and strikes on your television screen, by confirming that a pitch one to three feet off the edge of the plate is now considered a strike. The new rule, which was shared by Commissioner Rob Manfred with his umpiring crews, but not with players, managers or the viewing public, was instituted at the start of the 2015 playoffs, but has informally been followed by umpires league-wide for many years.
“When you’re watching the Cubs game with your family and friends and you see a pitch sail a few feet wide of the plate and it’s called a strike, there’s really no reason to want to throw your shoe through the television set,” said Manfred. “That pitch is, and will continue to be, called a strike by our outstanding umpiring crews. And don’t forget about the new ankle-high strike as well.”
Citing what is known as the “Eric Gregg Rule” in the MLB Handbook, it is being left up to the discretion of each individual umpire to determine which really crappy pitches are considered to be strikes.
“My favorite one to call is the high and tight fastball strike right under the batter’s chin,” said Rob Drake, who unceremoniously called balls and strikes during NLCS Game 1 on Saturday. “Not only do they start their at-bat 0-1, but they usually fall flat on their asses, which is pretty damn hilarious to watch.”