June 24, 2024

Include Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Greg Brown among the many voices in baseball advocating for a resolution to inconsistent strike zone judgments in the game.

Brown, the play-by-play announcer for SportsNet Pittsburgh, shared a video on Twitter of the first pitch during Friday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants. In the clip, left-hander Kyle Harrison’s pitch to Bucs leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen seemed clearly outside the strike zone.

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Home plate umpire Gabe Morales deemed it a strike, a decision that prompted Brown to engage in conversation with McCutchen after the game. Brown later expressed his concern on Twitter, highlighting the impact of such calls on at-bats and, potentially, games.

While labeling the pitch as “game-altering” might be debatable, given the scoreless nature of the game until the Giants’ walk-off victory in the ninth inning, the incident underscores the growing frustration among players and broadcasters alike regarding inconsistent balls-and-strikes calls.

Broadcasters across MLB have become increasingly vocal about poor officiating in this regard. Umpire Ángel Hernández’s performances, in particular, have drawn criticism, with announcers expressing frustration and disbelief at some of his calls this season.

However, Hernández is not the sole culprit; other umpires, such as Ryan Blakney, have also made highly questionable calls, as evidenced by Blakney’s decision to label a pitch that landed squarely in the strike zone during the April 20 Baltimore-Kansas City game as a ball.

Morales’ inconsistency in strike zone calls was evident throughout Friday night’s game, with one of the notable errors occurring in the seventh inning. As Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds faced a critical moment with the bases loaded, Morales mistakenly called a pitch above the strike zone a strike.

This decision visibly frustrated Reynolds, who ultimately struck out. While some may argue that Morales also missed a call on a pitch that grazed the inside corner during the same at-bat, such discrepancies are not acceptable in strike zone enforcement.

MLB insiders like Jeff Passan have proposed solutions such as implementing an automated strike zone and a challenge system to address the issue. Brown further highlighted the issue by sharing a video of another questionable sequence from a Pirates game against the Boston Red Sox.

Andrew McCutchen Photo Credit: SportsNet Pittsburgh

In this instance, Pittsburgh pitcher Mitch Keller threw three pitches within the strike zone to Tristan Casas, all of which were called balls, resulting in a walk.

This inconsistency in strike zone enforcement has been a point of agreement among MLB broadcasters this season, with many expressing frustration at the subpar officiating in this aspect of the game.


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