Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
San Francisco Giants outfielder Brandon Belt was not pleased Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds ended on a called third strike with him at the plate and the potential tying run on deck in Evan Longoria, and he insinuated home plate umpire Doug Eddings wanted the game to end.
“There are just some times when you have a feeling that one or two of them are trying to get the game over with, whether that’s through what they say or what they do,” Belt said, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Schulman noted Belt said Eddings has discussed wanting games to end quickly “multiple times” and said such an attitude isn’t fair to the players.
“That just can’t happen. You can’t have these guys affecting games and affecting careers. We had a really good hitter coming up after that who could have tied the game for us and he never got that chance because (Eddings) calls a ball so far off the plate I don’t think I could have touched it.”
Belt went 2-for-5 with a home run during Wednesday’s contest and is hitting .301 on the season, one reason Schulman said his “strike-zone awareness has been off the charts.”
Umpiring decisions on balls and strikes is a topic that has made headlines in baseball in recent years, especially as the technology around the game improves.
Fans can’t sit through a broadcast without a technologically accurate representation of the strike zone showing whether pitches should be called balls or strikes. Many broadcasts even feature three-dimensional models of the strike zone superimposed over home plate, providing additional accuracy to the viewers.
With replay reviews already part of the sport, the next logical step for many would be automated strike zones to eliminate umpiring mistakes and conflicts with managers and players, like the most recent one involving Belt.
Last year, Chicago Cubs utility man Ben Zobrist pointed to the potential need for such a system after a controversial strikeout call that ended a game.
“If we want to change something like that, we’re going to have an electronic strike zone because human beings are going to make mistakes,” he said, per Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com.
However, Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted in August that commissioner Rob Manfred publicly came out against automated strike zones and suggested they won’t be happening anytime soon.
Belt probably would have preferred one in place Wednesday.