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I was asked by a member of this website to tell everyone what it is I told him about the strike zone.
I played professional baseball from the A level to the MLB level from 1986 till 1994 when I was given a chance to go play in Japan. Each and every year I heard the same thing from baseball people in professional baseball at every level here in the states. "As long as the umpire in consistent with his balls and strikes calls from the beginning of the game to the end, that's all we can ask of him" What I found when I went to Japan that that statement about balls and strikes is flawed and here is why I say that. For 5 years I pitched in Japan and for 5 years I not once had to go into any game and have to figure out what the zone was going to be for the day because it was always the same from the 1st pitch to the final pitch of the game. There wasn't individual umpires with bigger zones than others, some weren't wider than others and some didn't squeeze the zone when a rookie came up and pitched, it was always the same no matter what because it was part of the rules to be the same.
What was really fantastic was the umpires would practice just as the players did before the games. Yes, they would actually stand behind the catchers when the pitchers were throwing bullpens so they could not only work on their cracft, but they could then get a feel for the pitchers and what they are throwing. I remember in about my 3rd year over there I started throwing a different change up and at one time a big slow curveball. Before I went into the game with these 2 new pitches I had different umpires come see them while I was throwing bullpens so they wouldn't get caught off guard during the game.
In my opinion, the pitches in the 1st inning are just as important as the ones in the last inning and in a lot of cases even more important. If I, as a pitcher, have to SEE what the strike zone is going to be in the 1st few innings, it might be too late as the score might already be 1 or 2-0 and that's all the other team needs for that day.
Anyhow, after playing in Japan for 5 years I came back and played 3 more years and again I heard the same things as before. If the umpire is consistent with his zone, that's all we can ask.
Sorry, but now I think we can all ask for more.