By George Stahl
NEW YORK (AQB)--Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck isn't happy with baseball's so-called new strike zone.
"The strike zone is no different, if not worse, than it was a year ago after the directive sent out by Major League Baseball for these umpires to call the high strike. That isn't happening. It's happening every once a while."
"Well, once in a while makes it twice as bad as it was before because then there are more guesses to be made and there are more options."
"The strike zone problems have not been corrected. To me, they've been compounded because the directive was sent out and these umpires, basically, spit on the directive and said 'Forget it. We'll call the strikes the way we want to call them and you're not going to tell us how to call the strike zone.'
"Right or wrong, that's the way it's being done. You cannot convince me - and I've seen a game every day since the start of spring training - that there's any difference whatsoever with the high strike. Absolutely none."
"The wide strikes are still the strikes of choice by these umpires, and the strike zone is a farce of what it should be according to the rule book."
His Fox partner, Tim McCarver, agreed.
"I still can't see any difference in the high strike this year. I mean occasionally an umpire will call the high strike. I have seen, however, in just the first two months it seems like a concerted effort to make sure the ball is over the plate.
"It doesn't seem in the American League - the games that I have covered this year - that the plate is as wide as it has been in recent years. I have seen a difference in that, but I have not seen significant differences in calling the high strike."
Despite Buck's problems with the strike zone, he doesn't want to see instant replay in baseball again like he did earlier this week in Miami.
"I can only tell you from being there that the second that happened, the game came to a screeching halt. It became a sloppy game," said Buck, who called Monday's Cardinals-Marlins game, in which umpire Frank Pulli used a television replay to determine whether a hit was a home run or not.
"I think there are four guys out there and any variation of instant replay is unappealing to me."
McCarver again agrees.
"If you follow the game over the years, as we all have, you realize that the accuracy of the umpires on the bases is remarkable," the ex-catcher said. "Can you imagine having every ball or strike argued or gone into instant replay? It would be muddled.
"My vote would be a very, I hope, convincing no."
New studio host Keith Olbermann disagrees - slightly.
"I think I would go with a very, very, very qualified yes for it," Olbermann said, adding that he might use replay for fan interference - but that doesn't mean he agreed with Pulli's decision to use it Monday.
"It's a bad precedent to just sort of say 'Well, I have a rule in the book here that says I can do anything that's not covered in the book,' which includes determining whether or not NATO should send ground forces into Kosovo. It's a little broad there and that could be a problem in future years.
"To me, it's much more of concern that he thought that he had the right just to do it. And that's a little bit more emblematic of some of the problems baseball is facing today with the in-your-face quality of the umpires.
Fox executive producer Ed Goren said he doesn't want to deal with the logistics of instant replay.
"I really personally wouldn't want to see it. From a production perspective, our games would be running into prime time if we started looking at instant replay in baseball."
think in this situation the baseball establishment is on the right side
of the law."