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Mike Schmidt proposes MLB use a 'force field' to call balls and strikes instead of umps

Mike Oz
Big League Stew
Hall of Famer Schmidt recovering from skin cancer
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Mike Schmidt thinks force fields and bells are the future of umpiring. (AP)

We have video replay in baseball now and new rules to protect catchers from collisions. Protective caps for pitchers are coming, maybe. And one anonymous MLB executive said this week he believes games should be seven innings instead of nine. What other radical baseball ideas you got, universe?

Yes, you down there in the front. Mike Schmidt, what do YOU think should be changed about baseball?

“I think the umpire at home plate should not call balls and strikes. I think they should have a force field over home plate and if the pitcher throws and the ball touches the force field a little bell goes off and it’s a strike. That would expand the strike zone to the point where the hitters would now have to swing the ball, which would shorten the game. The umpire needs to be at home plate for the safe and out calls at home plate and foul balls and fair balls and basically to run the game but we’re going to see at some time -- my guess is within the next 10 years – that you’ll see the balls and strikes just like the line calls in tennis. You’d think it would be something very easy to do with what they can do electronically in our world today.”

*checks calendar to make sure it's not April 1*

OK, Mike Schmidt, obviously you know a lot about baseball. You're a Hall of Famer, all-time great, etc. You're entitled to your opinions, like the one you expressed on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philly on Thursday. But force fields? Perhaps someone has been watching too many "Big Bang Theory" reruns.

One problem is that the function of a force field — at least in the science-fiction sense, which is most likely what Schmidt means — is to keep things out of a certain area. But let's just put the vernacular aside. What Schmidt is really proposing is electronic umpiring. Robot umps, they're more frequently called. Predefined ball and strike areas, no human element, that kind of stuff.

Once MLB went and created a $30 million replay bunker in NYC to monitor which calls umpires are getting right and wrong, the idea of electronic umpiring was just a slippery-slope ride away for some people.  

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How a Robo umpire might eject a player or manager. (Sony)

Maybe Schmidt is right. In 10 years, who knows what kind of technology we'll have in baseball. Maybe umpires will be zooming around on hover boards. Or maybe all the umps will get replaced with RoboCop-like dudes who enforce the rules much more strictly. 

Either way, if baseball technology progresses to a point where "a little bell" is indicating balls and strikes, we're all going to be laughing. At least make the force field talk!

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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