Sometimes, we'll say that the strike zone changes. It changes because Major League Baseball redefines it, or because umpires subtly and collectively shift on their own over time, or for the situation at hand, or based on the way that the catcher receives the ball. The strike zone is a social construct of a social construct, and it's even squirrelier than you think. Want to try calling pitches? Okay, I'm going to show you five pitches and tell you whether I believe they're a ball or a strike. You call the sixth and seventh.

(Keep in mind that this particular umpire is unusual but not unpredictable. Also: This post is a riddle.)

1. This pitch to Shin-Soo Choo is a ball, low.

2. This pitch to Adam Loewen is a ball.

3. This pitch to Wei-Yin Chen is a ball.

4. This pitch to David Lough is a ball.

5. This pitch to James Loney is particularly difficult to call; right now, it's a strike, though before 1996 it would not have been .


6. What about this pitch to Brandon Belt?

7. And this one to Tulo?

Answers below. It's a riddle!

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Okay, here are the answers:

The pitch to Belt is a strike. The pitch to Tulo is a ball.
To me, only #4 (high) is a ball, #5 an iffy strike, and the rest are obvious strikes.
I thought all of these pitches should have been strikes except Tulo's - although admitedly these close pitches with lots of movement viewed in choppy two dimensional framing. However, I would imagine in real life, it would be even harder to call these pitches - too fast and too much to observe for my brain to fully process.
Agree with the other two here (mostly strikes), but I also admit there's a small correlation between what I think in-game and what the umpire calls. I also generally trust tracking systems. All of this leads to me to not hating with a fiery passion the strike zone overlay on ESPN's broadcast.
Ball, strike
OK, we have the answers but what's the riddle?
nm, just put it together.