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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The pitch to Belt is a strike. The pitch to Tulo is a ball.