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The latest in our long-running series of #Cubs-related news articles. #MLB, #MiLB, too. This one ranges wide but has narrow focus.

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Welcome to today’s episode of Cub Tracks news and notes™. Here we have material from current beat writers, bloggers, and the occasional in-house habitué, moonlighting. These pieces center around #Cubs, #MiLB, and #MLB baseball.

In Tuesday’s episode, we looked at the results of the changes MLB wrought upon the mound and strike zone as a result of the 1968 season, when Bob Gibson ruled the baseball universe. It’s said to have expanded about 10% since then, mostly lower and widening slightly on both sides, depending on the frame.

The wisdom from that brief investigation revealed something that I bet the Umpire’s Association knows by heart — the strike zone is the heart of the game. The shrinking of the zone has caused more change than anything else.

When’s the last time you saw a pitch at the letters called a strike? The umpires control the game, and it’s been out of hand for quite some time.

Here’s MLB’s official word. Eno Sarris at Fangraphs has other ideas. The problem is that “nobody wants to go on record about the strike zone”. Sarris’ article dates from 2017. Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News has new data from the minors. Craig Edwards had thoughts about how to improve the game, and the strike zone was one of the moves. And more by Edwards. And Jon Roegele.

Robot umps might help, but they need to be programmed. How does one program pitch framing? What kinda fuzzy logic would THAT take? The same kind that keeps the likes of Angel Hernandez working?

We’ll dive back down the rabbit hole over the weekend.

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Cubs birthdays: Clyde Beck, Lee Walls. Also notable: Early Wynn HOF.

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Thanks for reading. Cub Tracks and Bleed Cubbie Blue do not necessarily endorse the opinions of writers whose work is linked in this series of articles. We try to present a balanced view, and let the facts speak for themselves.