A lot of analytical baseball articles today will make some sort of reference to catcher pitch-framing. References to pitch-framing will often make references to Jose Molina, and they will less often but still somewhat often make references to Livan Hernandez. References to Livan Hernandez often lead to recollections of the 1997 NLCS, and Eric Gregg’s strike zone in Game 5. Consensus is that Gregg’s zone was extremely favorable to Hernandez, and it was a big reason why the Marlins were able to get past the Braves and advance to the World Series.
Of course, that which is unusual has a tendency to become exaggerated, made extraordinary over time. Gregg’s Game 5 strike zone is today remembered as one of the worst umpiring performances ever in the game. One hyperbolic example of many:
Umpire Eric Gregg’s strike zone in this 1997 NL playoff matchup had viewers outraged. Pitches that sailed high over the heads of players were called strikes.
I’m pretty sure that never happened, although I’m not completely sure, since I don’t have access to a time machine, since I probably wouldn’t even know how to operate a time machine, and since I’m willing to believe in government cover-ups. Anyhow, Game 5, of course, came well before the era of PITCHf/x. It was four days before Bryce Harper‘s fifth birthday. There’s little we can do now to objectively evaluate Gregg’s actual strike zone. But there are some things we can do, and I think this is worthy of a reflection. Especially while the clip I found on YouTube still exists. Too late, Major League Baseball. You can take down the video, but I’ve already made the .gifs.