“Framing” pitches is no longer something to be proud of. Initially, it seemed to mean that a catcher was ensuring his pitching teammate did not lose strike calls because he allowed his glove to drift slightly after catching a pitch “on the black.”
However, recent film clips on the MLB channel have shown that it has digressed to catchers giving a last second move of the glove on receiving an outside pitch to make it look like the pitch clipped the corner of the strike zone.
True, umpires are charged to call balls and strikes based on where the ball crosses the plate, not where it enters the catcher’s glove. However, catchers who are adept at making non-strikes look like strikes are taking unfair advantage of unavoidable human limitations when umpires have to judge pitches thrown at 85-100+ mph while, at the same time, watch to see whether the batter interferes with the catcher or vice versa, determine whether a batter may have checked his swing on a given pitch, while also being on guard for a possible hit batter or foul tip which would negate a strike three if it was dropped. (Perhaps this is an argument for technology being used in balls and strikes — a topic for another time!)
It’s not unfair to try deceiving an opponent who only has to keep track of a ball and a few fielders around him (e.g. to avoid being victimized by the hidden ball trick), but it’s unsportsmanlike to attempt misleading home plate umpires, the game’s defenders of justice, who have many more possibilities to be aware of on each pitch.