After months of being at center of the MLB lockout, fans haven’t heard much from Rob Manfred. So far this regular season, the MLB commissioner has kept up his practice of keeping a low profile. For better or for worse, he’s the steward of professional baseball. Which is why Manfred is pushing for rule changes to make the game more appealing for viewers, including, robot umpires calling balls and strikes in the majors.
Manfred’s fully aware that baseball has fallen out of favor from a national perspective over recents years, if not decades, as the NFL and NBA gobble up ratings. Traditionalists don’t want to hear it, but MLB probably needs to continue to adapt to remain relevant nationally.
One hot topic in that endeavor has been implementing an automatic strike zone with robot umpires deciding what’s a ball, and what’s a strike.
In a recent interview with Manfred, ESPN’s Jeff Passan noted that robot umpires are part his plan to return baseball to national prominence.
“He tells me, in terms far more certain than he has laid out publicly before, that he fully supports revamping the game with pitch clocks, the elimination of the shift and, in 2024, some form of robo-umpires.
Passan did highlight that the commish will need to do something he failed to do during the lockout time and time again.
“Now he must sell those changes to players and fans, some of whom believe he doesn’t have baseball’s best interests at heart.”
Manfred would also need the MLB umpire union to sign off on bringing the automatic strike zone, but under the new CBA, Manfred can “unilaterally change the rules one season after giving the union notice”.
As Passan states, the robot umpires coming to the majors in some capacity for the 2024. season is a “forgone conclusion”.
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