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MLB News: Robot Umpires Will Call Spring Training Games

Technology infringes upon the game more soon



Like it or not, machines are inching in on the game of baseball. Indeed, on Wednesday night some big news broke that MLB will be operating an electronic zone for nine games in Florida this spring.

Buster Olney has the full report over at ESPN, and if this issue is something that you’re passionate about; you want to make sure you give it a read.

For clarity, here is the direct statement from the MLB Umpire’s union released on Wednesday night:

“Reports that MLB will use ‘robo-umps’ to call balls and strikes in spring training games this year are completely inaccurate. … Our understanding is that a camera-based tracking system will be running in the background during some spring training games for technology development and training purposes. But any game in which a Major League Baseball umpire is working will have a human calling balls and strikes.”

In short, I don’t like it. However, I’ve learned over the course of time and in talking to other fans on social media that I am hardly in the majority. While I view baseball as a game that is perfect because it is imperfect – human element and error included – other fans look forward to accuracy. For instance, many fans point towards the work of one Angel Hernandez for their reasoning that they look forward to the day we have robot umpires.

If you’re one of those fans, I think you will someday have your wish. Certainly, this is a nod towards the fact that baseball is more than thinking about making a big change to the game we presently know.

Finally, I ask you where you sit. Are you alright with robot umpires if they’re coming in the future? Or are you like me – you want the purity of a strike zone that varies? Let us know in the comment section below why you feel the way you do.

NEXT: Pitchers and Catchers Report Date Announced

Written by Staff Writer

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  1. Totally unfair to pitchers. I expect the walk numbers to rise as batter realize a pitch will need to be pinpoint to get the corner and inside pitches called strikes.That will increase batting averages on the other side when pitchers have to be more over the plate for a strike as it takes away the reach swing they can get batters to do at times or had set up for…a huge advantage for hitters.

    • I would assume the ESZ could be changed to make larger so as to not give the hitter a great advantage. I pitch won’t need to be “pinpoint”, only in the predetermined strike zone which would be consistent for EVERY batter. For those who look for more action in baseball but also to guarantee “all batters are treated equally”, this is the solution.

    • They don’t have to be more over the plate! They just have to hit the “black” Thats the rule. All of these strikes 6″ off the plate are not fair to the batters. Just follow the rules. And batters will have to be prepared to swing at ball higher than they have been used to when the bottom on the armpits to the top of the knees in enforced.

      I don’t think much will change except the Pitchers won’t get the wide strikes and the batters will start seeing the high strike as it should have been called all along. Eliminate the bitching about strikes and the games should go a lot faster. That will not upset anyone.

      • Spot on vinman. This stops umpires from creating their own custom strike zones which is ridiculous. There’s a reason there’s a plate

  2. I think it’s great. One pitch has often led to changing the outcome of a game and now we will insure that human error doesn’t tilt the scales in the wrong direction.

    • I agree Dave. I’ve been playing and coaching this great game for 60 yrs now. The HP ump has the ability to control the outcome of a game more than anyone else (umps or players) on the field. We as fans pay too much now and there is way too much money in baseball to have games be determined by bad pitch calls either way under the guise of “human element”. To their credit, umpires are taught to and most always do want to “get it right” on all calls on the field. They do this because getting it right is of paramount importance to everyone. If you agree that calling the strike zone is the most control you can have in a game, then why not make sure it is “done right” from the get go.

  3. Can’t come soon enough!! I’ve been following MLB since I was 8 (1952). That’s a lot of years of players being wronged for bad umping. Time to eliminate the injustices in the game.

  4. Sorry, but this game is about hitting, catching and throwing a baseball, not about how many different strike zones we can see.
    It has to be done carefully but, even if it’s not perfect, it’ll be 400 feet better than what we have now.

  5. It’s about time! I disagree that it will give the hitters a big advantage. The single most missed strike pitch is the one in upper part of zone! We hen pitchers realize they are now getting that pitch called a strike you’re going to hear a lot less about bleeping launch angles! Hitters will have to learn how to get on top of the ball again. Bring it on

  6. I was in favor of it earlier but, in light of the Astros & Red Sox using camera’s in centerfield & possibly other electronic device’s, now I’m not so sure. I know there have been and still are some terrible umpires in the game who can have a negative impact on games. How about, if the particular umpire (ie Angel Hernandez), is so blatantly bad game after game, is given a warning and placed on probation. Umpires get warning after 5 bad games and go on probation after another 5 complaints/games by teams/players, total 10 bad games. I know not everyone is going to agree with the time table, maybe MLB & the umpires union can figure that out. But, it can’t continue to long into the season and it can’t be used as a way for players to gang up on & get rid of someone they don’t like. Walking a thin line here I’m afraid also.

    • Forgot to include, after the warning & probation period of 10 games, one more blatantly bad game and said umpire is no longer a MLB umpire.
      Maybe an option is to spend a year in AA & AAA ball and if all goes well, no complaints no probation, he can be reinstated to MLB. Then, if it happens a second time at the majors level, ban them for life!

      • “Forgot to include, after the warning & probation period of 10 games, one more blatantly bad game and said umpire is no longer a MLB umpire.”

        I doubt the umpires union is going to allow that but they may allow a 10 game suspension w/o pay or some other similar penalty to get the guys attention

    • It is not only Angel Hernandez. I have seen some of baseballs better rated umpires call pitches strikes that were clearly 2 and 3 inches off the plate.

  7. No robots no electric strike zones none of that. Leave baseball alone you don’t need to change anything. It does not have to be faster if baseball is to long for you then don’t watch it. If baseball is not accurate enough for you then watch another sport. Let’s do this instead of having human umpires in the outfield have robots. In fact better yet let’s have robots as players. Then everything will be perfect and there will be no errors. Just leave baseball alo. It’s great the way it is.

  8. Straight up….baseball has been called an “American tradition” ….Do not lose the word “tradition” from this quote!!
    Baseball will be not known for: “baseball is American” for which it’s not anymore! It’s a world wide sport played by millions from all corners of the earth.
    And it was all derived from an “American tradition”.
    KEEP THE “TRADITION” ALIVE!!!
    (it has true meaning)

    • 100% agree. Today’s iPhone fan is ruining the game. At some point, technology will takeover much of the game, but I think many fans will be gone by that time.

  9. I am in support of ESZ. For all the reasons mentioned, accuracy, speed up the game, etc. But I also think that the lack of monitoring umpires by MLB with the intent to weed out wide strike zone umpires has made this move imperative in today’s game. There are no consequences in place for inconsistent umpiring.

  10. I am 100% in favor of this. I’m really sick of the sloppy calls from some of the umps. why should the strike zone vary from day to day and ump to ump. Why should we accept pitches in the same location being a strike one time and a ball the next. There are a few umps that really should not be calling balls and strikes, they seem to have no aptitude for it. I say bring on the electronic strike zone and the sooner the better. There will still have to be an ump behind the plate but let’s take the balls and strikes away from them.

  11. I was once ok with purity and imperfections with umps but it’s gotten to a point the last few years where most of these guys are just terrible at their jobs and purposely make up their own interpretations of what a strike zone is and that’s unacceptable not to mention petty grievances that influence what gets called strikes and balls

  12. It’s about time!!! We already have replay and have bought in to that technology. There are too many games played whereby the Umpires have had unbelievable incorrect strike zone calls. Wake up utilize the technology available. We will still need the human element behind the plate for other matters. Both the pitchers and batters won’t be able to complain anymore.

    • And those complaints were a big part of the game. So now we just sit and watch robots. You don’t get it. Everything is the game. Bad calls, great calls. That is what makes people talk for decades. Having robots make the call is boring. We are humans. Technology is not meant to be injected into a game.

  13. God I am so sick of Technology in the game. Too much of this game is changing and not in a good way. A big no vote if you ask me.

  14. Okay Everyone (and I address this to people both pro and con on the ESZ issue):
    Have ALL of the issues created by the use of cameras to steal signs, buzzers to alert batters, you name it by the Astros (and who knows what other teams) taught us NOTHING!?
    PLEASE KEEP (any more) Technology OUT OF BASEBALL…………or I can guarantee that there will be fewer and fewer “butts in the seats” at any given stadium as time goes on. Owners will *NOT* like that.
    Face it….The fans who pay to see a REAL Baseball Game do not *care* how long the game is (the longer the better!); they are not *bothered* by the ‘pace of the game’….they have come out and paid good $$$ to enjoy BASEBALL as they have always known and loved it.
    Technology is great to use for players to review and learn from. Technology is great to use in transmitting games all over the world. I have NO problem with a FAIR use of technology.
    BUT, I (and millions more like me) would NEVER attend a game with the use of any *more* Technology than what is currently in use (and even then I think more hard and fast rules need to be made).
    I think bad umpires should be fired. Many seem to want to make their own rules. But over the years, I have known many, many excellent umpires. Get rid of the bad ones and assure that the good umps stick to existing strike zone rules and there should be NO PROBLEM!!
    As someone else said above…”If you don’t like Baseball…watch another sport”. I remember when Replay was first instituted…all I could do was mumble to myself that THIS was one reason I had never played Football.
    I LOVE the Purity of Baseball. ………Let’s Make Baseball PURE Again !

  15. It’s about time that finally some body is, hopefully going to do something about some of the umpires that have no business behind the plate….

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