November 1, 2019

Even With Robot Umps, Baseball Will Never Lose "The Human Element" (The Players)

Are robot umpires necessary? ... You make the call.

Eric Gregg may not have been working the 2019 World Series, but there were still dozens of blown calls behind the plate in the seven games. The sheer number of bad calls throughout the series have many people who were formerly on the fence now saying baseball needs robot umps (a separate post is coming).

Retired umpire Dale Scott was in Iowa on October 27, the day of Game 5, attending a funeral service for Eric Cooper, an umpire who died after developing a blood clot (following knee surgery) two weeks after working the Yankees-Twins ALDS.

Afterwards, Scott was asked if robot umps had been discussed among the attendees.
It did come up. And yes, it's frustrating. We're never going to beat technology. But do you want a video game or a game played by human beings?
When major league baseball games have balls and strikes determined by an electronic strike zone, the games will still be "played by human beings". We generally refer to those human beings as "the players" on the two teams competing that day. Umpires actually do not play in professional baseball games. And a Red Sox-Yankees series will not become a "video game" simply because the plate umpire is not directly calling pitches.

What will happen, however, is this: the players on the field will receive the proper credit for the various things they do on the field, such as throwing strikes or working a walk. The ruling of whether a certain pitch is a strike or a ball will no longer be determined by the subjective opinion of a flawed umpire trying to do an impossible job.

Scott's question should be rephrased: "Do you want the outcome of baseball games decided by what the players do on the field or left up to the whim and biases of the umpires?"

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