The Time for Robot Umpires is Right Now

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 13: Umpire Manny Gonzalez #79 dusts off home plate between innings of the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays during game one of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 13, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
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I’ve called for the MLB to change a few things in my time here on the internet. But, there is a new top priority. This change isn’t about “saving the game of baseball” like some of my (pitch clock) recommendations from the past. No. Now that I think about it, leaving the humans to call balls and strikes probably keeps the MLB in the news and relevant more often than the nearly perfect robots would… at least once the novelty of them wore off…

Instead, this is me pleading for the MLB to change to robot umpires IMMEDIATELY before it fucks the Twins in a dire situation yet this year. Robot umpires are coming. They are coming because the human ones suck at calling balls and strikes. I’m not blaming them. They are human and human eyes CANNOT be trusted. Go read up a little bit on “witness testimony” studies and find that out yourself.

Or, just search “umpire” on Twitter:

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Yes, I am only pulling out bad calls. Yes, obviously nobody is paying attention all of the times they make correct calls. But, that’s my point. Why deal with having any bad calls, if we don’t have to? Everyone likes the “human element” until your guy is in the box with 2 outs and a runner on 3rd, in the World Series; and he gets rung up on a call like any of your choice from above… then, you aren’t going to like the “human element” so much.

I am also proposing that we DO NOT WAIT and we make the change NOW. The robots will be in place within 2 years and we should just avoid the major missed call that forces the league to make the change. That’s almost always what it takes. The latest high-profile example was the missed Pass Interference call in last years NFC Championship game. Now, we can review pass interference calls, which many thought WOULD NEVER HAPPEN before last season started.

The Twins are heading for the playoffs (hopefully) and Minnesota teams have a weird attraction to being the champion of change in professional sports rules and this major change in MLB umpiring is lining up far too well for us to be made examples of yet again…

“Oh Eric, now you’re just talking crazy…”

Am I? Let’s take a quick peek backwards in time:

A.) The Saints’ paid assault on Brett Favre, that cost the Vikings a Super Bowl appearance, changed everything that now protects the QB in today’s NFL.

B.) The Joe Mauer blind man’s “foul ball” from the 2009 ALDS forced the MLB to expand instant replay the next season.

C.) It used to be illegal in the NFL to force a Wide Receiver out of bounds before he could get his feet down to make a catch. That changed before the 2008 season BUT a major example used to force the change was in 2003 when McCown threw to Poole for a game-ending TD that cost the Vikings a trip to the playoffs that season.

D.) The Gophers’ 1997 Final Four appearance that doesn’t exist was vacated to set an example that’s been used against schools ever since even though it was happening LONG before.

These are just off the top of my head. I’m probably missing some.

Here is my point though. Everyone is watching the ball and strike calls right now. That’s when it happens. Something will happen in these upcoming 2019 playoffs that will help spark (if not fully change the rule immediately) the change in umpiring behind the plate. If 8 MLB teams make the playoffs (10 technically) and a missed call in a playoff game is going to be what forces a change in the home plate umpire… then the odds are already stacking against us.

MLB, please just change the rule now so Minnesota doesn’t have to change it for you again.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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