Lots of people were talking about the strike one call in the ninth inning of yesterday’s Baltimore Orioles loss to Minnesota. I wrote about it myself, in fact. Needless to say, it was a horrible call. That should have been ball four, and the game should have been tied.
I think the most frustrating part was that the Orioles had been trying to get that exact pitch location called a strike all day. And Oriole pitchers had been hitting that spot consistently – and it was consistently called a ball. But then Minnesota hits that spot, and it’s a called strike. With the game on the line.
A lot of people tweeted me saying that robot umpires would take care of this problem. And I couldn’t disagree more. Granted you’d still need a home plate ump to operate the machine, and to call things such as safe/out. However I’m squarely in the camp which says robots calling games aren’t the answer. And quite frankly, my reasons are cliche.
People who are all in favor of this method say they want to hear why there shouldn’t be robot umpires, and they don’t want to hear because that’s not how it’s always been. Well…humans umpiring games is just how things have always been. And that is in fact as good a reason as any. Do folks really want to change the game THAT much?
But you’re asking for a better reason than that – I get it. So here’s one; could those robots not be hacked? In the age of computers and technology, everyone’s account for anything could be hacked. So does MLB really want to run the risk that someone could hack a robot and perhaps influence game outcomes? As big as gambling is becoming, do we think someone might not try to do that?
My personal opinion is that umpires just need to buckle down and be more consistent. Maybe longevity of service should be looked at more stringently. This in the sense that perhaps some younger umpires should be calling more games. Furthermore, what happens if a manager for instance were to prove that even a machine isn’t calling the game properly? Where do we turn then?
Part of my point is that not everything has to change. I recognize that MLB wants to do what it’s audience thinks it wants to see. But…does the game have to fundamentally change in order to do that?