Robot Umpires Replacing Living Umpires in Baseball

Robot Umpires Replacing Living Umpires in Baseball

Hank Bangert, Author

In July 2019, the MLB made a partnership with the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) public. They were going to test new potential rules and equipment. Among these initiatives was the development as well as testing of a new system called ABS. It stands for automated ball and strike calling system and could revolutionize how what we know as a typical game of baseball is played. While the results were good and showed proficient results, is it worth the changes that would be forced upon the experience of going to a classic baseball game?

The biggest misconception about these new additions to the game is that there is going to be an actual robot behind the plate. This is hugely inaccurate and would make zero sense for the MLB to implicate this. In reality, most avid game watchers wouldn’t even notice the change at all. There will still be an umpire behind the plate, but he will be wearing an earpiece that will tell him what the call is. These calls will be made by 8 or so cameras in the stands that will just look like security cameras to most people. While this system has been implemented in many minor league games across the east coast specifically, the MLB is still holding back on using them in professional games and have not even set a date for which we could expect them to be used which makes it obvious that it is still a work in progress and will most likely not be used in the near future.

I don’t think that computerized umpires would be necessary to help the game of baseball. While they could absolutely be useful for important games including the World Series or the All-Star game to avoid a team having an advantage due to a biased or bad umpire, like what happened during game 6 of the 1985 world series when Don Denkinger made a terrible call, changing the outcome of that entire world series. In this scenario, having a computerized system would be very beneficial for the game of baseball. On the other hand, during regular season games some people make the argument that fights over bad calls and booing the umpire are a part of what makes going to a baseball game enjoyable which I completely agree with. Making fun of umpires like Ángel Hernández, who has repeatedly been known as the worst umpire of all time, just gives baseball fans another aspect of the game to pay attention to and have fun being involved in.

In conclusion, I don’t generally believe that computerized umpires would be necessary for a large majority of the games but there are definitely a couple of exceptions that would absolutely benefit from a better strike and ball system to avoid angering fans or team members. Although, the new rules that they could be introducing very soon seem like they could be very useful to avoid more time actually playing baseball and not arguing about a past call or ejecting someone from a game for challenging a call.