Those cringy movies of robots taking over the world just might become a reality soon with robot umpires. Many sources say robot umpires could be taking MLB umpires’ place as early as 2024. This idea of robot umpires is gonna be absolutely detrimental to today’s game of baseball. Robot umpires have been tested at many different events, such as minor league baseball and even at the Triple-A Las Vegas, the home of the Aviators.
The Aviators are the triple-affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, and they got to test out this new and improved technology. It was relatively successful, although there were some harsh opinions on the topic. One Aviators fan, David Baird, said, “It’s good in some ways, but not in baseball. Baseball’s an old-fashioned game.” This quote adds to the fact that robot umpires would take away the authenticity of the game many of us grew up with.
Another question raised by fans is if these robot umpires are more accurate than human umpires. On average, human umpires range from 91.6% accuracy (Andy Fletcher) to 95.5% accuracy (Pat Hoberg) on ball and strike calls. Former umpire Joe West said this about the robot umpires, “We don’t have an umpire — and we haven’t for the last four years — who’s scored less than 95-percent [pitch call accuracy]. And the robotic umpires they’re using, they’ve proven it misses 7-percent of the pitches.” This quote shows that robot umpires might not fix the human error in human umpires like we thought they would.
Another reason why robot umpires might not be as good as we thought is that it takes away the defensive part of the game for catchers. Automatic umpires would mean that defensive catchers are not as important as offensive catchers. If a catcher sets up on the inside part of the plate and a pitch is on the outside part of the plate, the robotic umpire might have called it a strike, but a human umpire probably would not have.
After speaking with many major journalists and players, I got some very interesting answers to my question. When Write on Sports visited the New Jersey Jackals at Yogi Berra Stadium, I got a chance to interview some baseball players and was pleasantly surprised by their answers. The first player I asked was right-handed pitcher Austin Smith who gave a very minimalistic answer, “Terrible.” The next player, catcher Nicco Tony, said, “I’m not a huge fan because I like the human aspect of the game.” I agree with these two answers because it would be a big change for the pitchers and catchers in the game of baseball. The last player, left-handed pitcher Gage Smith, said, “I’m kinda excited as it takes away some of the human error of the game, but it’s gonna take some getting used to.” I also somewhat agree with this as it might correct some of the bad umpires in the game, even though it will take a while for people to get familiar with this system.
In conclusion, robot umpires will be bad for the future of baseball. As technology is advancing, it seems a change is imminent, but that’s not the case. I would say that most people’s opinions are against robot umpires. Even professional baseball players are against robot umpires. These robot umpires can take away the human aspect and can ruin our experiences of the old-fashioned game that we grew to know and love.