Robot ump change draws mixed reactions from MLB Twitter


Our robot overlords are here. A sport long dominated by tradition, convention, and unwritten rules, baseball is embracing major changes entering the 2023 season – changes from which there may be no looking back from. The introduction of instant replay in the 2010s was just the start of the game’s embrace of technology. For next season, the MLB is introducing a pitch clock in an attempt to speed up the game. And perhaps, in the future, human umpires could even find themselves outmoded following the latest revolutionary change baseball is embracing.

Per Buster Olney of ESPN, all parks in Triple-A, the highest minor-league affiliate level of MLB teams, will have robot umpires. An electronic strike zone will be implemented, and The Automatic Balls and Strikes system will be introduced. Officials will then deploy this system in two different ways. The balls and strikes in half of AAA games will be determined by an electronic strike zone, and the other half will be determined by a system similar to one used in professional tennis.

Simply put, this is a change that puts baseball in uncharted territory. And for a sport long defined by its stringent traditions, change definitely won’t be the easiest thing to embrace. Thus, plenty of fans expressed their outrage on Twitter, saying that these kinds of changes “ruin” the sport.

Meanwhile, others rued the fact that the human element in the game – an umpire’s subjectivity, more or less, will go missing with the introduction of the robot umps. One fan, in particular, loved the nuance of having to prepare for the unpredictability of an umpire’s strike zone.

Nevertheless, the overwhelming sentiment towards the introduction of robot umps appears to be extremely positive, and for good reason. In a game where even the slightest millimeter matters, it’s important to get as many calls right as possible, especially with millions at stake for Major League players. And the introduction of robot umps only helps in that regard.

It remains to be seen when this drastic change will be implemented in the majors. It all depends on whether the implementation in Triple-A works as intended. Nevertheless, when robot umps arrive in the MLB, that will for sure be a sight to behold.

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