It was announced on Tuesday that veteran Major League Baseball umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce, and Tim Welke are retiring before the 2017 season.
Four longtime Major League Umpires – Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce and Tim Welke – have retired.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) February 21, 2017
After that news was announced, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was asked about his feelings on the league going to an electronic strike zone:
Here are Rob Manfred's thoughts on robot umpires. tl;dr version: The tech isn't close to ready yet, and even if it were, he's not sold. pic.twitter.com/19tB8DwA3H
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 21, 2017
Let’s start with the outgoing umpires. This is a group of umpires that have become well-known to everyone. This specifically includes Jim Joyce. He’s the one who messed up the call that spoiled Armando Galarraga’s perfect game years back in Detroit.
Now for the future of umpiring. Even though everyone talks about Manfred being so progressive, his answer about the human element is straight out of the 80s and 90s.
Manfred probably has a point on the accuracy. I think automated strike zones have a future in this game. But like Manfred said, the technology probably isn’t quite up to snuff yet. However, once it becomes sufficient, it should be used. The human element is not a valid excuse in this day and age. We have too much access as viewers to what the correct call should’ve been in real time.
Tennis has gone to this with calls that have to do with the ball hitting the line. This works just fine. And while tennis isn’t exactly thriving here in the U.S., this technology is something all of the leagues can learn from.
Plus, how great would it be for people to not be able to complain about umpiring anymore? It’s something I think everyone would appreciate.
[Photo Credit: Lancaster Online]