Whether Major League Baseball will go to robot umpires in the future remains to be seen. But the human umpires aren’t making a great case for themselves in 2022.
In Wednesday’s game between the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres, Milwaukee reliever Luis Perdomo threw a pitch to San Diego’s Austin Nola. It was an obvious strike — to everyone except home plate umpire Tripp Gibson, that is.
Ball. lol 🤖 pic.twitter.com/rfAOFkdZ3t
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 25, 2022
Gibson’s miss came under heavy criticism among baseball fans following the game.
— Reviewing the Brew (@ReviewngTheBrew) May 25, 2022
— 💙💛 Brooke (fan account) ⚾️🍺 (@_Brooke22) May 25, 2022
Ump is not serious https://t.co/2V3jtA60UE
— LIZARDWIZARD™ (@Koerbersaurus) May 25, 2022
— Cryptzicle (@Cryptzicle) May 25, 2022
thAt boX iS nOT aCCuraTe https://t.co/sxJCgj5jBH
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) May 25, 2022
— dex+ (@dexteritee) May 25, 2022
We’ve seen more blatant misses this season and more completely confounding mistakes. And unlike Angel Hernandez’s call against Kyle Schwarber that sparked a viral reaction, this did not sway anything. Yes, it would have been strike three had Gibson called it correctly. But Nola grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice on the next pitch. So, no real harm came from it.
Still, what was Gibson looking at? Because, also unlike Hernandez’s called strike on Schwarber, This pitch was not on either the outside or inside corner, nor was it on the high or low end of the strike zone. It was right down the middle and didn’t break into or out of the strike zone.
Yes, catcher Omar Navarez complicated things by popping up and motioning as if he was going to throw to first base. But that’s not exactly an uncommon action. Shouldn’t a Major League umpire be able to get the call right despite that? An umpire being this badly hindered by a catcher popping up to throw to first is kind of like an outfielder who can’t catch fly balls when the lights are on. It’s a real problem.
And sure, occasional mistakes happen. The problem is that these kinds of mistakes are happening too often this season. Every time they do, the calls to go to robot umpires get louder while the calls for continuing to have human umpires get quieter.