With two outs and two on, Milwaukee’s Kolten Wong came up against Pittsburgh’s David Bednar. It appeared as though Wong had worked the count to 3-1 when Bednar’s 2-1 pitch fell outside of the strike zone. Only, home plate umpire Ron Kulpa didn’t see it that way and called the pitch a strike, making the count 2-2
— Welcome to the Ump Show (@umpjob) July 1, 2022
MLB fans, who have seen a plethora of bad calls from home plate umpires this season, were in no hurry to defend Kulpa here.
— James Bishop (@NMSCAS_JB) July 1, 2022
Top of the 9th man on 1st & 2nd… that call can’t be made smh https://t.co/lTR8xzCkEe
— ♋♊iam_Richard♊♋ (@Only1Cashcow) July 1, 2022
— TheCaptain ⚓️ (@harmebaseball13) July 1, 2022
🆘 please save MLB from the umpires 🆘 https://t.co/aQYFivCqdB
— Manuel de la Colina (@M_delaColina) July 1, 2022
Robot umps now please. https://t.co/fgAvuFmXti
— Gerrit Cole is a BIG THICK HORSE (@cboogie713) July 1, 2022
One thing that must be pointed out about this call is that, while it was bad, it didn’t really cost the Brewers in a big way. Wong still reached base here, hitting an infield single. Yes, there’s a big difference between 3-1 and 2-2, and maybe Wong would have done more damage on a 3-1 pitch, but he still ended up with a decent result.
But truth be told, though, even if Wong had hit a home run, this call wouldn’t be any more excusable. This wasn’t a pitch that took a late hard break out of the strike zone. This was never a strike. Former major-league player Will Middlebrooks recently noted how out of place it is that everyone watching a game has access to the strike zone with one exception — the person who needs to make the call. That point is unassailable, regardless of how offended Laz Díaz was by it.
Robot umpires wouldn’t need to replace umpires completely. It would just take one huge responsibility out of their hands. And if calls like this continue — especially late in tight games — the clamoring for robot umpires is going to get louder.