“TERRIBLE!!”: After One Of The Worst Calls EVER, MLB Makes Decision On The Future Of “Robo-Umps” … Good Or Bad For Baseball??

In many ways, it feels like umpiring in baseball is getting worse and worse.

That’s nothing against the sizable group of umpires who still do a fine job and are consistency effective. However, there are a few bad seeds – and we all know who they are – that continue to give the profession a bad name.

Just last night, we witnessed one of the worst umpiring decisions of all-time in the White Sox – Orioles game. (Must-see if you haven’t already.)

The season has been filled with umpire blunders. Most of the time the blown calls come at the plate. You have to feel for both pitchers and hitters who are forced to go through games without ever knowing what the firm strike zone is.

With each and every blown call comes the call for “robo-umps.”

In many ways, the implementation of robo-umps feels absolutely inevitable … Not just as a cost-cutting tool, but as a way of ensuring that (much) more times than not, the correct calls are consistently being made.

For clarification, the robo-umps would be calling balls and strikes … No robot would be able to correctly officiate that play in the clip above – at least not yet!

At the owners’ meetings, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the introduction of robot home plate umpires for the 2025 season is increasingly unlikely due to unresolved tech issues.

“We still have some technical issues,” Manfred stated. “We haven’t made as much progress in the minor leagues this year as we sort of hoped at this point. I think it’s becoming more and more likely that this will not be a go for ’25.”

Since 2019, MLB has been experimenting with an automated ball-strike system in minor leagues, with its use extended to all Triple-A parks this year for the second consecutive season.

The system involves the use of robots for the first three games of each series and a human-robot hybrid with a challenge system for the final three games. (Yes, they play 6-game series!)

“There’s a growing consensus in large part based on what we’re hearing from players that the challenge form should be the form of ABS (automated balls-strikes) if and when we bring it to the big leagues, at least as a starting point … I think that’s a good decision,” Manfred explained.

While MLB implemented a pitch clock in 2023, Manfred noted a slowdown in innovation this year, with only minor rule adjustments made.

“One thing we did learn with the changes that we went through last year, taking the extra time to make sure you have it right, is definitely the best approach,” Manfred emphasized. “I think we’re going to use that same approach here.”

Regarding discussions with the players association on the shape of an automated strike zone, Manfred mentioned that talks have not yet commenced.

“We have not started those conversations because we haven’t settled on what we think about it,” he said.

Meetings between MLB and players revealed a preference for a challenge system to incentivize catcher framing skills.

“Players feel that a catcher that frames is part of the, if you’ll let me use the word, art of the game,” Manfred said. “Those are real, legitimate concerns that we need to think all the way through before we jump off that bridge.”

Notably, Manfred also addressed the embarrassing uniform troubles that have driven both players and fans crazy.

John Slusher, Nike’s executive vice president of global sports marketing, addressed owners about the company’s criticized new uniforms, announcing alterations for the 2025 season.

The changes include larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization available to all players.

“I think they appropriately took responsibility for the issues with respect to the new uniforms and the rollout of those uniforms,” Manfred commented. “It’s the first time the owners had heard this directly from Nike. They had been consistent with me about taking responsibility.”

What are your thoughts on the idea of robo-umps?

Of course, many old-school types are against it … As poor as the umpiring can be, MLB has to be careful not to remove too much of the “human element” from the game.

What do you think of the whole situation???