MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently revealed that robotic umpires are likely going to be implemented into the American pastime by the year 2024.
Sitting down for an interview with ESPN’s Don Van Netta Jr., the commissioner touched base on countless topics, including the issues in Major League Baseball that have needed to be addressed for years.
It is no surprise that fans have been disappointed by MLB umpires and their lack of accuracy, so the league is putting in the effort to make sure the issue is resolved. Although some argue that change is unnecessary, Manfred noted that altercations are needed to elevate the playing experience.
“I think the tough spot is, even if you love something if you recognize that change needs to come and you talk about that, people take that as negativity. I don’t see it that way,” he commented. “I see it from the perspective of, ‘I love the institution, I love the game and I want it to be everything it can be.'”
So, how can baseball be the best version of itself? Manfred explained that the biggest update will be an automated strike zone, rather than living breathing umpires. “We have an automated strike zone system that works,” the commissioner explained.
How will MLB implement a robotic umpire in the average game?
But, what exactly does having an automated strike zone mean? Will there be the stereotypical robot with human-like features calling the shots? Thankfully, that is not the case. Going into more detail over the changes that are set to happen in the next two years, Van Netta Jr. discussed what having a robotic umpire would look like.
“One possibility is for the automated system to call every pitch and transmit the balls and strikes to a home plate umpire via an earpiece,” the author shared. He also included, “Another option is a replay review system of balls and strikes with each manager getting several challenges a game.”
Van Netta Jr. added that the system is currently being test run in the minor leagues and has had a relatively successful rate of transition. Apparently, it is such an effective technology that the average game time has decreased by at least nine minutes.
MLB’s senior vice president of on-field operations, Raul Ibanez, relayed that the league has brought in the expert opinion of players, coaches, and other officials to ensure this is the best possible route of reform. Ibanez stated, “They’re the experts on the field, and getting their perspective and feedback is important. When players walk out of the meetings, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”
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