Professional pitchers from QCA unsure if robotic umpires are good for baseball

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 9:11 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Since the inception of Major League Baseball in 1876 human umpires have been calling balls and strikes behind home plate. It’s been 146 years filled with human error and controversial calls.

If the best umpire is the umpire you never notice, automatic balls and strikes in Major League Baseball seems inevitable. Human umpires are consistently inconsistent. Computers would take away the human element but professional baseball players like former Alleman star Cody Sedlock isn’t sure it’s what’s best for the game.

“The Charlotte Knights were the only team that used it last year in my league and I pitched there a couple times and you know I didn’t really see too much of a difference honestly it kind of just took away the guessing game of it” said Sedlock who was drafted in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles.

“What I’m worried about is that the defensive catcher is kind of gonna go away and you know as a pitcher I don’t want to see that because if a catcher starts to get lazy and not picking that slider that’s 3 inches out of the zone than the pitcher kind of looses a bit of confidence” said Sedlock.

As Major League Baseball continues to test the waters in the minor leagues, a challenge system that’s been tried in Minor League games combines the human element with computer technology.

“From the pitcher’s perspective I think the challenge rule is great, just because it gives a fair chance to both sides and I think that the one aspect that the robotic umpire doesn’t take into fact is the way that the catcher actually catches the ball” said former Assumption pitcher Trenton Wallace who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021.

With the challenge system umpires call balls and strikes like they’ve always done, however at any point during a game, pitchers, catchers and hitters have the ability to challenge an umpires ruling by using computer technology. Each team gets three challenges per game, while retaining the challenge if the call is reversed

“One thing I did notice is if a pitcher missed his spot, so like let’s say the catcher is setting up outside and you throw a slider that is way on the other side of the plate, he catches it super funky, looks like a complete ball, those are getting called strikes where as usually the umpire will see that and they’ll never give you a strike” said Sedlock.

Arguing balls and strikes has always been a big part of the game, but when it comes to arguing with a computer, you just can’t win.

I’m kind of in the old school camp I guess you could say a little traditional to where I understand umpires are working just as hard as we are on the field so I think that’s a big deal for them and it’s something that’s gonna be hard to get rid of because there’s gonna be lots of judgment calls just like any other sports” said former Central DeWitt pitcher T.J. Sikkema who was drafted 38th overall by the New York Yankees in the 2019 MLB draft.

There may not be a perfect solution, but to so many baseball enthusiasts, that’s what makes America’s pastime so perfect.