Major League Baseball wants to deploy strike zone robo-umpires in 2024

Major League Baseball will “likely” implement an automated strike zone system beginning in 2024, Commissioner Rob Manfred said ESPN. The so-called robot umpires can call all balls and strikes and then relay the information to a plate umpire or be part of a replay review system that allows managers to contest calls. “We have an automated strike zone system that works,” Manfred said.

The comments follow fans’ outrage over the referee’s missed calls in recent games, including a Brutal low strike error during a tipping of the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins. “Enough is enough. Give me Robo Umps already,” tweeted Jamal Spencer, ABC’s athletic director of Grand Rapids.

MLB has been experimenting with robo umps in the minor league Atlantic Triple-A League since 2019. It uses a Doppler radar system developed by TrackMan, best known for its golf speed measuring devices. The system thus works acc CBS: “The field is thrown, TrackMan tracks and identifies the position of the field, the phone tells the referee whether it is a ball or a bat, the referee makes the call physically behind the plate.”

To please the umpires, it’s no small feat to call balls and shots with 100 MPH fastballs and hard curveballs caught outside the zone. But that’s precisely why fans, pundits, and the league itself believe machines should do the job, leaving the plate ref to judge tags and other more subjective plays. According to MLB data, mechanical systems mercifully shortened Atlantic League games by a full nine minutes.

Under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, the league has the right to unilaterally change the rules provided it gives the union one season’s notice. Manfred has already said that such a system will not be introduced next year as the new competition committee will not hold its first meeting until 2023. However, once it meets, the committee will most likely agree to the changes as it will be dominated by property under ESPN.

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