Blog Entry

Umpires vs. Technology

Posted on: June 10, 2010 1:45 pm
All right.  Here I go (pause....with a deep breath and exhalation).  I'd say, "Don't get me started!" but it's entirely too late for that.  Baseball has to enforce more technological advancements during the off-season because instant replay and other forms of technology are sorely needed.  There is far too much money at stake to allow such horrifically blown calls and human bias.  Major League Baseball languishes behind the NFL, NBA, and NHL in their ability to accept human error as commonplace and include technology (where needed) to offset some errors.  That said, baseball is a very traditional sport and changing rules can be painstaking, but something must be done.
1) Home Plate Umpire vs. Strike Zone graphic.  I don't know about you, but I'm certainly sick and tired of watching pitchers get strike calls 4-6 inches off the plate.  Mariano Rivera in the 2009 playoffs vs. Minnesota was the benefactor of more than one home plate umpire's fat strike zone when he was on the mound.  It was sickening.  Now, I know that Twins pitchers got some calls as well, but I'm not a fan of the Yankees and I chose Rivera as an example because he plays for the team I like the least.  I respect the Yankees place in the game, but this article will have a Minnesota Twins bias because that's just how it is.  Major League Baseball has the money to invest in technology to define a strike zone that never changes.  The home plate umpire could easily call balls and strikes via the use of a hand held monitor displaying a strike zone graphic.  I say this because each umpire has a different strike zone and it's tiring watching the same mistakes over and over.  Less mistakes please.
2) Instant Replay vs. Umpires.  Instant replay must be implemented and there will be no changing my mind on the matter.  I have a few examples for you.  How about the blown call on the game's final play that ruined Armando Galarraga's perfect game?  Galarraga was gracious and kind following the game and that says a lot about the kid's character, but I'd want to wring that ump's neck.  Maybe you saw J.J. Hardy's force out at second that was clearly an out, but the second base umpire totally blew the call in the Mariners favor in the light of the "so-called" emotional Ken Griffey, Jr. farewell game?  Don't ever tell me that emotion never affects an umpire's call.  The Griffey, Jr. "swan song" game had next to no emotion until the second base umpire made a tragically incorrect call to end the game.  Awful.  Did you see the A.L. playoffs at New York last season when Joe Mauer blasted a ball into the Yankee Stadium left field corner that was at least 2 feet fair, but ruled foul by the third base umpire?  That call helped to send the Twins packing and they were swept by the Yankees.  I'm not saying the Twins wouldn't have been swept because of that call not happening, but maybe that play sparks the Twins into a magical stretch run.  One will never know because that call was blatantly missed.  Replay would have resulted in each of the aforementioned calls being overturned.
By my count, Technology is up 2-0 over the badly overmatched Umpires of Major League Baseball.  Just so you know, I root for all umpires to do a great job and most of them do a good job.  But, the game has changed by drastic measures and the errors by umpires are growing more pronounced by the day, partially due to all of the media exposure.  With that said, I think it's time to just get it right.  The less human emotion, bias, and mistakes allowed into the game by Major League Baseball Umpires will make the game better.  Technology can give us a better game.
Category: MLB
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