The Hustle With Russell

Electronic umpires take away from the human aspect of baseball

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The Hustle With Russell

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Being a baseball fan for as long as I can remember, I’ll admit that the sport can get hard to watch at times. Sometimes it just feels like games are going on and on without any substance to keep me engaged. However, one thing that always seems to add interest to the game is the emotion and personality that comes out as a result of interactions with umpires. So naturally, the recent idea of robot or electronic umpires alarms me. 

The prospect of electronic strike zones endangers the human aspect and appeal of the sport of baseball. 

Electronic strike zones were first proposed as a means to make balls and strikes non-negotiable since human error in making calls would no longer be a factor. To me, this seemed like a good idea when I first heard of it because there wouldn’t be a possibility of a wrong call, but now that I’ve had a little longer to contemplate, I realize that this would damage a lot of admiration that many baseball fans possess for the game. 

Since the average MLB game has about 292 pitches according to Baseball Reference, umpires clearly have a lot of calls to make. As a baseball player myself, I’ve made the observation that umpires call balls and strikes depending on who’s winning and who’s losing and which players they like or don’t like. This takes away a layer of security that batters or pitchers might have if electronic strike zones are put into effect. Having this human effect makes players play more frantically and thus makes the game more interesting. 

If a batter knows that a pitch is going to be a ball because human error isn’t a factor in the call, he won’t swing. If it’s a close game and a pitch is right on the edge of the plate, an umpire’s discretion could completely change the outcome of the game. Even if the pitch is a strike or a ball, the umpire could get it all wrong and rob a team of a win. This might seem bad at first, but it adds some mystery to the game because nobody knows what the umpire will call before he calls it. 

When cases like this do happen, pitchers often cause a scene by arguing with the umpire and getting ejected. Ejections like this are always fun to watch for the audience. If electronic strike zones didn’t exist, who would pitchers and batters point their fingers at? No one. That isn’t fun. Sure, it makes the game more predictable and consistent, but that isn’t fun. It’s simply fun to see players get angry and throw a fit or maybe joke around and talk to umpires. And above all, the game of baseball is meant to be fun.