Robo Called Balls And Strikes On The Table According To Manfred

By 2024, we could see balls and strikes called by an electronically monitored system that sets the strike zone and monitors every pitch, according to a wide-ranging interview with Rob Manfred and ESPN’s Don Van Natta. All proposals need to be presented to the players and umpires unions, but the league maintains its authority to implement rules that will improve the game.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 07: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with Manager Tony La Russa #22 of the Chicago White Sox prior to Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 07, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Manfred detailed the plan to Van Natta: ‘In 2024, Manfred says, the automated ball-strike zone system, or as it’s commonly called, “robot umpires,” will likely be introduced. 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. Another option is a replay review system of balls and strikes with each manager getting several challenges a game…”We have an automated strike zone system that works,” Manfred says.’

The league is struggling this year with the proliferation of broadcasts and tweets that show the umpires are struggling with Ball and Strike calls. Every local and national broadcaster has the strike zone on screen for every pitch. So, fans already accept an electronically created strike zone.

Under the proposals that Manfred detailed, they will use a technology developed by Trackman. They are the same group that is used for tracking golf balls on all golf broadcasts. In the MLB system to call every pitch, Trackman would track the exact location of the piece and send it to a monitor with an official. That person would call to an earpiece the Homeplate umpire has, and call ball or strike.

Let’s face it, there are too many places that show Umpires missing calls, like Umpire Scorecards did to poor CB Bucknor in this game. The time for this to happen is now, unfortunately it cannot happen in 2023. The league needs one full season to implement a new rule, or in this case technology.

The new competition committee will meet in early 2023. Expect the strike zone technology to be on the agenda, discussed, and by all means should pass and get approval from everyone in baseball. The game is getting faster, and there is a technology to help deal with that.

Written by Bill Graff

Lifelong fan of all things sports and of common sense. I watch a lot of sports, just ask my wife. Go Terps. I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier.

4 Comments

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  1. Let’s think here. The strike zone has been a “judgment call” for about 150 years now, and that was always accepted as part of the game by players and fans. What changed to put this pressure on for change? The proliferation of sports gambling to unprecedented levels. Let’s all just be honest here. If robots can do everything better, guess what else will be replaced not far behind the umps? The players. Careful what you wish for.

    • While gambling plays a role, the biggest culprit is the strike zone on the tv screen. When you can see a ball clearly miss the zone and be called a strike, or vice-versa, most people will not say “oh, its been a subjective zone for 150 years.”

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