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Home Plate Umps Should Be Replaced by Robots


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4 hours ago, Fiveohnine said:

I think part of the problem is that people watch the game and assume that the 2D box/dot graphic is 100% accurate when it comes to the high/low strike when in fact its actually the opposite, since the box remains static while the actual strike zone changes pitch to pitch. 

Not only this, but the strike zone has never been a 2D box at any point in MLB. It is a living, breathing thing, like the man behind the plate. I like watching pitchers and hitters adjust to the way the ump is calling the zone on any given day; it would be boring if there were never any interest on a close pitch. Think how much drama you're removing from the most routine of plays; pitch is thrown over the plate, the ump misses it, the batter gripes, the dugout yells, the other team yells back. Baseball is boring enough already. Some people want technology to save us from uncertainty. They want to have their cake and eat it too. 

They want to take the uncertainty out of the game because this now involves money-I have X amount of dollars on my big money league or my DFS plays; that's the first bias. If you're speaking strictly as a fan of X team and the call went against you, that's a gripe, but there are greater issues facing the game right now than a missed strike call

This is also part of a much larger issue in our society. Mechanization and robots are going to eliminate hundred of millions of jobs; you sitting there on your computers at home screaming to replace the umpires wouldn't be saying the same if it were your job. I want to see human beings on the field and I don't care if they make mistakes-they're humans. The world is going to be a very boring place if we let machines and technology dictate every little thing. Self checkout and Amazon prime are time savers but they have come with a price, and perhaps that's a debate best had elsewhere.

Tl;DR-Nothing is black and white, not even the strike zone. Never has been. "You want it to be one way-but its the other way".  

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1 minute ago, Richard Kimble said:

This is also part of a much larger issue in our society. Mechanization and robots are going to eliminate hundred of millions of jobs; you sitting there on your computers at home screaming to replace the umpires wouldn't be saying the same if it were your job. I want to see human beings on the field and I don't care if they make mistakes-they're humans. The world is going to be a very boring place if we let machines and technology dictate every little thing.

 

I agree, don't replace the umps and put them out of a job. Keep them on the field.

 

Also, if you had a job and salary that depended on someone who was making an absolutely wrong assessment of your performance, wouldn't you want that fixed?

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Fellas, it's already been stated many times in the thread that home plate umps still have to be there for other reasons unrelated to enforcing the strike zone.  Making this about saving an ump's job is the flimsiest of many flimsy arguments about the issue.

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Posted (edited)

Just to make one thing clear.

The strike zone is a 3D box that can move up and/or down, shrink or expand up and/or down for every pitch.

Edited by JCD
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14 minutes ago, tonycpsu said:

You keep latching onto this as if the rulebook was handed down from God on stone tablets.  The vertical strike zone in particular has been redefined many times over the years:

There is nothing stopping MLB from making subtle changes that would make it trivial for computers to call balls/strikes without the need to try to guess a batter's intent or make minute adjustments based on whether they're crouching.  And even if it just did things based on the batter's height without any rule changes, it would still result in fewer errors than humans trying to judge that while also judging horizontal positioning and many other things at the same time.  Only a handful of balls are going to end up in the narrow range where a batter's stance would affect things, and, again, a simple rule change could make the point moot.

I'm "latching onto" the rules?

If this thread were titled "lets change the rules" I would have discussed that issue. It's titled "time for computers", which it isn't if/until the rule is changed.

That said, I wouldn't necessarily be against changing the rules. I think the principle behind the rule as it stands is the fairness that a batter like Juan Soto is able to cover greater area before he gets to 2 strikes. But like I said, if the thread were about that, I would have mentioned it before now.

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We don't need robot umps. We just need better human umps and a system for holding accountable those who are bad at their jobs. An umpire who makes a mistake like the one we saw in the Sox-Yankees game Sunday night should be stripped of home plate duty for a month or so. An umpire who doesn't show improvement month on month, same thing.

Come to think of it, why do the umpires even rotate? Take the 30 best strike zone calling umpires and put them behind the plate every night. There's no reason a great umpire should be standing out at second base while Angel Hernandez ruins a game with his terrible zone.

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3 minutes ago, Fiveohnine said:

If this thread were titled "lets change the rules" I would have discussed that issue. It's titled "time for computers", which it isn't if/until the rule is changed.

Adopting a computerized zone would itself require significant changes to the MLB rulebook.  I can't see how one could assume otherwise given that the rules state that the home plate umpire is making judgement calls on balls and strikes, that their judgement can't be argued or sent to replay review, etc.  Once we're changing the rules to accommodate an automated zone, it's easy to tweak current rules to eliminate a few edge cases that don't amount to but a small fraction of the errors humans make in each game.

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Posted (edited)

Wait, wait, wait, wait. So you guys who prefer robots over the human element don't like balls randomly becoming strikes when you have 2 strikes on you because "welp you gotta protect"? You don't like randomly having a wide strike zone one night because Ump 1 is behind the plate and then randomly having a different strike zone because  Ump 2 is behind the plate? You don't love blown calls because "welp omgz we need the human element"?!

Sarcasm button now turned off lol.

Strikes are strikes and balls are balls. Safe is safe and out is out. It should literally be that black and white. I do not subscribe to the NONSENSE that you have to protect the plate because the strike zone widens when you have 2 strikes on you. That train of thought is simply incorrect.

Umpires need to do better or yes, they should be replaced in some capacity by technology so that calls are correct and consistent.

Edited by ThreadKiller
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3 minutes ago, tonycpsu said:

Adopting a computerized zone would itself require significant changes to the MLB rulebook.  I can't see how one could assume otherwise given that the rules state that the home plate umpire is making judgement calls on balls and strikes, that their judgement can't be argued or sent to replay review, etc.

I mentioned earlier that I think a big part of the problem is that people actually don't keep the rule in mind while watching the game and they do "assume otherwise" that the 2d box and dot are 100% accurate even though the opposite is in fact true under the rule as it stands. In fact, I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't cling to the actual rule as it stands for the purpose of this discussion.

Again, the rule as it stands I believe is based on the fairness that a hitter like Juan Soto can cover more area before he gets to 2 strikes. The actual reason for the rule and its fairness hasn't been brought up until you just did in your previous post.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, dele said:

We don't need robot umps. We just need better human umps and a system for holding accountable those who are bad at their jobs. An umpire who makes a mistake like the one we saw in the Sox-Yankees game Sunday night should be stripped of home plate duty for a month or so. An umpire who doesn't show improvement month on month, same thing.

Come to think of it, why do the umpires even rotate? Take the 30 best strike zone calling umpires and put them behind the plate every night. There's no reason a great umpire should be standing out at second base while Angel Hernandez ruins a game with his terrible zone.

 

This comment says it all. Umpires all have "their own zone" which is honestly incorrect and needs to be fixed. There is only ONE strike zone and that strike zone should be the same for everyone, at all times. Period.

Growing up playing baseball, I always thought it was so stupid to hear "expand your zone to protect with 2 strikes!" I mean you had to listen and do it because it's how things are, but it doesn't make it correct.

Edited by ThreadKiller
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4 minutes ago, ThreadKiller said:

 

Growing up playing baseball, I always thought it was so stupid to hear "expand your zone to protect with 2 strikes!" I mean you had to listen and do it because it's how things are, but it doesn't make it correct.

 

Yep and the reason we were coached that way is because "you never know when the ump might call a ball a strike - so go down swinging" lol

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15 minutes ago, dele said:

We don't need robot umps. We just need better human umps and a system for holding accountable those who are bad at their jobs. An umpire who makes a mistake like the one we saw in the Sox-Yankees game Sunday night should be stripped of home plate duty for a month or so. An umpire who doesn't show improvement month on month, same thing.

Come to think of it, why do the umpires even rotate? Take the 30 best strike zone calling umpires and put them behind the plate every night. There's no reason a great umpire should be standing out at second base while Angel Hernandez ruins a game with his terrible zone.

Wear and tear on the body...

But totally agree, we don't need computers calling the game, the umps just need to get better...  HOWEVER, as long as they stay consistent throughout the game, I don't care at all if the strike zone is shifted to be off the outer half of the plate...

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9 minutes ago, ThreadKiller said:

Sarcasm button now turned off lol.

Maybe just leave that button off forever?  This discussion has been pretty civil so far, and as much as I believe that the strike zone variability that comes from human judgement errors on close ball/strike calls is a bug, many think it's a feature.  That's a perfectly valid opinion to have, and one that doesn't deserve this kind of sneering condescension.

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4 minutes ago, Members_Only_76 said:

 

Yep and the reason we were coached that way is because "you never know when the ump might call a ball a strike - so go down swinging" lol

Exactly, which is such nonsense to me...Honestly, I always preferred the other way. I would rather go down looking because a ump called a ball a strike because I know the strike zone. I'd rather than than actually swing and miss...

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Just to be clear, I'm not saying that any pitch that never crosses the plane of the plate should be called a strike nor am I saying any pitch that does should be called a ball. The inside/outside strike issue could be solved with a simple overhead cam or even a red/green light available to the plate umpire.

My point only has to do with the high/low strike call and the current strike zone rule as it stands, which is better suited to a human than computers. I also think there is a good reason for why this rule is in place, which I mentioned above.

That said, I wouldn't be against any change in the high/low strike rule. I just think a bigger problem than the rule as it stands is the problem that most people don't know or consider the rule and incorrectly assume that the 2D box/dot is 100% correct when in fact the opposite is true.

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32 minutes ago, ThreadKiller said:

Growing up playing baseball, I always thought it was so stupid to hear "expand your zone to protect with 2 strikes!" I mean you had to listen and do it because it's how things are, but it doesn't make it correct.

It was not stupid. Your zone as a batter is not the entire strike zone. But with 2 strikes it is.

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Reading this thread is exactly why real discourse and debate have become non-existent; no one wants to see the reality of trying to implement such a drastic technology change. Theory and reality are different realms. In simple terms, it ain't broke now and doesn't need fixing. In greater ones, you have to accept a degree of imperfection and lack of control in the universe.

I do believe they should be graded and held to some standards; perhaps it does make sense that only the top graded umps get to work home plate, if we put that much weight on the missed calls. I still see the outrage over balls and strikes as extremely disproportionate; no one thinks even the worst MLB ump doesn't get 97-98% of the balls/strikes right. Occasionally they all just miss a really bad one, and depending on the scenario it can seem more egregious.

It's a game, folks-its not heart surgery or something that requires 100% accuracy. They can miss a call its not the end of the world. It can be agonizing, gut wrenching as a fan when the 3-2 pitch doesn't go your way-I wouldn't want to lose that feeling for a million years. Its also wrong to just assume the computers are not going to pose problems of their own in the implementation process. You think it's just going to be a smooth transition in the same way we're all looking forward to driverless cars, and sure there won't be any problems there? 🙄

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5 minutes ago, JCD said:

It was not stupid. Your zone as a batter is not the entire strike zone. But with 2 strikes it is.

I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying there are (2) strike zones? One before (2) strikes and then another one with (2) strikes?

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4 minutes ago, Richard Kimble said:

Reading this thread is exactly why real discourse and debate have become non-existent; no one wants to see the reality of trying to implement such a drastic technology change. Theory and reality are different realms. In simple terms, it ain't broke now and doesn't need fixing. In greater ones, you have to accept a degree of imperfection and lack of control in the universe.

I do believe they should be graded and held to some standards; perhaps it does make sense that only the top graded umps get to work home plate, if we put that much weight on the missed calls. I still see the outrage over balls and strikes as extremely disproportionate; no one thinks even the worst MLB ump doesn't get 97-98% of the balls/strikes right. Occasionally they all just miss a really bad one, and depending on the scenario it can seem more egregious.

It's a game, folks-its not heart surgery or something that requires 100% accuracy. They can miss a call its not the end of the world. It can be agonizing, gut wrenching as a fan when the 3-2 pitch doesn't go your way-I wouldn't want to lose that feeling for a million years. Its also wrong to just assume the computers are not going to pose problems of their own in the implementation process. You think it's just going to be a smooth transition in the same way we're all looking forward to driverless cars, and sure there won't be any problems there? 🙄

Good post. I just think that a strike should be called a strike and a ball should be called a ball. That's it. The strike zone should be the same at all times and not depend on who's the umpire, what the count is, etc.

The question is how to we get to that? I agree computers/technology will present their own problems...I do like the idea of having the (30) best strike zone umpires (or whatever the number is) behind the plate at all times. That might be the only practical solution.

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9 minutes ago, Richard Kimble said:

no one wants to see the reality of trying to implement such a drastic technology change. [...] You think it's just going to be a smooth transition in the same way we're all looking forward to driverless cars, and sure there won't be any problems there?

I don't think there's been much glossing over of the possible technical challenges, but comparing a computerized zone that's already being used to grade umpires right now to self-driving cars that have to navigate the physical world, make quick decisions to avoid collisions, etc. is a very inapt comparison.  The computer system calling balls and strikes basically has to track a single object in 3D space and decide where it is as it crosses the plate.  The computer system controlling a car has to make hundreds of judgements at once about its surroundings and control an object that can kill people.  These are just very different technological problems and there is no basis for comparison.  Tracking a ball crossing the plate is a solved technical problem.  Fully-independent self-driving cars are not.

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I'd agree that overall whatever implementation of robot umps is going to be WAY tougher than most think. It'll take all of a few seconds for people to start complaining it's not calibrated properly or something.

The most immediate problem seems like umpires having unlimited slack to make as many awful calls as they want and still keep their jobs. Perhaps getting rid of the ones that make themselves part of the show and can't admit when they're wrong - ever - would be a start. Not sure there are many other lines of work where Angel Hernandez would still be employed.

That said, I'm all for the robots if Sweet Lou comes out of retirement to turn one into spare parts.

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We literally just need a program with a 3D render of the plate. If the ball touches any piece of it the ump gets a buzz (Altuve style) and they call that muf***a a strike! No buzz and its a ball! The tech exists that argument is ridiculous.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, tonycpsu said:

Fellas, it's already been stated many times in the thread that home plate umps still have to be there for other reasons unrelated to enforcing the strike zone.  Making this about saving an ump's job is the flimsiest of many flimsy arguments about the issue.

Umps and refs actually positions demanding strong ethics and integrity in our society (see the stain of Tim Donaghy on officiating in general) in the same way airline pilots and police and firemen are. If you give those occupations the benefit of the doubt, you should be as reverential and respectful towards umpires, as well. Even on their worst day like Jim Joyce they can still show us that we are all imperfect. Unlike those occupations I mentioned, an umpire having a bad day is not literal life and death (or self driving cars, point taken).

I know its a bit philosophical, but some of the conversation to this point is lacking a human element. Much like baseball will be if we take umps away-you say its "flimsy", I say it opens the floodgates to turning 4 jobs into 1. This hits close to home for me personally. You just refuse to accept that this will result in lost jobs, and I tell you from experience that once you give an inch, businesses will take a mile.

I'm not saying I'm not curious to know how it works, but these are very high-profile, visible jobs, and I think we have to push back against turning all our jobs into robots. I don't want a robot leading me down the aisle at the grocery store, either.

Maybe MLB's strategy is just divide and conquer, because they seemingly will have the pitchers and hitters at odds with one another in the next negotiation, so no one will care about the umps if they strike, but I hope it doesn't come to that. The only reason I can honestly think that the umpires union would even consider the question is if the consensus between the umpires is that eliminating the position would be beneficial for the health of all umpires. There is possibly some strong merit to this-working behind the plate is the most physically demanding position for umps by far.

Edited by Richard Kimble
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21 minutes ago, ThreadKiller said:

I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying there are (2) strike zones? One before (2) strikes and then another one with (2) strikes?

No.
There is the actual strike zone and YOUR ZONE, that is smaller. With 2 strike YOUR ZONE becomes the actual strike zone. Hence you expand YOUR zone. Strike zone does not change.

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