Making the Pitch: MLB to Test Auto-Umpires


Major League Baseball will test out an automated ball-strike system for some spring training games this season, but will not use the system for any actual game decisions. That according to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who says "we will be running the system only in test mode but will not actually use it to call balls and strikes in spring training games."

The move to test the system in major league games comes after MLB tried it in the independent Atlantic League as well as for some Arizona Fall League games last season. Commissioner Manfred further explained the automated balls and strikes system during a recent interview with Fox Business Network. "The way it works is the camera calls the ball or strike, then communicates to an earpiece the umpire has in his ear," said Manfred. "From the fans' perspective it looks exactly like it looks today...we believe over the long haul it's going to be more accurate, it will reduce controversy in the game, and will be good for the game."

SportsTalk 790 host Ross Villeareal agrees that the time has come for this technology in baseball. "One of the things we talk about in all sports is referees and umpires and bad calls, and a lot of times after games that becomes the story," he tells KTRH. "I think you can eliminate that with this, and we can focus on other things, and it's going to speed up the game."

Even with the automated balls and strikes system, human umpires would remain to decide things like check swings, foul balls and baserunning plays.

"I feel like it's a matter of when, not if," says Villareal. "I think it's going to happen, they're going to work out the kinks, and I think ten years from now we're going to wonder why didn't we do this sooner?"


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