Baseball’s robot umpire sparks ejection from Minor League game

Are Americans really in favor of the technological progression of accuracy in sports?  I think not.

Sure, we want a fair result, but we don’t turn on the game for a monotone, black and white demonstration of sporting feats.  We tune in for the human drama that plays out on the screen.  We truly want to disparage an umpire.  We relish the opportunity to diss a dirty player from our rival team.  Sports aren’t so much about the athletic competition as they are about the culture surrounding them.

That’s not to say it isn’t fun, and I am in no way trying to dissuade anyone from catching a few innings here and there.  I’m simply making sure that we are all on the same page here.

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As technology continues to evolve, there will be opportunities for their insertion into our beloved sports.  Baseball, soccer, and other sports are already using “video assisted reviews” during their games, creating more controversies than they are solving.

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Now, just one inning to the era of robotic baseball umpires, a Minor League manager has been ejected due to his objection of the technology.

The Atlantic League recently installed robot umpires as part of a three-year agreement with Major League Baseball — a pact that has led to a number of other tweaks as well. Perhaps predictably, it didn’t take long for someone to take exception with a call made by the Trackman system, leading to the person in question being ejected from the game for their reaction.

Frank Viola, a former big-league All-Star and the 1988 AL Cy Young Award winner, is now the pitching coach of the High Point Rockers. He was tossed on July 12 after objecting to the automated strike zone in the first inning of the first game since the robots were placed in charge, per Close Call Sports (hat tip to the Star Tribune). Viola wanted umpire Tim Detweiler to overrule some close calls. Detweiler declined, and things snowballed from there.

The video of the incident was available on YouTube:

Viola also took to Twitter to voice his concerns.

For many baseball fans, there is a hope that this historic moment becomes little more than a bizarre piece of sport trivia in the coming decades…long after the days of the robotic umpire are thankfully over.


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