Should MLB umpires be more machine than man

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon waves to fans before a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Joe Maddon says it’s time for baseball to make a big change.

The Cubs manager is ready for automated umpires:

“At one point, I thought I’d be totally against it, but I can’t tell you that I am now. I even think umpires would be fine with it, too. Because I don’t think there’s an umpire out there that wants to negatively impact the game with a bad call.

Do you think baseball would be better with automated umps?

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HBO’s “Real Sports” showed how it would work:

ESPN’s Dan Szymborski says it’s ridiculous fans are ok with different strike zones:

One of the most important aspects of any sport is that everybody plays by the same rules. And one thing that’s clear is that in baseball, not everybody has the same strike zone. While a checked swing is a judgment call, where a pitch is actually located is not. We know for a fact that different umpires have different strike zones and that home plate umpires are more or less likely to call a pitch a strike depending on the specific situation. We even have, in recent years, new tools that track how good catchers are at framing pitches. That we have data for how well a catcher can get strikes properly called (or successfully get strikes that are unproperly called) just boggles the mind. Can you imagine if the NFL had stats on how often a running back tricked the refs into thinking he was down by contact before fumbling the football? Or if the American Bar Association had stats on which lawyers were good at fooling judges with bad case law?

The New York Post’s Mary Pilon points out that umpire mistakes making the game more boring:

Since 2008, umpires have become more generous with the strike zone, enabling it to go a few inches below the knees of a hitter, according to a study by Brian Mills, an assistant professor at the University of Florida who examined umpire data from 1998 to 2013. This has increased strikeouts — and, as a result, decreased the action on the field.

The Kansas City Star’s Lee Judge is skeptical of automated umpires:

I am pretty sure that even with the best technology in the world, we’d still find a way to screw things up. Instant replay was supposed to make sure the umpires got calls right, but I still see calls missed and then go uncorrected despite visual evidence shown on a scoreboard in plain view of 30,000 people. “The call stands” is baseball-ese for: “We can’t tell and we don’t want to get involved.” So before we change the fabric of the game — and as Young points out, nothing is more important than the strike zone — maybe we ought to think about unintended consequences; because there sure would be some.

The San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Purdy wants to see a compromise:

Technology today would allow for automated balls and strikes calls. But no one wants to lose the human element of umpiring. My question: If video officials from MLB are watching every game for replay purposes — and they are — then why not have them monitor the strike zone and alert an umpire between innings if he’s allowing too many low (or high) strikes?.

What do you think? Should baseball use new technology for ball-and-strike calls?

Debate by downloading our app on iOS at apple.co/1ITwL4w or on Android at bit.ly/fandings. You also can play online at playfandings.com.