Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told the media that, “I think it’s almost impossible to do what they do. So why do we ask them to do the impossible?” when asked about home plate umpire Al Porter’s strike zone on Sunday. He didn’t specifically say what alternative to human umpires he was advocating for, but he was advocating using technology.
How can you take the “human element” out of umpiring? I don’t know about you, but when I watch a baseball game, I can’t wait to find out what the umpire’s “interpretation” of the strike zone is on a given night. It makes every game just a little different. Where else can you see multimillionaires who are the best in the world at what they do be completely bewildered on a regular basis? Plus, if they raise any complaint, the players can be ejected. As much as I pay to see superstars like Dustin Pedroia play, it’s much more fun to see them put in their place. Who cares that we can all see PitchFX data immediately after every pitch? Even though the technology exists and is in place to get these calls right, life isn’t fair anyway, so all you complainers who care about following the “rules” need to just get over it.
The repercussions of taking some of the human element out of umpiring could be almost as dangerous as using technology to “improve” things like manufacturing, infrastructure or communication. I mean, we’ve had humans calling balls and strikes for almost 170 years - there’s no reason to change. People were used as the primary method for spreading the written word for 20 times as long and I am willing to bet, for most of that time, people thought it was good enough. Those people were probably onto something. I should probably delete this site, print my sports opinions on a printing press and mail them out to anybody who is interested. That’ll restore the human element, for sure.
As far as baseball is concnerned, who knows what the next step is? Floodlights at ballkarks so games can be played at night when people are out of work? If fans can’t make it to a 3 p.m. first pitch, they’re not real fans anyway Games being broadcast on radio and television? Surely, that can’t be as exciting as sitting in a room and listening to a guy read ticker tape. Pretty soon, baseball will no longer make players wear baggy wool in the middle of the summer. Yes, we need to keep technology out of the game at all costs. It may be humanity’s last line of defense before the machines take over.