Rob Manfred Speaks out Against Removing Human Element from MLB Umpiring

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 17, 2017

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred listens to a question following the two-day meeting of Major League Baseball owners, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Despite recent complaints about the umpiring in Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred is not a fan of taking the human element away from the game.

Manfred addressed the umpiring topic on Thursday at the MLB owners meetings in Chicago, via USA Today's Bob Nightengale:

“It would be a pretty fundamental change in the game, to take away a function that has been performed by our umpiring staff, really with phenomenal accuracy. The fact of the matter is they get them right well over 90% of the time.

“There is a human aspect to that, a work aspect to it, that’s always been an important part of our game.

“I don’t think you can just jump to the conclusion that if you have [the] technology to do it that’s the right thing for your product.’’

Manfred's comments come two days after Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler had some choice words about umpire Angel Hernandez, who ejected him from Monday's game against the Texas Rangers for arguing balls and strikes.

"I'm surprised at how bad an umpire he is," Kinsler told reporters, via The Detroit News. "I don't know how, for as many years he's been in the league, that he can be that bad. He needs to re-evaluate his career choice, he really does. Bottom line."

Chicago Cubs utility man Ben Zobrist said after an Aug. 12 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks that MLB should "have an electronic strike zone because human beings are going to make mistakes," per ESPN's Jesse Rogers

Zobrist's grievance came after he was called out on a third strike from umpire Mark Wegner that Rogers noted looked "decidedly low."

A California-based independent league implemented a system featuring robot umpires in 2015. However, former MLB outfielder Eric Byrnes noted the automated strike zone was "intended to assist umpires, NOT eliminate them."