In 2017, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon wrote an op-ed in the New York Post, in which among a few other things he advocated for the use of technology to call balls and strikes, or as you’ve seen or heard, “robot umpires.”

Here’s part of what Maddon wrote last July.

I love the replay system. I think it’s a great addition to the game. I think the next logical step to that would be balls and strikes being influenced and impacted, technologically speaking. It would be a more homogenized step on a daily basis.

So am I advocating for “robot umps”? If you’re looking for a level playing field where skill really wins, methodology wins, I think that’s the way to go. No one’s trying to influence the game, but umpires are human and make mistakes.

Could not have said it better myself. There’s supposed to be a set rule of what the strike zone is and umpires simply cannot keep the consistency needed to make it a level playing field for everyone involved. We see it every game, where one team gets calls and the other doesn’t and that even changes inning to inning, sometimes batter to batter and other times from one pitch to the next.

Technology is available to eliminate the “human element” of umpires making big mistakes. There’s no reason this sham should continue.

Yet, even after one of the most egregious missed calls of the year on Sunday, when Angel Hernandez called a pitch way off the outside corner for strike three to end the game, Maddon has all of sudden changed his mind on the whole robot umpiring thing.

Via the Chicago Tribune.

“One of the things I was convinced by a veteran umpire is that pitches that appear to be balls will be called strikes,” said Maddon, one day after Anthony Rizzo was called out on strikes by a pitch out of the strike zone to conclude a 10-6 loss to the Padres. “That’s even more troublesome with that kind of technology. There’s something to be said for that. I just think it’s a continual process from MLB regarding umpire training and rehashing. No different than what we do with our players, like more ground balls.

But more recently, Maddon asked his video department to check a high curve strike he thought resembled a pitch from a slow-pitch softball game.

“They checked, and it hit the (imaginary high strike zone) bar,” Maddon said. “That’s one reason I’m off (using robot umpires). There would be even more arguments.”

All right, we need to hire a private investigator to determine if Joe West is somehow blackmailing Joe Maddon into saying these things.

Ugh, Joe had so right a year ago and now he completely flipped on it.


Maybe things will change in 30 years or something.