Too late for glasses or contacts — it's time for 401ks
We’ve waited long enough.
For over 100 years, human umpires calling balls, strikes, fair, foul, safe, or out, were a necessary element of the game of baseball. Because they’re only human, we also had to accept that on occasion, they would make human errors and blow calls.
This is no longer the case.
During a detailed performance study for the 2021 regular season, Boston University analyzed over 353,000 pitches, covering 2,430 games. In all of that data, they found that a disturbing total of incorrect ball and strike calls were made (29,101).
If equally divided among all of the Major League games played in 2021, that number equates to 12 blown calls per game, or 1.3 per inning. What’s more, so far, in 2022, occipitally challenged MLB umpires are on pace to record even worse numbers.
As a baseball fan for my entire life, those numbers are entirely unacceptable to me. And while there once was no choice, technology has now advanced to the point where other options are available.
Introducing the Automated Ball-Strike system, or ABS for short.
Major League Baseball began limited use of the system in Single-A leagues, in 2019, with good success. However, there were clearly more refinements needed. The technicians addressed those in the off-season and were optimistic that the system would prove itself the following year.
Then COVID-19 hit, and all minor-league play was canceled for the 2020 season. ABS trials and limited minor-league integration would have to wait.
During the 2021 trials, Major League Baseball was so enamored by the test results they saw, that they decided to make the call to promote the ABS to Triple-A in 2022.
According to this press release by the MLB, Triple-A leagues will be using a very heavy dose of ABS this season. Of course, there are still a few technical issues to be worked out, specifically with pitches that have a lot of lateral movement, but, by all accounts, these issues are being worked out with a high degree of efficiency.
The way the system is being used this year in Triple-A, the human umpire is still there, basically with an earwig in his ear so that the ABS system can tell him if the pitch was a ball or a strike. If the system takes too long to make the call, the ump uses his own discretion so as not to slow the pace of the game.
There are undoubtedly still some logistical kinks to be worked out, but every indication is that the ABS is destined for the show. So much so that, as a part of their most recent collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball, the Umpires union agreed to fully cooperate and assist with the implementation of the ABS, when the MLB decides to begin using it in major league games.
All things considered, it seems a foregone conclusion that the ABS will be a part of major league baseball in the future. The only question really is when.
If you ask me, whenever it is, it won’t be soon enough.
What do you think? I’d love to know.