Jan 18, 2023 - Sports

Robot umps coming to Huntington Park this season

Illustration of a robot dressed up in umpire gear

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Huntington Park's hecklers are going to have to find a new target this season.

Driving the news: The Columbus Clippers and all other Triple-A baseball teams are switching to the Automated Balls and Strikes System in 2023, Axios Sports' Kendall Baker writes.

Why it matters: It's only fitting that our high-tech city would help test the biggest on-field advancement to hit pro baseball since instant replay.

The big picture: Major League Baseball commonly experiments with rule changes and new technology at the minor league level before instituting them in the big leagues.

Details: The Automated Balls and Strikes System will be deployed in two different ways this season depending on the stadium, ESPN reports. It's not yet clear which is headed to Columbus.

  • Some stadiums will use an electronic strike zone, with a human umpire behind the plate relaying the computer's calls.
  • Others will feature a "challenge system" human umps will continue calling balls and strikes, but teams will get at least three challenges per game.

Our take: Automation has its detractors and baseball purists loathe seeing the game further retreat from its pastoral roots, but we see this as a win-win.

  • Every call will be accurate and human umpires still get to keep their jobs.
  • We'd love it even more if Huntington Park installed robots that would help make the Dime-A-Dog lines go faster. Pretty please?

⚾ What's next: The Clippers open their 2023 home schedule on April 4 against the Charlotte Knights.

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