OBSERVATIONS: Robo-ump is coming to a park near you. . .soon

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, trying to type with one hand because my right shoulder aches like a toothache — and as Cincinnati Reds pitcher Norm Charlton once told teammates Rob Dibble, “Dibs, y0u got more problems than a runover skunk.”

—An article in this week’s New Yorker magazine caught my bleary old eyes because it was about robo-umpiring, technology that calls balls and strikes that is coming soon to a ball park near you.

So you think some of baseball’s new rules are ludicrous? So do I. But get this one. MLB executives actually talked about a rule that would permit fans to throw home run balls back on the field and the ball would be in play. Fortunately, that one was laughed out of the room.

Robo-umps have been used in the independent Atlantic League since 2019. And something Wally Backman said is distressing. Backman, a former major leaguer, manages the Long Island Ducks and loves HAL-2000 umpires.

“It is going to be in the majors in a lot shorter time than people think,” he said. MLB already has determined that robo-ump is more accurate, even though it says its human umpires are 97 per cent accurate on balls and strikes calls, a fact Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds might dispute.

Even at 97 per cent, studies show that umpires miss about 35,000 calls a season and the Reds believe most of them happen against them.

As for the robo-umps, the New Y0rker reported that an Atlantic League game in Lancaster, Pa., had 35 walks, the score was 16-14 and it took five hours to complete nine innings.

—QUOTE: From former major league umpire Jim Joyce, asked what he would have done when he first began umpiring if there had been robo-arbiters: “I would have continued to drive a truck for UPS.” (Joyce, an excellent umpire, was the guy who erroneously called a runner out at first base with two outs in the ninth inning, costing Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game — in 2010, before replay-review.”

—This was sent to me by Dennis Singleton in Huber Heights and, yes, D.S. has too much time on his hands.

During a game last week in which the Chicago White Sox beat the Chicago Cubs, 17-13, over four hours and nine minutes, there were 382 pitches. Only 67 were put into play, 14 per cent.

Judging by what’s left of the Cubs after the trade deadline massacre that rivaled Chicago’s famous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, I’m surprised that many ball were put in play.

And did you know that the first game Babe Ruth played in for the Boston Red Sox took 93 minutes? It takes that long these days for players to adjust their batting gloves after every pitch.

—QUOTES: From the movie ‘St Valentine’s Day Massacre: Reporter — “Y’know, some people say it was the cops who did those murders.” Gangster Bugsy Morgan — “You must be new to this town. Only Al Capone kills like that.” (Well, to Cubs fans, general manager Jed Hoyer is baseball’s Al Capone for the way he killed the Cubs by trading nearly every player who can trot and spit at the same time.)

—Kirk Gibson is the man who hit the iconic one-legged pinch-hit walk-off home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Oakland A’s in Game One of the 1988 World Series.

It was a blast about which fabled broadcaster Vin Scully said into the microphone, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible just happened.”

That’s because Gibson had a leg injury and could barely walk. But manager Tommy Lasorda sent him up t0 pinch-hit in the ninth inning with the Dodgers down, 4-3, and a
runner on second. Using only his upper body, Gibson drilled a Dennis Eckersley 3-and-2 pitch into the right field pavilion for a 5-4 win.

Gibson is a TV color analyst now with the Detroit Tigers and his low, monotone voice will put y0u to sleep better than Natrol. But I’d never say that to his face.

Gibson is a former Michigan State football player, is a tough guy whose stare melts molars.

When Gibson played for the Tigers, the Reds played a spring exhibition game at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium. Smoking was permitted.

So I was standing in the right field corner, just outside the Tigers’ clubhouse door, puffing a Montecristo cigar.

Gibson appeared at the door and said, “No smoking.”

I said, “Who says so?”

Gibson said, “I said so.” I immediately put out the cigar in the right field dirt.

—QUOTE: From former major league catcher Kirk Gibson: “There was a perception of me, and I earned it because I was really intense, really gruff. I treated certain people poorly at times. It was because of who I was. It was almost my strength.” (To that, I can firmly attest.)

—It didn’t take long for Javier Baez to wear out his welcome in New York. Baez and Francisco Lindor are boo targets for New Y0rk Mets fans, due to their underperformances.

So they were ring leaders in some of the Mets giving ‘thumbs down’ gestures to the fans when the players do something good, which is rare.

Fortunately, team executive Sandy Alderson gave them a cease and desist order and apologized to the fans.

Nice to see that somebody in the organization has some class. And Mets fans will be there long after Baez, Lindor and the rest are long gone.

—Oscar Robertson, ‘The Big O’ and my all-time favorite NBA player. was asked on a podcast to name his five favorite players. His answer: Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor, Steph Curry, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain.

Notice he didn’t name LeBron James. And when The Big O played for the Cincinnati Royals, they could never beat the Boston Celtics. That’s probably why he left Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Satch Sanders, John Havlicek and Larry Bird off his list.

—QUOTE: From Oscar Robertson, who could not only shoot, but he could pass, he could dribble and he could rebound, the poster boy for Complete Player: “I think that everyone should be able to dribble. Everyone should be able to pass. Otherwise, why are you out there?”
—Hate to say it, but I’ll say it. Same ol’ Bengals, except for those new bland white jerseys. They lose to Miami on a fourth-and-forever long distance touchdown pass in the final two minutes.

Sure, it was an exhibition game, but bad habits are hard to break.

And then there was the Cleveland Browns-Atlanta Falcons game. The Falcons didn’t play quarterback Matt Ryan and decided to bore their fans to death by running 63 plays up the middle.

Exhibition football, the waste of prime time television and that’s say a lot considering what’s on prime time these days.

4 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: Robo-ump is coming to a park near you. . .soon

  • August 31, 2021 at 10:01 pm
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    Tigers/Twins was free mlb/tv game yesterday so I watched. Was shocked to find out after awhile that monotone color guy was Gibson! He and other guy had comments about the Little League WS since of course Michigan won. Thing is they were very complimentary of how Hamilton West SIde took the loss with grace. (Tigers almost had a Gibson moment in the 9th but 2 guys left on base – so they lost.)
    AND Baez got to be hero today! Was kinda hoping Mets boo birds would have the last word.

    Reply
  • August 31, 2021 at 10:53 pm
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    Sparky was doing the color commentary on tv. When it was said Gibson could hardly walk, Anderson pointed out Gibson was an arm hitter, not a leg hitter.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2021 at 6:04 am
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    Umpire Joyce called the runner safe, not out.
    Many thanks for your excellent articles.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2021 at 8:28 am
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    Re: The Celtics. Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, KC Jones, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey, Kevin McHale and last but least Paul Silas

    Reply

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