MLB umpires are looking worse with each passing year, and players and fans alike are getting seriously frustrated. After a series of questionable calls, some of which could be considered erratic, early on this season, one thing is becoming clear; the league has a serious problem with its officiating.
Below is just one example of how bad officiating has been in baseball this season. In the top of the sixth inning, Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner threw a fastball that was way out of the zone. It was called ruled as strike three, sitting down Rockies star Nolan Arenado, and ending the inning with a man on third base.
Nolan Arenado wasn’t happy after this pitch was called a strike pic.twitter.com/m7AhxuG6qO— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) April 13, 2019
It was a game-changing call that could've led to a pivotal at-bat. Arenado was surprisingly not tossed from the game after throwing a tantrum following the strike-three call, suggesting the home-plate umpire knew he was in the wrong.
Another incident arose at the conclusion of the Chicago Cubs game on Saturday. Kyle Schwarber was ejected after striking out on a check-swing to end the game. Once again, there were runners in scoring position in a close-knit ball game.
Kyle Schwarber is every Cubs fan who watched the ending to this game live pic.twitter.com/SHdXHqnyQm— Dan Schmuldt (@DanSchmuldt) April 13, 2019
After reviewing the play, it becomes clear that Schwarber checked his swing in time, but the third base umpire didn't see it that way and called the game, much to the dismay of the Cubs' young slugger.
These incidents, along with the handful of other notable mistakes made early in the season, show why the league needs to seriously consider having an automated umpire. Fans at home are treated to seeing the entire strike zone as a graphic, so it's become increasingly apparent when an umpire calls a strike on a pitch outside the zone.
Just ask fans what they think of Ron Kulpa, who went on a power trip during the Houston Astros game against the Rangers in early April.
It's commonplace for umpires to make mistakes, it's part of the game. But this year in particular, umpires have made several inaccurate calls on critical plays, making the case for automated strike zones the obvious solution. Maybe it's time for MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred to look into the situation a bit deeper.