The Atlantic League recently installed robot umpires as part of its three-year agreement with Major League Baseball — a pact that has led to a number of other regulatory tweaks as well. Perhaps predictably, it didn’t take long for someone to take exception with the call made by a Trackman system, leading to the person in question being ejected for their reaction.
Frank Viola, a former big-league All-Star and the 1988 AL Cy Young Award winner, is now the pitching coach of the High Point Rockers. He was tossed on July 12 after objecting to the automated strike zone in the first inning of the first game since the robots were placed in charge, per Close Call Sports (hat tip to the Star Tribune). Viola wanted umpire Tim Detweiler to overrule some close calls. Detweiler declined, and things snowballed from there. Here’s a look at the ejection:
Viola later tweeted about the incident:
There were always going to be glitches and disagreements and growing pains with automated strike-calling. Heck, there are probably going to be more issues than folks realize. But no matter where you come down on whether robots should be entrusted with the holiest of concepts, you have to admit it’s funny that a baseball lifer was ejected within an inning of the switch.
After that, you have to feel bad for the Atlantic League players. Many of them are trying to get back into professional ball, and having to serve as guinea pigs isn’t likely to help anyone.