Baseball is a game of tradition. It’s a game where tradition often trumps practicality, convenience and in many cases technology. Technology is having an impact on all sports in a variety of different ways. For the player, technology is improving to create lighter and higher performance equipment. Look at baseball bats for example which have become lighter over the years while carrying more explosive ‘pop’. Shoes have become lighter and more flexible to allow athletes to run faster. Technology has improved player safety, providing better protective gear. Technology has allowed players to receive better medical treatment where doctors no longer need to guess what might be wrong. And finally, technology has allowed officials to make sure they are making the right call. Some sports have embraced it, such as tennis, while others, like baseball have done everything they can to avoid it.
Let’s consider that two different leagues exist within Major League Baseball known as the National League and the American League. What was originally two separate leagues, eventually merged to create Major League Baseball however, the differences in rules between the two leagues remained unchanged. The American League for example has a designated hitter who hits for the pitcher while the National League makes it mandatory for pitchers to hit. Would it not be easier to conform to one set of rules? Even the strike zones are different among the leagues.
Oddly enough even softball, has two separate associations which govern co-ed leagues and competitive leagues alike.
Because the tradition of American’s favorite pastime is so strong, what seems like a simple change is actually extremely challenging. So as you can imagine, the thought of taking away the umpire and replacing the umpire with a sensor whom is never wrong, is an idea which will get you kicked out of some circles among baseball.
In 2010, Armando Gallaraga pitched an almost perfect game. He had recorded 26 outs and was one away from recording what is a very rare occurrence in baseball. As the 27th batter grounded to first base, the runner was clearly a step behind the ball meaning he should have been called “out,” and Gallaraga would be recorded and go down in history with a perfect game. Instead, the umpire made a mistake and instead called the runner safe, essentially ruining the perfect game. Was the technology there to prevent it? Yes. Was it used? No. Why? Tradition.
How many more perfect games, home runs, and plays at the plate need to be called incorrectly before Major League Baseball decides to replace umpires with technology? Today, even balls and strikes can be called by technology which would in my opinion make the game a better overall product. It’s time for baseball to join the technology age and use what’s available to enhance what is already a beautiful game.