You Gotta Have (a) Heart!

Watching sports as fans & players, one realizes that emotions are a part of the game. Sometimes, it calls for a “high” emotional charge and others a poised, calm approach. The emotions are just part of the “make up” of every sporting game/match.  You GOTTA HAVE HEART in each game.

…Currently the MLB is considering a robotic umpire for balls/strikes.  This seems appealing after the emotional miscue of the HP umpire in the Cards most recent game. In case you missed, Nolan Arenado was called for strike 3 on a half-swing.  Mgr Oliver Marmol argued the point. Marmol was particularly incensed when the umpire was smiling as Marmol was arguing in his face. Emotions ran high on both sides.  When Marmol was ejected and the replay showed that Arendao probably didn’t swing, criticism skyrocketed. Calls to go to the robotic umpire rang out. It’s going to happen (probably soon) but baseball (already a rather non-emotional sport) will become even more placid and detached from the fans …who are human😊

…There are many factors to consider with the removal of the HP umpire. How much longer until the base umpires are replaced. Then…in a few decades, will there be robotic players? Would that be fun? I don’t think so… YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART with real people.  People who excel in their sport but still, and always will, make mistakes. Same for the umpires. Many of us enjoy when the managers argue. I understand that’s part of the game…but regular arguing over balls/strikes by MLB managers seems amateurish to me. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of that in the Lou.

…Let’s assume that the umpire DID make a mistake.  Announcers, fans, players SEEM to expect perfection. Well….baseball (and all sports) is a game of mistakes.  How many times does a pitcher make a mistake?  Throwing it right down the middle, throwing a breaking ball the doesn’t break much or at all, or not hitting the intended target of the pitch. These are MISTAKES! The highly select pitchers make the fewest mistakes. I would guess that a MLB pitcher actually throws MORE pitchers that are mistakes than he the pitches that actually are GOOD pitches.  The MLB is loaded with mistakes! 

….What percent of the 100 pitches (that seems to be the max for 6-4, 200 pound athletes in their prime these days) are really “good pitches”?  Already the Cubs are working on the next step. They have an extremely futuristic pitching machine(a robot) that not only replicates the velocity, spin, *and* arm slot of any pitcher you input, but it also projects an image of the opposing pitcher right onto the robot, itself, to really round out the experience. It could be used to replicate other pitchers to better prepare the batter. “It’s unbelievable,” one Cubs official said Thus far, the Cubs are the only NL Central team with access to this tech but 7 other teams have placed orders. Btw… I don’t know how successful it is for the Cubs, they are 15th in OPS in the MLB, 18th in batting average.

….Side issue… why is 100 pitches as the “you’re coming out” mark for MLB pitchers these days? It’s  the magic # for EVERY single pitcher. Does a 23 year old have the exact same stamina as a 35 year old? Come on…Adam Wainwright’s total matches a young 20ish old pitcher in the prime of their lives? Who decided that 100 was the magic number for every single MLB pitcher? But…I digress….

….Mistakes aren’t monopolized by pitchers!  Batters also have multiple mistakes. Every swing/miss, many foul balls, softly hit balls are mistakes by the batter. NOT swinging at good pitches is a mistake! Even their success rate (getting hits) as dropped to a league average of .243.  That means their 757 failures vs 243 successes for the batter. It’s becoming a real rarity to see .300 batters. But…why are the Cardinals winning now….some of their batters are getting on base with hits (Noot, Donovan, hopefully Edman).

…Defensive miscues (errors) are far fewer but still there has been 1,971 errors in this season across the league. Throwing to the wrong base, misplaying the bounce of the wall, missing the “cut off” man aren’t even considered in those stats but THEY ARE MISTAKES.

…The “box” of the strike zone shown on our TV’s adds to the complication. Often, pitches are shown a fraction of an inch outside the zone & its called a strike. Announcers often make subtle statements about the strike zone when THEIR pitcher doesn’t get the call. The ACTUAL strike zone is 3 dimensional, the “box” shown as the strike zone on TV is just 1 small part of the strike zone.

…Most of the MLB’s pitches have movement. The good pitches are moving as the cross the plate. Any part of the ball over any part of the plate is a strike.  Frankly, the tiny strike zone of some umpires is a factor in leading to these marathon games. And…it doesn’t seem to be benefitting the batters either!

…Currently Pat Hoberg  is rated as the top MLB umpire. The 35-year-old is the highest-rated home-plate umpire, enjoying a 96.1% accuracy rate on his balls and strikes calls, according to Umpire Scorecards.

….Baseball isn’t unique, all sports, are full of miscues. It’s just part of the game. It elevates our engagement in the game. We get frustrated with our “team” and rejoice when the opponents commit a boo-boo. The human nature of the athletes leads us down the path of mistakes… for everyone! So, why do we expect the officials to be perfect?…YOU GOTTA HAVE A HEART… you must have emotions…the up & downs in a game. Our emotions are touched by great plays and mistakes. Some think that just because an athlete (who’s really an entertainer) commits a mistake, that he should be released. Well…he will be “cut”, traded, released if he continues to do it often but since he’s human…he will make mistakes.

….Fans “identify” with one team or the other—they are emotionally attached to the team…to the player or players on their team!  We were thrilled when our “guy” hit a game winning HR, made a terrific play in the field, had a clean hit. If a person isn’t emotionally attached, generally, they aren’t real avid sports fan.

…Using robots as umpires will a 1st step in removing much of the emotion from the game. Fans come to games BECAUSE it does touch their emotions. Would you go to a game to watch robots play?  So… why would we want to watch a robot umpire? Sooo…once we have robotic umpires..then it’ll be robotic pitchers,…then, further down the road…robotic batters & fielders far behind? If so, they’ll need robotic fans to fill the stadium.

….Umpires & officials are humans also. (In case you didn’t notice).  The vast majority of their decisions are proven to be correct by the use of slow-motion, stop action replays. Mistakes do occur-it’s part of the game.

…Thanks for your read!  You’ve GOTTA HAVE A HEART to read sports blogs 😊 No robots are reading my blog yet. You can find my other blogs (going back 7 years now) on  If you  (but not you robot) care to react, you may either put it directly on my Facebook page (Bob Ryan) or send it to me & I’ll do it for you.  Bob  (not robotic Bob 😊)