The Tampa Bay Rays had a chance to tie or take the lead over the Yankees but the home plate umpire called the most ridiculous strike of the season.
Are robot umpires an inevitability in baseball? On one hand, losing the “human element” could be a bummer. On the other hand, the human umpires have a way of making the greatest argument against their involvement at the plate.
On Saturday it was home plate umpire Sean Barber who made the case for the robots.
In the top of the eighth, the Rays trailed the Yankees 9-8 but they had a man on second base with Yandy Diaz on a full count. NY pitcher Clay Holmes sent a pitch about a foot outside the strike zone and Diaz prepared to take his place at first. Except he couldn’t, because Barber called a ludicrous strike.
Diaz officially struck out looking and the top of the inning ended with the score still 9-8 in favor of New York.
Rays got caught in the Ump Show against the Yankees
To be fair, the Rays may not have done anything with two men on. For all we know, Wander Franco may have come to the plate and grounded out to shortstop to end it. That was what he did when he came up in the top of the ninth.
The outcome of the game may have been unchanged. That’s not really the point though, because Tampa Bay also could have had a million other outcomes from Franco’s at-bat if he’d gotten one.
The point is that umpires are called on to get balls and strikes calls right. If some feel fuzzy on the edge of the strikezone that’s one thing. But a ball that far off the plate shouldn’t ever result in a punchout.
All baseball fans want is for the officials to get things right. And if the robots do that better, so be it.