Baseball fans have long debated the pros and cons of eliminating human judgment—and error—by implementing software-fueled robot umpires. But could such a radical change ever really come to fruition?
Manfred said the league has "worked very hard" on the PITCHf/x ball/strike tracking system.
"I think we are much closer than we were a year ago to having the technological capability to actually call the strike zone," Manfred said. "The accuracy is way up—way better than what it was a year ago. The technology continues to move...and it actually moved a little faster than I might have thought."
"There remains a fundamental question the owners are going to have to address," Manfred said of robot umps. "When you take away the home-plate umpire's control over the strike zone, you take away a principal piece of his authority in terms of managing the whole game...we haven't had a lot of conversations with (the umpires) on this topic, but I do think there is a serious management-of-the-game issue you'd have to think about with respect to that change."
Manfred also said the league has considered modifying its baseballs to restrict the usage of pine tar.
"Over the long haul, I do think the idea of a baseball that is tackier and eliminates any human variation—whether it's the way it's mudded, the use of tar, whatever—would be a positive for the game," he said.
Read the full interview here.