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St. Paul Saints to hold an “umpireless game”

Apr 27, 2013, 12:44 PM EDT

St. Paul Saints logo

The St. Paul Saints are no strangers to creative promotions, but they have may outdone themselves this time. They have scheduled what is being called an “umpireless game” for Saturday, May 11 when they take on the Gary SouthShore Railcats in an exhibition game.

In lieu of umpires, the Saints will have a judge in a robe stand behind the pitcher’s mound to call balls and strikes. Meanwhile, 12 little leaguers will serve as a “jury” to decide if runners are safe or out. Any ties will be broken by the judge on the field. Fans will also be able to take their disputes to a “judge” in the main seating bowl of the stadium. While this has the potential to be the longest game ever, the Saints believe that it will serve as an educational experience.

 “We respect all baseball umpires and believe this promotion will allow our ‘jurors’ and both teams to realize how important they really are to the game,” said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer.  “This is something that has never been attempted before and I think it will make for an interesting and intriguing nine innings of baseball.”

This might be worth going to, if only so you can yell, “Robot judges, now!”

  1. cur68 - Apr 27, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    I would love an umpired game by a the Pitch FX tool and the TV broadcast. All balls and strikes called by the robot and all close plays on the bases reviewed by an ump watching the broadcast.

    • dondada10 - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      It’s doable, Cur. My idea is to keep the umps on the bases, and have the home plate ump hold a small device linked to pitch F/X. The ump would read what the device registers and immediately inform the rest of us.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      The problem with pitch FX is it uses the same height for everybody when the actual strikezone is based on a players height and stance. Plus I personally am not sure about its accuracy anyways.

      • cur68 - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        It might miss high/low but NEVER side to side. What umpire can claim that?

      • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        That’s certainly true but pitchFX isn’t 100% accurate either.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 27, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        The problem with pitch FX is it uses the same height for everybody when the actual strikezone is based on a players height and stance. Plus I personally am not sure about its accuracy anyways.

        It’s not 100%, but as cur mentions, no ump is either. There was one year in Anaheim I think, 08 or 09, where it was really off (can’t remember from one of Tango’s threads on his site). However, the same height for everyone issue can easily be fixed. Each player has a playerid, as listed on fangraphs. For instance, here’s Arod’s link:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1274&position=3B/SS

        Playerid = 1274

        Get each person’s height in a database. Now, instead of exchanging lineup cards with the ump, each team gives the lineup card with corresponding playerid to a system’s analyst, enters it into the computer, presto chango, we now have dynamic strike zones.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 27, 2013 at 2:07 PM

        I realize no umpire is perfect I was never saying otherwise. But ifthey can do that with a player ID that throws my issue right out the window.

      • cur68 - Apr 27, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        One thing about PitchFX’s inaccuracies: they’ll tend to be consistently inaccurate. Unlike an Ump. That’s what batters complain about the most: the variability of the strike zone from an Umpire. If its being called an inch too high or too low, well no problem, you can adapt so long as its consistent. Given the adaptability of software to player height, I really don’t see how the robot’s a step back.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 27, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        I never meant that the robot was a step back altogether. My issue was that shorter batters would always have strikes called on them when they shouldn’t be. A system that always gets a certain call wrong isn’t better. As I said though if they can adjust it per batter then my issue is resolved.

      • moogro - Apr 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        Yes, this can be solved through a database, but even more dynamically and accurately, it could be solved with a corroborating nearly weightless sensor sewn into the knees and the armpits. Ten years ago.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 27, 2013 at 7:33 PM

        @moogro

        Someone more well versed in the rules please correct me, but isn’t the strike zone determined by when you stand? So when you squat into batting position the zone would move if you had sensors on your knees/chest right?

      • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 27, 2013 at 7:55 PM

        The top of the strikezone is determined by his stance when he’s preparing to hit a ball.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 27, 2013 at 10:11 PM

        Gotcha, thanks

    • popgibril - Apr 27, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      Agreed… I watch baseball to enjoy the players’ performances and to a lesser extent the managers’ performances. The job of officiating the game should be done in the background by whoever or whatever gets it right (factoring in time and flow of the game)…

  2. Old Gator - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    I hope this works really, really well. We all do. We all want revenge.

  3. historiophiliac - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Yes, what baseball needs is more lawyers… That’s gotta be one of the dumbest promotions ever (not involving refrigerated dog food).

    • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      Its Independent league baseball. Anything to get people in the seats.

      • Old Gator - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        You would think that one dollar hot dog night would have been enough by itself.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        What’s wrong with Thirsty Thursdays?

      • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:52 PM

        They could always go back to 0.25 cent beer night but that usually ends with disasterous results.

  4. sportsnut101 - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Just have fan call balls n strikes save the. Umpire fee

  5. flamethrower101 - Apr 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    If any MLB official ever kicked this idea around Bud Selig would have them banished from baseball, like Judge Landis did in his time, only Landis knew what the hell he was doing.

  6. djpostl - Apr 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Even with each play being reviewed by a jury it’ll move quicker than a Yankees – Red Sox game.

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