MLB: No more robot home plate umpires in 2025 News, Sports, Jobs



Home plate umpire Brian DeBrouville, left, huddles over York Revolution catcher James D. Behind Skelton, the referee is wearing a headset. The independent Atlantic League became the first MLB league to have computers call pitches and strikes during the All-Star Game. (AP file photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball says robot home plate umpires are unlikely in 2025.

“We still have some technical issues” Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday at a news conference after the owners meeting. “We haven't made as much progress this year in the minor leagues as we would have liked at this point. I think it's increasingly likely that this is no longer an option in '25.

MLB has been experimenting with automated batting systems in the minor leagues since 2019. Use robots and leave humans in charge of the final three challenge systems.

“There's a growing consensus, based largely on what we're hearing from players, that if we take this to the major leagues, the challenge format should be an ABS format, at least as a starting point,” Manfred said. “I think it's a good decision.”

After establishing a pitching clock in 2023, MLB has slowed innovation this year, making only minor adjustments to the rules.

“One thing we did learn from the changes we went through last year: taking the extra time to make sure you get it right is absolutely the best approach.” Manfred said. “I think we're going to use the same approach here.”

Manfred said there have been no discussions with the players association about the shape of the automatic strike zone. Almost no one wants to call the strike zone as defined in the rule book a cube. ABS currently determines a hit based only on where the ball crosses the center of home plate (8.5 inches in front and behind).

“We haven't started those conversations yet because we haven't finalized our ideas yet,” Manfred said.

MLB's meetings with players indicate a preference for a challenge system to continue motivating catchers' catching skills.

“Initially we thought if you could get it right every time, everyone would wholeheartedly support the idea and it would be a great idea,” Manfred said. “One of the things we learned in these meetings was that players felt that if you used it across the board, it might have other effects on the game that would be negative.

“Players feel, if you'll allow me to use that word, that the catcher is part of the art of the game, and if in fact catching the ball is no longer important, that's probably what the players who occupy that position will be.” Today is different,” Manfred said. “You could assume a world where the receiver position is no longer a defensive-focused receiver, but a more offensive player. That changes people's careers. These are real, legitimate concerns, and we're at You need to think thoroughly before jumping off this bridge.

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uniform

John Slusher, Nike's executive vice president of global sports marketing, told owners about the company's widely criticized new uniforms, which will be revamped in 2025. , there will be a larger font on the back of the jersey, and starting in 2025, all players will be able to enjoy personalized pants customization services.

“I think they appropriately took responsibility for the new uniforms and the rollout of those uniforms,” Manfred said. “This is the first time owners have heard this directly from Nike. They have been consistent with me in taking responsibility.

Manfred says Nike says it will resolve “The letters, the non-tailored pants, the sweat and the gray mismatch.”

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world baseball classic

Manfred said Houston, Miami, San Juan and Tokyo will be the sites for the 2026 World Baseball Classic. The final will be held in Miami for the second consecutive time after 2023.

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baseball

MLB has turned its efforts to developing stickier baseballs and is now working with Rawlings, its supplier since 1977. (Dow Chemical).

“Uncle Tao was a little crying,” Manfred said. “They spent a lot of money working with us. They were great partners and had a lot of great ideas, but we just couldn't come up with a playable ball. We're now focused on playing a tacky game with the Rollins guys ball.

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regional television strategy

Major League Baseball is developing a broadcast strategy to combat the decline of cable television.

Diamond Sports, which has been in bankruptcy proceedings since March 2023, owns the rights to 12 MLB teams.

“If I were a betting man, I think Diamond would continue to operate and pay our team throughout the '24 season,” Manfred said.

Manfred said there are two questions: whether MLB should take control of local rights from clubs, and if that happens, how to distribute the revenue to clubs.

“In order for the discussion about nationalization to have any momentum, I think it depends on getting some rights in the relatively short term: 14, 15, 16, 17 clubs and then you go from there,” Manfred said. “I'm not naive enough to believe that tomorrow in two weeks I'll have all 30.”

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Season data

The strikeout rate per team per game is 8.38, down from 8.61 last year, and the major league batting average has also dropped to .240 from 0.248 last season and is expected to hit its lowest level since 1968.

“The strikeout rate is down a little bit. That’s a positive” Manfred said. “The batting average is down a little bit. That's not necessarily a good thing if you're looking for action in the game. But, again, it's a part of the season where you just don't know if it means anything at this point.

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amateur draft

Manfred said the debuts of Baltimore second baseman Jackson Holliday and Pittsburgh pitcher Paul Skenes are receiving attention in part because of the decision to combine the amateur draft with the All-Star Game starting in 2021 and play in Minor league games are televised on MLB.tv.

“In the long term, this is a real step forward for players to develop their personal brands,” He said.

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All-Star Game/Politics

Major League Baseball moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver due to stricter voting rights laws in Georgia, and in November awarded the rights to host the 2025 All-Star Game to Truist Park. “One thing we've learned over time is that the more we distance ourselves from political issues, the better off we are,” Manfred said. “People like to separate sports from politics. We have a fan base across the political spectrum, and the safest thing for us is to focus on baseball.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB



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