After trial runs in the independent Atlantic League and the Low-A Southwest League, robot umpires are moving up to Triple-A in 2022. That comes via the Associated Press, which reported Thursday that Major League Baseball is pressing forward with the initiative by posting a hiring notice seeking seasonal employees to operate the Automated Ball-Strike system in multiple locations.
Teams involved in this initial technology expansion include the Albuquerque Isotopes, Charlotte Knights, El Paso Chihuahuas, Las Vegas Aviators, Oklahoma City Dodgers, Reno Aces, Round Rock Express, Sacramento River Cats, Salt Lake Bees, Sugar Land Space Cowboys née Skeeters, and Tacoma Rainiers. Surely it’s just a coincidence that nearly all of these cities are located in the West just as one of the league’s most notorious arbiters of balls and strikes, Joe West, has mercifully retired.
There is no set timeline for when robo-umps could be seen at Wrigley, but the MLB Umpires Association did acknowledge the inevitability of the future in the labor contract it agreed to in 2020. Not like they’d have much of a choice, since the owners would just lock them out preemptively if they didn’t like being replaced.