Whether you love or hate the introduction of technology into sports, it continues its march – including the use of instant replay and robotic umpires.
Not much can be done to change that, but now the High Point Rockers, and the Atlantic League, are attempting to at least humanize the ball-and-strike-calling robot that’s been edging its way into baseball. The Rockers are seeking help naming the “ABS Radar Panel” – or robo umpire – at the new downtown High Point ballpark.
The request for names for the city’s automated arbiter of balls and strikes is part of a broader move by the Atlantic League, which is encouraging fans at all of its stadiums to help come up with names.
According to a Monday, Jan. 27 press release from the league and the Rockers, “If ‘Robo Umps’ are going to continue calling balls and strikes, they need to be ready to hear the good and the bad from the fans, just like their human counterparts. And for that, they’re going to need names.”
Christian Heimall, the High Point Rockers’ assistant general manager, said the use of robo umps was “one of the biggest talking points of 2019 and certainly will be again this year.”
He added: “However, it did get a little tiresome constantly saying ‘Automated Ball-Strike,’ or having fans not know what ABS was. This will hopefully be a fun way for our fans to be a part of one of the most widely-discussed topics in baseball.”
Last year, the Atlantic League began using the robo umps to electronically determine balls and strikes and then relay the calls to umpires wearing earpieces. The human’s have the right to overrule a call.
Major League Baseball has announced that it will test electronic umps in spring training games this year.
Beginning next Monday, Feb. 3, Rockers fans can submit their suggestions using the hashtag #HighPointABS on social media. Fans can do so on Twitter (@RockersBaseball), Instagram (@highpointrockers), or on Facebook (@HighPointBaseball).
All Atlantic League teams will announce the winning names on Valentine’s Day, February 14.
Rockers staff is reminding everyone to keep the names “family-friendly,” even though sometimes fans don’t like the calls made by umpires, be they human or robot.
The Atlantic League’s next season – it’s 23rd – kicks off on Thursday, April 30, when the Rockers host the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs at 7 p.m. Season tickets and group outing tickets are currently on sale. Those interested should call 336-888-1000 or visit www.HighPointRockers.com.