He didn’t actually use those words, but I kinda wish he did because I have a lot of fun with the “robot umps now” thing on Twitter. But Brenly does tell Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he thinks the game is too fast, the technology is too good and the calls are too important for baseball to put up with continuing to miss them:
“We’ve got a QuesTec system or whatever they call it now (Pitch-f/x) that’s foolproof. You’re going to get every pitch correct. … I just think in any sport, especially this sport, any time you can eliminate mistakes, whether it’s with technology or different positioning or whatever you can do, I think we owe it to the game to do it.”
…The way Brenly sees it, using the technology available shouldn’t slow the game down. In fact, it might speed things up.
“We sit up in the booth every night and a play happens, and within 15 seconds we know whether it was right or wrong,” he said.
I think he’s right generally. My understanding of QuesTec and similar technology, however, is that it’s not instantaneous and that, as such, you couldn’t exactly go to robot ball and strikes calls now unless you feel like waiting several seconds to hear what each pitch was.
But he’s not wrong about the direction of technology and that fact that we can get most of the calls right now if we wanted to. Baseball just doesn’t want to.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.