Whenever a baseball player calls for robot umps, you can be sure of one thing: a blatantly obvious missed call that changed the complexion of an at-bat or even the entire game.
On Sunday, that player was Ke’Bryan Hayes, third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hayes was batting in the top of the eighth inning, facing Braves pitcher A.J. Minter with the bases empty. The Pirates were down 5-2 after giving up four runs in the previous inning, and were trying to cut that deficit before they ran out of time. With a 3-1 count, Hayes waited for the next pitch. What he saw was a ball. What he heard from home plate umpire Bill Miller was a strike.
Hayes posted his personal reaction to the call on social media after the game along with a screenshot of where the ball was when it was called a strike. He pleaded for MLB to install ABS, or automatic balls and strikes (which is currently being tested in Triple-A), as soon as possible.
A fan of Hayes posted a video of the call, and it’s somehow worse when watched in real time.
It’s rare for a baseball player to call out an umpire at all. But it was a bad call, and it did change the at-bat significantly. Hayes went from a 3-1 count, looking for a strike since the pitcher wouldn’t want to hand out a walk, to 3-2, when the pitcher feels more freedom to throw outside the strike zone to deceive the hitter.
Hayes ended up striking out in that at-bat, and the Pirates went on to lose. Miller didn’t cause that to happen (the Pirates don’t typically need any outside help to do that), but he did make it a little harder for them to win.
But in the future, when the robot overlords come to take over baseball and rule it with their uncompromising computer logic, that missed call is why Hayes will be welcoming them with open arms.