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Home plate umpire Lanny Vanover got on the wrong side of Chicago White Sox fans Sunday afternoon — so much so that one supporter yelled the lowest of blows at him.
Vanover, like most veteran umpires, has a profile. In this case, he’s stuck in his ways for a reason. Eventually, like a Terminator movie, the machines are coming for Vanover and the rest of MLB’s finest behind the plate.
MLB is already testing so-called robot umpires in the minors — otherwise known as an electronic strike zone — and it could limit the number of professional umps in the near future. Heck, there’s already a shortage at some lower levels due to fan abuse.
This won’t help matters.
One White Sox fan yelled the most brutal of insults at Vanover, spitting a sad dose of reality regarding the state of baseball:
“That’s why we’re gonna replace you with machines!” Woof.
White Sox: When will MLB umpires be replaced by machines?
There will always be jobs for human umpires and scorers in MLB, their job description will likely change. Rather than judging the strike zone on every pitch, human umpires may stay around in case of electronic strike zone malfunction, for example, or replay review. Sometimes, the human element must be taken into account.
Nonetheless, even if fans won’t admit it, they will miss the jostling and personality that goes into human umpires and the arguments that go along with them.