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Cubs' Joe Maddon intrigued by robot umpires to call balls, strikes

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon says he's "vacillating" on the idea of using "robot" umpires to call balls and strikes after a week in which he thought a couple of strike zones were too tight for his pitchers.

"Once again the umpire had a ball [tight] zone," Maddon said after a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday. "That's twice this week we've been victimized by really tight strike zones."

Maddon is intrigued by using technology behind the plate but isn't close to being convinced either way.

"I'm really vacillating on this right now," he said before Saturday's game. "A lot of what's occurring right now, maybe some umpires are umpiring to get a good score just based on how they are being evaluated; whereas, there's a group umpiring the good old-fashioned way, so there's still some inconsistencies with that. I don't know the answer. I'm trying to figure out the answers myself."

The Cubs have often indicated they might be at more of a disadvantage when it comes to inconsistent strike zones due to their discerning eye at the plate, as they led all of baseball in walks last season.

"The ball and strike component, I'm fascinated by it," Maddon continued. "I am, because normally I'm pretty good regarding what I think. I'm going back and forth on this one. I don't know."

Maddon was convinced quickly that replay on the base paths was the right decision, so now he's turned his attention to what the umpires are doing behind the plate.

"I love what's going on, on the bases," he said. "I admit that. In spring training when it wasn't there, you really found out how much you liked it being there.

"This [balls and strikes] is a tough one. You could [go] on and on, around and around. I think we nailed it on the bases, but actually calling balls and strikes, I can't really come up with a solid conclusion even for myself."

Maddon admits there could be a "careful what you wish for" effect if robots began calling balls and strikes, as no one can say right now what the "unintended consequences" would be -- but the veteran manager is open to exploring the notion.

"From a hitter's and pitcher's perspective, all you want to know, what a strike is, consistently," Maddon said. "At the end of the day I'd like to know more about this electronic thing as we move forward."

Related Video
Watch Joe Maddon discuss the idea of an electronic strike zone.
Watch Joe Maddon discuss the idea of an electronic strike zone.
Watch Joe Maddon discuss the idea of an electronic strike zone. Video by Jesse Rogers

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