Robot Umpire Audition Evaluation Notes

Replaceable with a robot? Perhaps. - USA TODAY Sports

Based on continuing fallibility of human umpires, MLB decides to try to find out if robots could do any better and a secret open audition is held at extended spring training in Surprise, Arizona. Here are notes from one MLB evaluator, obtained through means better left undisclosed.

Memo

To: Joe Torre
Re: Notes from MLB Open Robot Umpire Auditions:

A wide variety of robots of all types showed up for the open audition. All of them exhibited at least one problem which left them unsuitable to be a Major League umpire except R Daneel Olivaw, whose strike zone was dead perfect. Unfortunately, he looks so human that nobody would believe that he is a robot. Notes on other robots follow:

Marvin the Paranoid Android: kept complaining about a pain in the diodes on his left side and that the task was not challenging enough for his brain. Strike zone was good, but temperament was a problem, as batters left the box requiring follow-up counseling and a strict regimen of anti-depressants. Verdict: unsuitable.

C3PO & R2D2: By himself, C3PO kept asking batters whether they needed him to translate into any one of the billions of languages he knew. Was easily intimidated by muscular batters and prone to change calls when confronted. Disturbingly effeminate in manner. Good strike zone, though. R2D2 required translation from C3PO. Unable to make all hand signals. Had a bit of temper - provided electrical shocks more than once to argumentative batter. Verdict: unsuitable.

Commander Data: Perfect strike zone. Temperament problems, though. Unable to understand why humans with inferior senses would argue his calls and threw out every batter who questioned a call based on an extremely strict interpretation of the rules. Verdict: unsuitable.

Lore: Evil, malicious, manipulative and power hungry. Temperamentally appropriate, but not interested in the actual game action at all.

Roomba: Perfect marks for cleaning home plate. Unable to fulfill any other necessary function. Verdict: unsuitable.

DJ Roomba: Great tunes, really got the party started. Great for between innings, but otherwise unsuitable

Tom Servo: Kept mocking batters and pitchers. Difficulty maintaining strike zone integrity due to size. Unable to signal strikes properly due to inarticulate limbs. Heckled crowd as well. Verdict: unsuitable.

Crow T Robot: Like Tom Servo, kept mocking batters, pitchers and crowd. Able to signal strikes, and maintained good strike zone through about three innings, after which he lost focus on the task at hand and was distracted by shiny objects. Verdict: unsuitable.

Fembots: Waaaaay too distracting. This isn't the Lingerie Football League. Verdict: unsuitable.

Robot: Came highly recommended by the Robinson family but showed an unhealthy fear of the thrown ball, screaming "Danger, batter! Danger, batter!" on each pitch while waving flailing robotic arms madly. Verdict: unsuitable.

Bender: Complete and total wreck. Unsuitable in every possible manner.

Wall-E: Unable to argue with batters who contested calls. Kept collecting objects which blew on the field. Verdict: unsuitable.

Dr. Theopolis and Twiki: Despite Dr. Theopolis' perfect strike zone, batters were totally unable to take Twiki, his host, seriously and often smirked at his stupid catchphrases and attempts to be "cool." Verdict: unsuitable.

Conky 2000: only function appears to be giving out the "secret word." Uninterested in any other function. Verdict: unsuitable.

Rock' Em Sock' Em Robots: Attempted to "knock the block off" every batter. Epic Fail.

Fox Sports Robot: Only functionality appears to be doing a stupid dance to the same piece of music, which it wanted played after every pitch. Verdict: unsuitable.

Energizer Bunny: Kept going and going, even in between innings. Unable to hold still long enough to establish plate position. Verdict: unsuitable.

Summary: No suitable robot umpire is yet available.

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