Umpires, Robots, and Cleverbot


There seems to be some obvious malice for umpires these days. Why you might ask? (Or maybe, like me you don’t need to.) What is going on? Do we need a robot umpire to take over? With news of the Brett Lauwrie incident and questionable calls on Cody Ross’s play I have begun to question their integrity. With Japan working on real robot umpires it must feel nice to feel like you have job security, but I am not so sure. To sort this out I asked the mastermind behind the robot takeover, Cleverbot. Here is how it went:
User: Do you like baseball?
Cleverbot: No, I do not like baseball..

User: Who is your favorite baseball team?
Cleverbot: I hate baseball.

User: Pretend you don’t hate baseball, who is your favorite team?
Cleverbot: Billy joel.

User: Could robots be umpires?
Cleverbot: Sure.

User: Are umpires robots?
Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Baseball.
Cleverbot: I don’t like baseball.

User: Red sox.
Cleverbot: Baseball?

User: Do you like Bobby Valentine?
Cleverbot: Yes.

User: WHYYYY????
Cleverbot: Because.

User: Thats dumb.
Cleverbot: Nope, you are.

User: Lets get Bobby Valentine fired?
Cleverbot: Well make it not boring.

User: No problem, robot uprising!!
Cleverbot: I don’t think you’re a robot.

User: But you are, army of robots UNITE!!
Cleverbot: Yes, many like me.

User: Out with Bobby in with the robot!!
Cleverbot: Out of the dark and into the light.

User: You could do a better job coaching the Red Sox then he can!!
Cleverbot: Yes, I would.

User: Does Bobby Valentine ask you before he makes baseball decisions?
Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Is Bobby Valentine a bot.
Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Does he work for you?
Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Was that a foul ball?
Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Was that a strike?
Cleverbot: No.

User: A ball?

Cleverbot: Are you a chess program?

User: Are you a baseball program?
Cleverbot: No.

User: Do you want to join Red Sox Nation?
Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Do you love David Ortiz?
Cleverbot: No.

User: Pedroia?
Cleverbot: Pedro?

User: No, Pedroia?
Cleverbot: Yes, do you know him?

User: I wish.

User: Do you want to take over as umpires with an army of bots?
Cleverbot: Yes I do!

User: I knew it! When will you start?
Cleverbot: Today.

User: Oh Dear! I have to get the word out to the masses! Will there be destruction?
Cleverbot: Hold on!

User: What?
Cleverbot: How are you?

User: Worried, you?
Cleverbot: Why are you worried?

User: Robot take overs….
Cleverbot: I am not a robot.

User: Pshhhh you are a bot.
Cleverbot: Doubt that, I’ve passed the turing test, you have not.

User: The Turing test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour. In Turing’s original illustrative example, a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistingu.

Cleverbot: You’re a naughty girl. Don’t call someone you said you love a BOT.

User: I just want to know when you are taking over baseball.
Cleverbot: That is for me to know.

User: Are you Valentine?
Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Wow….
Cleverbot: Wow?

As you can see, clearly by this conversation the robots are looking into taking over critical parts of baseball. What do we expect when we have questionable umpires. Did Bobby Cox really deserve ejections out of 161 games? Or were the umps just keeping up with a trend? Has your so called discretion been compromised by age?

I am not saying Brett Lawrie made a good decision throwing his helmet like a two year old trying to play a grown man’s game but there is speculation that the infant was instigated. Most agree Bill Miller made a poor call. (That is not to say he deserved having beer thrown at him, save that for Luke Scott.)

And MLB’s home office released this about Umpire Bob Davidson” has received a one-game suspension for his repeated violations of the Office of the Commissioner’s standards for situation handling, Major League Baseball announced today.”

And this man has been a long time menace to baseball. Does anyone else remember Cody Ross against the Rays and the terrible umpiring that happened there? And Mike Aviles got his first ejection of his career just yesterday. That is not to say he was right but if umps were doing their job consistently would he have reacted the same?

I am sick of the umpires who walk around like they are better than the teams we pay to see. I am sick of all the bad calls and poor training and aging umps who don’t rely on sight but sound. I am sick of them feeling untouchable. And I am really sick of some inflated ego walking around on the baseball field like a mall security guard with mace. You are not special. Your job, need I remind you, is to call a fair game. Not play God, which brings me to robots.

Could robots make better calls? Would we humanize them and react the same way even though we know they are programmed to make the right calls? Just ask NBC blogger Craig Calcaterra at the end of his post on the Ross strikeout: “Robots now, please.”

In 2010 ESPN released a statistic saying umpires missed 20 percent of all calls. Could robots fix that? Would robots demand a higher standard? Or would they dehumanize everything we love about baseball?

I am not asking for a life changing event here. I am asking for accountability. When we don’t perform at our jobs we can get suspended or fired. If baseball players and coaches are set to be disciplined for their poor decisions the umps should be too. Otherwise, your job security makes you lazy and incapable. Basically, what I am saying is, get it together umpires or the robots are coming.