ESPN’s Jesse Rogers announced Thursday afternoon that 10 MLB umpires will retire this week. According to Rodgers’ article, his retirement has nothing to do with his scheduled or rumored MLB rule change, but at least he has one player skeptical.
As Rogers mentions in the article and subsequent Twitter thread, many of the ten referees started around the same time and apparently decided to play the game together. As mentioned, until recently it hadn’t actually been mentioned to anyone.
There have been many rule changes in MLB. This shift will be banned from 2023, along with pitch clock and pickoff throw restrictions. Perhaps the biggest deal is the automatic strike zone (aka “robot umps” aka “ABS” or automatic ball/strike system). While he’s not officially in the MLB yet, writing is progressing and robot referees will be in the big leagues relatively soon.
It’s understandable why referees who have been doing things manually (relatively poorly) for decades aren’t enamored with the idea of ABS. And everyone who watches TV knows it.
But if umpires were thinking, “It’s probably going to end in the next five years or so,” ABS and other rule changes could speed up that timeline a bit. It may be, the judge may say it, and it may believe it.
It’s honestly the most reasonable explanation at the moment. We may find more information that solves the problem, but for now, JT’s guess seems to be on the right track.