Robby defends umpires

By Jane Lee
Updated: October 11, 2010

NEW YORK — In the midst of much debate surrounding umpiring and instant replay, MLB senior vice president and Hall of Fame player and former manager Frank Robinson came to the strong defense of umpires in an interview with FOXSports.com on Sunday.

Robinson, whose duties include the overseeing of umpires, told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that crews are not missing any more calls than they did in the past, that umpiring has “definitely improved.” The difference today, he said, is a direct cause of what he deemed the “electronic era.”

“Have they missed calls? Of course they’ve missed calls,” Robinson said. “But overall, I think they’re doing a fine job.

“What people don’t understand is that this is a different era now. This is strictly an electronic era that shows every little wrinkle, every little mistake. The margin of a mistake is minute. And they still complain about the call being missed.”

Robinson expressed an affinity for the human element of the game, leaving little doubt where he stands on the expansion of instant replay.

“People are complaining about the strike zone, every little thing about the strike zone,” he said. “You’re going to have to replace [the umpires] behind home plate with an electronic field.”

“You don’t need the guys in the outfield or on the bases because you can go to replay. If you’re going to do that, totally go to replay, then let the cameras call the game.”

Networks, Robinson contended, are in a way allowing everyone — fans, players and coaches included — to play the role of ump thanks to a never-ending dose of replays.

“When umpires look at a play, they’re looking at it in real time,” he said. “And they’re human beings. And they don’t have the advantage of saying, ‘Time. Let me think about this.”

“Yeah, it looked like he was out.’ They don’t have that. They have to call it now. They call it the way you see it and the way they think it is, and that’s it. In the meantime, the networks are showing it and showing it and showing it.

They freeze it.

“This is a game that is not pure. The players are not pure and 100 percent correct. Managing isn’t. Coaching isn’t. Fielding isn’t. It’s a game of inches. It’s a game of mistakes. It’s a game of who comes out on top in the end.”

“The better team in the end will come out on top.”