Royals' Mike Montgomery blasts ump, calls for automated strike zone after 1st career ejection

Torrey HartYahoo Sports Contributor

Kansas City Royals pitcher Mike Montgomery made it nearly five seasons in the majors without drawing an ejection, and when it finally happened Thursday night, he did not mince his words.

Montgomery got ejected in the bottom of the fifth inning of his start against the Minnesota Twins after a heated exchange with home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez, in which Montgomery appeared to swear. He had taken issue with inconsistencies in Gonzalez’s strike zone throughout the game.

The Twins went on to win 8-5, with Montgomery getting the no-decision. After the game, he was very clear about his concerns, calling for an end to home plate umpiring as we know it.

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“I think they need to be objective, and if they can’t be, I hate to say it: we’ve got to go to automated [strike] zones,” he said. “I’ve never been one that wants to advocated for that, but after seeing it, I think it’s definitely something that the league should consider.”

Montgomery added that he felt personally targeted by Gonzalez. “What really just pissed me off is that it was more like he was intentionally trying to screw me over.” he said. “Whether he was or wasn’t, we’ll never know, because they don’t ever have to talk about it.”

Montgomery got ejected after giving up his third home run of the night, this time to Mitch Garver, following a couple of very borderline called balls. Earlier at-bats also had some iffy calls –– but some of those calls went in Montgomery’s favor, as well.

How do automated strike zones work?

The league has famously been testing the use of electronic strike zones in the Atlantic League this year, with mixed results.

The system doesn’t eliminate umpires altogether, however. Instead, the ump still crouches behind the plate, but wears an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket. After a pitch is thrown, the system relays what is communicated to it via the “TrackMan” technology installed behind and above the plate that uses Doppler radar.

Electronic stroke zone technology is yet to be perfected, though. The TrackMan could call a pitch that bounces into the zone a strike, for example, so umpires have the ability to overrule the computer’s call. The live umpire’s view is also required to call check swings.

Because of the setup, there is also somewhat of a delay compared to a human umpire’s call. That delay was somewhat of a source of frustration in the trial run, but pitchers have been pleased that more high strikes have been called.

Mike Montgomery had a rough outing that ended in his first career ejection. (AP Photo)
Mike Montgomery had a rough outing that ended in his first career ejection. (AP Photo)

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