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Power to the People

Orioles and Pirates play bottom of ninth with no umpires, just vibes

Spring Training is well under way and as anyone not stationed on a remote off-planet mining colony that's still subject to MLB.TV blackouts will tell you, it’s been whacky. The introduction of the pitch clock has led to chaos and consternation by the portions of the fanbase that smell like mothballs. The injury bug has hit hard and, oh yeah, this little thing called the shift—known as “defense” to many for the past decade—is now illegal.

Needless to say, things have been *interesting* (the way your mom says the word when she hates something but is trying to be nice), and they got even more *interesting* on Monday when the Orioles and the Pirates, in a game that was officially over after the top of the ninth, decided to play on without umps purely for the vibes. Witness the future-past as it happened.

This is what baseball 150 years ago looked like. The catchers called the balls and strikes. The guys worked out their differences amongst themselves. Everybody went home happy, albeit with a few more bumps and bruises. Ironically enough, it’s also what baseball will look like 15 years from now, when robo-umps will patrol automated strike zones with their gleaming iron fists. In both scenarios, separated by nearly two centuries of human evolution, umpires are expendable. That should say pretty much everything that needs to be said on the subject.

As for the game itself, the Pirates still won 7-4, but at least the fans in the stands got an extra half-inning's worth of sunburn for their money and we finally got to see baseball as it was meant to be played:

No rules, just right, Outback Steakhouse.