Baseball Umpires and Accountants Face Similar Difficulties. One Now Has a Solution
Professional baseball umpires and accountants both face intense pressure to ensure accuracy on a consistent basis. They can, with the right technologies.
Apr 18, 2019 | By John Siegel
The business of baseball is booming, but with the new Major League Baseball season just a few weeks old, more fans than ever are starting to pay attention to a glaring issue the league has no answer for.
After analyzing more than four million pitches over the course of 11 seasons, graduate students from Boston University reported that umpires made 34,294 incorrect ball and strike calls — in 2018 alone. That amounts to an average of 14 blown calls per game and 1.6 missed calls per inning.
While umpires can turn to their detractors, order their removal, and tell them “I can do anything I want,” baseball’s officiating woes will, ultimately, be solved — or at least dramatically improved — by technology. But when?
Solution vs. Replacement
Parallels between umpires and accountants might not be readily apparent, but the two professions share two things in common that make them quite similar: Workload and room for error.
The average MLB umpire works 142 games each season. Working just 142 days in a single year might sound nice, but professional umpires do it in seven months while being closely watched by hundreds of thousands of fans begging for reason to be outraged. A missed strike call can mean the difference between victory and defeat for either team and they — as well as fans watching in person and on TV — will not hesitate to voice their displeasure.
Accountants, on the other hand, operate in a significantly different arena (so to speak). Rarely is there cause for raucous cheering or booing, but at work, a single digit transposed incorrectly can mean much, much more than a blown strike call.
For several years now, baseball fans have debated the use of technology in the sport. Fans of the so-called "human element" of baseball will point to its deeply traditional roots, while opponents will point to the 14 blown calls per game. Lost in the ongoing curfuffle is a solution virtually every other industry has found works: Employees aided by technology to work more efficiently — and, most importantly — accurately. If accountants can use software to dramatically improve how they operate, why can't umpires?
The Human Element
Regardless of its likelihood to be implemented in the near future, there’s little doubt that technology can drastically improve umpires’ accuracy.
While baseball can afford to weather such ineffectiveness — as detailed by the results reported by the BU students — businesses cannot. As a company built by accountants for accountants (and hardcore baseball fans), FloQast is well aware of the financial ramifications of accountants incorrectly reconciling even a single transaction — and the likelihood it will happen.
Recently, we introduced a solution aimed at eliminating the chance for costly missteps in the reconciliation process while dramatically expediting it. FloQast Matching is an AI-powered accounting solution that automates the time-consuming and error-prone process involved in reconciling high-risk and high-transaction-volume accounts.
In the case of Demme Learning, an educational publishing company headquartered 250 miles southwest of the Baseball Hall of Fame, manually reconciling transactions took the accounting team between two and three business days each month. After implementing FloQast Matching, that figure was reduced to a few minutes, freeing the team up to attend to more value-added activities.
It may take years before we see AI-powered technologies aiding umpires in calling of balls and strikes, but for accountants, the wait is over. That sounds like a home run to me.