For years robots have been ‘stealing’ people’s jobs, particularly in the manufacturing industry. Why hire ten people when one machine can do the job of all of them, and not complain it isn’t getting enough breaks. Baseball is a sport played by humans, but it could soon be calling on robot umpires to make the decisions.
Testing The Waters
Major League Baseball is testing out using robot umpires in the major leagues by rolling it out in the minors first. Baseball officials have signed an agreement with the Atlantic League to see if using a robot umpire can help speed things up and get the fans engaged more. Officials want baseball to become more action-packed, and robots are seen as the key to the future.
What They Do
Combined with an automated ball system, the robot umpires are there to call whether pitches are good or not, and to tell if it’s a strike or not. The umpire wears an earpiece in one ear and has a phone on their person, which will let them know if the ball is called good or not. Technology is being used in many sports to help officials get the calls right, so why not baseball too?
In its maiden performance, the robot umpire cut out several times in the Atlanta League All-Star game. The real-life umpire stepped in and called the balls as he would have done without the tech. It didn’t take long for the umpire to recover, and there were no glaring mistakes by the system.
With some fine-tuning and a wider testing range, the future of baseball umpiring is in the hands of the robots. The strike zone is already there for everyone to see on TV, and now it’s being used to call pitches.
Alex Morgan’s Journey From the Unknown to International Fame
Did you know, there’s a player, here in the US, who has won several World Cups and Olympic gold medals for Team US? She is Alex Morgan – jersey number 13. Let’s take a look at her journey to success.
Born to Pamela and Michael on July 2, 1989, Alex Morgan was raised in Diamond Bar, Los Angeles. Although her professional soccer career started late, she had been playing for AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) from an early age with her father as one of the coaches.
Rising Soccer Star
Although Alex had been involved with sports since her childhood, her beginnings in soccer were quite late. She began playing club soccer at the age of 14 when she joined Cypress Elite, a soccer club now known as FC Premier. Alex found tremendous success whilst playing for her club team. With Cypress Elite, she won the Coast Soccer League (CSL) under-16 championship and was placed third in the under-19 championship.
High School Hero
Alex Morgan attended Diamond Bar High School and played for their soccer team as well. At school, she was known for her sprinting ability and speed. During her time at her high school soccer club, she was a three-time all-league pick. Alex later recalled that during her high school days, her dad would train with her. He worked out with her three times a week and acted as the goalkeeper during her shooting practice. Both her parents supported her soccer career.
Representing Her Country
Alex was also called into the Olympic Development Program (ODP) regional and state teams during her high school years. According to Alex, the program helped her immensely in her development as a soccer player, as she started so late in her career. The fruits of her training regime turned out to be pretty sweet. She was called into the United States under-20 women’s national team when she was only 17. However, a terrible injury ended up stunting her progress.
Her First Serious Injury
Alex Morgan was called into the United States under-20 women’s national team at 17. However, during a scrimmage against the men’s junior national team, Alex sustained a serious injury in her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Alex later described the moment as a turning point in her life. She struggled emotionally and missed most of her senior season due to rehab. She had to wait another year before being called up to the junior team again in April 2008.
Alex Morgan does not dominate stadiums alone, she dominated classrooms as well. A college girl – Alex Morgan attended the University of California, Berkley where she graduated a semester early in 2010. At college, she represented California Golden Bears, the soccer program of UC Berkley. She was the leading goal-scorer for her team in her freshman year, and is the all-time third-highest scorer in California history – mostly due to missed matches because of her national team commitments.
Her First Goal for Her Country
After her recovery from her ACL injury, Morgan was again called up in the under-20 women’s national team in 2008. Her first appearance was in the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship, which was held in Puebla, Mexico. Her debut match was against Cuba, which the United States won with a stunning 9-0 victory. Morgan scored her first international goal in that match, only 2 minutes into the game. The United States team eventually moved to the finals where they lost to Canada.
Another Stunning Goal
Following her impressive performance in Mexico, Morgan was subsequently named in the roster for the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which was to be held in Chile. Morgan scored three goals in the group stages, including a pair against Argentina. She scored another goal against North Korea in the finals, ensuring a US victory. The goal was voted as the best goal of the tournament, and FIFA’s second-best goal of the year. She also won a Bronze Shoe being the third-highest scorer, and a Silver Ball, making her the second best player in the tournament.
Her National Team Debut
Her performances in the U-20 World Cup and for her college team, California Golden Bears, caught the interest of the senior team soon enough. She was called up in the US national team in 2010, and first appeared as a substitute in a match versus Mexico in March. She would have to wait a bit longer for her first international goal, however. Her first international goal came when she entered the field as a substitute in a match against China in October 2010, which ended in 1-1 draw.
Her Most Important Goal
Alex Morgan was a consistent player in the national team, and her most important goal in her career soon followed her debut. The match was held in November 2010 and was the first leg of a playoff that would determine the final spot in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. In the crucial match against Italy, Morgan came on to the field in the 86th minute. She scored the only goal in the match in the fourth minute of added extra time, confirming a US victory and paving the way to the World Cup.
Morgan graduated from Berkley in December 2010, with a degree in Political Economics. Shortly afterward, she was the first overall pick by the soccer club Western New York Flash in the 2011 WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) College Draft. She shined on the field with her new club as well. Her first game with Flash was against Atlanta Beat in May 2011, where she contributed a goal in the 3-0 victory. The Flash went on to win the season title as well as the WPS Championship title, with Morgan scoring four goals in 14 matches.
World Cup Wonder
At only 22 years of age, Morgan was the youngest player to represent the United States in the 2011 Women’s World Cup that was held in Germany. Morgan scored her first World Cup goal in the semi-final against France. She also performed in the final match against Japan, scoring a goal in the 69th minute after coming on as a substitute. She also assisted her teammate Abby Wambach in the 104th minute of the extra time. However, the match resulted in heartbreak – with Japan securing the trophy in a penalty shoot-out.
Switching to the Seattle Sounders
The WPS suspended operations in early 2012 due to legal and financial issues. Soon afterward, Morgan left New York Flash and joined Seattle Sounders Women, which was already star-studded with national team players like Sydney Leroux and Hope Solo. Morgan was excited to play for a new club, but she missed several matches due to her national team commitments, which was preparing for the 2012 Summer Olympics. In her 253 minutes on the pitch in three season appearances, Morgan scored two goals and two assists.
Her Olympic Adventure in London
The 2012 Summer Olympics was held in London, the United Kingdom, during July and August. In the first match against France, the United States secured a victory of 4-2. Morgan scored two goals in the match, including the equalizer and the goal that confirmed the victory. Morgan assisted the match-winning goals in the subsequent three matches, including two to her teammate Abby Wambach. In the semi-final match against Canada, she scored the match-winning goal in the 123rd minute during the extra time, the latest goal ever by a member of the US women’s team.
Triumph Over Japan
The United States faced Japan in the final match of the Women’s soccer tournament of the 2012 Olympic Games – the same contender to whom they lost the 2011 World Cup. However, the Americans came off victorious this time – defeating Japan by 2-1. Although Morgan did not score in the final match, she assisted a Carli Lloyd header. At the end of the tournament, she had three goals, four assists, and ten points to her name.
2012 – A Year of Achievements
The Olympics gold medal was not the only success that Morgan received that year. She had a total of 28 goals, 21 assists, 77 points, and nine multi-goal matches to her name at the end of the year. She joined the legendary Mia Hamm to be the only player to have a record of at least 20 goals and 20 assists the same calendar year. Her dazzling performances were met with personal achievements as well. U.S. Soccer named her the 2012 Female Athlete of the Year. She was also nominated for the FIFA Ballon d’Or, in which she finished third.
Spectacular First Season in Portland
Alex Morgan moved to Portland Thorns FC in 2013 for the inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) through the NWSL player allocation. She was joined by two of her national teammates – Christine Sinclair and Rachel Buehler. Her first season in Portland was spectacular. In the team’s home-opener, she scored her first goal, securing their victory over Seattle Reign by 2-1. She scored a total of eight goals and 21 assists for Portland during the season, helping the club finish third.
Things Got Slowly Worse
Morgan played for a total of three seasons for Portland Thorns FC – from 2013 to 2015. In the second season, Morgan played under the new coach Paul Riley. She appeared in 15 matches and scored six goals for her club. Portland finished third in the league championship again. Morgan’s appearances were far less frequent in 2015, due to her national team commitments for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. She only appeared in four matches, scoring one goal against Washington Spirits, which resulted in a 3-3 tie.
Up & Down With Team U.S.
Morgan may not have shined for Portland Thorns in the later seasons, but the same cannot be said for her national team appearances. In the 2013 Algarve Cup, Morgan led the scoreboard with three goals and four assists to her name. She was shortlisted in FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year for the third time in 2013 and was named CONCACAF 2013 Female Player of the Year. Morgan returned from an ankle injury in 2014 and subsequently scored five goals in seven matches for the US women’s national team. She reinjured her ankle during the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which ruled her out of the tournament.
More World Cup Glory
Morgan’s start in the World Cup was uncertain, as she suffered from a knee injury shortly beforehand. She made her first start in the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada against Nigeria, which the US won by 1-0. The United States women’s team went on to move to the finals and defeated Japan by 5-2 to win its third title. On a personal level, Morgan did not perform up to the mark in the tournament. She only scored one goal against Colombia in the round of 16, despite appearing in all seven matches.
Orlando Pride – New Beginnings
In October 2015, Portland Thorns FC announced the trade of Alex Morgan and her teammate, Kaylyn Kyle to Orlando Pride, an expansion team. Morgan’s start in Orlando Pride was not satisfactory. She appeared in 15 matches for Pride in 2016, scoring only four goals. Orlando Pride performed poorly in the league championship as well. They finished the season with six wins, one draw, and 13 losses – causing them to finish in the ninth position.
100th Cap and Olympic Qualifiers
In January 2016, Morgan played her 100th match for the US women’s national team in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland. She contributed to the 5-0 win with a goal and an assist. She shined amazingly during the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers. In a 5-0 victory against Costa Rica, she scored a goal only 12 seconds into the match – the fastest ever in the national team’s history. She also scored a hat-trick against Trinidad & Tobago and was named in the best XI of the tournament.
Nightmare in Rio
The 2016 Summer Olympics, which was held in Rio, Brazil, did not turn out to be a good one for the US women’s national team. The team had a promising start and reached the quarter-finals where they took on Sweden. Morgan scored two goals during the competition – in a group match against New Zealand, and the equalizer against Sweden. However, she missed the penalty in the quarter-finals as well, which contributed to the loss of the match.
2017 – Loan to Lyon
In January 2017, whilst still playing for Orlando Pride, Morgan signed for a loan to the French club Olympique Lyonnais, also known as Lyon, for $33,000 per month. During her 2016/17 season in France, she appeared in a total of 16 appearances for Lyon, and scored 12 goals. She scored five goals in eight matches in the league championship. But she stood out in the French cup, scoring seven goals in only three matches, including four goals and two assists in the semi-final match against Hénin-Beaumont.
Champion’s League Troubles
Morgan also played for Lyon in the UEFA Women’s Champion’s League, the prestigious continental cup for clubs in Europe. Morgan appeared in five matches in the tournament, including the Champion’s League Final against Paris Saint-Germain. However, during the final match, she was subbed off only 23 minutes into the game due to a hamstring injury. Following her rehabilitation, she returned to play for Orlando, scoring nine goals in 14 matches, with Orlando finishing the season with 11 wins.
Back to Orlando
Morgan’s contract with Lyon allowed her to return to Orlando in 2018, but at the end of the 2016/17 season, she decided against it. She terminated her contract with Lyon in September 2017 and announced that she would be available for Orlando the entire 2018 season. At present, she is still playing for Orlando Pride. In the 2018 season, Morgan scored five goals in her 19 appearances for Pride, and in 2019, she appeared in six matches but failed to score.
In March 2016, Alex competed in the SheBelieves Cup, an invitational four-team women’s soccer tournament that was held in the US. The United States national team won all three matches and was announced the champion. Morgan won the Golden Boot and the MVP award in the tournament. After her extraordinary performance in the Olympic qualifiers, Morgan’s success suffered a bit – though it was still impressive. In 2017, she scored seven goals in her 14 appearances for the national team. In 2018, she appeared in 19 matches and scored 18 goals in total.
She Became Co-Captain
Besides her amazing performance on the field, Alex Morgan is a true leader as well. In 2018, during the 2019 World Cup qualifying camp, Alex Morgan was named as a co-captain along with her teammates Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe by the U.S national team head coach Jill Ellis. Captaincy is nothing new to Morgan, though. She had been wearing the armband for several months before the official announcement, only conceding it to Lloyd when she was called off the field.
World Cup Glory in Paris
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was the eighth edition of a tournament and held in nine cities in France. The US women’s national team started on the right foot, thrashing Thailand with a 13-0 victory. Morgan scored five goals in that match and assisted in three. Morgan scored another goal against England in the semi-finals, and the US went on to win the cup defeating the Netherlands by 2-0. Morgan was the highest goal-scorer of the tournament, along with teammate Megan Rapinoe and English forward Ellen White. She won the Silver Boot, losing out to Rapinoe based on fewer minutes played.
A Match Made in Soccer
Soccer dictates Morgan’s life – both on and off-field. On December 31, 2014, Alex Morgan married Servando Carrasco, a midfielder who currently plays for the MLS club LA Galaxy. Carrasco and Morgan had met during her college years when they both played for UC Berkley. The wedding Carrasco and Morgan hosted was pretty unique. The couple celebrated Carrasco’s Mexican heritage, serving guests a Mexican-American dinner and included homemade churros and a quesadilla bar.
In October 2019, Alex Morgan announced her pregnancy and hoped to return in time to play for the United States in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She would have missed out on part of the 2020 season due to her pregnancy. However, both the club championship and the Olympics were postponed due to the 2020 pandemic. Alex gave birth to her daughter Charlie Elena Carrasco on May 7, 2020 – only three days before Mother’s day.
Advocacy for Equality
Alex Morgan has always been an outspoken voice against gender discrimination, especially when it comes to equal pay. In 2016, she was one of the five players who filed a wage-discrimination action against U.S. Soccer – stating that women earn only a quarter of men’s wages, despite earning more revenue. A second lawsuit was filed against U.S. Soccer due to gender discrimination in March 2019 by 28 athletes of the US women’s soccer national team. The co-captain’s name was the first on the list amongst the 28 players.
She Scored as a Writer
If you’re still not impressed by Alex Morgan, you’ll be surprised to know she is a writer too! In 2012, Alex signed a deal with Simon & Schuster for a four-book series called The Kicks, aimed at middle schoolers. The book series followed the journey of four young girls, focussing on themes such as friendship and soccer. Based on the books, a ten-episode television series was also released by the same name on Amazon Instant Video in 2015.
She Can Act Too
Alex Morgan has been widely active on mainstream media, encouraging young girls to take up soccer and other sports. Besides authoring The Kicks, she also starred as herself in the fantasy-sports comedy called Alex & Me. The film follows Reagan Willis, a 13-year old aspiring soccer star trying to make it to the number one soccer club in the state. The film was poorly received by the critics, but it remains an inspiration to many aspiring female soccer players worldwide.
Other Appearances in Film and Television
Besides her inspiring work in media related to soccer, Alex also starred in several other popular shows and videos. In 2011, she co-starred in a commercial promoting ESPN’s SportsCenter with her teammate, Hope Solo. She also appeared in the ESPN documentary series, Nine for IX. Alex Morgan’s likeness, along with that of teammates Abby Wambach and Christen Press, appeared on a The Simpsons episode that aired in 2015. Morgan also makes an appearance in the music video for “Girls Like You” – a popular song by Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B.
In June 2015, Time magazine named Morgan to be the highest-paid American women’s soccer player. This was attributed to her endorsement deals with several popular businesses including Nike, Panasonic, AT&T, and McDonald’s. Morgan also worked as a brand ambassador for GNC, a health product company, along with national teammate Heather Mitts. She has appeared in commercials for Bridgestone and helped promote Ubisoft’s music video game Just Dance 4. Also, she appeared in commercials of Chobani in 2016 and worked as an ambassador for Bank of America and Molecule as well.
If you’re trying to think of the perfect beauty with brains (and some sporting abilities) – Alex Morgan is what you’re looking for! She has been featured in numerous magazines, including the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, in a section that featured athletes in body paint. Morgan also appeared on the cover of ESPN Magazine in May 2015, along with Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach. She had also been featured in magazines such as Time, Shape, Adweek, and Vogue as well.
Video Game Star
Not only on magazine covers, but Morgan also appears on the covers of video games as well. FIFA 16, the popular soccer video game franchise by EA Sports, was the first edition of the series to include women’s international teams. Morgan, along with her then club teammates Christine Sinclair and Steph Catley, appeared on the covers of FIFA 16, alongside Lionel Messi. In FIFA 19, Morgan is credited with a voice role and featured as an interactive character in a part of the game called The Journey. She also worked as a consultant for EA during the development of the game.
White House Honor
The United States women’s national team’s victory in the 2015 World Cup was celebrated throughout the nation, and the women were hailed as heroes. The national team, which included Morgan, became the first women’s sports team to receive a ticker-tape parade in New York City. Each player of the team also received a key to the city from the NYC mayor. All the players, including Morgan, were also invited to the White House, where they were praised for their accomplishments.
Besides her athletic performances, Alex Morgan has also been internationally acclaimed for her humanitarian work. Morgan joined the UNICEF Kid Power initiative in 2016, a philanthropic program aimed at fighting global malnutrition. Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe were also the first two US female soccer players to join the Common Goal campaign, an initiative dedicated to players donating 1% of their wages to soccer-related charities. In her personal life, Alex Morgan is a vegan and had stated that it didn’t feel fair to be eating meat all the time.