Baseball purists have been bracing themselves for years for the digital strike zone, what opponents derisively call "robot umpires", fearing it could open the door to more structural changes that quicken the game's pace or at least inject more offense.
Umpires will remain responsible for making other calls on the field, including foul tips, check swings and plays at the plate. Similarly, the software will grant pitchers a high strike that umpires generally will not because the ball appears too high as they crouch behind the plate.
The plate umpire in the game at York, Pa., wore an earpiece that would relay whether a pitch was a ball or strike based on computer evaluation. The iPhone was loaded up with the TrackMan computer system, which uses a Doppler radar to track the pitches. deBrauwere, positioned right behind home plate, called the pitches as he received the information from the program. A square array well behind home plate monitors the strike zone. But a new generation of umpires may be completely immune to people shouting "You're blind, ump!" from the stands.
OK, so maybe it's a long shot the rule ever goes into effect at the big league level, but the Atlantic League - an independent baseball league that recently entered into a three-year agreement with MLB to serve as a testing ground for potential rule changes - will allow batters to "steal first base" in the second half of its season, according to The Washington Post.
But players, managers and umpires in the Atlantic League have been quick to endorse the system in the name of consistency, even if the long-established boundaries of the strike zone change because of technology.
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Graff went on to say that the team will work to make sure this kind of slip-up doesn't happen again. Despite what you may have seen, it seems that it's not.
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Batters in the Atlantic League will get the chance to steal first base in a new series of experimental rules announced Thursday.
"This strike zone is different than what every player has known in the past", said Atkins, the York pitcher. I realize that hasn't stopped Major League Baseball before, but I am genuinely curious who came up with this idea. In a trade for the rule changes, the MLB agreed to scout more players from the Atlantic League and provide better scouting equipment, the Post said. "The game is changing". Baseball needs to speed up to keep up with the world. However, the Record said Brian deBrauwere, the umpire behind the plate during Tuesday's All-Star Game, had to revert to calling pitches when the software malfunctioned for a half-inning. More often than not when a hitter checks his swing, the pitch will be deemed a ball instead of a strike.
"One of our focuses is not to replace the umpire", Sword said. Every other decision we have to make will now be magnified.
"Technically, they're strikes, but umpires never called them", Atkins said.