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Robots In Baseball Newsbeat

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Is MLB Ready for Robo-Umps and an Automated Strike Zone?

We are sad to inform you that the robo-ump looks nothing like you had hoped. A black box, glossy like a television screen that is never turned on, and positioned high behind home plate, it looks like an extremely unsubtle security camera. Tracking pitches using radar, it distinguishes balls from strikes and communicates the determination to the ump on the field—still a standard-issue human, now with an earpiece and an iPhone—who gives voice to the call. Not exactly the robotic overlord of your sci-fi dreams.

The system made its debut just this summer, in the independent Atlantic League, but its march across baseball is starting to look inevitable. MLB followed that initial testing by instituting the robo-ump in the Arizona Fall League in September. And just a week after the conclusion of the World Series—where an automated strike zone became a hot-button issue, thanks to controversial calls in Game 5—commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the tech would arrive in select minor league parks in 2020.

The robo-ump exists in the name of better baseball, offering a strike zone that is totally consistent, not just from hitter to hitter, but from team to team, game to game, season to season. It irons out any potential for human ambiguity. In theory, this should make it impossible to find fault. In practice . . . it’s trickier.

“As my dad put it: You know, for a hundred years, you go to a game, you have a couple beers, you have a hot dog, you yell at the umpire,” Atlantic League ump Tim Detwiler told SI days before the automated strike zone debuted there. “My old man said, “Who’s going to yell at the computer?’”

So, given the news of the last week or so, how long before the robo-umps are corrupted, and for what purposes?

 

QLE Posted: November 20, 2019 at 01:17 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: robot umpires, robots are made of metal, robots are strong, robots in baseball

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Buster Posey explains why robot umps could call more balls than strike

Robot umps.

Weird thought, right?

But it’s something being implemented and tested in the baseball world. The independent Atlantic League was the first victim to test the newest technology that includes a real-life umpire still manning his or her duties behind the plate while they wear an earpiece connected to an iPhone. That person would then relay the call from the TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar.

That’s at least how plate umpire Brian deBrauwere executed it back in July as he described it to ESPN. And Giants catcher Buster Posey isn’t too sure about this new technology, specifically if these robot umps would call more balls or strikes.

Worse still, they could all end up under the control of Dick Jones, and wind up doing his nefarious bidding.

 


 

 

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