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Robot Umpires Newsbeat

Thursday, January 23, 2020

MLB umpires’ union clarifies use of electronics at spring training sites

Hours after baseball commissioner Rob Manfred indicated that an electronic strike zone would be used in spring training games, the executive committee of the umpires’ union clarified that news, indicating that the electronics would not be used in place of a plate ump’s judgment.

Rather, as umpires go through their regular spring work, MLB will be operating an electronic zone for nine games in Florida as it continues to refine its system that is expected to be implemented in the years ahead.

The umpires’ committee released a statement to ESPN on Wednesday evening that read: “Reports that MLB will use ‘robo-umps’ to call balls and strikes in spring training games this year are completely inaccurate. ... Our understanding is that a camera-based tracking system will be running in the background during some spring training games for technology development and training purposes. But any game in which a Major League Baseball umpire is working will have a human calling balls and strikes.”

A Major League Baseball official confirmed this.

An increased use of technology in baseball? Whatever could go wrong?

 

QLE Posted: January 23, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: robot umpires, technology

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

The Pen: How baseball might change in the 2020s

Baseball has such a long history of proud consistency and a culture built on self-referential comparisons between eras. From a distance it’s defined by sameness across centuries, but when you zoom in, it feels like we’re always in a moment of pivotal — and controversial — change. That was true of the last decade (10 years ago there wasn’t even in-season testing for human-growth hormone, only the Los Angeles Angels were interested in a young man named Mike Trout, and instant replay applied only to home runs) and it will certainly be true of the 2020s.

For instance: an overhaul of the way pitch selection is relayed and even who does the relaying. On Monday, I reported on Major League Baseball’s plans to test prototypes as soon as this spring for technological communication of pitches. We don’t know yet what that will look like — wearable random number generators, lights in the mound, or something else entirely — but I’m sure its implementation will be contentious and hand-wring-y and full of opportunities to lament the state of a once-great game.

I, for one, am looking forward to it. Implicit in that news was another forthcoming change. MLB (in this case that means people within the commissioner’s office) expects teams to shift toward having coaches in the dugout calling the game instead of catchers behind the plate. The various trickle-down effects — making the backstop more of a filler role for another offensive powerhouse — are fascinating, both fun to predict and exciting in their exhaustive unpredictability. Baseball doesn’t change so much as evolve — developments in the wider world beget necessary reactions which beget adaptations or even exploitations and counterstrikes and codifications and overcorrections, and the whole process is constantly acting on all areas of the game in perpetuity.

In the spirit of all this and the new decade, here are a handful of (arbitrary and largely uninformed) predictions for baseball in the 2020s

Which of these shifts will we see? Which won’t happen? Which of these will, but that we wish didn’t?

QLE Posted: January 08, 2020 at 12:56 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: montreal, player managers, robot umpires, schedule, the future

 

 

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