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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Atlantic League Expected To Add Robo-Umps, Other Changes From New MLB Agreement

The independent Atlantic League has long been an innovator, and they have long been happy to blaze a trail for Major League Baseball to follow.

Now, the two sides have formalized what was already happening informally, as the league and Major League Baseball announced a three-year agreement that will allow MLB to use the independent league as a testbed for rules and equipment changes.

And those rules changes will be significant. While no one with the Atlantic League would confirm the changes, it is expected that the rules tweaks will involve moving back the mound and using Trackman to call balls and strikes, both rules changes that have long been suggested, but are significant enough to require plenty of in-game testing.

Some of you will be overjoyed by this- until Robot Joe West comes into being….

 

QLE Posted: February 27, 2019 at 07:24 AM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: atlantic league, robot umpires, robots are made of metal, robots are strong

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Stevis Posted: February 27, 2019 at 07:30 AM (#5818573)
It all sounds like a good idea. Then the robot umps will eat the fans' medicine.
   2. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 27, 2019 at 07:54 AM (#5818577)
I love it. They should take the Personalized Strike Zone to the Pork Store and let the boys in the back room give it a message.
   3. Jack Sommers Posted: February 27, 2019 at 08:38 AM (#5818586)
   4. PreservedFish Posted: February 27, 2019 at 08:42 AM (#5818588)
Why are they moving the mound back?
   5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: February 27, 2019 at 08:48 AM (#5818589)
I am curious to see how this works out. I think the people baying for roboumps don't know what they are screaming for. It's like a replay, everyone was yelling for it and now everyone ####### about it. It's just not going to work as well in practice as it does in theory. I'll be happy to be wrong but I'm expecting it to change the game dramatically.
   6. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: February 27, 2019 at 08:53 AM (#5818591)
01110011 01101000 01110101 01110100 00100000 01110101 01110000 00100000 01101010 01101111 01100101 00100000 01101101 01100001 01100100 01100100 01101111 01101110
   7. PreservedFish Posted: February 27, 2019 at 09:10 AM (#5818596)
I am curious to see how this works out. I think the people baying for roboumps don't know what they are screaming for. It's like a replay, everyone was yelling for it and now everyone ####### about it. It's just not going to work as well in practice as it does in theory. I'll be happy to be wrong but I'm expecting it to change the game dramatically.


I hate replay in baseball, but I don't hate the technology or the idea behind it, I just hate the implementation.

There's a future where the robo-ump is a silent indicator that only the home umpire sees, and where the strike zone is aggressively tweaked so as not to allow radically change our understanding of which pitches should be strikes, and the overall effect is to almost imperceptibly improve accuracy.

There's also a future where each manager gets 10 Taco Bell Crunchy Strike Zone Challenge flags, which are typically reserved for TOOGYs (Trackman One Out Guys) that throw strange wiffleball curves or eephi that have never been called strikes in history but will consistently nick the new digital strike zone.
   8. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: February 27, 2019 at 09:23 AM (#5818599)
I hate replay in baseball, but I don't hate the technology or the idea behind it, I just hate the implementation.
This. The fact that they implemented it in the stupidest, NFL way possible (at least they didn't give managers "challenge gloves" to toss I guess), doesn't mean replay was automatically a bad idea.
   9. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: February 27, 2019 at 09:29 AM (#5818601)
Moving the mound (presumably as a response to increased pitcher velocities) seems a way bigger deal than automated strike calling, which is also a big deal.

That the Atlantic League will serve as MLB's lab is interesting in and of itself, I think.
   10. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: February 27, 2019 at 09:32 AM (#5818604)
I hate replay in baseball, but I don't hate the technology or the idea behind it, I just hate the implementation.


This. The fact that they implemented it in the stupidest, NFL way possible (at least they didn't give managers "challenge gloves" to toss I guess), doesn't mean replay was automatically a bad idea.


I agree with these but I'm unconvinced that roboumps will be implemented in an intelligent, fan-friendly manner. Again, I'll be happy to be wrong but I thought replay being implemented in an NFL-style was a virtual certainty with the results we've seen and I'm not convinced they will get this right either.

Moving the mound (presumably as a response to increased pitcher velocities) seems a way bigger deal than automated strike calling, which is also a big deal.


I agree but I think the likelihood of roboumps at the MLB level is MUCH higher than the mound being moved which I think is incredibly unlikely.
   11. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: February 27, 2019 at 09:34 AM (#5818605)
I agree but I think the likelihood of roboumps at the MLB level is MUCH higher than the mound being moved which I think is incredibly unlikely.

Fair point.
   12. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: February 27, 2019 at 09:55 AM (#5818615)
I'm unconvinced that roboumps will be implemented in an intelligent, fan-friendly manner.


They'll be as quiet as a church mouse!
   13. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: February 27, 2019 at 10:18 AM (#5818629)
The worst part about the roboumps is every pitch will be sponsored. "That's strike one according to the home plate umpire provided by Dell. Dude, you're getting a Dell. Oops, that's apparently low on the home plate umpire provided by Dell. Dude, you're getting a Dell. Now time on the field as Joe West needs to reboot the home plate umpire provided by Dell. Dude, you're getting a Dell. During this break in the action here's a message from Dell. Dude, you're getting a Dell."
   14. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 27, 2019 at 10:18 AM (#5818630)
I am curious to see how this works out. I think the people baying for roboumps don't know what they are screaming for.

Here's what I'm screaming for: A standardized, objective strike zone that doesn't vary from umpire to umpire. What a radical concept.

Obviously this is all contingent upon improving the technology so that it can be truly three dimensional and calibrated to a batter's natural stance. Test it in the Winter leagues and in the minor leagues in order to make sure that it's ready for prime time.

But once it's ready, bring it on. It'll improve the game far more than all the other replays put together.
   15. Rusty Priske Posted: February 27, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5818699)
Is 'moving the mound' the thing they throw out there which will never be implemented to get people to go along with the more reasonable things they really want?

Robo-strike zones are a good idea. Period.
   16. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: February 27, 2019 at 12:55 PM (#5818706)
The fact that they implemented it in the stupidest, NFL way possible (at least they didn't give managers "challenge gloves" to toss I guess), doesn't mean replay was automatically a bad idea.


This is what happens when you put the-smartest-manager-in-the-history-of-baseball-ever-and-if-you-don't-believe-me-he-will-show-you-his-bar-exam-results Tony LaRussa in charge.
   17. Tim M Posted: February 27, 2019 at 08:25 PM (#5818897)
This would be the end of catcher framing, which in the current game is a big deal. This will be hated by the catchers who get paid for this "skill".
   18. bobm Posted: February 27, 2019 at 09:51 PM (#5818924)
This will be hated by the catchers who get paid for this "skill".

Maybe they can grandfather them in (with a human home plate umpire), like they did with the spitball pitchers 100 years ago.
   19. Rusty Priske Posted: February 28, 2019 at 09:34 AM (#5818999)
The ability to make the umpire make a wrong decision is not a defensible skill.
   20. puck Posted: March 01, 2019 at 01:44 AM (#5819405)
I assume it will be better than the pitch calling machine described in one of Ron Luciano's books. I searched and found an excerpt:


The late umpire Ron Luciano described a 1970 experiment with what he called "the machine" in his first book, The Umpire Strikes Back:

"It was a short, stubby thing that made strange sounds. Kind of reminded me of Earl Weaver. Two laser beams created a screen over home plate and could be adjusted to the strike zone of each batter. If a pitched ball went through the beam, a red light flashed on.

The machine had the soul of a pitcher. During the first test it called every pitch a strike. [Catcher] Thurman Munson was catching and couldn't stop laughing. "Jeez, Luciano," he yelled at me, "this machine is even blinder than you." [After several additional problems and attempted fixes] they turned it on. Even before the batter stepped in, Munson accidentally stuck his glove in the laser beam. Red lights! As soon as Thurman realized he could trip the machine so easily, he began sticking his glove into the beam on every pitch.

[More fixes later:] "It's fine now," the inventers said nervously. Batters could tap their bats on home plate and catchers could stick their gloves in the beam. There was just one word of caution. "Don't the the ball," they pleaded. "It'll break.""
   21. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: March 01, 2019 at 08:28 AM (#5819418)
If you liked post 20 (as I did), check out those books - they’re good.
   22. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: March 08, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5821241)
JJ Cooper follow up:

The Atlantic League and MLB have announced the changes.
1. Computer assisted strike zone
2. No mound visits by players other than pitching changes/injury
3. Pitchers face minimum of 3 batters or end of inning.
4. Increase bases by 3 inches (to 18 inches)
5. Two fielders in infield on each side of 2B.
6. Time between innings cut from 2:05 to 1:45
7. Mound moved back two feet in second half of season.
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 08, 2019 at 01:01 PM (#5821256)
7. Mound moved back two feet in second half of season.
This is surprising - I would think they'd start much more gradually. Six inches or so.
   24. Greg Pope Posted: March 08, 2019 at 01:03 PM (#5821257)
Here's what I'm screaming for: A standardized, objective strike zone that doesn't vary from umpire to umpire. What a radical concept.

Obviously this is all contingent upon improving the technology so that it can be truly three dimensional and calibrated to a batter's natural stance.


I just disagree with the calibration thing. I don't think that's a requirement. Redefine the rule book so that a strike is between 30.5 percent and 73.3 percent of a player's height. The percentages can be figured out, of course. But divorce it from the batting stance. There's no real reason for it be related to your stance, other than that the human umpires need a frame of reference. Doing away with human umpires eliminates the need for the reference.
   25. Davo Posted: March 08, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5821260)
Get with the times, the pitchers mound should be 63.6396103 feet from home.
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 08, 2019 at 01:11 PM (#5821261)
"I vote for 69 feet. Huhhuhhuh." -- @trevorbauer
   27. Greg Pope Posted: March 08, 2019 at 01:11 PM (#5821262)
Robo Strike Zone: It’s Not as Simple as You Think

Good article from last year


That article doesn't seem to present any actual problems. It has things like:

The primary issue is that using machine measurements to call balls and strikes will simply shift disagreements with the call from the umpire to the machine, or to the machine’s operators.


Um, not really a problem. If that's the primary issue, then there's no issue.

For current ball-tracking systems, some are known to have issues reporting correct spin rates on pitch types, such as certain types of sliders, low-spin pitches, gyro-spin pitches, and missing exit velocity and spin data on certain batted balls.


None of that affects calling balls and strikes.

It is widely known that both Doppler-based and camera-based machines are not accurately reporting 100 percent of their measured data 100 percent of the time. Even if they were accurate 99.9 percent of the time, what if that 0.1 percent is a strike but is called a ball on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the ninth inning with bases loaded and two outs in a tie game? It may seem like a silly thought exercise, but it’s important to consider these potential impacts on the game.


Still better than a human umpire, who can make a bad call in that situation as well.

Additionally, when software determines what measurement is reported, that opens the possibility for hacking. In theory it would be fairly trivial to modify software to report pitches closer or further away from the strike zone, toggling that to favor one team or another.


This one is true. But can you imagine the penalties for a team that actually did this? They'd be huge, I would think. The risk wouldn't be worth it. But that's just my opinion. This is legitimate.

You also have to prepare in the event the machine breaks. ... Would we need an umpire on standby to step in and make the calls in the event that the system goes down mid-game?


Yes. Not a problem.

Additionally, the rule book strike zone is somewhat subjective as well and would likely need a further refined definition if machine systems were to be implemented for calling strikes in a live game. Dr. David Kagan recently explored this aspect of the robo zone problem, noting that it remains one of the largest obstacles to implementation.


See my post 24. Redefine the strike zone and you're done. The current definition is only because we have human umps.

It’s important that we talk about the impact the robo zone would have on the game in real terms. Dr. Kagan did an excellent job outlining how random error would impact the called zone, so we won’t rehash that aspect here. What we will do, however, is examine real impacts to the game based on the available data today. How many pitches would change from ball to strike or vice versa?


Again, not an issue. If the strikes are called consistently, and accurately, then we're way better off.

   28. Davo Posted: March 08, 2019 at 01:29 PM (#5821269)
I think instead of robot umps we should use drunk umps. Consider:

3-2 pitch on its way, and you the hitter can tell it’s an inch off the outside corner.

WITH ROBOT UMPS: you don’t swing, and you draw a walk.

WITH DRUNK UMPS: you know that drunkard is looking for any excuse to move this game along, you can’t risk taking it and having him ring you up, so you swing and hit a line drive in the gap in right center, it rolls all the way to the wall, and you’re ###### MOTORIN around the bases, and the third base coach puts up the stop sign but you say #### that and run right through and there’s a play at the plate but you hook-slide just around the tag for the game winning inside the park grand slam in game 7 of the World Series.
   29. . Posted: March 08, 2019 at 01:31 PM (#5821270)
The Atlantic League and MLB have announced the changes.
1. Computer assisted strike zone
2. No mound visits by players other than pitching changes/injury
3. Pitchers face minimum of 3 batters or end of inning.
4. Increase bases by 3 inches (to 18 inches)
5. Two fielders in infield on each side of 2B.
6. Time between innings cut from 2:05 to 1:45
7. Mound moved back two feet in second half of season.


Wow. I can take or leave the mound move, but that list is what MLB should be. Making the bases bigger effectively enacts SoSH's idea of shortening the distance between bases, so they even got that one right. Tremendously outstanding work.
   30. Rusty Priske Posted: March 08, 2019 at 02:39 PM (#5821284)
1. yes
2. yes
3. yes
4. no
5. no
6. yes
7. hell no
   31. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 08, 2019 at 03:17 PM (#5821305)
1. Computer assisted strike zone
2. No mound visits by players other than pitching changes/injury
3. Pitchers face minimum of 3 batters or end of inning.
4. Increase bases by 3 inches (to 18 inches)
5. Two fielders in infield on each side of 2B.
6. Time between innings cut from 2:05 to 1:45
7. Mound moved back two feet in second half of season.


1. About ####### time. And if the umps don't like it, too ####### bad.
2. Sure, cut the stalling
3. Questionable, but it's not nearly as stupid as #5 and #7.
4. Sounds like something Poochy would think of.
5. ####, no. Stop coddling one dimensional hitters.
6. Great, also about time
7. Absolutely insane. Why not make pitchers throw underhand while you're at it?
   32. Obo Posted: March 08, 2019 at 03:31 PM (#5821308)
5. Two fielders in infield on each side of 2B.

Most of entries on that list I either agree with outright or could probably learn to live with, but I hate this one so much.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: March 08, 2019 at 04:13 PM (#5821332)
There's no real reason for it be related to your stance,


Absolutely.

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