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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Report: Umpires agree to MLB’s test plans for automated strike zone

Computer plate umpires could be called up to the major leagues at some point during the next five seasons.

Umpires agreed to cooperate with Major League Baseball in the development and testing of an automated ball-strike system as part of a five-year labor contract announced Saturday, two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. The Major League Baseball Umpires Association also agreed to cooperate and assist if commissioner Rob Manfred decides to utilize the system at the major league level. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because those details of the deal, which is subject to ratification by both sides, had not been announced.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 22, 2019 at 09:00 PM | 119 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: automated strike zone

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   1. winnipegwhip Posted: December 22, 2019 at 09:49 PM (#5910520)
It will be in the majors by 2022. Thank god there still is amateur baseball to enjoy.
   2. shoelesjoe Posted: December 23, 2019 at 04:34 AM (#5910534)
MLB Umpires calling a more accurate strike zone makes the game less enjoyable?

To each his own I guess.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:28 AM (#5910561)
MLB Umpires calling a more accurate strike zone makes the game less enjoyable?


That depends on the impact right? If it leads to a huge surge in Ks or BBs, definitely.

I don't care at all about accuracy for accuracy's sake; this is entertainment not brain surgery. All I care about is getting a faster paced, less TTO game.

If robo-umps can help that, great. If the push things the other way, they should be fired into the sun.
   4. shoelesjoe Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:41 AM (#5910569)
That depends on the impact right? If it leads to a huge surge in Ks or BBs, definitely.


If using robo-umps inadvertently leads to some statistical aberrations that can easily be tweaked. Certainly we won’t see the umpire tantrums (remember what happened when MLB tried to get them to call balks according to the rule book?) that have plagued the game in the past when tweaks were thought to be necessary.
   5. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:43 AM (#5910572)
If calling a correct strike zone means baseball and players have to adjust that's largely good for the game. Baseball should be doing everything in it's power to get the ball in play more often, at a faster clip, and have it lead to interesting outcomes.
   6. manchestermets Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:46 AM (#5910575)
That depends on the impact right? If it leads to a huge surge in Ks or BBs, definitely.


Is there any data about whether wrong calls have a tendency to favour incorrectly called strikes or incorrectly called balls? I'd expect them to more or less balance out, but I've no idea if that's the case.

If there are more strikes called as balls, correcting that would likely mean more strikeouts and so increase the perceived problem with the game. If vice versa, then it's possible that there would be fewer strikeouts but without a big increase in walks (as the balance is apparently currently tilted towards strikeouts that stands to reason. I think.) As I say though, I've no idea if there is a bias one way or the other.
   7. Greg Pope Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5910579)
If I could wave a magic wand and solve one problem with today's game it would be pace of play. But the strike zone is a close second. I would so much rather they address the strike zone than try all of these other things that don't matter (no-pitch IBB, minimum batters, etc.).

So I'm glad they're at least doing something worthwhile. Probably (since this announcement is no guarantee of anything).
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5910583)
Is there any data about whether wrong calls have a tendency to favour incorrectly called strikes or incorrectly called balls? I'd expect them to more or less balance out, but I've no idea if that's the case.

It's known that umps call more strikes on 3-0 and more balls on 0-2. That's a moderating influence on TTO. If that goes away, we could see more K's and more BB's.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5910584)
Baseball should be doing everything in it's power to get the ball in play more often, at a faster clip, and have it lead to interesting outcomes.

Agree 100%.

If calling a correct strike zone means baseball and players have to adjust that's largely good for the game.

Where's the evidence that a text book strike zone is going to lead to your objective? My guess is it leads to more take and rake, and more nibbling at the corners.
   10. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 11:02 AM (#5910586)
Change. Willing to change is evidence.
   11. Adam Starblind Posted: December 23, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5910590)
Where's the evidence that a text book strike zone is going to lead to your objective? My guess is it leads to more take and rake, and more nibbling at the corners.


Then they can shrink the zone the following season. Is there anything more angering as a fan than when an ump blows a ball/strike call against your team in a big spot? It certainly seems to be the most rage-inducing thing you can do to a player, perhaps including hitting the player with a baseball.
   12. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 23, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5910647)
Being willing to change is good, but just making a change without some understanding of what that change will mean is foolhardy. None of us has any clue how robs-umps will impact that game. So far I'd argue technology (i.e. replay) has been a net negative. So for now I'm pretty firmly opposed to this.
   13. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 01:38 PM (#5910650)
They're testing automated strike zones in the minors and have had the technology to do this for years. This isn't some guy trying to get a battleship to fly tomorrow.
   14. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 23, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5910653)
Then it is going to work perfectly! That's great news! I look forward to watching games and no one ever complaining about balls and strikes again.
   15. Khrushin it bro Posted: December 23, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5910657)
The biggest change in my mind is the ability to make sweeping changes to the strike zone using technology. It's pretty hard to tell a group of umpires that they need to "lower" the strikezone. It's much easier to do it in software.
   16. RoyalFlush Posted: December 23, 2019 at 02:34 PM (#5910664)
Being willing to change is good, but just making a change without some understanding of what that change will mean is foolhardy. None of us has any clue how robs-umps will impact that game. So far I'd argue technology (i.e. replay) has been a net negative. So for now I'm pretty firmly opposed to this.


You defining technology as a "net negative" doesn't mean it has been. I would not argue it has been positive or negative - as it's part of all aspects of society. For all the "negatives" you can find, there are advancements in safety, healthcare and nutrition that have clearly been positive.
   17. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 23, 2019 at 02:47 PM (#5910671)
I was (I thought obviously) referring to its use as replay in baseball. Technology has been a net positive in life but replay in baseball has not been a positive in my opinion. As snapper noted, this is entertainment. Replay has made the game less entertaining and I expect automated strike zones to do the same.
   18. PreservedFish Posted: December 23, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5910674)
Why does Jose hate modern medicine???
   19. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 23, 2019 at 03:11 PM (#5910676)
Modernity...patooee. Leeches or GTFO,
   20. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 04:14 PM (#5910696)
Anyone who argues balls and strikes after it is automated is an idiot. Only idiots still argue whether a tennis ball is in or out in professional tennis.
   21. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: December 23, 2019 at 04:49 PM (#5910699)
Being willing to change is good, but just making a change without some understanding of what that change will mean is foolhardy. None of us has any clue how robs-umps will impact that game.

So far all we know is it has added an additional 4 seconds per pitch when used in the minor leagues.

Anyone who argues balls and strikes after it is automated is an idiot. Only idiots still argue whether a tennis ball is in or out in professional tennis.

In tennis it's an issue of whether the ball was within a certain rectange on a flat surface. In baseball it's an issue of whether the ball at any point was within a 3-dimensional area whose height is supposed to be different for each batter. Also the recognized strike zone has never been intended as a perfect rectangular prism with 90-degree angles at each corner; there are some sections at the front and back that don't get called strikes because it would be nearly impossible to hit a ball there. We'll see.
   22. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 23, 2019 at 04:55 PM (#5910702)
That four seconds per pitch has seemed unrealistically high to me. If it is anywhere close to that then we aren’t close to being ready to use it.
   23. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5910712)
I'll go into more detail. Anyone that argues with a computer program is an idiot. Secondly on what grounds would anyone argue with a computer program? Who's going to know it's wrong?
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 05:45 PM (#5910715)
I'll go into more detail. Anyone that argues with a computer program is an idiot. Secondly on what grounds would anyone argue with a computer program? Who's going to know it's wrong?

Someone who reviews the video?
   25. PreservedFish Posted: December 23, 2019 at 05:46 PM (#5910716)
There will be much less day-to-day complaining about balls and strikes by players and umpires and fans. There will be a TON of meta complaining about what constitutes a strike zone and why MLB needs to tweak the zone this way or that way to deal with this or that unintended consequence. Pretty sure Jose was referring to the second type of complaint. Then again, according to RoyalFlush he's in favor of polio, so maybe I should stop making charitable assumptions about his intentions here.
   26. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 05:52 PM (#5910718)
People already argue about what the strike zone should be and have done so for decades.

Having the ability to actually change the zone in a controlled wau doesn't make things worse and it's a helluva lot better than a bunch of fat slobs deciding what is and isn't a strike on any given day and batter.
   27. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 23, 2019 at 07:01 PM (#5910736)
FDR had polio and he led us (most of the way) through WW II, Why do you hate the troops?

Anyway, while Fish’s second point is the one I think will come up somewhat often I have faith that there are plenty of people on the field during a baseball game to argue with the computer,

Also, I really can’t wait for the inevitable complaints and conspiracy theories about hacking.
   28. Boxkutter Posted: December 23, 2019 at 09:29 PM (#5910755)
I can't understand why people would argue for continuing to have wrong calls in the name of entertainment. Are you saying you don't care if a call is wrong or right, as long as it's entertaining? Sounds like willful ignorance. Must be bliss.
   29. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 23, 2019 at 09:44 PM (#5910759)
My issue isn’t that I want calls to be wrong, but this is entertainment. This is going to change the game in ways we don’t know. It seems like it is going to slow things down as noted above and that’s a big no, we are going to see pitches called differently than they have been for 150 years and it’s going to take away pitch framing as a skill which is a skill I appreciate ( yes I caught when I played why do you ask).

On top of all that while I appreciate the frustration of calls going the wrong way I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter, the calls even out. And if that means once in awhile someone loses their #### over a bad call a good nose to nose argument is fun to watch.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:08 PM (#5910766)
My issue isn’t that I want calls to be wrong, but this is entertainment. This is going to change the game in ways we don’t know. It seems like it is going to slow things down as noted above and that’s a big no, we are going to see pitches called differently than they have been for 150 years and it’s going to take away pitch framing as a skill which is a skill I appreciate ( yes I caught when I played why do you ask).

On top of all that while I appreciate the frustration of calls going the wrong way I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter, the calls even out. And if that means once in awhile someone loses their #### over a bad call a good nose to nose argument is fun to watch.


100% agreement.
   31. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:13 PM (#5910767)
Roboumps: bringing Red Sox fans and Yankee fans together since 2019.
   32. dave h Posted: December 24, 2019 at 12:39 AM (#5910779)
I don't understand the "replay has been bad so this will be too" argument. Yes, they both use "technology" but why does that matter? Do you also not like using your phone as a ticket? You can say that you don't trust the powers that be to make improvements to the game, but I don't see why that would be dependent on whether the improvements use technology.

And the Livan Hernandez/Eric Gregg game is a stain on the sport. Missed calls don't always even out and they're not always harmless.
   33. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 24, 2019 at 01:05 AM (#5910780)
Technology off the field is not the same as technology on the field. Replay was going to fix the obvious missed calls, that’s great. Spending three minutes to decide if a guy came a millimeter off the base in the third inning is not enjoyable.

Yes, the ERic Gregg game was bad. My recollection is the zone was big for both teams that day but that’s neither here nor there. As the saying goes, anecdote is not the singular of data. I’m all for holding umpires to account for bad calls and bad performances. That’s a better use of the technology to me. ERic Gregg was a bad unp, we knew that before that game and using the technology to grade umps is a better use in my opinion.
   34. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 01:17 AM (#5910781)
And the Livan Hernandez/Eric Gregg game is a stain on the sport. Missed calls don't always even out and they're not always harmless.

are you kidding?? that game evened out 5 years of Glavine/Maddux (just kidding, I think)

I can't find the article I linked here a couple of months ago about the reaction to the Atlantic League experiment, but the consensus was:

1.) the robo ump called MANY more high and low strikes than human umpires (to the extent that they lowered the line of the high strike)
2.) the robo ump would NOT call strikes an inch or two off the corners

the latter was lamented by Frank Viola (who is either a manager or pitching coach in that league)--essentially he said it would eliminate the Viola/Glavine/Maddux nibbler

   35. manchestermets Posted: December 24, 2019 at 04:29 AM (#5910785)
It's known that umps call more strikes on 3-0 and more balls on 0-2. That's a moderating influence on TTO. If that goes away, we could see more K's and more BB's.


But that wouldn't necessarily go away would it? I would expect more strikes to be called on 3-0 and more balls on 0-2, because I would expect those to be the pitches. On 3-0, a pitcher is going to be more careful not to throw a ball, likewise on 0-2 he's going to be more likely to throw a pitch away because a hitter may commit to swinging out of fear of striking out looking. Neither of those are going to change after robo-umps.
   36. . Posted: December 24, 2019 at 05:38 AM (#5910787)
I can't find the article I linked here a couple of months ago about the reaction to the Atlantic League experiment, but the consensus was:

1.) the robo ump called MANY more high and low strikes than human umpires (to the extent that they lowered the line of the high strike)
2.) the robo ump would NOT call strikes an inch or two off the corners


Good. This is exactly the problem robo umps should be fixing.

It's mind-boggling that this would need even an iota of re-litigating, but a pitch an inch or two off the corners is not a strike. It's simply amazing that people would romanticize strikes being called on balls.
   37. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 08:25 AM (#5910793)
It called the high strike a lot and they then lowered the strike zone. Gasp. You mean there is a way to quickly adjust the system to get results you're looking for? Those bastards!
   38. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 08:26 AM (#5910794)
The tennis system is near instantaneous at this point or at least as fast as a human calling it out.

I would adopt a tennis like system. If it's a strike a noise is made. Perhaps even a canned strike call. A ball nothing.
   39. . Posted: December 24, 2019 at 09:17 AM (#5910799)
Umpires routinely calling balls strikes and hitters thereby knowing there's a chance it will be done, is a massive reason we see hitters incompetently flail. In a very real sense, the shitty human umpiring we've seen has caused and enabled oafball.
   40. flournoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 09:34 AM (#5910803)
So far I'd argue technology (i.e. replay) has been a net negative. So for now I'm pretty firmly opposed to this.


What is "technology?" Today's technology is tomorrow's unremarkable generic standard. Would you have been opposed to the technological advancement of fielders using gloves? Players wearing breathable fabrics instead of wool suits? Surgical advancements allowing players to recover from injuries? Games being broadcast live on television for people to watch from home?

Everything was "high tech" at one point. This too shall pass.
   41. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:35 AM (#5910817)
The tennis system is near instantaneous at this point or at least as fast as a human calling it out.


A couple of months ago, the NextGen championship called all lines electronically. The announcers discussed the fact a few times and their comments were that the line calling seemed to be working fine and the players weren't having any issues.

Tennis isn't baseball and the technology is probably a little different, but this is one real world example to consider.
   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5910819)
Tennis isn't baseball and the technology is probably a little different, but this is one real world example to consider.

One dimensional and fixed is a lot different from three dimensional and variable.
   43. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5910821)
I hold out hope that one day somebody will come out with an electric processing machine with tubes and diodes that can handle this difficult task. I look forward to seeing how they solve the problem of punch cards.
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5910829)
I hold out hope that one day somebody will come out with an electric processing machine with tubes and diodes that can handle this difficult task. I look forward to seeing how they solve the problem of punch cards.

Do you have to be so intentionally obtuse? This is a primarily a sensor issue, not a processing issue.

They can't get replay right, what makes you think they'll get this right?
   45. . Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5910831)
One dimensional and fixed is a lot different from three dimensional and variable.


You keep on saying that, but the strike zone doesn't have to be three-dimensional (and in reality, isn't, because the umps aren't eyeballing it that way). (And tennis isn't one-dimensional, it's two dimensional, and there's nothing fixed about it, since there isn't a single fixed line or point.)

They can't get replay right, what makes you think they'll get this right?


It's way easier.
   46. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5910833)
Obtuse? We're in the 21st century and you're acting like all we have available to us is some steampunk junk.
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:28 AM (#5910834)
You keep on saying that, but the strike zone doesn't have to be three-dimensional (and in reality, isn't, because the umps aren't eyeballing it that way). (And tennis isn't one-dimensional, it's two dimensional, and there's nothing fixed about it, since there isn't a single fixed line or point.)

Tennis is calling the side-line, which is one-dimensional. Only the horizontal matters. The sensor is creating a plane, because that one-dimension matters over a height of a few inches.

Now you're changing what the strike zone is, and has always been. Umpires have always called a 3-D zone, that's why a pitcher can drop a curve-ball into the top of the zone, or nip the corner with a breaking pitch. It's why back-door sliders exist.

   48. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5910835)
Obtuse? We're in the 21st century and you're acting like all we have available to us is some steampunk junk.

What do we have exactly? Cameras, right? That's it.

So, you're going to have a bunch of cameras from a bunch of angles trying to calibrate on a imaginary cube that varies from hitter to hitter, and determine if the ball touches that imaginary cube at any point in time.

If it were easy, it would have been done already.
   49. . Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5910836)
ennis is calling the side-line, which is one-dimensional.


And the baseline and the service lines. The camera is very much not covering only one dimension. (And it looks like it's really contemplating three, because we see the ball's travel shadow before it makes its final measured mark. Not entirely sure on that one, maybe the travel shadow is just for show.)

Now you're changing what the strike zone is, and has always been. Umpires have always called a 3-D zone,


Very poorly. If it becomes a 2-D zone, it's an entirely marginal change that will net-net be a massive improvement.

It's why back-door sliders exist.


Back-door sliders exist because of shitty human umps, and the game will be better without both of them. Balls are routinely called strikes on back-door sliders and no fan should want such a thing. A back-door slider wrongly called strike three is a detestable thing, both competitively and aesthetically. Loathsome.

If it were easy, it would have been done already.


It would be easy to enforce the 12 second rule and they don't do that, so ... no, ease isn't the reason they haven't done it.
   50. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:48 AM (#5910839)
They're already testing the system in the minors. They aren't finding the problems you're worried about. The technology exists.
   51. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:50 AM (#5910841)
Dp
   52. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:50 AM (#5910842)
In tennis they track the ball. It is a 3D system called hawk eye. Snapper doesn't know what he is talking about.
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5910843)
They're already testing the system in the minors. They aren't finding the problems you're worried about. The technology exists.

And they're reporting multi-second delays, which are absolutely unacceptable.

I love mindless faith in technology. It's why Amazon gets away with monitoring every word their Alexa users say in their own homes.

Why do we need to get every call correct? Can someone explain that to me?

Who cares? It's entertainment. No one call for a redo in a live play or concert if someone flubs a line of misses a note.
   54. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5910844)
As opposed to the 30 second to a minute delays we already have?

But the issue is overblown if you have actually watched a robo ump called game. The biggest issue in terms of the call is that it is being relayed to a human being who then had to vocalize it. There is no reason to do that. Like I said they can remove the ump from announcing whether it is a strike or not.
   55. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5910845)
Have you seen an Adele concert?
   56. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5910847)
If people lose faith in the system they stop being paid customers.
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 12:14 PM (#5910848)
If people lose faith in the system they stop being paid customers.

And that hasn't happened in 150 years.
   58. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 12:17 PM (#5910849)
Every single major sport has adopted instant replay. Every single sport has changed with the times or has become irrelevant.
   59. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: December 24, 2019 at 01:47 PM (#5910860)
One dimensional and fixed is a lot different from three dimensional and variable


You are wrong. It is very much 3D. The measurement requires x, y, and z coordinates. What is potentially confusing is that the z coordinate is 0 at the time of the measurement and one of the other coordinates is irrelevant*, but they are still all needed. Depending on which line is called, the determination of in or out is based on (x, ?, 0) or (?, y, 0). If it wasn't 3D, you wouldn't know when to make the measurement (which has to happen the split second that the ball hits the ground, hence the need to determine when the z coordinate is 0). If you couldn't track both the x and y coordinates, then you would be limited in which lines you can call.

*In the pathological case where the ball hits at the exact corner of the court then you need both the x and y coordinates.

And they're reporting multi-second delays, which are absolutely unacceptable.


It also takes at least 2-3 seconds for the catcher to throw the ball back to the pitcher. Unless the delay is very long, it will not add any time between pitches. I can't think of any action on the field where a short delay effects the action (the catcher doesn't wait on the call before throwing to second on a stolen base attempt with the count 3-2). Also, haven't there been umpires that had extremely slow ball and strike calls. I can't remember his name, but I know there was at least one who had a very slow call (enough that the announcers constantly mentioned it when he was calling pitches).

What do we have exactly? Cameras, right? That's it.


We can determine the position and velocity of elemental particles going >.9c to a fraction of a nanometer in 100 foot to a side cubes. The technology exists.

Who cares? It's entertainment. No one call for a redo in a live play or concert if someone flubs a line of misses a note.


Like it or not, nobody wins or loses thousands of dollars based on a missed note in a concert. Gambling (i.e. big money) is and will remain a big driver in forcing sports to be more accurate.
   60. Greg Pope Posted: December 24, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5910862)
Umpires have always called a 3-D zone

I'm extremely skeptical that umpires are really calling a 3D zone. I doubt that the human eye can process to that level of detail. The ball is coming more or less straight at them, and they're seeing that the ball missed the front of the zone, but moved enough in 17 inches, going 90+ MPH to hit the back edge? There's just no way they're capable of doing that. They're calling a 2D zone, when the ball "crosses the plate".

This is the problem in getting huge curves called for strikes, right? People complain about it all the time. The umpire can't tell that it "nicked" the front or back edge of the 3D zone. It just doesn't happen.
   61. . Posted: December 24, 2019 at 02:38 PM (#5910868)
I'm extremely skeptical that umpires are really calling a 3D zone. I doubt that the human eye can process to that level of detail. The ball is coming more or less straight at them, and they're seeing that the ball missed the front of the zone, but moved enough in 17 inches, going 90+ MPH to hit the back edge? There's just no way they're capable of doing that. They're calling a 2D zone, when the ball "crosses the plate".

This is the problem in getting huge curves called for strikes, right? People complain about it all the time. The umpire can't tell that it "nicked" the front or back edge of the 3D zone. It just doesn't happen.


Exactly this, in every particular.
   62. PreservedFish Posted: December 24, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5910869)
Well, they've tried to call a 3D zone. But I agree that they're not good enough to really do it accurately.

I suspect that the robo-umps will usher in a new age of junkballing as pitchers with loopy curves and huge sweeping deliveries and submariners and so on realize that they can nick the corners on almost unhittable pitches that were previously rarely called strikes. And although I don't want more Ks, I do think it could be fun to watch. The tyranny of the fastball-slider meathead combo has got to end.

Anything that brings the game closer to its platonic ideal (Wiffleball) is mostly a positive.
   63. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5910874)
Yes, the curve that drops out of the strike zone gets constantly called a ball by human beings but the auto ump has correctly called it a strike to the point that it's ticked off some players.
   64. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5910885)
So far all we know is it has added an additional 4 seconds per pitch when used in the minor leagues.

If that's accurate, you folks are gonna go nuts. According to the Verducci article on the 2010s (see other thread), baseball added a mere 2.8 seconds between pitches over the decade which amounted to 14 minutes. This would add about 20 minutes.

I did say "if that's accurate" which I have some doubts about. Maybe it was 4 seconds to get the ball/strike call (see McCoy's post) but it's not like everybody has to stand around doing nothing and it's not like that time couldn't be shortened. But I'd think they'd want to get that down to (nearly) 0 seconds compared with the current pace before introducing it.

Assuming any delay issues can be worked out then, as long as MLB is willing to tinker with the "rulebook" strike zone to control Ks, BBs, contact, I don't have a problem with robo-umps.

I don't watch a lot of tennis or cricket but my impression is that this technology, as it's implemented, slows things down. The hawkeye line call in tennis is deliberately set up to take some time -- it's a moment of drama with the crowd watching the ball on the screen as it gets closer and closer. In cricket, it's more like replay in baseball (or any sport) where it definitely slows things down in the hope of getting the call correct. Clearly in tennis (at least the Aus Open) they do this deliberately to build tension -- it might still require a delay but clearly not nearly that long.
   65. . Posted: December 24, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5910886)
Uncertainty about what's a ball and what's a strike is a proximate cause of oafball and neckbeard middle reliever ball, particularly the former, and the sport will be vastly improved once that uncertainty is eliminated. A hitter and pitcher both knowing what the strike zone is, rather than speculating, is bound to have very beneficial effects.
   66. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 05:23 PM (#5910888)
You can actually Google video clips of auto ump in action. It isn't anywhere close to 4 seconds. There have been some glitches and hiccups but that's why they're testing it in the fall league and the Atlantic league and why they're looking at 2022 for the majors.

The typical delay is like half a second and that probably has more to do with the ump looking at whatever notification and then processing it and then vocalizing it.

   67. PreservedFish Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:46 PM (#5910902)
I don't watch a lot of tennis or cricket but my impression is that this technology, as it's implemented, slows things down. The hawkeye line call in tennis is deliberately set up to take some time -- it's a moment of drama with the crowd watching the ball on the screen as it gets closer and closer.


This makes me wonder - do hardcore tennis fans gripe the way that we do?

In tennis over the years, the serve has gotten more and more important, the volley less and less important. Breaks must be less common today, which makes matches a bit more predictable and a bit more boring. Surely old-timers gripe about this. But then again we just got to watch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal rock for 15 years, neither of whom is really a monster 140+ mph service guy, and who could possibly complain about that? It's like Mays and Mantle before our very eyes.

Some of the change is the size and technique of the players, but some of it is the equipment, chiefly the rackets. My father played D1 tennis in the wooden racket days, and the head of his racket looked more like a squash racket than a modern tennis racket. If too many aces was seen to be a problem, it could be adjusted easily with new equipment standards.

Tennis also instituted a service clock at some point in recent years. Now, here's a sport where dilly-dallying is truly useful to the players, because the sport is absolutely exhausting. A 45 second break must feel amazing compared to a 25 second break. As it is, many players have elaborate Hargrove/Garciaparra style towel rituals between points, but they do need to get it in under the clock.

Anyway, tennis' replays do slow things down, a bit, but they don't happen often and the official review is engaged very quickly, often with just a nod or gesture from the player, and the question is resolved in mere seconds. If baseball's replays could be engaged and resolved this quickly - 15-20 seconds maybe for the entire process? - everyone would LOVE them. And every time one of these reviews replaces the way that players used to argue by effusively pointing at this or that tiny mark or speck of disturbed clay on the court, it's in fact sped the game up considerably.

With both the service clock (which is effective but unobtrusive) and the replay system, tennis is a very good model for baseball to follow.
   68. Hank Gillette Posted: December 25, 2019 at 03:41 AM (#5910906)

So, you're going to have a bunch of cameras from a bunch of angles trying to calibrate on a imaginary cube that varies from hitter to hitter, and determine if the ball touches that imaginary cube at any point in time.

If it were easy, it would have been done already.


And that’s why no one invented the cell phone.

“You’re going to put radio transmitters/receivers every ten square miles, and the radios can transmit multiple conversations on the same frequency simultaneously? That will never work. No one would go to the expense of putting up the number of radio transmitters/receivers to cover an entire city, and multiple conversations on the same frequency is just impossible. Besides, if it was easy, someone would have already have done it.
   69. I Knew A Guy Who Knew A Guy Who Knew Rey Ordonez Posted: December 25, 2019 at 08:18 AM (#5910909)
I would adopt a tennis like system. If it's a strike a noise is made. Perhaps even a canned strike call. A ball nothing.


If it doesn't sound like Tom Hallion or Jim Joyce I don't want it.

On a serious note, though, it's clear to anyone who's been on a baseball field that players and coaches don't want the "real" strike zone called. I've been an umpire in three different states and in every one, the coaches have wanted something different, neither of which has resembled the book zone. There's going to be a lot of ######## and moaning by the old guard until most of your players and managers are guys who didn't play under the current strike zone.

I just see a lot of conversations like this one (https://youtu.be/ddncpu9gd84?t=421) when the big looping curveball that hasn't been a strike for 100 years, but just because one in the Atlantic League, is a strike in MLB, as noted in 62.
   70. Adam Starblind Posted: December 25, 2019 at 12:45 PM (#5910920)
They can't get replay right


Is that true? I know people don't like the delay in the game, but others like the dramatic moment. What else do people not like?
   71. flournoy Posted: December 25, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5910922)
This makes me wonder - do hardcore tennis fans gripe the way that we do?


I don't know anything about tennis, but the sport I'm most in tune with, track and field, has gone entirely digital at the highest levels. Timing systems are fully automated, throws are measured by laser rather than measuring tape, and false starts and toe board fouls are determined electronically. The timing systems are in widespread use everywhere at every level and have been for quite some time, and the laser measurements are seeing increased use and are present at most championship caliber meets.

I don't know anyone who complains about it. Track and field people (myself included) complain about a lot of stuff, but not that.
   72. i hear there are a lot of dead animals in 57i66135 Posted: December 25, 2019 at 03:21 PM (#5910932)
i've posted about this topic a few times before. here is where i'm currently at:


the thing everyone wants to get rid of is the 100% certain ball, the one that should never get called a strike, which happens to get called a strike. it's an embarrassment to the sport (#RIPericgregg), but it's also low hanging fruit. technology can immediately fix it, without intruding on any meaningful aspect of the sport.


give umpires an earpiece, set it to beep whenever a pitch should be called a ball 98+% of the time, and tell umpires they have to call that pitch a ball**

unfortunately, the problem with this system is that it's a pavlovian nightmare that would almost certainly result in umpires calling strikes on every pitch that isn't an obvious ball, which would expand the zone unintentionally. so to combat that, you'd have to send the same signal to umpires for strikes; anything that should be called a strike 98+% of the time gets sent to the umpire and that pitch has to be called a strike by the umpire.



what's left to the umpire's discretion at this point are the 4-6 inches on the edges of the strike zone. that's still a ton of calls, which means the algorithm won't make much difference and most people will assume it doesn't do anything and they'll want to get rid of it.


** actually, you should probably cut the umpires out of the loop entirely. just signal the balls and strikes directly up to the scoreboard so everyone in the park knows when the decision was made by the algorithm. this way prevents some redassed cowboy ###### from overruling the algorithm for his own shits and giggles. .
   73. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 25, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5910938)
Is that true? I know people don't like the delay in the game, but others like the dramatic moment. What else do people not like?


The delay is a huge issue. I hate sitting around waiting to find out what happened. Related but not quite the same is I hate watching something happen, a call get made, then finding out you know what, that didn’t really happen.

For me it comes down to the entertainment element of the game. That moment, even the uncertainty that a call MIGHT be reviewed takes away some of the joy of the fan experience for me. I get the “don’t you want them to get it right” arguments but for me very very few calls are so egregious as to not be something I am cool shrugging my shoulders and moving on over.

And as I’ve noted up thread I think if we just accept that #### happens we will survive. Read my comment in post 29, I feel good about that one. I get that everyone doesn’t agree with me but that sums up my position pretty well I think.
   74. Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: December 26, 2019 at 09:54 AM (#5910989)
This is going to change the game in ways we don’t know.


Jose, my friend. Please read that sentence and come to your senses.

edit...I mean, you're right, we don't know. It may change it for the good. They may iron out the kinks, and, coupled with instituting a strict pitch clock, may reduce game times. Let's be positive!

Moe: I'm positive!

Curly: Only morons are positive.

Moe: Are you sure?

Curly: I'm positive!
   75. Hysterical & Useless Posted: December 28, 2019 at 06:37 PM (#5911466)
very very few calls are so egregious as to not be something I am cool shrugging my shoulders and moving on over.


In a game once, I was on 2nd. The pitch clanked off the catcher's mitt, rolled a few feet away. I took off for third, slid in between the 3rd baseman's legs. There I was, my feet on the bag when he took the throw from the catcher and brought the tag down on my chest. The umpire called my out.

That was in 1961. I'm STILL pissed about that call.
   76. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2019 at 08:06 PM (#5911478)
I can still recall a bogus call in my 4th grade four square tournament. Could have used hawk-eye and automated umpiring in that game.
   77. Sunday silence Posted: December 29, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5911558)
Remember when Eric Gregg butchered that call and cost your team a chance at the pennant? DOnt you just love The HUMAN ELEMENT?
   78. John DiFool2 Posted: December 29, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5911579)
One thing I am glad for are those "eveners" that FG has gone into some detail about: pitcher ahead in the count, pitches more likely to be called balls; pitcher behind, now all of a sudden you'll likely see more strikes.
   79. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 29, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5911601)
I can still recall a bogus call in my 4th grade four square tournament.
Were you also at Dr. Howard Elementary in Champaign, IL?
   80. John DiFool2 Posted: January 22, 2020 at 08:13 PM (#5918482)
Shocked that there isn't a new thread on this:

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28537918/mlb-plans-robot-umps-call-balls-strikes-spring-training-games

You may proceed with the teeth gnashing.
   81. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:22 PM (#5918552)
Or long rounds of stormy, prolonged applause, if you're sick of "personalized" strike zones. It's about ####### time they started doing this.
   82. majorflaw Posted: January 23, 2020 at 02:21 AM (#5918578)
“Why do we need to get every call correct? Can someone explain that to me?”

MLB’s new partners—DraftKings—insists. Fans might have gotten angry at seeing their team lose as a result of bad umpiring but that is insignificant compared with the fury of a gambler scorned.

   83. Rusty Priske Posted: January 23, 2020 at 09:08 AM (#5918601)
This is very good news. Automating line calls made tennis watchable.

I predict that within two years of having automated strike zones we will wonder how we ever lived without it.
   84. McCoy Posted: January 23, 2020 at 10:04 AM (#5918620)
Mr McKay's 4th grade class, Bower elementary, Warrenville, Ill
   85. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: January 23, 2020 at 10:10 AM (#5918622)
MLB’s new partners—DraftKings—insists. Fans might have gotten angry at seeing their team lose as a result of bad umpiring but that is insignificant compared with the fury of a gambler scorned.


Annoying gamblers is a good thing. Anything to keep betting out of baseball as much as possible.

I'm glad they're testing it. As much as I'm opposed to it if they can get it right it's a very good thing. Unfortunately I'm HIGHLY skeptical that it will be a net positive. Replay has been a negative in my opinion and I expect this to be similar. But yeah, give it a look in spring training and see what happens.
   86. Blastin Posted: January 23, 2020 at 10:20 AM (#5918626)
I want this so Aaron Judge's career can be extended.
   87. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: January 23, 2020 at 10:25 AM (#5918630)
Is Judge a robot?
   88. Blastin Posted: January 23, 2020 at 10:27 AM (#5918631)
His stats without that below the knee strike, maybe.
   89. Rusty Priske Posted: January 23, 2020 at 10:41 AM (#5918638)
Replay has been a net positive for me.

I hope they can make it faster, but I will always be for getting the call as right as possible and against grown men screaming in the face of other grown men.
   90. . Posted: January 23, 2020 at 10:53 AM (#5918643)
We shouldn't even talk about this in the same category breath as replay, because it isn't replay. It's primary play, making the primary call, not reviewing the primary call. The various experiences with replay have no application to this.

If you could automate safe/out calls at first base, we should do that, too.
   91. majorflaw Posted: January 23, 2020 at 11:17 AM (#5918661)
“Anything to keep betting out of baseball as much as possible.”

Agree but that horse has already left the barn. Won’t be long before all the best seats at every MLB stadium are reserved for gamblers. Really.
   92. Lassus Posted: January 23, 2020 at 01:36 PM (#5918736)
I understand that no one cares about poetry and narrative, and that it's subjective, but the calls above about replay being utilized in every other sport are being willfully ignorant about that poetry and narrative, as well as simply history.

There is no other sports in which the umpire, the contest's arbiter, has been as large of a part of the game as baseball. Not even remotely close. I mean, I guess all y'all hate this, but this is one (of many) component of the game that has made it the perfect game. No one has cared about tennis lines being called by robots because no one has ever cared about the tennis linesman. No library of books has been written about tennis linesmen, no paintings of football officials, no poetry about hockey officials.

I understand that everyone wants everything perfect and just so, and I can live with it even if it makes me sad and wistful.

But it is completely and totally inaccurate to equalize baseball umpires with the entirety of other sports' officials. They are not the same, do not have the same history, and have never affected the history and story of the game in the manner umpires have. To assert so shows a true misunderstanding of the game of baseball.
   93. . Posted: January 23, 2020 at 01:41 PM (#5918737)
I understand that no one cares about poetry and narrative, and that it's subjective,


I care about them a lot, which is why I always advocate to just get rid of replay and have the gatekeepers be under orders not to show close calls over and over on the broadcasts, etc, and to move the sports culture to a point where it isn't really even thinking about the calls. I'm also the one around here decrying the crowding out of poetry and narrative by saber fanaticism.

But this isn't really even replay, it's pre-play, and it is called so many times and is so integral to the sport, that I put it in a different bucket. It's really not replay. It's not stopping and delaying the pace of the game, it isn't depriving fans of their spontaneous celebrations, or making the celebrations conditional, and all the rest.
   94. Sunday silence Posted: January 23, 2020 at 02:13 PM (#5918754)

There is no other sports in which the umpire, the contest's arbiter, has been as large of a part of the game as baseball. Not even remotely close.


Miles Lanes says "PLay Ball!"
   95. Rusty Priske Posted: January 23, 2020 at 02:17 PM (#5918758)
I am going to go on what seems a wild tangent.

I have been involved in Slam Poetry for a long time. I was the 'Slam Master' (Person in charge of the competition aspect of Slam Poetry), for one of the most successful slams in Canada and I was the 'National Slam Master' for the national championships.

In Slam Poetry, five random judges are chosen from the audience. They are there to represent the audience.

Sometimes, those judges try to make the even about themselves. Whenever that happens, it is a bad thing. Completely. The competition is not about the judges. It is about the poets.

This is why, when I see a comment like "There is no other sports in which the umpire, the contest's arbiter, has been as large of a part of the game as baseball." I think, you are right.

And this is a BAD THING.

We shouldn't even know the names of the umpires. The more faceless they are, the better. They are there to represent the rulebook, only. They should not be 'part of the game'. It should never be about the umpires.

   96. Lassus Posted: January 23, 2020 at 04:10 PM (#5918801)
This is why, when I see a comment like "There is no other sports in which the umpire, the contest's arbiter, has been as large of a part of the game as baseball." I think, you are right.

And this is a BAD THING.

We shouldn't even know the names of the umpires. The more faceless they are, the better. They are there to represent the rulebook, only. They should not be 'part of the game'. It should never be about the umpires.
And the game you fell in love with would be a different game.

If this is something you don't care about, or don't think is important, I certainly understand. But to deny the facts of it, to deny that what you are describing is something altogether different and wholly removed from what was presented to you is simply bewildering to me.
   97. Zach Posted: January 23, 2020 at 04:50 PM (#5918814)
Could the robo-umps enforce the rules on time between pitches?
   98. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 23, 2020 at 04:53 PM (#5918818)
Could the robo-umps enforce the rules on time between pitches?
Yes, preferably with lasers.
   99. Zach Posted: January 23, 2020 at 05:05 PM (#5918821)
I think the entire concept of robo-umps is ill-fated, in the same way as instant replay.

Calling pitches is not really a technological problem. Umpires do it right now with an acceptable level of accuracy. ("Acceptable" for me means a couple of ball widths. Pitchers can't really throw more accurately than that, and batters can't judge balls and strikes better than that.) Improving the accuracy of pitch locations beyond the level of accuracy attained by pitchers and batters is pointless.

On the other hand, the possibility of unintended side effects seems huge. Are we really sure that every single pitch that crosses the plate between the knees and the letters is something we would think of as a strike? Would an eephus ball count? A knuckleball that nicks the strike zone? A wild pitcher who nicks the upper inside corner while trying to throw low and away?

The chances are high that we will discover the pitching equivalent of the baserunner who steals second base easily, but whose foot skitters across the bag. Only now because it happens at the single pitch level, it happens a dozen times a game.
   100. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 23, 2020 at 05:19 PM (#5918824)

Flip.
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