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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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   101. JAHV Posted: January 23, 2020 at 05:21 PM (#5918826)
Yes, preferably with lasers.


I still think Daleks would work best for this job. Any pitcher taking longer than 15 seconds to throw would be exterminated.
   102. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 23, 2020 at 05:34 PM (#5918828)
I think concerns about unintended consequences are reasonable*, which is why they are doing the right thing and testing the system first. I would also hope that even after they get it right in the Atlantic League, they then test it in Spring Training or whatever before implementing it in regular season MLB games.

* Unrelated, but yesterday was the sign-up day for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. In prior years, they opened the sign-up at noon and people registered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once you got to the registration page, it took a few minutes to enter your details and then you were done. This system seemed to work fine. This year, they implemented a new on-line queueing system. I'm not sure what problem this was supposed to solve, but the system crashed spectacularly and was down for 4 hours. People who set their calendars and planned their day in order to be able to sign up at noon missed out, whereas people who just happened to check back in at 3:45-4 pm were able to sign up. Sure, these are first-world problems, but examples like this are a good argument for caution and testing before implementing shiny new technology -- and making sure you have a good reason for doing so.
   103. Zach Posted: January 23, 2020 at 05:43 PM (#5918831)
Spring Training might work out the operational kinks. It might reveal the tip of the iceberg of unhittable pitches that will now be called strikes. But I don't think it will uncover the real problem, which is pitchers who go into the game intending to throw unhittable pitches that will now be called strikes.

Counting a pitch that falls out of the strike zone as a called strike is going to unbalance the game.
   104. McCoy Posted: January 23, 2020 at 05:47 PM (#5918834)
The horror
   105. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 23, 2020 at 06:08 PM (#5918840)
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 broadcast
That won’t work well. Folks will not tolerate not showing close plays. They know the slo-mo, freeze frame technology exists, and when their team gets the hosed by a ‘bad call’, they want to know about it, and they’ll want something done about it. The No Replay crowd seems to have forgotten how we got where we are today.
   106. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: January 23, 2020 at 08:26 PM (#5918857)
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.


Disagree. I know the names of far too many NFL officials, and while I don't watch basketball at all, I know the names of several NBA officials from the highlight shows.
   107. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: January 23, 2020 at 08:42 PM (#5918861)
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?


Did the rules change when I wasn't looking? A pitch that nicks the upper inside corner is a strike even if the pitcher was trying to throw it low and away. All the other examples you give are also strikes and should be called strikes.

It is possible that with perfect ball/strike calling MLB determines that the current strike zone is causing unintended problems, but the way to solve that is to change the strike zone, not to continue to call ball/strikes incorrectly.

I also find it interesting that you think that all unintended side effects are automatically negative. We have just as much chance of finding that perfect ball/strike calls cause positive effects in areas that we didn't consider. One possible positive side effect is to reduce the number and severity of player/umpire confrontations. If players aren't constantly harping about balls and strikes, the umpires might not overreact to other situations. At a minimum, we should see a whole lot less of star players and managers being tossed for arguing balls and strikes. I know that I would much rather see star players play than the poetry of umpires making bad calls.
   108. Sunday silence Posted: January 23, 2020 at 11:52 PM (#5918917)
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?


Entire first para. devoted to arguing that the level of precision is unnecessary. Entire second para. devoted to arguing for incredibly minute variances as game changing. Do you even remember anything you've written? Its bizarre.
   109. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 24, 2020 at 01:15 PM (#5919056)
The idea that “these things even out” is fundamentally wrong. A single wrong call does not have a net zero effect. Fans of the team that benefits are mildly thankful for their luck, while fans of the wronged team are apoplectic. There is a clear net negative effect, in terms of how people actually feel about these things. A second net negative, just in the other direction doesn’t “balance everything out,” it increases the total negative effect overall, even if there is some form of “balance” among the distribution of the negative effects.

This is obvious from even the most straightforward example. Marlins fans don’t write hagiographies about Eric Gregg, they just kind of shrug their shoulders and say “What are you gonna do?” Braves fans, on the other hand, maintain a blood feud with the entire Gregg line.
   110. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 24, 2020 at 01:20 PM (#5919061)
Marlins fans
I question your premise.
   111. Lassus Posted: January 24, 2020 at 01:21 PM (#5919062)
Marlins fans don’t write hagiographies about Eric Gregg, they just kind of shrug their shoulders and say “What are you gonna do?” Braves fans, on the other hand, maintain a blood feud with the entire Gregg line.

Except Braves fans are the perfect example for things actually evening out. All the non-strikes they got as strikes that THEY shrugged their shoulders at are in fact pretty well evened out by Eric Gregg.
   112. Eddo Posted: January 24, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5919089)
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 broadcast

Even better, don't show any plays at all! Let's just read about the outcome the next day.
   113. Eddo Posted: January 24, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5919090)
(double post)
   114. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 24, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5919092)
Except Braves fans are the perfect example for things actually evening out. All the non-strikes they got as strikes that THEY shrugged their shoulders at are in fact pretty well evened out by Eric Gregg.
Eric Gregg, Enforcer of Karma.
   115. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 24, 2020 at 03:40 PM (#5919121)
Except Braves fans are the perfect example for things actually evening out. All the non-strikes they got as strikes that THEY shrugged their shoulders at are in fact pretty well evened out by Eric Gregg.


That proves my point though. Even accepting these as equally negative things, Braves fans certainly don’t feel “contented” and “balanced” about them. Two net negatives don’t offset.
   116. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: January 25, 2020 at 03:45 AM (#5919220)
The idea that “these things even out” is fundamentally wrong. A single wrong call does not have a net zero effect. Fans of the team that benefits are mildly thankful for their luck, while fans of the wronged team are apoplectic. There is a clear net negative effect, in terms of how people actually feel about these things. A second net negative, just in the other direction doesn’t “balance everything out,” it increases the total negative effect overall, even if there is some form of “balance” among the distribution of the negative effects.


There's also plenty of evidence that the reputation of "star" players regularly results in favorable calls, like the Maddux outside corner call (or even more famously, the Jordan special treatment in the NBA). This type of systematic bias doesn't even out.
   117. Lassus Posted: January 25, 2020 at 07:14 AM (#5919223)
That proves my point though. Even accepting these as equally negative things, Braves fans certainly don’t feel “contented” and “balanced” about them. Two net negatives don’t offset.

There is an aphorism that applies here regarding a compromise or deal that leaves no one content or satisfied being the best one.
   118. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 26, 2020 at 12:43 AM (#5919312)
I think that aphorism applies better to actual deals than systemic failures; the DMV "leaves no one content," but that doesn't really really recommend it.

This is more akin to a series of deals where one side always feels indifferent and the other side is always in mourning. Literally no one feels good and everyone feels bad.
   119. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 04, 2020 at 12:05 PM (#5921510)

Iowa caucus giving additional reasons to be skeptical of new technology and test test test everything before introducing it in live situations.
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