Atlantic League to experience with ‘stealing’ first base

Atlantic League to experiment with batters “stealing first base”

Are robot umpires the future for baseball? It was a vicarious takeover: Home-plate umpire Brian deBrauwere wore an Apple AirPod, which relayed to him the ball-strike call, which was made by an on-site computer.

"Technically, they're strikes, but umpires never called them", Atkins said.

The independent Atlantic League became the first American professional baseball league to let a computer call balls and strikes, using the system at its All-Star Game.

Because the system is still in its infancy, an umpire is needed behind home in the event that the system fails to pick up a pitch, registers a pitch totally incorrectly or fails altogether.

Atlantic League players are highly experienced professionals, having progressed through professional baseball developmental levels (A, AA, AAA). The automated zone still has struggles with backdoor sliders and late-moving breaking pitches, and, as was on display in the Atlantic League game, there are still mechanical hiccups and delays with the technology.

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"If that was the one blunder", Terdoslavich said, "I didn't really hear any complaints from anyone". "In fact, we're trying empower the umpire with technology". To some would-be revolutionaries, this is a positive development - the Boston University study balked at the notion that "umpires continue to call balls and strikes like they did 100 years ago when Babe Ruth reigned supreme and the Ford Model T ruled the roads".

Umpires will remain responsible for making other calls on the field, including foul tips, check swings and plays at the plate.

"We need to see how it works, first in the Atlantic League and then probably other places, meaning other parts of minor league baseball, before it comes to Major League Baseball", Manfred said.

I'm assuming the impulse is to increase game "action" and to make up for the lack of non-homer hits in the game by allowing runners to reach base on plays that are more exciting than walks. "So if this helps the game and the officiating of the game, that's what we're here for", deBrauwere told the Record. In March, they announced the first set of rules, including the TrackMan radar system for calling balls and strikes, the ban of the shift and a three-batter minimum for pitchers.

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