Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Atlantic League to experience with ‘stealing’ first base

Atlantic League to experience with ‘stealing’ first base

The plate umpire wore an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket and relayed the call upon receiving it from a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar.

"We've been trained not to call these strikes", deBrauwere said.

As you're no doubt aware, Major League Baseball and the independent Atlantic League recently entered into a three-year agreement in which the Atlantic League will adopt experimental rules suggested by Major League Baseball to study their effects on game play.

In much the same way the baloney abhors the grinder - to borrow from William F. Buckley Jr. - the former catcher in me loathes the thought of "robot umpires" displacing their human counterparts.

"One time I already had caught the ball back from the catcher and he signaled strike", said pitcher Daryl Thompson, who didn't realize the technology was being used until after he disagreed with a call. That's value that, if lost, would deal yet another blow to baseball's most grueling and thankless position.

Save for pronounced consternation over one pitch, a tailing fastball that rung up Lancaster Barnstormers designated hitter Joe Terdoslavich in the second inning, the digitally rendered strike zone was barely noticeable. I realize that hasn't stopped Major League Baseball before, but I am genuinely curious who came up with this idea. The top of the ball shaved the bottom of the strike zone. "We think the Atlantic League is being a pioneer for all of the sport".

If you're one of those fans who have grown exhausted of umpires blow ball and strike calls, we have some good news for you. What we know is technology can help umpires be more accurate and we're committed to that.

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Next, MLB's rulebook definition of the strike zone is necessarily subjective in its constitution.

Finally, the check swing rule will now heavily favor batters. TrackMan also does not evaluate checked swings. The system involves TrackMan software, which uses a radar system to determine balls and strikes.

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.

"This strike zone is different than what every player has known in the past", said Atkins, the York pitcher.

Baseball purists have been bracing themselves for years for the digital strike zone, what opponents derisively call "robot umpires", fearing it could open the door to more structural changes that quicken the game's pace or at least inject more offense. This is a rule that will make its way to Major League Baseball for the start of the 2020 season. If our sports are to become hyper-rational institutions, devoid of that most basic human drama that draws us to sport in the first place, haven't we lost something?

G. K. Chesterton once quipped that it is "mysticism" that "keeps men sane".

Let the catchers keep framing pitches, for goodness' sake.

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