Atlantic League Debuts Robot Umpires During All-Star Game
The independent Atlantic League "became the first American professional baseball league to let a computer call balls and strikes" during the league's All-Star Game last night according to Rob Maaddi of the AP. Home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere "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." DeBrauwere said, "Until we can trust this system 100 percent, I still have to go back there with the intention of getting a pitch correct because if the system fails, it doesn't pick a pitch up or if it registers a pitch that's a foot-and-a-half off the plate as a strike, I have to be prepared to correct that." Maaddi noted it "didn't appear deBrauwere had any delay receiving calls at first but players noticed a big difference." The umpires have the "ability to override the computer, which considers a pitch a strike when the ball bounces and then crosses the zone." TrackMan also "does not evaluate check swings." The experiment with radar-tracking technology to call balls and strikes was "originally expected to begin at the start of the season but experienced some delays." Atlantic League President Rick White said that it is going to be "implemented league-wide over the next few weeks" (AP, 7/11).
ROOM TO IMPROVE: In Pennsylvania, Frank Bodani notes during last night's debut of the TrackMan system, "most everything at least seemed to go as usual, at least to fans watching." However, York Revolution P Mitch Atkins seemed "unsure about it after throwing his one inning." He said that it will "take a while to adjust to getting high and low strikes called in his favor." Same for a "truer but tighter strike zone on inside and outside pitches." Atkins also "noticed a delay in balls and strikes calls that fans may have not" (YORK DAILY RECORD, 7/11).