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Robot umpire used for the first time ever in professional baseball game

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Are Robot Umpires Coming to Baseball?


By JOHN DORN

For the first time ever, a computerized umpire was used in a professional baseball game to determine balls and strikes.

The San Rafael Pacifics hosted the Vallejo Admirals on Wednesday with three cameras and a computer determining if pitches were strikes. The teams aren't affiliated with Major League Baseball, but the event could have far-reaching implications on the sport as a whole.

Vox covered exactly how the process works:

PITCHf/x uses three cameras — one in center field and two mounted on the grandstand — to track each pitch. Each camera captures about 30 images of the ball from the time it leaves the pitcher's hand to the time it's caught, and a computer analyzes this data to determine its path, speed, and location as it crosses home plate.

The technology has been used in MLB.com's Gameday tracking for years, but the shift toward applying it to on-field action has been resisted for a number of reasons.

A home plate umpire was stationed behind the dish for the game, but solely to call fair and foul balls as well as plays at the plate.

"They told me to stick my thumb in my belt loop so that I didn't call strikes," Dean Poteet said after the game.

The experiment is one that baseball traditionalists have forever been opposed to, but a number of players in the game left the experience with rave reviews.

"I feel like it speeds the game up more, it gets the hitters to swing at more pitches," Vallejo Admirals third baseman Joshua Wong told ArsTechnica.com. "It's good for the game. Just being more accurate and having better calls is going to help us more."

What about you? Do you think the robot ump movement should gain traction?



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