Stealing first gets a tryout in Atlantic League

Ruben Hill
July 11, 2019

ABS is supposed to create a consistent strike zone both for batters and pitchers and is expected to speed up the pace of play as managers and batters will no longer need to argue balls and strikes.

That was the case Wednesday night in the Atlantic League All-Star Game, putting them one step closer to the big time. According to Yahoo Sports, the robotic umpire, called TrackMan, helped home-plate umpire Brian deBrauwere assess whether pitches were balls or strikes via an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket. He then relayed the call to the pitcher and batter, with some delay.

The rule change was mentioned as part of a longer piece on the implementation of "robot umpires" in the Atlantic League, but it's a rather insane concept that certainly would increase the importance of defense behind the plate and control on the mound.

"We have seen a tremendous amount of interest in these initiatives from our players, coaches and fans throughout the first half of the season", Atlantic League president Rick White said in a statement.

White said the system will be deployed across his league in the coming weeks.

The TrackMan system does not evaluate check swings and now rules a ball that bounces and crosses the plate as a strike. "In fact, we're trying empower the umpire with technology".

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, on any ball dropped by the catcher, a runner can attempt to steal first base.

Among other new rules to be tested in the Atlantic League? I realize that hasn't stopped Major League Baseball before, but I am genuinely curious who came up with this idea.

All of this comes ahead of the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement in 2021, when Major League Baseball owners and players will have to agree to any such rules changes.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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