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'Robot umpires' debut in independent U.S. baseball league

'Robot umpires' debut in independent U.S. baseball league”

As can now be done when a third strike is not caught cleanly, the new rule allows the batter to try and take first on any count if a pitch is not caught cleanly.

The announced changes come the day after the strike zone for the Atlantic League All-Star game was called by an automated system. The human behind the plate simply was relaying the call on the field.

The Atlantic League, which has been the MLB's guinea pig when it comes to revolutionary rule change proposals including extended instant replay, banning defensive shifts, pitch clocks, three-batter minimums for pitchers, and even robotic umpires, is now ready to introduce perhaps its most weird experiment yet. The umpire can also override the call.

"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 implemented leaguewide over the next few weeks. As part of the aforementioned agreement, major league officials can install rule changes and study their effects on game play, strategy, tempo and prospect development, with MLB promising to "enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League" in return. The home plate umpire has a lot more to do than call balls and strikes, and he's going to be asked to do all of that.

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

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. What Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League's new rules presuppose is, "what if you can?"



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