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Baseball's Robot ­mpires Are Here. You Might Not Notice the Difference.


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Home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere checks an iPhone while wearing an earpiece prior to the start of the Atlantic League All-Star Game.

The Atlantic League, an independent circuit with seven teams on the East Coast and one in Texas, last week became the first American professional baseball league to let a computer call balls and strikes.

Credit: Julio Cortez

The Atlantic League was the first U.S. professional baseball league to use a "robot" umpire, at its recent All-Star Game.

This setup involved the umpire wearing an Apple AirPod in one ear connected to an iPhone, which received ball and strike calls from a computer in the press box.

League officials previously tested software from sports data company TrackMan, supplied by Major League Baseball (MLB), during games in Connecticut and New Jersey.

The Atlantic League is deploying the system, run via an elevated panel behind home plate, in each of its ballparks for use in the second half of its regular season.

As part of a three-year agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB), Atlantic League officials were permitted to install experimental rules to assess their impact on gameplay, strategy, pace, and prospect development, with MLB pledging to "enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League" and to implement hardware for player analysis.

From The Washington Post
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