MLB News

MLB’s embrace of technology will soon result in digital balls and strikes

MLB's embrace of technology will soon result in digital balls and strikes

In lieu of full-time officials, the NFL is gradually embracing technology in support of on-field calls. The latter will get a boost if/when other sports accelerate their use of digital enhancement to the naked eye.

Baseball is moving toward a massive shift in calling games. According to David Lennon of Newsday, via Sports Business Journal, an electronic system for calling balls and strikes is coming.

While that won’t replace the pitch-in and pitch-out process of umpires punching air and/or moonwalking after a player is caught looking on a 2-2 inside splitter, it will be available when challenges are made to the call behind the plate. It likely will entail each team getting three challenges, with no reduction to the remaining number for each challenge that prevails.

There also will be a tight window — possibly only two seconds — for the pitcher, catcher, or batter to make a challenge.

“The technology is awesome,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “I mean it’s good to a 100th of an inch. It’s unbelievable how accurate the technology is. The technology is viable with any geometric shape of the strike zone. You just tell it what to call and that’s what it will call. The technology piece is really in great shape.”

There are concerns that the strike zone will be more “hitter friendly,” because Manfred is believed to want more offense.

There are two key hurdles to overcome, before it’s used. One, determining the strike zone for each batter. Two, setting the parameters of the strike zone.

“We’re going to have to have an agreement with the players on the geometry of what’s called,” Manfred said.

The mere fact that baseball is closing in on making a revolutionary change to such an inherently human aspect of calling a game shows that plenty of aspects of officiating an NFL game can be reduced to digital analysis. The easy part is the placement of the ball in relation to the goal line. But plenty of other things also could be determined via chips and other devices, if the NFL is able to be creative and willing to spend the money.

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