First “Robot” Umpire Game

Anyone who knows Baseball Ross and I know we like to heckle the umpire. It’s a way to blow off steam when you’re so frustrated at how an umpire is calling the game. Ross and I have always said that as long as they call their strike zone consistently you can work with it. It’s when they are erratic and the strike zone “floats around” that it will drive us nuts. We sit right behind home plate so we have a pretty decent view of the plate.

This year, that all changed.

We saw our first game with the automated ball and strike “Hawkeye System”. It’s the same system used during tennis matches that shows whether the ball was in or out. This system uses a myriad of cameras mounted around the stadium to track the ball. Before the game each player is measured to determine their own, personal strike zone.

Once the ball is tracked and the placement is determined, the call is relayed to the umpire by an earpiece plugged into an iPhone.

iPhone on umpire’s belt
Umpire’s earpiece

Did we like it? Once you get used to the slight delay between when the the ball hits the mitt and the actual call, it’s great. Calls are consistent and we aren’t feeling frustrated with umpires strike zones that seem to “float” and how the same pitch can be a strike at one time and a ball the very next pitch.

Granted, it’s been one game, but so far, so good.

Below is a slide show of the various cameras that track the ball and their placement around the stadium:

The funniest thing was before the game started the ump out the phone in the clip “backwards” and the off field official started waving his hands to tell him it was backwards and to turn it around so the “fans can’t see the display.” I replied, “that’s ok I’ll help him

make the call.”

With the look I got I almost got tossed out before the game even began. Oopsie!

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