Man vs. Machine

We have the technology in front of us; why would we not use it? Millions of people get to know whether or not it’s a ball or strike, yet the poor dude behind home plate is the one left in the dark. —Eric Byrnes

Tomorrow night—Tuesday, September 27, 2016—the idea of using a computer to call balls and strikes in a professional baseball game will be featured on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”. Former major-leaguer (now turned broadcaster) Eric Byrnes has promoted the idea in three minor league games over the last two seasons with the San Rafael Pacifics team.

Utilizing the Sportvision Pitchf/x system, the same one used by MLB games televised or viewed online, pitches are determined to be balls or strikes by a computer programmed to follow the path of the thrown ball through the imaginary strike zone at home plate.

The Lioness and I were fortunate enough to be at the first two games where this technology was put to use and I must say that it improved quite a bit this year. The difference is that a wireless receiver in Eric’s ear, and a flashing red light over the fence in Center Field, allowed him to smoothly call the pitches from behind the plate instead of from the stands as he did in the initial game last year.

Many people are divided about having this technology as part of the game, even though it is currently in use in every stadium for the viewing audience.

How do you feel about the subject? Should computers be kept out of Major League Baseball games?

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  2 comments for “Man vs. Machine

  1. September 27, 2016 at 7:03 AM

    I want to say I’m a purest but it would be nice to not be at the whim of unpredictable umps. ??


    • September 27, 2016 at 10:57 AM

      I hear you, Carol, and I think that the interesting fact is that the technology is so widely used on broadcast games. I guess it is paralleling the Instant Replay debate in the NFL. Sooner or later it will be used on a trial basis for the Allstar game or for one season to see how it works in real-life.


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