Are you ready for some robots?

MLB announced a partnership with the independent Atlantic League to test out “the use of technology to call balls and strikes,” which already exists on television broadcasts of baseball games on networks such as ESPN and FOX.

The experiment lets MLB use an independent league as a testing ground to see what happens over a full season of baseball. If results are good, it could become a future recommendation to enhance the MLB game to improve accuracy of balls and strikes calls.















This is NOT what the new robo umpires will look like.

Story at the Sporting News

Why it’s Hot

Baseball is the most traditional, time-honoured and stodgy of all American sports. In addition to instant replay instituted a few years ago, tech has a lot to add to a deeply flawed and outdated rule book.

Infield Chatter Social Network Lets MLB Players Interact With Fans

The Major League Baseball Players Association launched this week, Infield Chatter, a social media app that lets players interact with fans. Infield Chatter already has more than 1,000 players on board, which means all the players on Major League Baseball’s 40-man rosters for each of its 30 teams are signed on. (MLBPA says about 500 major leaguers are on the site, but minor leaguers and retired players can also contribute.) “We asked for a better way to communicate directly with fans and learn more about them, and make it easy for them to learn more about us,” Minnesota Twins pitcher Hector Santiago said via email. “We believe this is the way to go, a true baseball community so that we can just be ourselves.”

Members of the Infield Chatter community will enjoy special features designed to connect players and fans in a number of ways, including:
•Sharing photos, videos, and original artwork, with the ability for both sides to comment
•Regular video chats, where fans and players can conduct two-way Q&A sessions
•Hosting contests and competitions, where fans can win “player-hosted experiences,” autographed items and more.

With so many people loyal to massive platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, it’s hard to persuade even die-hard fans to download yet another app. However, the association is pitching Infield Chatter as a way to hone in on its specific audience, as fans increasingly want details about players’ lives outside of the game.

Why It’s Hot

The MLBPA said the Infield Chatter app was created at the request of MLB players, who wanted a better way to interact with their fans. The app meshes well with MLB’s own initiatives to create youth appeal for a sport that is losing younger fans. Infield Chatter reaches a distinct, pinpointed community in ways that social media can’t. In a press release, Kris Bryant, a player for the Chicago Cubs, commented on the app: Every player understands how important it is to connect with the fans. They’re the main reason this game is so special. The fact that Infield Chatter was built with this interaction in mind as the top priority really helps us share and connect in ways that we haven’t been able to anywhere else. Major leaguers who come from around the world – with numerous differing interests and insights – will now be able to engage with fans on a host of subjects, all in the palm of their hand.

Baseball becomes Databall with new stat system

For those watching the baseball playoffs this season, they will see stats, stats and more stats.  Stats on how high and far balls are hit, ball velocity leaving the bat, speed of the ball hit to a player, speed of a player reacting to a ball coming at him, hang time of a thrown ball, reaction time of outfielders, run time of a base stealer and more.

According to an article in Yahoo:Tech, the system Statcast takes idea of data “and runs with it, so to speak. By way of high-resolution optical cameras and radar equipment installed in each ballpark, Statcast tracks the location and movement of the ball and of each player on the field — on every play — with startling precision.” It’s the same system that has been showing us the strike zone superimposed over the catcher and where a pitched ball is caught by the catcher.

The impact of Statcast is an astonishing amount of information available for managers and for the viewers. And probably no limit on the stats we’ll begin seeing for football, basketball, hockey and other sports.  How soon will we see tortured stats for high school Friday night football, little league and basketball pickup games?

Why It’s Hot

Although Statcast will be like catnip to baseball fans, it’s another example of the amount of data we’re exposed to. And it’s not always relevant. Do we care how fast a runner steals second base, or are we just getting all this data because we can?  How long will it be before activities in our lives will be measured with this excruciating detail, perhaps robbing us of the pleasure of just enjoying something without measurement, judgment or comparison? When is data too much?