'Robot Umpires' Debut in Independent Atlantic League

Atlantic League to experiment with batters “stealing first base”

Atlantic League to experiment with batters “stealing first base”

"Any pitch on any count not caught in flight will be considered a live ball, and a batter may run to first base, similar to a dropped third strike", The Post's Jacob Bogage wrote in an article published Wednesday.

The Atlantic League, an independent pro baseball league, debuted the ABS, or automated ball-strike system.

The rule change was mentioned as part of a longer piece on the implementation of "robot umpires" in the Atlantic League, but it's a rather insane concept that certainly would increase the importance of defense behind the plate and control on the mound. Software in the press box relays the call to a smart phone, which relays to the Bluetooth earpiece the umpire wears.

"One of our focuses is not to replace the umpire", said Morgan Sword, MLB's senior vice president of economics and operations. For what it's worth, the Major League Baseball claims the technology is meant to help busy home-plate umpires and pinky swears that human umps are still needed and is working with the union to keep everyone happy. "It's inevitable", Atlantic League umpire Derek Moccia told the Post. And if you want to be on board with this, you have to keep up. "The game is bigger than you, bigger than any player".

Batters in the Atlantic League will get the chance to steal first base in a new series of experimental rules announced Thursday.

The most talked-about changes to date have been the idea of banning defensive shifts, moving the pitching rubber back a couple of feet to mitigate hard-throwing pitchers which have led to a strikeout boom and to work with electronic ball-and-strike calls.

All of this comes ahead of the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement in 2021, when Major League Baseball owners and players will have to agree to any such rules changes.

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