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Baseball League to Let Computer Call Balls and Strikes

“It missed 500 pitches in April, and when I say it missed 500 pitches, that didn’t mean they called them wrong. They didn’t call them at all,” Umpire Joe West said.

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The independent Atlantic League has announced that it will allow a computer to call balls and strikes starting on April 25.

The league also said that it will reduce the distance between home and first base by three whole inches. In addition, the league plans to lengthen the ground between the mound and home plate by two feet.

“The 60-foot-6-inch distance between the front of the pitching rubber and the back point of home plate has been standard since 1893,” the Associated Press reported. But Major League Baseball has agreed to experiment this season.”Pitchers there will have to get used to 62 feet, 2 inches this summer,” the AP noted.

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Pitchers will have to work to get used to the distance, but it is umpire who may have the bigger learning arc.

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Plate umpires will wear earpieces and be informed of ball/strike calls by a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar. Umps will have the ability to override the computer, which considers a pitch a strike when the ball bounces and then crosses the zone. TrackMan also does not evaluate check swings.

“The beauty of baseball is that it’s not foolproof. You’ve got to hit a round ball with a cylindrical bat square, and then you’ve got to get it past people,” said Joe West, who umpired his first big league game in 1976. “The game is typically American. It’s always somebody else’s fault when they lose — and usually it’s us.”

Of course, the umpires are not very thrilled with the computer calling system. MLB has toyed with its QuesTec system bore but umpires thoroughly slammed it. Then MLB tried the PitchF/x system and then the TrackMan system.

Umpire Joe West scoffed at the attempts MLB tried with the TrackMan system.

“It missed 500 pitches in April, and when I say it missed 500 pitches, that didn’t mean they called them wrong. They didn’t call them at all,” he said.

There is nothing wrong with tinkering with the game, granted. But these computer programs seem to be a big waste of time.

There are some other changes coming up for the 2019 season, as well. Per the AP:

  • Infield shifts will be restricted by requiring two infielders to be on each side of second base when a pitcher releases his pitch. Infielders also will be prohibited from setting up on the outfield grass.
  • Each pitcher must face at least three batters or complete the half-inning, unless injured.
  • Between inning breaks will be cut from 2 minutes, 5 seconds to 1:45.
  • Mound visits are banned, except for pitching changes or medical issues.

Some worry that baseball is too slow for this new, modern age.

I guess we’ll see if these changes will help.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

 

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Sports

LeBron James Discovers that Michael Jordan is STILL the GOAT in the Public’s Eyes

…And it wasn’t even CLOSE.

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LeBron James may be the media’s favorite liberal athlete, but in the public’s eye, Michael Jordan still takes GOAT status, and it isn’t even close. James has been racking up more achievements every season and for the last few years debate has raged over whether James has finally taken GOAT status (greatest of all time) away from Michael Jordon. But while sports reporters and NBA statisticians may bicker over the particulars, it appears that the public still considers LeBron James a pretender to the GOAT. As Business Insider noted: Supporters of Jordan pointed to Jordan’s six championships, his undefeated record in the NBA Finals, and his overall influence in taking the NBA’s popularity to a new level as reasons why he’s the best. Fans of James point to his longevity, his eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances, of which he won three, and his overall brilliance on the floor beyond scoring. James is also still at his peak and passing Jordan in several statistical achievements. But a new INSIDER poll finds that James is a big loser in this barnyard battle. The poll of 1,082 Americans found former Bulls star Michael Jordan earned 66 percent of the GOAT vote while James only saw 10.4 percent support for top status. Others who found small numbers of supporters included Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Stephen Curry. Jordan picked up support across all ages, not dipping below 54 percent in any age range. Granted respondents between the ages of 18-29 were more enthusiastic about James, then again many of those respondents weren’t around for Michael Jordan’s great career. Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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Sports

Murder Conviction for Former NFL Player Aaron Hernandez Reinstated

With its decision, the high court agreed with state prosecutors who said it was not fair to vacate Hernandez’ conviction.

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The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has reinstated the murder conviction of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez in a decision that Overturns decades of legal precedent. The state’s highest court ruled that the practice of vacating a criminal conviction if the defendant dies during the case is a nonsensical practice and that the doctrine will be ended in the Bay State, according to the Boston Globe. Hernandez was convicted of murder in 2015 and was in the process of appealing the conviction when he committed suicide in jail in 2017. His lawyers then filed for abatement ab initio to vacate the conviction because he died during the appeal. But the state Supreme Court ruled against vacating the conviction. “We conclude that the doctrine of abatement ab initio is outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life, if, in fact, it ever was,” Justice Elspeth Cypher wrote. With its decision, the high court agreed with state prosecutors who said it was not fair to vacate Hernandez’ conviction. During his arguments before the court, Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said, “The practice of wiping out a jury verdict like it never occurred is not fair or equitable. Just to snap your finger and have that go away because the defendant died — it’s not fair.” The former New England Patriots player committed suicide two days after he was acquitted in a second murder case concerning the deaths of two men which occurred in 2012. Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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