Monday, July 22, 2019

ALPB - Inconsistent TrackMan Use Riles Coaches

Since Frank Viola's notable ejection arguing TrackMan's Automated Ball/Strike System in Game 1 of the electronic strike zone experiment, umpires have ejected other Atlantic League managers over balls/strikes concerns.

According to the ALPB / MLB joint press release July 11, 2019, the 2019 Atlantic League Championship Season was to feature new experimental playing rules, including, "Home plate umpire assisted by radar tracking system and an MLB-defined strike zone."

Despite ALPB's efforts, while TrackMan's ABS wasn't ready Opening Day and doesn't appear to be fully functional for the season's second half, either, inaugural TrackMan ejectee Frank Viola sounded off on the electronic strike zone, accusing its handlers of failing to measure players before implementing strike zones on their behalf. Meanwhile, other coaches have been ejected in the new ABS era, with or without the technology in use.

Video reveals two more post-ABS ejections.
New Britain Ejection: New Britain's stadium reportedly hasn't yet used ABS, as York Revolution Manager Mark Mason discovered when he was ejected by HP Umpire William Best following a strike call against Bees batter Isais Tejada in the top of the 7th inning of July 21's Revolution-Bees game in New Britain. York, of course, does have ABS installed.

Somerset Ejection: Another stadium that has seen TrackMan in testing is Somerset's TD Bank Ballpark. On July 16, HP Umpire Matt Criss ejected Patriots RF Justin Pacchioli and Manager Brett Jodie after a strike two ruling in the 6th inning. This would seem to indicate there might be a hiccup or two pertaining to the institution of the automated ball/strike system across the Atlantic League.

Frank Viola Sounds Off: During an interview with FM 96.9 The Game, Viola expressed his displeasure with TrackMan ABS: "I wanted to get thrown out where I was backed by the fans behind home plate yelling up at the TrackMan machine, I just didn't get to that point; it happened one inning into it."
Related PostHistory - Baseball's First Ejection Due to TrackMan (7/12/19).

Vertical Zone Problem? Viola alleged that "nobody" from ALPB or MLB "ever came ahead of time to take each one of our hitters and size them accordingly to the strike zone of TrackMan."

Pace of Play? Viola also stated that in his team's short experience with TrackMan, those games using ABS took about 30-60 minutes longer to play than when TrackMan was not in use. Part of the pace-of-play problem pertained to the delay from pitch-to-call, while Viola also took issue with ALPB's inconsistent implementation of the technology: was the robot calling the game or was it a human?

No More Maddux? Viola concluded by forecasting that an electronic zone will fundamentally change pitching: "When I was at my best, I established a zone. As I established that zone, umpires worked with me with that zone to extend that zone...because I showed I could hit that spot consistently. TrackMan doesn't care...[Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine] might not have gotten to the 5th inning in any of their TrackMan games."

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Two more ALPB ball/strike ejections after flubbed TrackMan rollout (CCS)


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