Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Atlantic Lg's Robo Ump Promo You Never Heard Of

In acknowledging in a press release that some fans just might "hate" the Automated Ball/Strike System (ABS), Atlantic League President Rick White committed an MLB no-no, as the ALPB's ill-fated "Robo Ump" naming competition promotion vanished from view just hours after its announcement.

As Commissioner Rob Manfred navigates the human umpire's future role behind home plate, he has repeatedly pushed back at implications or other attempts to refer to ABS as a robot umpire. For instance, most recently in Davos, Manfred declared to FOX Business, "robots may be an overstatement, what the system actually is..." before further discussing his view of ABS.
Related PostMLB to Test Electronic Zone at Spring Training (1/22/20).

So when the MLB-partnered Atlantic League issued a press release entitled, "ALPB Clubs Invite Fans to Name Robo Umps," admitting potential negativity surrounding ABS in its first sentence, the independent league may have contradicted MLB's longstanding "keep it positive" narrative.

Despite players' and coaches' varied criticism of the technology, MLB and ALPB have, over the past year, portrayed ABS in remarkably favorable light.

This isn't baseball's first attempted scrubbing.
Thus, White's statement acknowledging the potential for pushback appeared out of the ordinary: "What better day to announce the names of something people are clearly very passionate about...Love or hate it, Atlantic League fans have expressed their feelings to that big black box in their home parks. On Valentine’s Day, they’ll be able to put a name to their passions, and we will have fun along the way."

Nonetheless, this rather unusual promotion came to an abrupt end just hours after its announcement: The Atlantic League removed all traces of it from the ALPB and team websites; however, as Manfred discovered with Tom Hallion and Terry Collins' leaked on-field audio, the internet never forgets.
Related PostRob Manfred is in the Jackpot - CBA Cut Hallion-Collins (6/15/18).

If this promotion returns to the ALPB through a reissued release in the coming days, we will discuss and analyze the revisions, if any.

Video as follows:

Monday, January 27, 2020

Umpires to Explain Rulings via Mic in 2020

In 2017, Tmac suggested five steps toward fixing Replay Review. First on the list was "give the Crew Chief a microphone," and now MLB has reportedly adopted the mic'd up umpire for the 2020 season.

With technology finding its way into Major League Baseball through an automated strike zone test in Spring Training, it's high time that the league turns its attention to communication and with the new MLBUA-MLB CBA, that time is now.

Outfitting MLB umpires with microphones to explain Replay Review decisions (specifically the difference between "Confirmed" and "Stands" outcomes) as well as providing umpires with a way to explain complex rulings not easily digested by fans and media, such as interference, obstruction, and infield fly calls, will allow the baseball community to do something it has rarely had the opportunity to do before: hear umpires speak for themselves.
Related PostTmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay (1/19/17).

Baseball's move to mic its officials follows sports such as football and hockey, and similarly matches MLB's Japanese counterpart, the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, which has long afforded umpires in Japan the opportunity to explain rules and announce tough calls to the audience through its traditional microphone set-up on the warning-track wall behind home plate, which is patched directly into the public address system.

Video as follows: