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Sports Robot umps and dogs, minor league ball back after lost year

06:35  05 may  2021
06:35  05 may  2021 Source:   thecanadianpress.com

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And after experiments in the independent Atlantic League and the Arizona Fall League, the Southeast League is the next proving ground for the automatic ball-strike system. Devier got a roasting after Blue Jays batter Zach Britton took those two pitches for balls. Dunedin is following the lead of its nomadic parent team. “The other uniqueness we’re dealing with this year is there is a shortened minor league season,” Blue Jays director of player development Gil Kim said. “There’s a lot of planning and processing that we can do a little bit differently this year .” The Dunedin Blue Jays' Twitter site summed things up when

Minor League Baseball finally returns to ballparks across the country, with Tuesday marking the first games since 2019 after all of last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opening Day will feature 55 contests across four levels, though not every team that took the field two years Major League Baseball streamlined the minor leagues , contracting 40 teams in the process. All 30 MLB teams will now have four levels of affiliates: low-A, high-A, Double-A and Triple-A -- plus a rookie level team housed at each spring training complex. The post-pandemic restart will also look quite

a man holding a baseball bat © Provided by The Canadian Press

TAMPA, Fla. — It took just four batters at George Steinbrenner Field before a fan yelled “C'mon, blue!” toward home plate umpire Kaleb Devier after two consecutive close pitches were called balls.

Never mind that a computer was making the calls.

Didn't matter on Tuesday night as the Tampa Tarpons took on the Dunedin Blue Jays. Because from Omaha to San Jose to the Jersey Shore, minor league baseball was back after a lost season, with fans, crazy promotions and even those robot umpires.

The Tarpons found themselves already in the dog days on opening day. They hosted the Dunedin Blue Jays on “Tail Waggin’ $2 Tuesday” where fans could bring their pooches to the park for two bucks.

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Minor League Baseball finally returns to ballparks across the country, with Tuesday marking the first games since 2019 after all of last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opening Day will feature 55 contests across four levels, though not every team that took the field two years Major League Baseball streamlined the minor leagues , contracting 40 teams in the process. All 30 MLB teams will now have four levels of affiliates: low-A, high-A, Double-A and Triple-A — plus a rookie level team housed at each spring training complex. The post-pandemic restart will also look quite

TrackMan, or " robot ump ," sits up above home plate (at all eight Atlantic League ballparks), and looks like a black box from afar. In reality, the box is a 3-D Doppler radar dish that analyzes each pitch thrown. TrackMan obviously affects everyone involved on a baseball team, but how has it been for the umpires? Many of which have had to essentially tweak their entire career and approach to calling balls and strikes. After initially being taken aback by the news of an electronic strike zone, Atlantic League umpire Freddie DeJesus now recognizes its game-changing potential.

New York Yankees vice-president Vance Smith greeted and talked with fans as they entered the ballpark to see the Class A affiliate, calling it a homecoming after a minor league season wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Excited, but also hesitation,” Smith said. “We’re following some protocols, but we’re happy to have baseball back. That’s the one thing I’m excited about because it’s been 18 months since we’ve Tarpons baseball and minor league baseball.”

The scent of hot dogs — the kind with mustard, not the mutts — signalled a sense of normalcy. The masking and social distancing showed there was still a way to go.

Side attractions like Speed Pitch are gone and concessions are cashless but the games were back, finally.

“Super excited to be kicking off the minor league season,” Yankees senior director of player development Kevin Reese said. “I was one of many who were not too confident that this was going to happen in a timely fashion.”

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After the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the entire 2020 minor league season, Major League Baseball ended the professional baseball agreement that had governed the relationship between the majors and minors since 1901. Over the winter, MLB completed its takeover of the minors Each of the minor league levels open their regular seasons on Tuesday, most with limited seating for fans. However, officials are hoping to be able to increase capacity incrementally through the summer to the end of the season in mid-September. “What minor league baseball is known for is the fan experience

Minor League Baseball finally returns to ballparks across the country, with Tuesday marking the first games since 2019 after all of last season was canceled. Opening Day will feature 55 contests across four levels, though not every team that took the field two years ago will be returning to the diamond in 2021. Major League Baseball streamlined the minor leagues , contracting 40 teams in the process. All 30 MLB teams will now have four levels of affiliates: low-A, high-A, Double-A and Triple-A — plus a rookie level team housed at each spring training complex.

There was a cheer when the PA announcer said, "Are you ready? Let’s welcome your 2021 Tampa Tarpons,” as the Yankees prospects took the field.

“It's a lot of fun going out there and being able to watch these guys do what they love doing,” said Tampa manager David Adams, who played 43 games for the big league Yankees in 2013. “I think everyone will agree with that.”

But there are significant changes since Tampa and the minors last played in September 2019.

A reorganization by Major League Baseball saw the long-standing High-A Florida State League, in which Tampa played for a quarter-century, become the Low-A Southeast League. Some cities lost their teams entirely as the overall number of affiliates was cut from 160 to 120.

And after experiments in the independent Atlantic League and the Arizona Fall League, the Southeast League is the next proving ground for the automatic ball-strike system.

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The company, which calls the robot dog Spot, began selling it last June. Most of the buyers have been utility and energy companies, as well as manufacturers and construction companies, which use it to get into spaces too dangerous for humans, said Michael Perry, vice president of business development at the company. Most of the companies rename the robot after they buy it, giving it names like Bolt and Mac and Cheese, he said. The Massachusetts State Police and the Honolulu Police Department are also using the robotic dog , which has a 90-minute battery life and walks at a speed of three miles per hour.

The Atlantic League , the independent minor league that Major League Baseball has tapped to study rule changes, has seen another first. A coach has been ejected for cursing at an umpire — about a computer-generated strike zone. Support our journalism. Subscribe today. First came the ‘ robot umps .’ Now an Atlantic League batter ‘stole’ first base. Dominic DeMasi, the starting pitcher for the High Point Rockers, had already allowed two runs to the York Revolution in the bottom of the first inning, and had just walked Ryan Dent to load the bases, when pitching coach Frank Viola had seen

Devier got a roasting after Blue Jays batter Zach Britton took those two pitches for balls.

"I thought it was pretty good," Tampa catcher Austin Wells said of the automatic system. “There were a couple calls here and there that me and the umpire thought were maybe strikes and balls, but it's a good opportunity to work on different things.”

Right before the first pitch, Wells helped Devier adjust part of the system on the back of his belt.

“I was rigging it in our favour, actually,” Wells said with a laugh.

Wells, taken by the Yankees in the first round of the 2020 draft, hit a two-run homer and had an RBI double in the Tarpons' 11-7 win that took almost four hours — long games, some things never change.

The Tarpons did fist-knocks after the victory and left the field with the PA playing Frank Sinatra's “New York, New York.”

“It was the best feeling in a long time being able to play under the lights again,” Wells said.

Dunedin is following the lead of its nomadic parent team. With the Toronto Blue Jays playing big league games at TD Ballpark in Dunedin through at least May, the D-Jays are scheduled to play their first 24 games away from home.

That follows the lost 2020 season and the 2019 campaign where they played home games in nearby Clearwater while the Dunedin ballpark underwent a major renovation project.

“The other uniqueness we’re dealing with this year is there is a shortened minor league season,” Blue Jays director of player development Gil Kim said. “There’s a lot of planning and processing that we can do a little bit differently this year.”

The Dunedin Blue Jays' Twitter site summed things up when posting the lineup:

“First lineup graphic in almost two years! We are so back. Happy Opening Night."

NOTE: The ball used in the game was the official minor league ball with the signature of former MILB president Pat O'Connor, who retired last year as MLB was working on redoing the minors.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Mark Didtler, The Associated Press

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usr: 1
This is interesting!