It is no secret that technology has changed the way the world operates. We now have self-driving cars (that occasionally kill people), dating apps (where people find their next victims) and we can even do our shopping online to be delivered to our door (no deaths here we are aware of). But technology is also impacting sports like baseball. Some of it has been for the good of the sport, some would argue there have been issues as well.
That’s why we’ve decided to look at some of the ways technology has been and is being used in baseball, and the impact it has had. And by the end, who knows, maybe we can decide whether the game has improved overall or gotten worse thanks to technology evolving baseball and in particular the MLB.
No more botched decisions in baseball games
Ok, so maybe not no more. We still see some dubious calls in baseball even in the World Series. But many bad calls we will have witnessed years ago have been eradicated from the game so many people love. And it is all thanks to technology such as the instant replay system introduced into MLB.
The way it works is that each head coach can call for an instant replay if they believe they have been on the end of a bad call. If it turns out that they were right and it was a bad decision, they keep their chance to call another bad call if they spot one. If a coach calls it and it is found the call was good, then they lose their chance of appeal and cannot call for another for the remainder of the game. This prevents them from trying to call every decision that goes against them.
And it has worked tremendously in MLB and has been a hugely popular decision to introduce it to baseball fans. However, it has been said to slow games down at times, so other technological avenues have been explored to see if they can’t speed it up some more.
One suggestion to help do just that is to introduce video umpires that would be able to give instant objective divisions of whether a pitch has been a strike or a foul ball. However, it then takes a little spark away from the game of fans coming together to debate dubious decisions made by human umpires after the game. But we’re sure only those fans affected would be upset whereas the ones who get the correct decisions would be happy.
Monitoring player performances, fitness and health
Realistically, franchises only want to look after their players because they are commodities to them. If they lose them, they lose money. You may get the odd owner who really cares about people, but this is a business to many and if the bigwigs are making money, they don’t care what else is going on.
That said, if it wasn’t for players, we wouldn’t even get to watch any baseball. So, it’s important to keep them fit and healthy, and technology such as bio tracking developed by WHOOP has been introduced to do this. It monitors a player’s vital signs such as heart rate and oxygen levels, so if they are ever at risk of going into cardiac arrest as an example, it will alert staff and they can intervene to make sure the play is safe and well.
Technology is also used to monitor the performance of players. Back in the old days, it could only be done after a game by watching replays, however, it now happens in real-time thanks to technology like PITCHF/x and Rapsodo. It uses machines to watch the game and have AI calculate the chances of success of certain pitches, it can see if players are making repeated mistakes and it can indicate when changes may need to be made to turn the fortunes of a game around.
The problem we have here when it comes to performance is that coaches are trying to get pitchers to throw the ball quicker and quicker and speed up the pace of the game. This does increase the risk of injury to pitchers, which is why teams now have more than they used to in their rosters. And teams can switch them out if their other bits of tech that monitor a player’s health indicates they may need to be pulled off the field.
More accessible than ever before
Our final point for this article isn’t necessarily an impact on games directly, but more on the fans. Thanks to technology such as social media and the development of apps including the official MLB app, fans of baseball have more access than they ever have before. Someone on the opposite side of the world can tune in and watch the Yankees take on the Red Sox at Fenway Park for example.
This is great for those who want to make sure they never miss a piece of the action by streaming sports right to their phone or tablet. Fans can also get access to interviews, behind scenes training clips, and they can even follow their favourite players on social media to see where they are. But this is where this kind of technology becomes a problem.
Players are always constantly in the public eye. They never get a break. And if they have one bad game, keyboard warriors come out in force and hurl abuse at them. Racist abuse. Homophobic abuse. Death threats to them and their families. The things that people put online when they think they’re big and hard because no one can see them are disgusting. And it is yet another way in which there is a bad side to the good that technology can do.
There you have it; you can see just how much technology has impacted baseball over the years. It has some positive impacts, and there have been some drawbacks to it as well. But for the most part, we see the benefits that it has introduced to baseball as we are seeing quicker games and fewer mistakes made by officials so it’s a win from a technical standpoint at least.
You can’t please everyone though and there will always be those who don’t like change. What are your thoughts? Do you think the impact of technology has been good? Or do we need to hold back a little? Let us know in the comments below.
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