Steal First Base: Will MLB Consider Atlantic League’s Wacky Rule Change?

Annette Crawford
July 13, 2019

OK, so maybe it's a long shot the rule ever goes into effect at the big league level, but the Atlantic League - an independent baseball league that recently entered into a three-year agreement with MLB to serve as a testing ground for potential rule changes - will allow batters to "steal first base" in the second half of its season, according to The Washington Post. The home plate umpire has a lot more to do than call balls and strikes and he's going to be asked to do all of that.

The game between the Liberty Division and Freedom Division all-stars ended in a 3-3 tie.

"This is an exciting night for MLB, the Atlantic League, baseball generally", said Morgan Sword, MLB's senior vice president of economics and operations.

There is, however, a brief delay between when the pitch is caught and when the call is signaled.

More often than not when a hitter checks his swing, the pitch will be deemed a ball instead of a strike.

Even with this new technology, umpires still have the ability to override the computer's decisions. This addendum is meant to incorporate the peculiarities of player batting stances while also defining the precise moment at which a player's stance becomes his attempt to "swing at a pitched ball". Whether you're watching Georgia's Baldwin High School Braves or the Atlanta Braves, there's a noticeable congruity - both games involve the same basic dynamics, the real-life (if unintentional) human drama between player and official. To some would-be revolutionaries, this is a positive development - the Boston University study balked at the notion that "umpires continue to call balls and strikes like they did 100 years ago when Babe Ruth reigned supreme and the Ford Model T ruled the roads".


Sword said Major League Baseball hasn't received much pushback from umpires.

The TrackMan system does not evaluate check swings and now rules a ball that bounces and crosses the plate as a strike.

"Technically, they're strikes, but umpires never called them", Atkins said. "The game is bigger than you, bigger than any player", Atlantic League umpire Derek Moccia told the Post. "We're in touch with our umpires' union, and this is the first step of the process".

Pitcher Mitch Atkins noticed pitches higher in the strike zone were called.

"We need to see how it works, first in the Atlantic League and then probably other places, meaning other parts of minor league baseball, before it comes to Major League Baseball", Manfred said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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