Baseball's Guinea Pig League Is Going To Experiment With Batters Stealing First Base

The Washington Post

I love everything about the Atlantic League. I love how we have this experimental league where we can test new crazy shit out like an electronic strike zone, no mound visits, or the 3 batter minimum for pitchers. Well, today we’ve got a new one that’s a doozy. We’re now experimenting with stealing first base.

Now it’s not what you think. You can’t just run to first if the pitcher is fucking around on the mound, which would be electric. No, it’s basically just instead of only being able to run to first on a dropped third strike, you can do it on any wild pitch or passed ball.

My first thought is that this is ridiculous. It would change the game entirely. I mean we can’t have this.

Any pitch on any count not caught in flight will be considered a live ball, and a batter may run to first base, similar to a dropped third strike.

I like the idea of change and I’m open to it, but this is fucking stupid. No one is asking for this. No one is watching baseball and saying, “You know what? Let’s make every wild pitch important.” The 2018 version of Gary Sanchez would be out of baseball (not 2019 Gary, we love him). There are a few things baseball needs to change, this isn’t one of them.

That all being said, I love the Atlantic League. Every time I hear about the Atlantic League I picture like Area 51 where the government is running all these experiments and all this different technology. I don’t even know where the Atlantic League plays. I assume it’s in the Northeast, but I kind of hope it’s on a remote private island. In exchange for all of these experiments the MLB promised to “enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League” and to install hardware to enable advanced analytical study of players. Seems like a pretty fair trade. They’re going to wheel out the electronic strike zone at their All Star Game this year. It’s not how you imagined it would go.

They’re human umpires wearing a Bluetooth-connected earpiece, connected to an iPhone, connected to a software program in the press box. The software doesn’t make every call, just balls and strikes. And if it’s wrong, the human umpire can step in to overrule the program, and his decision, not the software’s, is final.

I’m fascinated at how this is going to work. I don’t know if I want an electronic strike zone, but I definitely am curious how it’s going to work. It could be a fucking disaster and I’m here for it. That’s why we have the Atlantic League.