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Information Technology in Major League Baseball

By atlbrvfan Nov 03, 2008 1622 Words
Information Technology in Major League Baseball

Information Technology has quickly became an everyday part of life. It is used in almost every aspect of our lives. It used at home to check e-mail, send text messages, and surf the web. It is used at work for networking and even many modern telephone systems. In many cases IT is simply a part of our day. Major League Baseball is no different. The league has also become very active in the IT world. It is used in almost every single aspect of the game, as well as the business. If you look back at baseball through the ages, it is easy to see just how much it has changed. The trick for Major League Baseball was they knew they had to advance to keep up in today’s world. However, at the same time, they knew that fans loved the game of baseball because of its history. Baseball has a legendary past that is appealing to fans. They want the modern technologies without losing the vintage appeal. Major League Baseball has done just that. They have become one of the most technologically advanced sports in America. Everything from how tickets are purchased all the way to just how the games are broadcast, it has all changed dramatically.

The game of baseball became much more accessible to the fans and opened up a whole new way of visualizing the game, beginning in 1921. In August of 1921, the first Major League baseball game was broadcast over the radio. It was between the Pittsburg Pirates and the Philadelphia (HistoricBaseball.com1). Although the game was broadcast by Grantland Rice, he was not actually at the game. He was simply giving the reports over the radio as they were sent to him by telegraph from the actual game. This style of commentating lasted well into the 1930’s. However, this era finally began to see a downturn with the introduction of Major League Baseball on television.

On August 26, 1939, Major League baseball had its first televised game. It was between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds. The announcer was Red Barber and he called the game using no monitors and only two cameras. One camera was on him and the other was behind home plate. By 1947, television sets were selling almost as fast as they could be produced. Because of this, Major League teams began televising games and attracted a whole new audience in to ballparks in the process. This was because, people who had only casually followed baseball began going to the games in person and enjoying themselves. As a result, the following year, Major League attendance reached a record high of 21 million. (Baseball-almanac.com)

Mlb.com is the official website for Major League Baseball. MLB.com is a source of baseball-related information, including baseball news, statistics, and sports columns. On this site, you can find everything from standings, scoring updates, and team related news. In addition, MLB.com sells official baseball merchandise, allows users to buy tickets to baseball games, runs fantasy baseball leagues, and runs auctions of baseball memorabilia.

MLB.tv was introduced to allow fans of out of market teams to be able to watch out of market games. This means if you are fan of the San Diego Padres, but you live in North Dakota, you can still watch your favorite team. MLB has several different packages that they offer. The packages are based on the connection speed and whether you choose to buy a full year or go month to month. The games are viewed live and are streamed through an internet browser. Also, you can purchase mlb.audio. This allows fans to listen on internet radio to their favorite teams. It just syncs up with the local broadcast team. So, not only are you listening to your favorite team, but you are also listening to your favorite teams announcers. Mlb.gameday is a free service provided by MLB.com. It allows fans to follow any game pitch by pitch online. There are no announcers, and the game is not seen or heard. It simply gives text style pitch by pitch updates.

One of the most important elements of MLB.com’s portfolio is MLBAuctions.com MLB auctions offers fans the unique ability to purchase authentic major league memorabilia with the excitement of an online auction. It has quickly become a very valuable way for MLB.com to generate revenue and attract new customers from all around the world. One of the biggest advantages for the fans is the authenticity of the merchandise. Many online businesses advertise that they are selling authentic merchandise these days. Whether it be autographs, game used memorabilia, or official team gear, there are hundreds of places on the internet to buy these items. Many even come with certificates or something to validate their claim. However, in many of those cases, you can never really be sure what you are getting. MLBAuctions.com puts an end to this.

Instant replay is one of the newer uses of technology to enter the baseball world. This allows umpires to review a play from several different angles to ensure that they got the call correct. On August 28, 2008, instant replay made its debut in Major League Baseball. Baseball was one of the last sports to implement instant replay. Baseball has a strong attachment to its past and they are not real big on doing anything that takes the sport away from its roots. The debate to use replay went on for several years amongst owners, umpires, and players. They finally made the decision to use it in very limited situations. There was talk to use it on every play that was controversial, whether it be fair or foul, safe or out, ball or strike, or any of the other calls throughout the game. They finally decided that they did not want instant replay to control the game, only help in one major area. The only time it is used is to decide whether a ball went over the fence for a homerun or if for whatever reason it was not a homerun. The reason this decision was made was because of the different dimensions at different fields. Many ballparks in the league have weird corners or other quirky things about their park that can make it hard on an umpire to make the correct call.

Another technological device that has entered into Major League Baseball recently is Questec. This technology does several things for Major League Baseball. First, it has a system called Umpire Information System (UIS). This system is new to the game and is only installed in about 15 stadiums for now. The UIS system analyses video taken from cameras strategically placed in the rafters of the stadium to precisely locate a pitch from the pitchers hand to the catchers mit. This information is then used to measure the pitch speed, placement, and curvature of the pitch through its entire path. The UIS tracking system is a fully automated process that does not require changes to the ball, the field of play, or any other aspect of the game. More cameras are mounted at the field level to measure the strike zone for each individual batter, for each individual park, for each at bat. This information is saved onto a disk and given to the home plate umpire after each game (Questec.com). This information is not used to make decisions in the game, only to give the umpire a reference into how they called that particular game. Before Questec was implemented, many umpires had their own versions of the strike zone. Some umpires were called pitchers umpires, because their strike zones tended to be a little wider, which gave an advantage to the pitcher. Some umpires were hitters umpires, because their strike zone was a little tighter, which gave the advantage to the hitter. However, since the inception of Questec, the strike zone for all umpires has become much more consistent. Many umpires use the “traditional” strike zone out of fear they will be punished by Major League Baseball for not abiding by the uniform strike. The all-star game in Major League Baseball is a huge three day ordeal. The league takes this game very seriously. For several years now, fans have voted on the starters for the all-star game. So to count these ballots baseball uses very advanced technology. In fact, it is so advanced not even the government has caught up. The US government will not begin to use this technology until the 2010 census. Twenty-one million ballots for the 2007 All-Star Game, were distributed to major league teams. Another 1.7 million ballots were given to 95 minor league clubs. After a series or homestand, stadium crews will collect the ballots, package them into huge boxes, and ship them overnight to the Boston-based TMC Group, which has handled the counting of MLB's ballots since the early 1990s. The paper ballots are fed into one of four machines. Each machine is custom-made using technology created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They are 6 feet tall and about 20 feet in length. Each machine is not only powerful but also intelligent. If a fan votes for too many players at one position or has a write-in candidate, the machine ejects the ballot and one of the staff members will count it by hand. Once MLB.com sends results of its online balloting, the TMC Group is in charge of integrating the results. When finalized, the list of the starting eight position players from each league is top secret (USAToday).

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