It will not be long before baseball’s ball judgment dispute will disappear.
An automatic ball and strike judgment system (robot referee) will be introduced in domestic high school baseball right away.
On the 28th, the Korea Baseball Softball Association said, 메이저놀이터“In order to prevent irregularities in the entrance examination and minimize conflicts and controversies caused by unfair referee decisions, robots will be held in the 2023 Shinsegae E-Mart Cup National High School Baseball Championship tournament held at Mokdong Stadium in Seoul from April 3. We decided to use the referee,” he said.
The association held a demonstration at Daejeon Hanwha Life Eagles Park on the day ahead of the introduction and implementation, and finally checked the system.
At the demonstration that day, players from the Daejeon High School baseball team threw the ball as if it were a real game, and the association referees made decisions with the help of a robot referee system.
The association also checked the change in the strike zone when batters of various heights, ranging from 160 to 190 cm, stood at bat.
After the demonstration, high school baseball coaches gave their opinions on how to set the strike zone for robot referees, and the association decided to listen to the voices of the field.
The robot referee does not make a direct decision like a ‘robot’ that appears in a cartoon movie.
It is a system in which three cameras installed in the stadium grasp the trajectory and impact point of the ball in real time to determine a strike-ball, and then deliver the ball judgment to the referee through a receiver and earphones.
Park Yuna, team leader of Sports2i, the developer, said, “The robot referee makes a ball decision through the so-called Pitch Trajectory Tracking System (PTS).”
Team leader Park explained, “When we first developed the system, it took 2-3 seconds to make a ball judgment, but now we can make a judgment in real time, so there is no big problem in using it in actual games.”
“The robot referee system can modify the strike zone size in real time by simply changing the execution value,” she added. “It is possible to change the strike zone for each batter.”
As Team Leader Park said, the reaction speed of the robot referee was fast that day.
The robot umpire called the strike-ball right after the ball hit the catcher’s mitt.
Referee Kim Won-jae, who participated in the demonstration, said, “There was no problem with the speed of judgment.”
However, there were cases where the ball judgment felt by field officials and the ball judgment of the robot referee were different.
There were times when robot referees judged balls that they felt were out of the strike zone as strikes.
Every time an ambiguous decision came out, high school coaches, referees, and players tilted their heads.
However, no decision was made to clearly determine that it was an error.
Park Yoo-na, the team leader, said, “In the early system, a breaking ball that hit the strike zone from the front of the home plate and fell sharply was judged as a strike.”
On this day, the association also demonstrated by changing the strike zone according to hitters with a large height difference.
The strike zone varies depending on the league, but usually the upper limit is the midpoint between the upper part of the batter’s shoulder and the belt, and the lower limit is the lower part of the knee.
The umpires draw the strike zone according to the batter and then make a decision.
The robot referee’s strike zone showed a clear difference according to the batter’s physical condition. However, it may take several seconds to correct the strike zone, which may cause problems in smooth game play.
Sports 2I said, “We can quantify the player’s height and physique in advance, so that the strike zone can be corrected immediately.”
Managers and players who experienced robot referees gave various opinions.
Jeju High School coach Park Jae-hyeon, who worked as a coach for the Samsung Lions, said, “We felt that there were some ambiguous decisions. However, if we set a clear standard, I think each team and players should follow it.”
Daejeon High School pitcher Ra Hyeon-woong said, “It’s hard to judge that it’s perfect, but when robot referees are introduced, distrust will disappear and it will become an environment where you can focus more on the game.”
However, he said, “The strike zone changed a lot depending on the batter’s body shape.” “From the pitcher’s point of view, it will be difficult to control the reception, so it may be adversely affected.”
In addition, he predicted, “Since the pitcher may experience confusion if he zigzags players with a large difference in size in the batting order, I think this kind of strategy may come out.”
After hearing the voices of the field, the Korea Baseball Softball Association plans to decide the size of the strike zone through discussions with the leaders, and how to change the strike zone for each hitter.
Yang Hae-young, vice president of the Association, said, “In the meantime, there has been a lot of distrust in ball judgment in amateur baseball, and it has also caused various problems such as corruption in the entrance exam. did,” he said.
In addition, he said, “Currently, the system has been installed only at Mokdong Stadium, but we plan to expand the operation of robot referees by installing it in many stadiums in the future.”
Meanwhile, robot referees were the first to be introduced in the American professional baseball independent league in 2019.
Currently, robot referees are being operated even in the minor league Triple A, and the major league aims to introduce them in 2024.
In domestic professional baseball, robot referees have been operated in the Futures League since August 2020.
Park Jae-hyeon, coach of Jeju High School, who experienced robot refereeing in the Samsung 2nd Army in the past, said, “Compared to three years ago, it seems that we have made a lot of progress.”