When the Major League Baseball season begins on July 23, fans who tune in to the broadcasts will notice a number of differences in the how the game looks. For starters, there will be no fans in the stands and the pitchers will not have an at bat. And when it comes to reviewing plays, MLB has doubled the number of cameras to 24.
The cameras operate at a high frame rate and are designed to stream directly to the replay operations center and to the video rooms at the ballparks for reviews. MLB is also installing 4K cameras with zoom lenses behind home plate at high locations.
MLB has a new replay center in Manhattan that is double the size of their old one and is located across the street from Radio City Music Hall.
MLB executive vice president of strategy, technology and innovation Chris Marinak spoke on the new cameras and location saying, “we think that the product of all these items is going to result in a much more rapid review process, so that we’ll be getting video available much more quickly to the umpires, who will be making decision more quickly. The same will be true of the replay personnel in the ballpark, who are helping their manager make a decision on whether to challenge.”
This season team managers have 20 seconds after a play to decide whether or not they want to challenge the call. Previously managers had 30 seconds to make the call.
Major League Baseball has had video reviews on plays since 2014.
Once a manager challenges a call, the umpires will review the video of the play in question. Last season, there were 1,275 such reviews with 1,051 of them at the behest of a manager. Six hundred and three of those calls were overturned after a review with 310 of them confirmed.
MLB is also presenting a new Statcast system that will make use of Hawk Eye and a series of 12 cameras to create data for video boards and scoreboards. There will be five pitcher oriented cameras, four home plate cameras, a centerfield camera, with the remainder used to track the players at a rate of 100 frames per second. The 4K cameras have the capability of being sped up to catch as many as 500 fames per second. In contrast, television operates at just 30 frames per second.
MLB’s chief technology officer Jason Gaedtke spoke on the new innovations saying, “we’re trying to set a foundation here with this new deployment that is a foundation that we can innovate on for the next five years as technology continues to progress.”
With their new innovations, MLB is looking to cut the margin of error down significantly and eliminate blind spots on the field.
Instead of group viewing of games, MLB is providing 15 iPads per team for the players. The tablets will be wiped clean after every game and will not be supplied with connectivity during a game.
And since there will be no fans in the stands, MLB is looking to simulate crowd noise.