Friday, July 10, 2009
Changes, they are a comin'
Alan Schwarz on a new bit of technology that's only going to change, well, everything:
A new camera and software system in its final testing phases will record the exact speed and location of the ball and every player on the field, allowing the most digitized of sports to be overrun anew by hundreds of innovative statistics that will rate players more accurately, almost certainly affect their compensation and perhaps alter how the game itself is played. Analysis of fielding, especially, but other things, too. At this moment it's almost impossible to predict the changes, or the impact of the changes. If you make me guess, though, I'm going to guess this new technology will serve mostly as a run-prevention tool, and that the balance will swing back once again toward the pitchers and the fielders. That's just a guess. A lot of really smart people are going to do a lot of really interesting things, and most of us can only hang on for the ride.
In San Francisco, four high-resolution cameras sit on light towers 162 feet up, capturing everything that happens on the field in three dimensions and wiring it to a control room below. Software tools determine which movements are the ball, which are fielders and runners, and which are passing seagulls. More than two million meaningful location points are recorded per game.
A half-century after Branch Rickey harrumphed, "There is nothing on earth anybody can do with fielding,” all these pixels and bits will almost certainly revolutionize the analysis of baseball glovework...