Gordon: The revolution will be meticulously tracked: Welcome to the StatCast era

From Aaron Gordon at VICE Sports on September 28, 2015:

On a perfect early September evening, Greg Cain, the senior director of sports data at MLB Advanced Media, gazed out at the pristine Fenway Park field from the bar above the right field stands.

I wondered if Cain saw the field the way I saw it, with nine players playing defense and one at bat and a whole lot of jokers in the dugouts, or if he could see what Statcast, MLB’s state-of-the-art tracking system, saw: the ball being captured, at 40,000 frames per second, in motion slower than human thought can conceive; the players being tracked with unprecedented accuracy by digital eyes; the complexities of each play being distilled into thousands of lines of code, Matrix-style, as the border between the digital and “real” world imperceptibly merges like train tracks on the horizon. He probably sees both.

Statcast measures every activity on the field down to the microsecond, including the very spin of the ball as it hurtles towards home plate. This is the first season the technology is active in all 30 stadiums, marking what several MLB employees referred to as the beginning of the Statcast Era. It could revolutionize the way baseball is watched, analyzed, taught, and even thought about, because it will give spectators and general managers alike a view of the game unlike ever before.

This season, an extra broadcasting truck traveled with the MLB Network team solely for Statcast. VICE Sports was given exclusive access to see how this process works first-hand from inside the truck—which is kept a cool 63 degrees to prevent the electronics from overheating—during a recent Yankees-Red Sox game. During the game, MLB Network segment producer Mike Treanor directed his operator, Matt, to prepare potential Statcast segments for the live broadcast. The two sat side-by-side, faces lit by the glow of LCD screens showing every angle and graphic. If they were able to put a Statcast graphic together quick enough, and felt it told a good story, they’d send it over to the main broadcasting truck.

Read the full article here: https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/the-revolution-will-be-meticulously-tracked-welcome-to-the-statcast-era

Originally published: September 28, 2015. Last Updated: September 28, 2015.