York Revolution fans can say goodbye to two experimental rules in 2022

Rick White

York Revolution fans can say goodbye to the robot umpire.

The longer distance between the pitching rubber and home plate at PeoplesBank Park is history, too.

The Atlantic League announced Thursday in a news release that it will return the distance of the pitching rubber to home plate to its conventional 60 feet, 6 inches and will resume having home plate umpires call balls and strikes for the 2022 league season.

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The Atlantic League has used the Automated Ball-Strike (ABS) system, also known as the robot umpire, since the second half of its 2019 season and throughout the 2021 campaign as part of its Test Rules and Equipment Partnership with Major League Baseball. The Atlantic League didn’t have a season in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the experiment and an assessment, the robot umpire is moving to an MLB affiliated league. 

Atlantic League pitching rubber distances were moved back one foot, to 61 feet, 6 inches, for the second half of the 2021 season as part of the MLB test rules partnership. The test, according to the news release, proved inconclusive, so both parties agreed to restore the pitching rubber distance to its traditional length of 60 feet, 6 inches for the upcoming Atlantic League season. 

The Atlantic League will retain several past MLB test features, such as the 17-inch bases, extra innings tiebreaker and anti-shift rules, among others.

“The test rules and equipment are transitional by definition: Some elements remain, others are tweaked, and still others are abandoned. That’s why MLB and the ALPB conduct the tests,” said Atlantic League president Rick White.

The Atlantic League and MLB will announce 2022 test rules later this spring.

“We are honored to pioneer the future of the game with Major League Baseball,” White said. “We’re proud that many tests today will find their way to the big leagues in the future. We will continue to closely corroborate on tests with MLB.”

The experimental playing rule and equipment changes are part of a multi-year agreement between MLB and ALPB.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.