Fans in the crowd erupted Tuesday at the Las Vegas Ballpark after a minor league umpire did not let bat dog Finn do his job. Baseball fans at the Las Vegas Ballpark joined in a chorus of boos Tuesday after a minor league umpire appeared to not let the team's bat dog do his job – collect bats. The Las Vegas Aviators, a Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, were playing the Sacramento River Cats, a Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants when the incident occurred. And while we know cats and dogs don't get along, umpires aren't usually an issue. Finn the Bat Dog, the Aviators' baseball bat-collecting canine, was seen running to home plate to retrieve a leftover bat.
Robot umpires have been given a promotion and will be just one step from the major leagues this season. Major League Baseball is expanding its automated strike zone experiment to Triple-A, the highest level of the minor leagues. MLB's website posted a hiring notice seeking seasonal employees to operate the Automated Ball and Strike system. MLB said it is recruiting employees to operate the system for the Albuquerque Isotopes, Charlotte Knights, El Paso Chihuahuas, Las Vegas Aviators, Oklahoma City Dodgers, Reno Aces, Round Rock Express, Sacramento River Cats, Salt Lake Bees, Sugar Land Skeeters and Tacoma Rainiers. The independent Atlantic League became the first American professional league to let a computer call balls and strikes at its All-Star Game in July 2019 and experimented with ABS during the second half of that season. It also was used in the Arizona Fall League for top prospects in 2019, drawing complaints of its calls on breaking balls.
Manfred also said that MLB is going to meet with the World Baseball Softball Confederation to discuss possibly allowing major leaguers to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, although he added that "from a calendar prospective, the dates of the Tokyo Games are not ideal." The International Olympic Committee executive board voted last month to support a six-nation tournament in baseball and softball for 2020, with a full IOC vote scheduled for August. Baseball was dropped prior to the 2012 London Games and won't be played next month at Rio. "We like the idea of baseball being in the Olympics," Manfred said.
The Los Angeles Angels have extended their Triple-A affiliation with the Salt Lake Bees for two years through the 2022 season. The Angels announced the deal Monday. The Angels have been affiliated with the Salt Lake club since 2001, when they were the Stingers. The new deal will extend the clubs' affiliation for at least 22 seasons. Most of the current generation of Angels stars have played in Salt Lake, including Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Jered Weaver.