Sportvision: The Tech Side of Baseball

Silicon Valley company brings graphics to playoffs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Baseball is steeped in technology.  But on television, there's always room for a little technology.  As you watch the games tonight and this weekend, you're seeing Silicon Valley software in action.

    Sportvision, the company responsible for all kinds of sports-related graphics, from the NFL's first down line, to skiing comparisons in the Olympics, to the glowing hockey puck (remember that one?), is now taking baseball coverage by storm. 

    Its "Pitch FX" software brings you every toss, every inch of the way between the mound and home plate.  I'm told that not only fans like it enough to call the company with suggestions, but umpires even check their work after games, by playing replays of the action, and watching the graphics.

    For this post season, both TBS and Fox use Sportvision's software. We got a cool demonstration at the company's Mountain View headquarters, where not only did we see the original software in action, but -- even cooler -- the company has a pitching machine in the parking lot. 

    It throws curves, fastballs and sliders, and each pitch is tracked by the company's cameras, which turn the pitch into a graphic.  That's what you see on the screen when Tim Lincecum fires one 60-feet, six inches.

    Sportvision admits it's careful about moving in on a sport so steeped in tradition.  It refuses to take a stand when it comes to the replay argument in baseball, insisting that umpires do a great job. 

    That said, Sportvision baseball impresario Greg Moore admits there's something special about seeing his work on-screen, whether at home or in a sports bar. 

    "You know," he says, "it's just amazing to see something you've done go on air.  Everyone here has a great sense of pride."

    As we head to the World Series, you, too, will have a chance to see their work on air.  Pitch by highlighted pitch.

    Scott finds "Pitch FX" mesmerizing.  He's on Twitter @scottbudman.