April 20, 2011, 1:54 PM — I'm not a baseball purist. Not even a fan, really.
Any sporting event that is slow enough to require you to either bring other entertainment or spend long periods bored to death just doesn't qualify as being worth the ticket price.
And I don't just say that because of the things the animals in the bleachers at Fenway Park throw at people who put up their feet and read a book during the game.
Even I'm a little offended by the decision to have what amounts to the world's smartet pitching machine throwing out the first pitch at a Phillies/Brewers game in Philadelphia this past Monday.
The pitching robot, built in about six weeks by engineers at the University of Pennsylvania by combining a Segway, a robotic arm and a twisted love for the game, took the mound as part of Science Day festivities at the park.
Given the scandals about performance-enhancing or recreational drugs in baseball, I'm surprised the "science" was robotics rather than chemistry, but that's not for me to decide.
After being rolled out to the mound, its creators pushed a button on PhillieBot, which flung its mechanical arm toward home plate and threw the ball about 40 miles per hour. PCMag has some video.
It can throw faster, its evil-genius makers implied, but the Phillies organization didn't want to show up its string of star pitchers by having a machine throw at major league speeds – the way pitching machines do every single day, for example.
The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted head greenskeeper Mike Boekholder as saying he'd been promised the robot wouldn't tear up the grass on the field, let alone the pitching stats.
All in all, a pretty harmless outing, and a little thrill for those who either love robots or hate pitchers.
Probably not for those of us who like playing baseball, like playing with robots but get bored watching other people do either one.