Some Teams Could Use This Guy …

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OK, so its control was a little off that day, and its velocity wasn’t exactly intimidating. But on April 20, as part of the Philadelphia Science Festival, a robot named PhillieBot made history by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Phils-Brewers game at Citizens Bank Park. The robot, created by Penn Engineering’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) Laboratory, made its way to the mound under the controlled direction of Jordan Brindza EAS’10 GEng’11, then unleashed a mid-30s bot-ball in the direction of the Phillie Phanatic behind home plate. Because the GRASP crew didn’t want anybody getting hurt, they had dialed down the velocity. As a result, PhillieBot’s pitch was in the dirt, drawing some boos and prompting the Phanatic to signal for a lefthander.

But unlike a pitching machine, PhillieBot’s brain can be infinitely tweaked to change pitch velocity and trajectory, and we’ve heard rumors that it can even put some wrist action into its secondary pitches. No word yet on whether the MLB Players Union will file a grievance on behalf of nervous middle relievers.—S.H

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