It’s amazing to me that this is the case, but for some reason none of the homerun distances in past HR Derbys were reported as they happened. There was always a delay, and the Bermans of the world were left trying to juggle the footage of various bombs. Well ESPN will be adding new technology this year that utilizes Doppler Radar, and will have the distance as the shots land in outfield stands at Busch Stadium. Via USA Today….

ESPN, which will formally introduce its Ball Track coverage Wednesday, will use Doppler radar that’s been used to track missile systems. Now, it will allow for superimposed ESPN onscreen comet tails behind balls that will turn green to projects flying balls as homers. Anthony Bailey, ESPN vice president for emerging technology, says Ball Track will also show live a running total of how many feet the still-flying balls have traveled. While ESPN used to take a tedious 30 seconds to figure out final home-run distances, viewers now will get them instantly — and calculations of how far homers would have gone if not inconveniently impeded by a stadium.

Bailey says the radar isn’t complicated — setting up the necessary box behind home plate at press-box level takes 10 minutes — and ESPN is looking at using it in games. Tracking base-runners wouldn’t work — players don’t run fast enough for radar.

Bailey says ESPN will open an “Innovation Lab” at Disney World in September partly to let parkgoers become “instant focus groups” for its experiments. One idea in the works, he says, is having live postgame interviews with players who appear virtually in studios so they’d have “more intimate conversations” with anchors.

I still can’t believe that ESPN hasn’t utilized this technology before, but I guess its better late than never. Hopefully the graphic won’t be too over-bearing, and that it will help the announcers stay on track during the broadcast.

ESPN adds new graphics for Home Run Derby coverage (USA Today)