January 09, 2013 By D. Craig MacCormack
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows one of my primary passions in life is baseball. So, count me among those excited by Major League Baseball’s announcement this week of its partnership with T-Mobile that brings cell phones into the dugout.
Trust me, I’ve thought of plenty of “Can you hear me now?” lines that could certainly add some comedy to a sport that needs it in the eyes of people who find watching nine innings every night boring or tedious.
But MLB and T-Mobile officials assured everyone the move from the old-timey dugout phones to cell phones that allow managers and pitching coaches to call the bullpen to get someone warmed up or check if he’s ready will go off without a hitch.
They also say the new connection won’t interfere—and might even enhance—the fans’ experience from their seats with their mobile devices. I guess that means we’ll see even more fans behind home plate at stadiums across the country waving like idiots while talking to their friends instead of watching the game from seats I can only envy.
I guess I can only hope managers don’t get caught up in the craze too and start flailing their arms every time the network camera pans their way. As a Boston Red Sox fan, that was more likely last season with Bobby Valentine as manager than it is with the more stoic and seemingly less publicity-conscious new skipper, John Farrell.
I also haven’t heard if equipping managers with dugout cell phones will mean we’ll catch one of them engaged in a fierce game of Angry Birds or playing Words With Friends as their starting pitcher continues to get knocked around on the hill.
In all seriousness, I think this is another nice nod by MLB to add more technology to the experience and should serve as a way to make the game better, like instant replay has in the past few seasons. Baseball team owners have been major proponents of adding new flashy scoreboards to their stadiums for fan enjoyment, and many are working on e-tickets and other electronic enhancements for season ticket holders and frequent paid attendees.
Here’s hoping for more of that in the future, including the once-far-fetched idea of robots as umpires, although then we’d lose some of the spittle-laced arguments between managers and umps.
One final note: while MLB is continuing to explore more technology as a way of making the game and the experience better, is it too much to ask teams to resurrect the long-mothballed bullpen cars to not only speed up the time it takes relievers to get to the mound, but also entertain thousands of people with a drive of only a few hundred feet?