Now that stealing personal information has replaced baseball as America’s pastime in the wake of the ongoing investigation into the Houston Astros somewhat-rudimentary sign-stealing scheme that might have helped them win the 2017 World Series, Major League Baseball is looking for solutions.
The unfortunate thing is they’re truly looking for solutions to a problem that doesn’t need fixing. I just can’t believe some of the ideas the people in power of the game I love think are viable alternatives to having a catcher flash the signals to his pitcher or having the signs relayed from a coach in the dugout.
Here’s my “favorite” part of the Yahoo Sports report:
The colloquial understanding is that the easiest and most obvious solution would be earpieces that allow pitchers and catchers to communicate directly. However, in initial testing last year, minor league pitchers throwing bullpens with earpiece prototypes found them distracting and uncomfortable, a league source said.
One of the devices in development, described by league sources, is a wearable random-number generator (similar to a push password used for secure log-ins) that corresponds to which sign in a sequence is relevant.
This would preserve the existing dynamic of a catcher putting down a sign for interpretation by the pitcher, but overlay it with a level of secure encryption that would be virtually impossible to decode even with a dedicated software program.
Alternatively, the finger system could be replaced by in-ground lights on the mound. Sources with knowledge of the idea said catchers would have access to a control pad that corresponds to a lighting panel visible only to the pitcher.
A certain button for a certain light sequence for a certain pitch.
With all of these options and other more theoretical solutions, there’s concern around connectivity, operating the various systems smoothly, and how any kind of paradigm shift would impact pace of play.
The league’s hope is that eliminating the need for complicated sign sequences would shave a couple of seconds off each pitch and ultimately speed up the game.
For those of you who forgot or never knew about it, MLB had to scrap a plan a few years ago that would’ve replaced the bullpen phones with T-Mobile cell phones because the technology wasn’t working right and they couldn’t get it perfected.
Now we’re going to count on technology again to solve a problem that can be easily fixed with a fastball to the ribcage. Color me skeptical of this plan ever actually being implemented in a game.
What I find most comical about all of this is the idea that using technology when fingers are perfectly appropriate will speed up a game that’s already losing fans because of its stagnant pace. Even I’ve noticed how slow baseball can be sometimes—and I love the sport.
I can’t imagine casual fans and newcomers to the game will be patient watching players fumble with technology.