Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Sign of the times: MLB gives the OK to electronic pitch calling

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — In a move that ends a more than 150-year tradition, Major League Baseball has asked catchers to signal pitches in an effort to eliminate sign theft and speed games. Approved the use of an electronic device.

Since the introduction of baseball in the 19th century, catchers have used their fingers to indicate the type of pitch and its intended location.

As video in the ballpark grows into the 21st century, so have sign thefts – and concerns about how teams are trying to swipe the signal. The Houston Astros were penalized for using a camera and banging dustbins to alert their batsmen to the types of pitches during their run to the 2017 World Series title.

“It basically eliminates all the need to create a hint system for the catcher who is giving the signal,” Chris Marinck, MLB’s chief operations and strategy officer, said Tuesday. “You literally just press a button and it gives the pitch call to the pitcher. And from what we’ve seen so far, it really improves the pace of the game.”

Some teams tried the system in spring training, with Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa and New York Yankees’ Aaron Boone saying they liked what they saw.

Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka used it twice in training this spring, including with pitcher Michael King against Detroit in New York’s final exhibition game on Tuesday.

“There are still some things we have to work through, but I mean always indicate the fail safe. So, it is always there when we need it. We are working on all the pitfalls right now. If we stumble in the game, we can always signal. I’m not too worried about it getting confused,” he said.

“I love it. Earlier today I gave the signal to the king because I didn’t get a chance to talk to him about it, so I got into it. So I decided to just give the hint and it worked out fine.”

MLB is providing each team with three transmitters, 10 receivers and a charging case for the Pitchcom Pitcher Catcher communication device. It is available in English and Spanish.

“A maximum of five receivers and one transmitter may be in use at any one time,” MLB wrote Tuesday in a five-page memo to general managers, assistant GMs, managers and equipment managers, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. .

A catcher has nine options on their wristband device: “Four Seam High Inside, Curve Hi Middle, Slider Hi Outside, Change Mid Inside, Sinker Middle, Cutter Mid Out, Splitter Low Inside, Knuckle Low Middle, Two Seam Low Out.” “

A tapered band tucked inside a cap allows audio to be heard at an adjustable level, envisioned to be used by pitchers, second basemen, shortstop and center fielders.

“When changing pitchers, the manager shall provide a receiver to the replacement pitcher,” the memorandum said.

The receiver and transmitter may only be used on the field and may not be operated during games in the clubhouse, dugout or bullpen.

“Signals communicated through Pitchcom may only be given by the catcher in game. Signals may not be sent from the dugout, the bullpen, a different player on the field, or anywhere else,” the memo said. are responsible for. Any club that loses a transmitter or receiver will be charged a replacement fee of $5,000 per unit.”

Marinque said about half of the 30 MLB clubs have expressed interest.

“I’m not sure every team will use it. I think it’s kind of a personal choice,” Marinck said during MLB’s third annual Innovation and Fan Engagement Showcase.

Union head Tony Clark pointed out that the devices are not mandatory.

“It was important to ensure players have the flexibility to use – or not use – the technology at their own discretion,” the former All-Star first baseman said in a statement. “The people on the field are in the best position to make decisions as individuals whether it is right for them.”

Players can no longer watch in-game video replays on Clubhouse TV, but can only review videos on an iPad controlled by MLB Office. The video will only be updated at the end of each half-inning and players can go back and play again, but the content may not be visible during the half-inning.

“Players don’t have access to any technology that goes above and beyond what we’re offering in terms of in-game video,” Marinak said. “We also monitor all transmission of traffic so that we understand what content is being delivered.” iPad.”

The new system for umpires with microphones to explain video reviews to fans began Monday night with an exhibition game at Dodger Stadium. MLB is also now taking video from 104 of 120 minor league ballparks

Computer plate umpires’ automated ball/strike system will be used at 10 Triple-A West Park, Triple-A East in Charlotte and Low-A Southeast. MLB wants to describe the call on the stadium’s scoreboard.

Pitch clocks will be used in all minor league stadiums, possibly a prelude to their installation in big league ballparks for 2023.

MLB showed off its new 1,400-square-foot Replay operations center in midtown Manhattan, which opened in 2020 as COVID-19 and replaced the 900-square-foot facility in SoHo that had been used since 2014.

The 31 x 29-foot room has 90 46-inch professional monitors and 60 24-inch touchscreen monitors, with three desks with six screens for supervisors and administrators, then two more rows with technicians.

According to Chris Zagorsky, vice president of replay operations and technology, MLB takes 18 cameras out of each ballpark, with 60 frames per second and four high-speed cameras as fast as 360–480 frames per second.

There is a backup replay center in San Francisco in case of a power outage in New York. For special event games such as Dyersville, Iowa, Williamsport, Pennsylvania and London, a replay room has been set up on site.

Marinck said fans using the MLB Ballpark app to enter stadiums with electronic tickets increased from 3% in 2017 to 19% in 2019 and to 56% in 2021.

MLB also said that the earliest helmet ads would start appearing during the season after 2022. Players agreed to uniform and helmet ads last month, and jersey ads won’t start until 2023 at the earliest.

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Associated Press freelance writer Mark Diddler contributed to this report.

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More Associated Press MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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