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Volume 26 No. 232
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MLB Looking At Technology To Combat Sign Stealing

One consideration for pitch-calling tech is allowing coaches to dictate pitches from the dugout
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
One consideration for pitch-calling tech is allowing coaches to dictate pitches from the dugout
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
One consideration for pitch-calling tech is allowing coaches to dictate pitches from the dugout
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

MLB is looking to end sign stealing by "discussing on-field technology for communicating pitch calls and plans to start soliciting feedback from players this spring training," according to sources cited by Hannah Keyser of YAHOO SPORTS. Sources said that the commissioner's office is in the process of "developing a handful of prototype devices to encode pitcher-catcher communication, including a wearable random-number generator and lights in the mound." Sources said that the random-number generator, which would be similar to a push password used for secure log-ins, would correspond 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 said that 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." One consideration for any pitch-calling technology is the "ability to accommodate coaches dictating pitches from the dugout." A source said that they foresee that "being the norm in the not-too-distant future" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/6).

CONCERN IN BEANTOWN? Three people who were with the Red Sox during their World Series-winning '18 season said that "at least some players visited the video replay room during games to learn the sign sequence opponents were using." But sources said that this system "did not appear to be effective or even viable" during the '18 postseason. THE ATHLETIC's Rosenthal & Drellich note this is because opponents were "leery enough of sign stealing -- and knowledgeable enough about it -- to constantly change their sign sequences." In addition, for the first time in baseball's history, MLB in '18 "instituted in-person monitors in the replay rooms, starting in the playoffs." Other clubs "might have committed violations similar" to the Red Sox' under the new rules, but the report "could not confirm such conduct at this time" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/7).