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Sign-stealing Newsbeat

Sunday, July 25, 2021

MLB will try encrypted transmitters and bone conduction to stop sign stealing

But soon the MLB may try fighting fire with fire: on August 3rd, it plans to begin testing an encrypted wireless communication device that replaces the traditional flash of fingers with button taps, according to ESPN.

The device, from a startup called PitchCom, will be tested in the Low-A West minor league first. As you’d expect from something that’s relaying extremely basic signals, it’s not a particularly complicated piece of kit: one wristband transmitter for the catcher with nine buttons to signal “desired pitch and location,” which sends an encrypted audio signal to receivers that can squeeze into a pitcher’s cap and a catcher’s helmet.

The receivers use bone-conduction technology, so they don’t necessarily need to be up against an ear, and might theoretically be harder to eavesdrop on. (Bone conduction stimulates bones in your head instead of emitting audible sound.) That said, it sounds like introducing the tech may come with other risks. Here’s a list of restrictions as cited by ESPN:

Players found to be wearing a receiver while batting will be ejected; only the active catcher, and no other players or coaches, is allowed to use the transmitter; a backup transmitter is provided, but it must remain in the carrying case during games; and if players and coaches need to confer because of an issue with the device, they can notify the umpires and not be charged a mound visit.

MLB seems optimistic about the idea so far. “The PitchCom devices were tested in side-sessions during major league spring training, and the feedback from players, coaches, and front office staff was extremely positive,” reads part of an internal memo obtained by the Associated Press. “Based on those preliminary results, we are optimistic that these devices have the potential to be a viable long-term option to reduce sign-stealing risk and improve pace of play, particularly with runners on second base.”


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 25, 2021 at 11:59 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: sign-stealing

Friday, May 21, 2021

Ex-Yankees catcher calls out Rockies for suspicious sign-signaling

Retired Yankees catcher Erik Kratz said the Colorado Rockies were “caught” using a suspicious sign-signaling system that included a massage gun, a TV and their metal bench in 2018.

Kratz was on the YES Network’s “YES’ Curtain Call’ podcast when he made the revelation. The network tweeted a clip of the interview Friday.

Kratz likened Colorado’s actions to the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal…

Here’s Kratz’s full quote:

“And I can also tell you because I don’t care, I don’t really know anybody over there, the Colorado Rockies were doing the exact same thing in 2018, and we caught them, and we played them in the playoffs. Know how many runs they scored in a three-game playoff series in 2018? Not many people watched the NLDS. They scored two runs in the ninth inning of Game 2. They used to take a Theragun and bang it on their metal bench. And they were doing the exact same thing, from the TV. So, there you go. If you think no one else was doing it, you are wrong. The difference is, the Astros may have taken it a little too far. Maybe a little bit too far. Maybe continued to do it. Or maybe it’s just the fact that they won the World Series and everybody’s pissed about that.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 21, 2021 at 05:30 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: rockies, sign-stealing

Friday, April 30, 2021

Why sign stealing is acceptable in baseball, but there’s a place to draw the line

Twice within the last week, there’s been at least mild controversy made over the matter of sign stealing that leads me to believe we could take a collective breath here. Let’s review the instances:

Saturday, Padres wunderkind Fernando Tatis Jr. took Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer deep. A bit later, some 2021-version Zapruder-like footage emerged of Tatis possibly glancing back toward catcher Will Smith’s signs. Bauer tweeted about it. It went viral, and drew the ire of many fans. A column in the LA Times brought up the 2017 Astros and said the Dodgers, “once again had been robbed, embarrassed and played for fools.” Bauer didn’t take kindly to the possibility that Tatis was peeking. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, via, “when you talk about peeking, that’s just not the way you play baseball. If that is the case, which I don’t know, that’ll be noted.”

Monday, Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera said the White Sox were accusing them of relaying signs from second base. He was none too happy. Here are Cabrera’s comments, via “It was the second baseman because he tried to tell the catcher and the pitcher we passed the sign. I mean, come on, that’s some (expletive). I don’t play that game. You need to respect. You don’t need to show up me or somebody or the runner on second, trying to say we passed the sign from second. Come on, get the (expletive) out of here. That’s not right.”

In taking the brief description of both instances into consideration, it tells me that the sport hasn’t completely healed since the 2017 Astros and, to a lesser extent, the 2018 Red Sox were both caught electronically sign stealing. These were sign-stealing scandals involving back-to-back World Series champions. Legions of casual fans found out there was cheating done by the champions and hear the word “stealing” in there. That must mean all sign stealing is bad, right?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 09:40 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: sign-stealing



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