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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sign-stealing

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   1. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 26, 2021 at 12:58 AM (#6030376)
I was thinking that in order to cram in as many gambling ads as humanely possible that each signal needs to be etched into stone, in hieroglyphics mind you, then carried from catcher to pitcher.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 26, 2021 at 08:37 AM (#6030384)
Great, now the "smart teams" will be starting their own "Bletchley Park" units.
   3. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: July 26, 2021 at 08:49 AM (#6030386)
Take the ####### monitors out of the clubhouses and dugouts.
   4. Rally Posted: July 26, 2021 at 08:53 AM (#6030387)
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


Why is this necessary? If you have encryption, wouldn't it be useless for a batter to wear a receiver? And if the encryption doesn't work, batters are going to try. Are we going to have the umpire do a full check on every batter before he steps up to the plate?

My suggestion:

1. Don't even try to put rules out about who can and can't use a receiver.
2. Get the encryption right. Don't try to implement this until we're sure that only the pitcher can decode the catcher's signals.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 26, 2021 at 08:55 AM (#6030390)
2. Get the encryption right. Don't try to implement this until we're sure that only the pitcher can decode the catcher's signals.

You'll never be sure. Any over the air, repeated use signal is vulnerable to interception and decoding.
   6. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 26, 2021 at 09:15 AM (#6030395)
I'd like to see the Astros (a) do nothing to try to intercept the signals and (b) start banging a trash can anyway to mess with the other team and umpire. Imagine Angel Hernandez giving every batter an Enrico Palazzo style frisking only to find nothing, but Houston still banging trash cans anyway like they've stolen the signals, and him just getting madder and madder the whole time.
   7. Greg Pope Posted: July 26, 2021 at 10:43 AM (#6030409)
Why is this necessary? If you have encryption, wouldn't it be useless for a batter to wear a receiver?

I assume this rule is not to prevent the communication from being stolen, but to prevent teams from using their own setup to signal something to the batter.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 26, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6030415)
I assume this rule is not to prevent the communication from being stolen, but to prevent teams from using their own setup to signal something to the batter.

Well, if they were intercepting the signs, they'd need to transmit them to the batter in real time, so a transmitter would be really helpful.
   9. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: July 26, 2021 at 11:06 AM (#6030418)
I will say I really like my bond conduction headphones.
   10. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 26, 2021 at 11:33 AM (#6030423)
electronic gadgets are the worst way to solve any sign issues.

now we have to worry about electronics bullshit on a baseball field.

this sucks.
   11. Lassus Posted: July 26, 2021 at 12:10 PM (#6030427)
This really seems like an expensive solution for lazy people. But I guess that's what a lot of things are.
   12. Ron J Posted: July 26, 2021 at 12:34 PM (#6030439)
#11 To be honest my first reaction was to think that it was kind of early for an April Fools article.
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 26, 2021 at 01:09 PM (#6030448)
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
How difficult will it be to develop a receiver that doesn’t need to be worn on the head? Umpires may ask players to remove their caps, but I doubt they’ll do a body cavity search.

Of course, everyone may soon be wearing implanted devices rather than toting smartphones, so the era of sign-stealing innovation & countermeasures could get complicated.
   14. sunday silence (again) Posted: July 26, 2021 at 06:55 PM (#6030572)
Remember when Manfred said "Its just a piece of metal?" One cant help wonder if draconian punishments had been handed out in the first place if we'd even be at this pt.
   15. Baldrick Posted: July 26, 2021 at 08:47 PM (#6030600)
My solution is that people should just be allowed to steal signs. Who cares.

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