The MLB is taking action after confirmations and implications of sign stealing have plagued baseball. Here’s how the new system works.
MLB Implements Technology to Eliminate Sign Stealing
With the baseball season underway, Major League Baseball has implemented a new strategy to eliminate sign stealing while speeding up play. The league gave PitchCom™ approval to roll out technology to allow the pitcher, catcher and other key players to communicate pitch selection without using traditional signs that can be stolen by the opposing team. The system was tested in the Low-A California league last season and with MLB players during spring training. All this came about after a series of rules violations by members of the Houston Astros during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The Astros used a camera in the centerfield seats to watch the catcher’s signs behind home plate. Astros staffers watched the live camera feed behind the dugout and used various audio cues, like banging on a trash can, to signal to the batter what pitch was coming next. A batter at the major league level with that knowledge would have a tremendous advantage over the pitcher.
How it Works
The new system involves a wristband for the catcher that looks like a small TV remote with nine buttons used to call pitch and location. Once a button is pressed, a verbal command is sent to the pitcher and selected fielders who might want to shift position based on the next pitch. Signs may still need to be sent to the catcher from the dugout, but there would be no signs needed in the field. The technology is optional and not every pitcher is interested in using it. As an added bonus, this system could dramatically speed up play. For example, the catcher doesn’t need to wait for the batter to enter the box to give a sign. By the time a pitcher returns to the mound after a previous pitch, he already knows what to throw next. This article from MLB.com includes videos with player reactions and demonstrations of the technology.