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Elephant Rumblings: MLB proposes new sign-stealing restrictions

MLB news roundup

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!

In November 2019, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic dropped the bombshell: the Houston Astros made extensive use of electronic equipment to steal signs from opposing pitchers at Minute Maid Park throughout 2017. The news hit extra close to A’s fans because the scandal centered around Oakland’s archrivals in the AL West, and Mike Fiers, a key whistleblower in the matter, was a pitcher for the A’s when the story broke.

On Saturday, the MLB proposed new measures to prevent sign stealing by extending the use of an experimental technology currently being tested in Spring Training and imposing restrictions on sharing scouting information during games. Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic broke down the basics via Twitter:

  • Batters would be prohibited from reviewing Scouting Information during at-bats, such as on cards placed in helmets.
  • No team personnel may print Scouting Information to distribute to coaches or players after first pitch.
  • Pitchers and catchers would be permitted to use wireless PitchCom devices on a voluntary basis during the regular season.

Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors describes PitchCom as a wireless technology that allows catchers to use a specialized wristband to transmit audio signals to the pitcher indicating the suggested next pitch. The catcher and as many as three other fielders would also be allowed to wear the audio receiver. Widespread adoption of such a solution could eliminate the need for hand signs altogether.

It remains to be seen how the MLBPA will respond to these proposals. Players are on both sides of the issue, with star pitchers like Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer voicing starkly different opinions of PitchCom.

I think it — or a similar solution — would be a reasonable permanent option. Players like Scherzer can opt to keep it old school if they want. What’s your take? Leave it below!

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