Stealing Signs

One of my favorite stats has nothing to do with sports. It is the fact that on the day he resigned the Presidency, Richard Nixon had a 24% approval rating. To me that stat captures how viciously partisan people can be in the way they view things. I bring that stat up because the Red Sox have admitted to a very modern method of cheating.

I will fully admit to being biased here, this cheating took place against my team. I also suspect a solid portion of Red Sox fans will defend it and go with arguments like “it’s no big deal” and “everyone does it”. That’s the nature of a partisan divide. We saw a good example of it with Deflategate and the other Patriot scandals. Outside of New England, the majority thought they cheated. Inside, the minority did. So, I am not going to dwell on the nuts and bolts of this case, other than to ask Red Sox fans what they would be saying if the situation was reversed? I want to focus on the larger issue, why is sign stealing able to happen considering all the technology available in the world today?

Why do pitchers and catcher still communicate with signs? Why couldn’t they both wear a device that allowed one to signal to the other what pitch to throw? Why couldn’t the same technology be employed to send signals from the third base coach to the runners and batters? If the goal is to speed up baseball, wouldn’t every player wearing some form of Apple Watch and getting a signal telling them to bunt, steal, throw a fastball, or move three steps to their right, improve the pace of play? I get it, there would have to be safeguards and security, but it seems feasible.

And let’s go further. Why do we still need the manager to come out and take the ball from the pitcher when he is bringing in a new one? Couldn’t he press a button that tells the umpire to go out to the mound while the new pitcher runs in from the bullpen? And finally, why does replay take so long? Why doesn’t MLB have its replay officials looking at close calls before they are challenged in order to speed up the process?

Just some random thoughts on a wet Wednesday.