Jan 7, 2020 - Sports

MLB vs. sign stealing

Binoculars with baseball reflected in the lens

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Houston Astros allegedly used technology to steal signs, and now MLB wants to use technology to rid sign-stealing from the Earth.

Driving the news: The commissioner's office is currently developing multiple prototype devices to encode pitcher-catcher communication, including a wearable random-number generator and lights in the mound, per Yahoo Sports.

  • The wearable random-number generator "would preserve the existing dynamic of a catcher putting down a sign for interpretation by the pitcher, but overlay it with a level of secure encryption that would be virtually impossible to decode."
  • "Alternatively, the finger system could be replaced by in-ground lights on the mound. Sources with knowledge of the idea said catchers would have access to a control pad that corresponds to a lighting panel visible only to the pitcher. A certain button for a certain light sequence for a certain pitch."

Between the lines: The simplest solution would be earpieces that allow pitchers and catchers to communicate, but Yahoo notes that pitchers found them "distracting and uncomfortable" in initial minor-league testing last year.

Go deeper: MLB's plan to overhaul its minor league system

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