Mar 6, 2020 - Sports

The murky future of in-game video in the MLB


Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In the wake of the Astros scandal, Major League Baseball must decide how best to police in-game clubhouse video — and it has until Opening Day to announce any rule changes.

Why it matters: Players have grown accustomed to (legally) using technology during games, with hitters and pitchers often going into the clubhouse between innings to study video of their previous at-bats and make adjustments.

  • In the most extreme example, all TVs in the clubhouse and video room would reportedly be turned off during games, with the one exception being a TV in the training room that carries the broadcast on an eight-second delay.

What they're saying: Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez told Sports Illustrated that the potential in-game video ban is "a joke" that would "take our game back 30 years."

  • "I think what people don't get is there is a new generation that revolves around technology. ... To me, studying my swing and making changes, that's what makes me who I am. I got released doing it the other way."

The other side: Angels first baseman Albert Pujols would welcome a return to the days of his youth when players watched footage before and after games, not during them, he told The Athletic:

"If they want to take it away, then let's go back to old school. ... I think a lot of guys would like that. And I think at the end, you'll find that it's more relaxing. You don't have to think so much. You can trust your skill."

The bottom line: In 2019, MLB banned non-broadcast cameras from ballparks in an attempt to eliminate the illegal use of in-game video. In 2020, the league may have to eliminate — or at least limit — the legal use, too, as it tries to regain the trust of baseball fans.

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