Jan 7, 2020

MLB vs. sign stealing

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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MLB sign-stealing scandal broadens with 2018 Red Sox accusations

Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Photo: Adam Glanzman/MLB via Getty Images

With MLB nearing a decision on the Astros front, the sign-stealing controversy has broadened, with anonymous team sources telling The Athletic that the Red Sox "cheated" during their 2018 World Series championship season.

How it worked: Players allegedly visited the video replay room — a room near the dugout meant to help managers decide whether to challenge a call — to steal signs and relay them to the dugout. That information was then shared with a baserunner, who would use body movements to communicate with the batter.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

Astros scandal claims third manager

Carlos Beltrán, the only player named in MLB's investigation of the Astros' sign-stealing scandal, is out as Mets manager, departing less than three months into his tenure and becoming the third manager in four days to lose his job.

Why it matters: Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training in 27 days, and the Astros, Red Sox and Mets don't have managers. What we've witnessed this week is unprecedented — and the fallout has only just begun.Houston Astros fire manager, GM after suspension for sign-stealing

Go deeperArrowJan 17, 2020

How an inconsistent baseball threatens trust in MLB

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Astros' sign-stealing scandal is a huge black eye for Major League Baseball and threatens public trust in the sport, but there is something that poses an even bigger threat to that trust — the baseball itself.

Catch up quick: The "juiced baseball" emerged as a storyline last season, but the inconsistency of MLB's baseballs has been a theme for years.

Go deeperArrowFeb 4, 2020 - Sports