MESA, AZ - NOVEMBER 08, 2021: Cole Waites #45 of the Scottsdale Scorpions throws a pitch during a game against the Mesa Solar Sox at Sloan Park on November 8, 2021 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
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The New Baseball Technology That Pros Already Want Banned
MLB announced that PitchCom, a piece of tech that inhibits sign stealing — the dubious practice where the opposing team tries to figure out what the pitcher will throw — has been approved for use during the 2022 regular season. Instead of complex and subtle hand signals, a catcher will be able to communicate with the pitcher through a pad worn on the gloved hand.
Buttons on the pad can be used to signal what type of ball the pitcher should be throwing, and the message is then relayed to the man on the mound via an earpiece. PitchCom can also communicate with as many as three other teammates, which could help out with field arrangements. Using the device is not mandatory, and teams still have the option to use fingers.
After using it for the first time, New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer believes the device should be illegal, and that sign stealing — and counteracting it — are skills that should not be removed from the game. However, Scherzer’s views aren’t unanimously held, even among other New York-based pitchers like the Yankees Luis Severino, who was eager to use it in his first start.
Sign stealing, although controversial, isn’t considered cheating, but some teams have taken things too far — for instance, the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series after an elaborate sign-stealing scheme paid off, involving the use of a video replay system near the dugout. Such underhanded tactics were met with significant backlash, and MLB fined the Astros.