Baseball is increasingly dealing with pitch delays with PitchCom

Baseball is increasingly dealing with pitch delays with PitchCom

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani struggles with a PitchCom device.Getty Images

It took some getting used to, but now all the teams in the MLB baseball use an electronic communication system between the catcher and the bowlers. Intercepting old hand gestures is becoming a thing of the past with the so-called PitchCom.

For fishermen, the introduction of the new system means, among other things, that they no longer have to paint their nails in bright colors. Often this was done so that the shooter could clearly see the pitch expected of him.

Every pitch in baseball is connected between catcher and bowler, until recently by hand signals. Through nonverbal cues, the two players agreed on the type of throw.

Gesture interception was as old as the game. As long as the player on the field does so, he has been tolerated, and even encouraged. The primary objective was to keep an eye on the runners at second base, who watched the catcher’s signals from behind the pitcher. The real commando hid in a series of diversion maneuvers. At least until this season.

scandal

The PitchCom submission was already in the works, but was accelerated by the cheating scandal surrounding the Houston Astros, who won the tournament in 2017 by photographing opponents’ hand signals from the stands. The images were seen directly in the catacombs. Among other things, by banging drums on trash cans, the tone that would appear was soon spelled out. The scandal is still going on by the Texas Club.

Carlos Correa, a hated Astros player who now plays for the Minnesota Twins, said the new system would have made it impossible for his team to cheat. “I don’t think that would be possible now, because there are no more hand gestures left,” he said earlier this season.

Instead, anglers have some kind of remote control attached to their arm or leg. The device has twelve different buttons, with which it is possible to select the type of throw and the location of the ball. The bowler can hear the catcher’s choice through an earpiece in his hat. For example: Fastball Low Away. Powerful, low throw in the far corner of the hit zone. The technology is available in several languages.

The system was tested last season in minor leagues, leagues under the highest level. Its use is optional: about half of the 30 teams have used it since the start of the competition, the rest have now been used as well.

PitchCom had childhood illnesses. In some matches the ears got stuck, so the game had to be stopped for a while.

second nature

However, the feedback is mostly positive. “At first we thought we would never use that,” said Catch Andrew Kneiser, who was the last St. Louis Cardinal to adopt the system. Now I can’t go back, it’s much easier. It has become second nature.

New York Mets baseball player Max Scherzer, the highest-paid baseball player in the United States with a salary of more than $43 million this season, drew rare criticism. He has to admit that the system worked, but he’s not excited anyway. “Decoding someone’s code is part of baseball,” he said. ‘Does it help?’ yes. But I still think it should be illegal.

Supporters of the system, in turn, see the desired side effect: it makes the game faster. The catchers no longer have to wait for the bowlers, who often come down the hill for a few seconds after the pitch to confer, to take their position again. Now they can pass instructions instantly.

“We all love this,” New York Yankees player Michael King said. “This way I have more time to think about the throw, so I can throw it with conviction.”

For the league leadership, accelerating the competitions in the coming years is a key issue. On average, the nine (or more) rounds this season take three hours and seven minutes. In the 2011 season, the last average game was completed in less than three hours.

PitchCom’s impact on game duration is minimal at the moment, but the system helps prepare shooters for the next technology introduction. The so-called stadium clock, which is likely to be introduced in one of the upcoming seasons, will have to shorten matches significantly. Shooters will have only fourteen seconds between attempts and nineteen seconds if there is a runner at the base. In minor leagues, the system is considered successful.

MLB President Rob Manfred has announced that the Hawk’s electronic equivalent of tennis will also appear in upcoming seasons. The originally conservative sport of baseball awaits a digital revolution in the coming years. The flawlessly executed PitchCom app is an encouraging first step.

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