Amid a saga that has wounded a franchise and threatens another, and as Major League Baseball flirts with the task of taking out one or more of its own, left uncovered is what happens moving forward.
“There is so much good going on,” agent Scott Boras said Monday afternoon, hours after the Houston Astros were relieved of their general manager, manager, four draft picks, $5 million and reputations in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal. “How do we leave the fans with this? We need resolution.”
With the advancement of technology, so too has baseball endured the creeping and inevitable schemes intended to game the system. The Astros were caught in what is believed to be the most brazen of illegalities, which carried their hitters across two seasons and a World Series title. They are not alone among the accused, however, not even close, and those wronged and indignant about it might find themselves uncomfortable under the same microscope.
The era of access — more cameras, more microphones, more to win and lose — has led clumsily to a game stripped bare of its boundaries, where the simple act of choosing which pitch to throw when has covered everything in lighter fluid.
In the coming weeks, sources said Monday, MLB intends to analyze its methods of policing how technology, especially related to live game feeds, is used in video rooms, clubhouses, dugouts and beyond. At a time when the sport must reassure its fans that teams do not win or lose based on sprint times from the television monitor to the dugout, greater oversight, up to banning in-game video of any kind and adding a second MLB security official, will be considered. Starting in the 2018 postseason, one MLB official per stadium was assigned to monitor video rooms, where instant replay decisions were made. Their job was to ensure the live game feeds were not abused. The practice continued through the 2019 regular and postseasons. Allegations of cheating persist.
Boras supports a system that bans in-game technology that assists players in what he called a “predictive” manner. During a game, that information — what a pitcher throws, when he throws it — would have to come from the dugout, from the naked eye, and enforced by a second MLB agent.
“The rule must be, no communication of information that relates to performance that has yet to happen,” Boras said. “You cannot use technology to communicate information that relates to performance that has yet to happen. And then you police it. Anyone who goes to the locker room would be suspended or fined if they use any device to communicate.”
Therefore, he said, MLB officials would be tasked with monitoring all devices, including phones and tablets.
“We need a prescriptive resolution,” he said. “We need rules of definition and clarity, so that there is clarity that this is not something where there is cheating going on in our game.”
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