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Baseball’s gone through several sign stealing controversies in recent years, most notably with the 2017 Houston Astros and their elaborate trash can system.
There were also allegations made against the 2018 Boston Red Sox, and many other accusations have been tossed out by disgruntled fans or opponents.
In response, Major League Baseball devised a new system of communicating in an attempt to eliminate the practice.
Instead of delivering signs via the traditional method, where catchers run through a set of motions with their hands, teams could adopt a less noticeable electronic option.
PitchCom was introduced throughout the league for the 2022 season, and has seen widespread adoption.
Catchers wear a sleeve with buttons on it that correlate to pitch type and the desired location. Once the buttons are pressed, audio is immediately passed to the pitcher through a receiver in their ear.
This style of communication has plusses and minuses, but superstar pitcher Max Scherzer thinks it has no place in Major League Baseball:
Scherzer did not mince words, saying it should be “illegal” and not part of baseball.
It’s interesting that a pitcher would come out so forcefully against a product designed, in theory, to help him. Scherzer’s clearly an old school guy who’d rather leave in elements of the game that he considers traditional, whether it benefits him or not.
He says his signs are complex, which makes it hard for baserunners to crack his code, but for many other pitchers who aren’t willing to develop such a system, PitchCom is a welcome addition.
It’s extremely unlikely PitchCom is outlawed; beyond the high rate of uptake so far in the league, it’s intent was to help speed up pace of play by eliminating some mound visits and step offs with runners on.
Whether it’s achieved that is debatable, but for Scherzer, he’s clearly willing to sacrifice any potential benefits to ensure traditions are upheld.