Why iPad dugout video could be a huge boost for your favorite MLB player

Shortly after the 2020 MLB season began last summer, frustration began to set in. For the first time, premier league players do not have access to in-game video, which puts many players at a disadvantage.

They fought.

And then they’re scared. The players spoke to their agents and they called the league to complain.

What began as a potential measure out of concern for panel theft became a total ban on video after the pandemic reached its peak. Unlike us watching at home, the players could not see the replay of their hit or the pitch they threw before the game was over. It was a change from previous workouts and a difficult adjustment for some star players.

We’ve heard from a number of people a few times, MLB executive vice president Morgan Swords said last week. We understood the frustration. It was one of many breaks from [baseball’s] normality last year.

As Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, video is very important to get immediate feedback. It helps pitchers, catchers and hitters and lets you know if what you see is good or bad.

Until 2020 – and the Houston Astros board-stealing scandal – players could return to the clubhouse in the video room and replay their final at bat. They were able to analyze their swing or just their perception of the strike zone in real time that day, and some players had a hard time with the radical change.

It’s a fine line, said Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who scored 222 last year. They weren’t going to make excuses, and there are no excuses, but in 10 years in the big leagues, I had access to the video. I’m a big game changer. Pitch to pitch, beat to beat.

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For others, this was not a problem.

It won’t change anything for me, Brewers star Christian Yelich said recently. I’m not a big player in this game. I just don’t like it. I feel like whatever momentum you had that day, you got it.

But Rizzo’s opinion reflected what many players said in interviews for this story: They would not apologize, but were adamant that they wanted the video game back.

The league was sensitive to their arguments and reached a compromise with the players’ union for 2021. A new system will be operational before opening day that meets three requirements: It allows players to view previous at-bats and prevents theft of passes from the receiver.

I think it’s important, Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the return of game film. And when it’s an instrument that you’ve used almost your entire career and it’s gone, you feel a little empty. That’s right.

New system

This season, the league is revamping its iPad bench program to add video during the game. The iPad was previously allowed in the Dugout, but only with pre-installed material. A player could see the past tendencies of a pitcher or batter, but had no access to what happened during the game.

That’s changing.

We knew it was important to have this problem solved by 2021 and that we were probably in the same place in terms of the pandemic, Sword said. We don’t need people in the video room.

2 Connected

The league has developed software to meet the needs of players while keeping small groups out of the video room. Starting on opening day, the player’s innings will be uploaded to the iPad shortly after the disc appears in the dugout. To prevent character theft, the video is edited so that it starts when the pitcher is about to throw the ball.

Pinch-hitters don’t start until the catcher gives the signal, Sword said.

Each clip features a combination of broadcast and MLB cameras loading the song into a new program. It is cut off at the time the characters are exchanged between the catcher and the pitcher, and sent to the iPad with a half-game delay. Character blurring has already been discussed, but this system takes it out of the equation.

It’s great, Rizzo said when he heard about the new technology. The most important thing for me is the video. I need to see it to make sure I was right [in recognizing the strike zone], but if I’m wrong, I can make an adjustment immediately.

Who wins the most?

There is no doubt that position players benefit the most from video feedback, especially when compared to starting pitchers. The latter group is less likely to run to the clubhouse to analyze a pitch or two between innings, but the time between hits has made it much easier for hitters to check their VCR.

As a pitcher, I throw over 100 times, and I’m not really interested in going back and watching them, White Sox starter Lucas Julito said. I’ll leave it after the game. The killer has three or four attacks. They’re all very important.

One pitcher noted that he can now watch more often from the bench, and that managers may also prefer the new system.

I think that’s an advantage because the negative was that guys were looking at their bats, which means guys weren’t there to watch the game in the semifinals, Jolito captain Tony La Russa said.

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It is said that there are more people in the video room than in the stands during the games, but that is all.

An iPad on the couch certainly helps, counsel said. The players use the video room for calibration. Determine where the pitches are in the strike zone. It’s so good for baseball players. More than the mechanical adjustments they make by watching videos. That’s the calibration they get to do.

The biggest potential losers in the new program? Judge. Someone commented that last year they heard a lot less from the players after their shots because they couldn’t see them right away. One pitcher joked that 80% of the video of the game was used to confirm that the umpire had made the wrong decision. The baseball player denied the accusation, saying only that 80% was too high.

In any case, most parties are satisfied with the new system.

The players did a great job of that, Sword said. We have tried our best to compensate them by providing reliable technology. We’ll probably work with them to make sure we get through this.

However it is applied, the old adage became clear to the players last year: You don’t know what you have until it’s taken away. The 2020 pandemic season has been challenging in many ways. And the year 2021 will begin as the year 2020 ended: Players must follow a series of health and safety protocols. But at least they have their video in the game.

What difference does it make?

Realmuto said it’s different for every killer. For me, I was in the middle. I’d rather have a video. It wouldn’t have killed me if I hadn’t had it, but I’ve had conversations with killers and it was pretty devastating for them to not have that immediate feedback.

How did we get here.

After the Astros scandal, the league realized it needed to put a stop to how teams steal signs. Houston and other teams have shown that the ability to see receiver signals on video in real time or shortly thereafter can have a big impact on the field. In an effort to stop this problem in the 2019-20 offseason, the MLB has partnered with the players’ union to implement a video system to prevent theft of electronic identifiers. The negotiations dragged on until spring training.

Then came the pandemic.

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We worked with the union on this, and everything stopped, Sword said.

When conversations about this resumed during the baseball break, it became clear that they would have to start all over again, and that going to the clubhouse to watch videos was no longer an option.

The 2020 manual did not allow coaches or players to enter the video room for any reason, Swords said. We didn’t want people to be in small, enclosed spaces.

It was then discussed how the system could be operated on the bench, but the software required a technician to be present with the players throughout the game.

The safety of the games was our top priority, Sword said.

While it is impossible to prove the extent to which the lack of video footage affected performance, there is no denying that routines changed over the course of a career. In September, J.D. Martinez and Javier Baez were among the star players voicing their frustrations.

Honestly, it sucked, Baez said at the time. I make my adjustments as I play. I’m really pissed off that we don’t have one. Honestly, we [the Cubs] didn’t cheat, and we have to pay for it?

Although this decision was prompted by health and safety protocols rather than sign stealing scandals, it did not stop calls to the union’s office. Nick Chenok, who represents Baez, was one of the agents who recruited for the MLB on behalf of his client.

We would ask two questions, Chenok reminded us. Can you implement something this year, and is it permanent or temporary? If it were real, it would be a much bigger problem.

The union assured Chenock and others that work would be done to find a solution by 2021.

It was a big adjustment to go from something to nothing, said Bryce Harper, the Phillies’ outfielder. I know there are a lot of people in the league who use it more than others, so it would be nice to bring it back.

Rizzo said flatly: I was angry, but I didn’t say it openly. I’m glad she’s back.

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