Arthur: Real-time video cheating could happen again

From SABR member Rob Arthur at Baseball Prospectus on March 6, 2020:

In the (prolonged, extended) wake of the Astros’ cheating scandal, Tom Verducci reported that MLB is weighing rules changes designed to minimize teams’ ability to access real-time video. It’s a solution that’s obviously long overdue, with both the Astros and Red Sox having used replay rooms to steal signs. And MLB would do well to stamp real-time video out of the game completely, because the next wave of cheating could be much more effective—and thus dangerous to the integrity of the game—than the relatively fruitless efforts Houston deployed.

The way the two cheating schemes worked hinged on getting video of the catchers’ signs relayed to batters at the plate very quickly. Even a short delay—MLB suggests that eight seconds would be enough—can render the signal about the incoming pitch too late for the batter to use. In Houston, the banging scheme used a custom video monitor at home, set up in the dugout tunnel next to the famous trash can. In parallel, their front office developed an algorithm—Codebreaker—which worked on the feeds in the replay room. Those feeds would be available on the road as well as at home.

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Originally published: March 6, 2020. Last Updated: March 6, 2020.