The National Football League tarnished the purity and savagery of the sport by allowing for the Quarterback to be wired into the the coach’s booth, and nullifying the effects of a 747 quad engine decibel explosion of crowd noise in a hostile road environment. Major league baseball has followed suit by experimenting with a catcher to pitcher interface, where the backstop is armed with a wrist device that cannot be distinguished from a similar looking control interface that are part of the current generation of NASA spacesuits. While the future has collided with the present, and the poetic narrative of a simple game, traditionalists do not have to like where things are headed.
As the Islet-sized lump meteor of discarded Tesla batteries bears down on the dinosaurs of Major League baseball, the looming shadow of the unsustainable toxic object travelling at 31,000 mph signals another extinction event for the traditional morays and pageantry of the fluidic rules of a game influenced AI and statistics. Since the legacy of Billy Beane and the statistical analysis tenets of Moneyball crossed into the threshold of popular culture, the game has never been the same, for the better or the worse, as no analytical model can forecast stagnation and the apathy of the average fan.
While the instinctive ruggedness of a grueling season is being phased out for technological marvels, as mathematicians have replaced the rough around the edges scouting community club offering exclusive memberships based entirely off of experience, gut feelings and superstition, the void of the languishing moments in the dog days of Summer between pitches is filled with a streaming consciousness of statistics. And figures predicting a shortstop’s propensity to endure a low-level nervous breakdown in the top of the 8th inning with a lefty on the mound facing a right-handed power hitter wearing layers of golden necklaces with the count 2-1 no longer satisfies the lust for random information.
No thanks to the Houston Astros and their archaic, yet effective method to steal signs and relay the information to the hitter through Morse code pounding on garbage cans, the era of the cyborg and the major leagues has ungraciously been launched. Normally, the implementation of the DH in the National League would quantify as breaking news, but the next gen launch of catcher to pitcher in-game communication technology in eliminating the sign system is being tested during the regular season, and with disturbing results.
The interface is eloquent, powerful and eerily reminiscent of a science fiction plot predicting the end of humanity and autonomy through gadgetry. The catcher now has the option to be equipped with a wrist device which resembles a miniature television remote and sends auditory signals to the earpiece of a hurler on the mound in calling pitches, thus deeming pantomime unnecessary. The only question is how the integrity and organic environment of baseball will forever be altered in allowing the tech realm to get directly involved with the action on the playing field.
Of course, the cat and mouse game of sign stealing and lip reading is still an entertaining sidebar to the intrigue of an arduous marathon of a season. The simple ingrained element of non-verbal communication, where all angles of competitive advantages are summoned in distinguishing between an average ballclub, and a team competing for a pennant. What is the life expectancy on the idiosyncrasies that help to make baseball tolerable, now that the introduction of devices may have set a terrible precedent?
The PitchCom remote interface.
The innovative catch to pitcher interface developed by PitchCom, and branded as anti-sign stealing technology. does add another layer of intrigue to sport that can linger over a 162 game schedule in bringing the possibility of hacking an aspect of the game into each and every stadium. Sign stealing may take on a whole new meaning, through a digital interception mechanism, as the trajectory of MLB has forever been redirected. It is a foregone conclusion that the grandchildren of the soon to be extinct strapping reptiles of ancient baseball eras, their synapses plugged with e-chewing tobacco, are already feverishly working on DIY solutions to capture the wireless signal travelling at the speed of light from home plate to the mound. The electronic equivalent to acceptable cheating methods aligning with the acceptable infrastructure of proper gamesmanship is moving swiftly towards the prototype stage, while threats of robo-umps originate from reactionary disgruntled fans and the tech lobby.
In targeting the non-baseball crowd, video game making giant Nintendo, nudged by MLB, launched the “Baseball Simulator” series in the late 1980’s. The idea was to provide a gateway platform in appealing to a broad spectrum of demographics by a offering an experience that combined the classic framework of the sport with layers of science fiction and fantasy themes. Whether or not the debut of the NES cartridge actually generated revenue from a new source cannot be determined, however, the deliberate campaign in emphasizing technology over the sporting angle is evident today with an emphasis on analytics and the acceptance of digitally-infused hardware as part of the uniform.
Within the instant gratification ecosystem of the information age, change is inherent, and with the insatiable appetite for the new and improved, some things will be forever casualties of the younger generations raised to be uncomfortable with the consequences of wins and losses. As professional sports face the reality of competition being shifted to the virtual world, traditional sports will suffer, and the aging fans will have to stomach the insufferable alterations made to accommodate the whims of consumers weened by a gig-economy, where sticks and stones breaking bones is not tolerated, and words certainly do inflict psychological damage on a society that is indifferent to fortitude and toughness.