MLB to impose limit to live video for teams
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Major League Baseball intends to impose new limits on what live video is available to teams, and Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes to complete his investigation into alleged electronic sign stealing by the Boston Red Sox before spring training camps open next week.
“I think you should assume that before the season starts we will have new guidelines with respect to the use of video equipment,”Manfred said Thursday after an owners meeting. “I think we have too much video available in real time right now.”
After former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers told The Athletic in November that the Astros used a video camera to steal the signs of opposing catchers in 2017 and 2018, Manfred last month suspended Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one season, fined the Astros $5 million and stripped them of their first- and second-round drafts picks in 2020 and 2021.
Hinch and Luhnow were fired the same day, and the scandal led to the departures of Boston manager Alex Cora, Houston’s bench coach during its 2017 title run, and New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán, an Astros player that season.
MLB is investigating a separate allegation the Red Sox broke sign-stealing rules in 2018, when Cora led Boston to the championship in his first season as manager.
“I’m hopeful that I can get Boston done before the camps open,” said Manfred, with workouts to start Wednesday.
Manfred did not punish any Houston players and said no Red Sox players will be sanctioned. But he left open the possibility of discipline for future violations.
“We have the right to discipline players right now. I’m absolutely convinced of that fact,” he said. “We made a decision in the Houston investigation that in order for us to get the facts that we needed, somebody had to get immunity.”
He was not disappointed by the reluctance of current Astros players to apologize.
“I think the jury’s still out on exactly what the Houston players are going to say,” he said, pointing toward spring training as the possible time and place for contrition.
Baseball has looked at earpieces as a way to avoid the use of signs but determined it would be impractical. While football uses earpieces, helmets are much larger than baseball caps.
“It’s much harder to design an earpiece that would be comfortable for players to wear in lieu of signs,” he said, adding, “it’s hard to be as fast as hand signals.”
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, the Dodgers GM when Los Angeles lost to Houston, said he isn’t sure how much the sign-stealing scheme even helped.
“I think it’s natural for teams to sort of look for every advantage,” Zaidi said, speaking in San Francisco. “That’s what obviously was the motivating factor. I think it’s been made a lot more clear going forward where the lines are and I think for anybody in this game you just want to feel like the playing field is level going forward, and I think we’re going to have that next year (2020).”
Astros owner Jim Crane did not attend the meetings. He is playing in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament along with pitcher Justin Verlander this weekend.