Joe West confiscates pitchers scouting report (9/2 update- Players allowed to use cheat sheets)

soxhop411

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This is peak Joe West:
PHILADELPHIA -- Pitchers can't have a cheat sheet -- at least for now.
Veteran umpire Joe West confiscated a card from Phillies reliever Austin Davis in the eighth inning of Philadelphia's 7-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.

Davis and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he was using the card merely for information on the Cubs hitters. But West said it was illegal under Rule 6.02(c)(7), which states that the pitcher shall not have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance.

"I told him we don't allow him to carry anything on their glove, person or clothing except in some cases where there's a rain situation we allow them to put a rosin bag in their pocket,'' West, umpiring his 41st season, said. "Other than that they can't have anything on the pitcher.''
The card is similar to ones used by Phillies fielders to position themselves for batters. Davis pulled the card out of his back pocket and consulted it prior to Kris Bryant's single and then again before facing pinch-hitter Addison Russell. West then came to the mound and took the card from Davis. Kapler, a huge proponent of analytics who introduced the cards to the Phillies players this season, came out to argue with West for several minutes.

But West kept the card.

"I saw him take it out and I went, 'What the heck is that?''' West said.

The umpire called the league office after the game and admitted the use of the card may be in a gray area.

"I didn't want to throw him out,'' West said. "I know it's foreign but he's not trying to cheat. Maybe he's trying to get an advantage because he's reading the scouting report, but it wasn't pine tar, it wasn't an emery board, it wasn't whatever.

"In the long run, maybe they'll let him (have the card). Right now, my hands are tied until they say yes or now. Right now, until the office says it's OK to carry this, he can't do it.''
http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/24552138/umpire-joe-west-confiscates-cheat-sheet-austin-davis-philadelphia-phillies-reliever
https://www.closecallsports.com/2018/09/carded-why-west-confiscated-pitchers.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
Here is the video:



Austin Davis has been using that scouting card the entire season without issue..... Until Joe west comes along....

MLB should tell the umps that this is a legal thing to have as outfielders have it and use it for positioning
 

mauidano

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"Davis and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he was using the card merely for information on the Cubs hitters. But West said it was illegal under Rule 6.02(c)(7), which states that the pitcher shall not have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance."

That's your grey area. And it pertains to pitchers only. All fielders can carry cards.
 

JimBoSox9

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I dunno if this makes me an old fogey, but I'd be happier if they went ahead and banned all written/printed instructions from the fielders as well. There's something to be said for helping curtail analytics-driven-changes by limiting the defense to whatever complexity they can bring out there in their heads.
 

mauidano

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You guys are seriously making the claim that 'foreign substance' is a reasonable description of an index card?
Not part of the uniform and being used for an advantage against a hitter, so yeah.
 

Boggs26

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I find that to be an odd reading of the rule since everything in 6.02c deals with altering the ball with foreign substances. Unless the claim was that he was using the note card to scuff up the ball it really doesn't seem to follow the intent of the rule as written.

What if he wrote the notes on the inside of his hat and just got a new hat every game? Legal? Still considered a foreign substance?

Perhaps cheat sheets like this should be banned, but I think you've really got to stretch 6.02c to decide that they already are.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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This is CliffsNotes for the fucking lazy and disinclined. Outfielders having notes bothers me a little, but whatever. Theres enough intricacies for positioning against 9-11 people (including pinch hitters) that I dont mind the cheat sheet. I'd prefer them removed because it feels like a little too much for sports, which is supposed to be an in-the-moment endeavor, but I dont care enough to remove it from the game. I feel like 90% of in-depth positioning could be done with simple signals from the dugout, but again, whatever.

But its a pitcher and catchers job - and has been for as long as the game has been played - to understand the tendencies of a batter. While that's evolved and gotten more complicated over time, the premise remains the same. What pitches does a guy dislike, where does he not like them thrown, what are his tendencies in certain situations.

If you need CliffsNotes because you couldnt find the time in the 24 hours between games and 3 hours of sitting in the dugout blowing bubbles and cracking jokes, then find another profession.

Boohoo, you weren't allowed to read the notes - which your parents probably wrote for you - during the fucking test.

Just give me a fucking break with the notecards.
 

Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

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Why doesn't MLB embrace this?

In the NFL, I haven't heard complaints about quarterbacks having information strapped to their bodies. The QB and the Mike have radios back to the coach. I understand that the strategic complexities in the NFL are orders of magnitude higher than MLB, but giving players an information advantage doesn't fundamentally alter the sport or undermine athletic competition. My main gripes with this particular incident is that a) it makes Davis look unprepared and b) it made me sympathize with Joe West.

I'm in favor of the pitcher having a radio back to a scout. Or defensive players having radios back to coaches in the dugout who handle positioning.
 

dbn

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MLB should just decide who can have what, tell everyone, and be done with it. I kind of like the idea of no player can have notes while on the field during play, but it's not a big deal either way.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Of course people are overlooking one big thing if this were to be allowed... Pace of play and speed of the game. Allow the "notecard" trend to continue and it's just another delay.
 

RedOctober3829

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I don't see a problem with it. Having a notecard doesn't help the pitcher execute the pitch any better. Same with a fielder having a notecard to help his positioning against a player. Either everyone can have them or no one can.
 

InstaFace

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What if he wrote the notes on the inside of his hat and just got a new hat every game? Legal? Still considered a foreign substance?
Maybe @BoSoxLady can use her longstanding ties to Kapler and get this suggestion over to him. I bet if he thought of it he'd do it.

edit: anyway, I'm with E5 on this one, West was correct that it's the letter of the law. Certainly not the spirit, though, and that's something MLB can and should clarify. But like he said, he didn't throw the pitcher out because he didn't feel like there was an advantage sought - I feel like he was pretty reasonable.

edit2: also, it's rough to see a bunch of Red Sox fans not trying to give Joe West the benefit of the doubt.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Batters should be able to have notecards, too. Between every at bat, they can look to see what pitches the pitcher likes to throw to RH/LH batters in specific counts after throwing the pitch they just threw.

And the pitcher should have a second card he can look at between pitches to see how the batter traditionally has been adjusting to these specific adjustments.

It's like rock-paper-scissors, only we all get to commit suicide by the 7th inning stretch.
 

timlinin8th

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edit: anyway, I'm with E5 on this one, West was correct that it's the letter of the law. Certainly not the spirit, though, and that's something MLB can and should clarify. But like he said, he didn't throw the pitcher out because he didn't feel like there was an advantage sought - I feel like he was pretty reasonable.
I agree on all this, and I get the feeling one of the reasons West DID act on it (and then later speak with MLB about it) is because now having it come up on the field makes it something that will be addressed and clarified, probably in the offseason.

Personally I feel like MLB should go the minimalist route here. As stated above even in football ONLY the QB and ONE player on D get to have radios, don’t need every damn guy on the baseball diamond with a cheat sheet.
 

The Needler

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I can’t believe you guys are really getting behind the idea that a notecard is a foreign “substance.” Not only is it clearly not what the rule was intend to prevent, it’s Not the common meaning of usage of a word. And that’s not how you interpret rules - by giving a purportedly ambiguous word its broadest possible meaning.

There’s a much stronger argument for considering gold chains “substances,” and yet they’ve been worn and touched by pitchers forever.
 
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soxhop411

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Why doesn't MLB embrace this?

In the NFL, I haven't heard complaints about quarterbacks having information strapped to their bodies. The QB and the Mike have radios back to the coach. I understand that the strategic complexities in the NFL are orders of magnitude higher than MLB, but giving players an information advantage doesn't fundamentally alter the sport or undermine athletic competition. My main gripes with this particular incident is that a) it makes Davis look unprepared and b) it made me sympathize with Joe West.

I'm in favor of the pitcher having a radio back to a scout. Or defensive players having radios back to coaches in the dugout who handle positioning.
agreed. People here are reading too much into the law as it is written. It was meant to prohibit things that would be used to doctor the ball.. This isn't doing that
 

geoduck no quahog

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They've always had note cards for pitchers. They call them catchers.

Positioning fielders is a coach's job, so cheat cards aren't really that impactful...but smart defensive catchers are supposed to have an edge over stupid or lazy ones. (Don't some catchers already use the QB forearm sheet?)

Or, I guess, pitchers could carry a Scoscia in their pocket and see what that does for pace of play.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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If a middle reliever needs a note card to get through 25 pitches, maybe have him study the other team a bit harder or coach better. Bickering over the meaning of ‘foreign substance’ strikes me as focusing on trees.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Isn't it likely that note cards are now a thing with pitchers because of the limit on mound visits? Used to be the catcher could go out and remind the pitcher that the hitter looks for low and away when he's ahead in the count. Now he's chained to the plate and the pitcher has to remember on his own. It's no wonder some need a cheat sheet.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Isn't it likely that note cards are now a thing with pitchers because of the limit on mound visits? Used to be the catcher could go out and remind the pitcher that the hitter looks for low and away when he's ahead in the count. Now he's chained to the plate and the pitcher has to remember on his own. It's no wonder some need a cheat sheet.
Because they can’t have the bullpen coach give him a quick reminder before he goes in or they can’t give signs to the catcher from the dugout?
 

ngruz25

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Does this mean a pitcher can't have sunflower seeds and gum wrappers in his pocket too? How about those dumb Phiten necklaces, would those be foreign objects?
 

soxhop411

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and it has already been solved:
Via Todd Zolecki,
Update: Teams have been informed that players can use reference cards as long as they do not delay the game. Austin Davis’ card did not violate 6.03(c)(7).


Less than 12 hours after having his cheat sheet confiscated by crew chief Joe West, Davis learned he can keep using it. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and Cubs manager Joe Maddon were notified before their series finale at Citizens Bank Park that pitchers, including Davis, will be allowed to use scouting report cards on the mound going forward.
https://theathletic.com/501263/2018/09/02/its-not-like-hes-trying-to-hide-anything-ump-calls-out-austin-davis-for-having-scouting-report-card-while-on-mound/?redirected=1
 

Boggs26

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Does this mean a pitcher can't have sunflower seeds and gum wrappers in his pocket too? How about those dumb Phiten necklaces, would those be foreign objects?
Yep, if we're going to read the "foreign substance" language as being all inclusive then pitchers should not be allowed to have literally anything that isn't part of the uniform on them at any time on the mound. Why is a gold chain fine? If a note card is a foreign substance, then so is that. If a necklace isn't a foreign substance because it isn't being used to alter the ball, then a note card should be ok for the same reason.

And look, personally the card doesn't bother me, but if MLB wants to outlaw them, I have no issue with that as a rule. What I have an issue with is West's personal (, illogical, and inconsistent) interpretation of a rule.

If I'm Kapler, I'm going out on the first at bat and telling the ump that based on West's interpretation I'd like everything that isn't glove or uniform removed from the opposing pitcher. Necklace? Foreign substance. Seeds in the back pocket? Foreign substance. Bandaid on the left ankle? Foreign substance. Sounds ridiculous, right? But based on a note card being a foreign substance, how is any of it inconsistent with West's interpretation?
 

snowmanny

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I do think that if Gabe Kapler is going to have his players do something that has never been done before it would be prudent to alert the crew chief to the situiation before the game.
 

The Needler

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I do think that if Gabe Kapler is going to have his players do something that has never been done before it would be prudent to alert the crew chief to the situiation before the game.
It has been done before. Including by Davis and by Zach Greinke.

 

mauidano

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But its a pitcher and catchers job - and has been for as long as the game has been played - to understand the tendencies of a batter. While that's evolved and gotten more complicated over time, the premise remains the same. What pitches does a guy dislike, where does he not like them thrown, what are his tendencies in certain situations.

If you need CliffsNotes because you couldnt find the time in the 24 hours between games and 3 hours of sitting in the dugout blowing bubbles and cracking jokes, then find another profession.

Just give me a fucking break with the notecards.
And though I agree with Joe West as it is written the above is my personal point of view. When Chris Sale is on the mound, do you think he needs notes in his pockets? He doesn't even ever shake off the catcher. Notecards; new age millennial shit. Oh and get off my lawn while you're at it.
 

loshjott

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As an aside, the QB type arm bands are becoming common in youth and HS baseball so the poor kids don’t have to learn signs. It drives me bonkers as a youth coach to play teams where they don’t use signs and instead the 3b coach yells “4T” or whatever between pitches and the batter looks at his armband.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Yep, if we're going to read the "foreign substance" language as being all inclusive then pitchers should not be allowed to have literally anything that isn't part of the uniform on them at any time on the mound. Why is a gold chain fine? If a note card is a foreign substance, then so is that. If a necklace isn't a foreign substance because it isn't being used to alter the ball, then a note card should be ok for the same reason.

And look, personally the card doesn't bother me, but if MLB wants to outlaw them, I have no issue with that as a rule. What I have an issue with is West's personal (, illogical, and inconsistent) interpretation of a rule.

If I'm Kapler, I'm going out on the first at bat and telling the ump that based on West's interpretation I'd like everything that isn't glove or uniform removed from the opposing pitcher. Necklace? Foreign substance. Seeds in the back pocket? Foreign substance. Bandaid on the left ankle? Foreign substance. Sounds ridiculous, right? But based on a note card being a foreign substance, how is any of it inconsistent with West's interpretation?
Really? You're equating seeds and a bandaid to a scouting report? How about thinking of "foreign substance" more as "something that gives the pitcher an advantage while on the field of play"? If you're Kapler in your scenario, you're going to get laughed at; you can "tell" the ump anything you want, you don't get to decide how he rules the game. Have fun declaring the game being played under protest while you're at it, that works a lot of the time, just ask Buck Showalter.

I also don't buy the "players can look at iPads in the dugout" argument, not that you made it, someone else did. The pitchers can review anything they like in the dugout and bullpen as well, as can the coaches and signal them during live action. If the batter had a scouting report on him and stepped out to check it every pitch, sure, then that's a conversation.

How hard is it for the pitching coach to signal the pitcher that a guy is susceptible to a certain pitch location or type? Shoulder or knee for high or low; left and right side for inside outside; number of fingers for pitch, just like the catcher. Done.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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The football analogy seems pretty poor. That's more about time constraints and noise. Not about skipping your prep work.
 

Boggs26

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Really? You're equating seeds and a bandaid to a scouting report? How about thinking of "foreign substance" more as "something that gives the pitcher an advantage while on the field of play"? If you're Kapler in your scenario, you're going to get laughed at; you can "tell" the ump anything you want, you don't get to decide how he rules the game. Have fun declaring the game being played under protest while you're at it, that works a lot of the time, just ask Buck Showalter.

I also don't buy the "players can look at iPads in the dugout" argument, not that you made it, someone else did. The pitchers can review anything they like in the dugout and bullpen as well, as can the coaches and signal them during live action. If the batter had a scouting report on him and stepped out to check it every pitch, sure, then that's a conversation.

How hard is it for the pitching coach to signal the pitcher that a guy is susceptible to a certain pitch location or type? Shoulder or knee for high or low; left and right side for inside outside; number of fingers for pitch, just like the catcher. Done.
Yes, by the letter of the rule and West's interpretation those things are/should be equivalent. Heck Band-Aids are actually mentioned in rule 6.02c and are specifically not allowed if on the hands or wrists, so a lot less distance to stretch that one.

"Rule 6.02(c)(7) Comment: The pitcher may not attach anything to either hand, any finger or either wrist (e.g., Band-Aid,tape, Super Glue, bracelet, etc.). The umpire shall determine ifsuch attachment is indeed a foreign substance for the purposeof Rule 6.02(c)(7), but in no case may the pitcher be allowed topitch with such attachment to his hand, finger or wrist"

Also worth noting that 6.02c(4) discussed the illegality of applying a foreign substance to the ball. This, along with the rest of 6.02c, seems to indicate that the issue the rule is looking at is the alteration of the ball, something the note card is not doing.

And finally, by the rule book, if West believed the note card was a foreign substance, the pitcher should have been elected and then suspended 10 days by the league. There is no discretion given to the umpire in the penalty for violating 6.02c(7).

As for giving an advantage, how can you simultaneously argue that a note card is an advantage while also noting that the same info has historically been signaled from the dugout?

Finally I will once again reiterate: We seem to be arguing different points. You don't like the note card, I don't like West making up rules mid-game. I have no issue with a rule that says you can't have a scouting report on the field - but that rule does not exist currently, and 6.02c does not cover it under any logical reading of the rule. That's where my issue lies, and I really don't see how anyone can argue that West's interpretation was correct. He doesn't like the note card? He should bring it up with the rules committee in the off-season - or immediately if there is some sort of protocol for mid-season rule changes.
 

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Because they can’t have the bullpen coach give him a quick reminder before he goes in or they can’t give signs to the catcher from the dugout?
And if a pinch hitter is brought in after the bullpen coach reminded him about the tendencies for the first couple batters he was expecting to see?

Glad MLB has taken the reasonable approach with this shit. Joe West is the king of the #umpshow. As much as I appreciate his efforts in the 2004 ALCS, he needs to retire, or be retired.
 

charlieoscar

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Nonetheless, [Connie] Mack's popularity grew. Fans would come to games just to see him standing in the dugout, waving his scorecard to signal his players on the field. --encyclopedia.com
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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And if a pinch hitter is brought in after the bullpen coach reminded him about the tendencies for the first couple batters he was expecting to see?

Glad MLB has taken the reasonable approach with this shit. Joe West is the king of the #umpshow. As much as I appreciate his efforts in the 2004 ALCS, he needs to retire, or be retired.
Then the pitcher looks to his coach, he taps his right knee and flashes a ️to say curveball, down and away, and everyone earns their salary a little more. Why is that hard?

I don’t disagree on the perception of Joe West - or a lot of other umpires for that matter - showing up players; I just don’t see why they should need a friggin playbook in their pocket.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Yes, by the letter of the rule and West's interpretation those things are/should be equivalent. Heck Band-Aids are actually mentioned in rule 6.02c and are specifically not allowed if on the hands or wrists, so a lot less distance to stretch that one.

"Rule 6.02(c)(7) Comment: The pitcher may not attach anything to either hand, any finger or either wrist (e.g., Band-Aid,tape, Super Glue, bracelet, etc.). The umpire shall determine ifsuch attachment is indeed a foreign substance for the purposeof Rule 6.02(c)(7), but in no case may the pitcher be allowed topitch with such attachment to his hand, finger or wrist"

Also worth noting that 6.02c(4) discussed the illegality of applying a foreign substance to the ball. This, along with the rest of 6.02c, seems to indicate that the issue the rule is looking at is the alteration of the ball, something the note card is not doing.

And finally, by the rule book, if West believed the note card was a foreign substance, the pitcher should have been elected and then suspended 10 days by the league. There is no discretion given to the umpire in the penalty for violating 6.02c(7).

As for giving an advantage, how can you simultaneously argue that a note card is an advantage while also noting that the same info has historically been signaled from the dugout?

Finally I will once again reiterate: We seem to be arguing different points. You don't like the note card, I don't like West making up rules mid-game. I have no issue with a rule that says you can't have a scouting report on the field - but that rule does not exist currently, and 6.02c does not cover it under any logical reading of the rule. That's where my issue lies, and I really don't see how anyone can argue that West's interpretation was correct. He doesn't like the note card? He should bring it up with the rules committee in the off-season - or immediately if there is some sort of protocol for mid-season rule changes.
I agree with your last statement, but you’re moving goalposts on your first. You used a ‘bandaid on his left ankle’ as your crutch. You can’t really hold that up when moving to it being on the hand, where it might actually influence the ball.
 

DJnVa

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Folks trying to say note cards were a foreign substance sound like Roger Goodell interpreting rules.
 

Boggs26

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I agree with your last statement, but you’re moving goalposts on your first. You used a ‘bandaid on his left ankle’ as your crutch. You can’t really hold that up when moving to it being on the hand, where it might actually influence the ball.
Absolutely. I tried to be clear on that when I said there was a lot less distance to stretch that one. My real point there was that unlike a note card, Band-Aids are at least referenced in the rule as a possible issue. I intentionally moved it to his left ankle to remove the possibility of altering the ball since the note card in his pocket wasn't going to.
 

Ford Frick's Asterisk

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(1) I don't buy that cards are a "substance".

(2) I'd prefer they outlaw any "cheat sheet" for all players. Coaches and catchers have been able to handle these duties for nearly 150 years. The game hasn't become that much more complicated, and pitchers really don't need an excuse to work slower.

(3) In one of my all-time favorite "head game" moves, Omar Vizquel had Tim McClelland go to the mound and make Arthur Rhodes remove his diamond stud earrings because their sparkling was distracting.

*
 

judyb

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Limiting mound visits does change how these things can be handled in the ways they've been handled in the past. Letting them look at pieces of paper slows the game a lot less than unlimited mound visits used to.
 

Plympton91

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As an aside, the QB type arm bands are becoming common in youth and HS baseball so the poor kids don’t have to learn signs. It drives me bonkers as a youth coach to play teams where they don’t use signs and instead the 3b coach yells “4T” or whatever between pitches and the batter looks at his armband.
Especially when it’s the 4th inning and the coach has yelled 4T 30 times already, and some kids still step out and look down at the arm band.
 

Plympton91

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Limiting mound visits does change how these things can be handled in the ways they've been handled in the past. Letting them look at pieces of paper slows the game a lot less than unlimited mound visits used to.
I guess it depends on what ratio of brains to brawn you prefer in sporting events. Baseball was always a cerebral game, even before STATCast and shifting on every pitch. That was part of its appeal. But I feel like the pendulum is shifting too much when you’ve got a pitcher out there with note cards. Part of being a cerebral game is the ability to have the information tucked away in your brain Open book tests, which is what these cards make it, need to have different types of questions to keep them fair.

On the other hand, I’m wondering if the ease with which signs can be stolen in this day of video everywhere goes the other way. The reason you can’t signal from the dugout is that someone is in the tunnel watching the game on mlb.tv and relaying stuff to the dugout.
 

joe dokes

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I'm surprised that anyone would consider the note card a " foreign substance."
west is doing this because he's Joe West. But this is definitely part of his whole, "the nerds are ruining the world" mindset.

If MLB wants to make these things illegal for any reason, go for it. "foreign substance" isn't

Really? You're equating seeds and a bandaid to a scouting report?
You and Joe West are.

Then the pitcher looks to his coach, he taps his right knee and flashes a ️to say curveball, down and away, and everyone earns their salary a little more. Why is that hard?
The point isn't that its hard.
 

Sprowl

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Absolutely. I tried to be clear on that when I said there was a lot less distance to stretch that one. My real point there was that unlike a note card, Band-Aids are at least referenced in the rule as a possible issue. I intentionally moved it to his left ankle to remove the possibility of altering the ball since the note card in his pocket wasn't going to.
The band-aid on the left ankle might still help the pitcher influence the ball under the inter-joint commerce clause.