Major League Baseball will be implementing new rules -- or, really, firming them up to adapt to technology -- to crack down on sign stealing in the coming weeks, reports Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated.. There's already a rule in place that prevents basically everyone other than a runner on second base from stealing the catcher's signs to the pitcher, but the league has decided in the face of widespread use of technology to add to the rule.
Via Verducci, all in-stadium (non-broadcast) cameras from foul pole to foul pole are banned and also, the following items are added to the rule:
• The only live feed of a broadcast will be the one provided to each team's designated replay official.
• A specially trained monitor, not a Resident Security Expect, will be assigned to each designated replay official to make sure that person has no communication with team personnel regarding signs, either in person, by phone or any other device.
• All other bullpen and clubhouse television monitors will receive game broadcasts on an eight-second delay.
• No television monitors are permitted in the tunnels or auxiliary rooms between the dugout and the clubhouse.
• Each club must provide to MLB an audit of every in-house camera, detailing its purpose, its wiring and where its signal can be viewed.
Penalties for violations could reportedly include loss of draft picks and international spending money, so that's pretty steep.
This all checks out, but I can't help but laugh at the reason Commissioner Rob Manfred was worried enough to implement this. Get this: It's a pace of play issue. The "paranoia" over sign stealing caused pace of play to slow down, apparently. I could buy this before limits were put in on mound visits, but how else could sign stealing slow pace -- to the point that new rules are needed -- other than causing extra mound visits?
At the end of the day, it's probably a fine rule to have in place, but I can't get over how much Manfred is obsessed with pace of play. It seems to be the one thing he truly cares about as commissioner.