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MLB’s PitchCom system draws mixed reactions

Baseball and technology have always made wary partners.

For a five-year period in the 1930s, as radio became more popular, all three New York teams – the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers – banned live playback of their games because they feared that the new medium does not reduce attendance. When the Chicago Cubs added lights to Wrigley Field in 1988, allowing them to move away from generations of games played exclusively during the day, fans were angry. When electronic calls for balls and strikes were offered, it was the referees’ turn to complain.

Other sports may change, but baseball as a whole has strived to stay the same.

With the installation of a limited instant replay in 2008 and with the expansion of replay in 2014, the game has tentatively entered the digital age. But the addition of cameras in every ballpark and video monitors in every clubhouse has opened the door to an unintended consequence: electronic cheating.

The 2017 Houston Astros boldly walked through that door, developing an elaborate backboard-stealing system that helped them win a World Series. Two years later, when this system was revealed to the public, it resulted in dismissals, suspensions and ultimately the permanent tarnishing of a championship.

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