Among the myriad tweaks in the new health and safety protocols agreed upon by MLB and the union is the return of players’ access to in-game video. Though it might seem inconsequential and will be outright dismissed by those who will tell you “[Insert great hitter] never had video during games,” there’s reason to believe the elimination of an integral tool may have contributed to the struggles experienced by many star players.
Among his very thorough breakdown of the protocols, including the use of wearable Kinexon devices for enhanced contact tracing, Ken Rosenthal detailed the change to video rules.
Use of any communal video terminals is prohibited. During games, players will have access to tablets under the Dugout iPad program that can be loaded with content before and after games, and will have access to in-game video in a format that cannot be used to steal the catcher’s signs.
This could be very good news for Javy Báez in particular, as he was perhaps the most vocal and honest player when it came to discussing the loss of in-game video access. While I have no doubt this will lead to comments about how you don’t need video to avoid swinging at a slider in the dirt, he’s far from the only one who missed it
“I know a lot of players are struggling, too,” Báez admitted last September. “A lot of stars are struggling. I’m just one more. But the way that it is is not the way we play baseball. I need video. I need video to make adjustments during the game. It don’t matter who’s there to watch us. It don’t matter if we have all the police that MLB wants to send over here.
“We need video back. I’m one of the guys. I’m going to keep trying to bring it back because we need it and I make adjustments with it.”
Will this suddenly return Javy to MVP-level performance at the plate? Probably not in and of itself, no, but brushing it off as inconsequential would be a mistake. In the event that you’re in that camp and have actually read this far, consider all the modern conveniences you enjoy now that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
Hell, my parents’ old house didn’t even have air conditioning when we moved there back in 1989. That’s over 30 years ago, but still. Now I can’t picture myself owning a car that doesn’t have heated and cooled seats with a heated steering wheel to boot. And God forbid the wifi goes out for a few minutes. It’s no different for baseball players and video review.
Not everyone has the same needs or uses technology in the same manner, but those who are more reliant upon a given tool are naturally going to struggle more when it’s taken away. Here’s to hoping we indeed see a big rebound in Javy’s numbers, though maybe we should also hope the same isn’t true for Christian Yelich.