Most often, you create more problems, without getting to the root of the original trouble.
Let me tell you at the outset this is not a scientific study. I’m conscientiously doing what human beings (unfortunately, more and more often) do every day: responding to partial information with a lack of context and forming a really strong opinion that I’ll stand behind vociferously. So if you are the inventor of the Pitchcom app or an avid baseball fan with better insight, please set me straight right away!
Pitchcom (the solution) is a set of buttons that baseball catchers wear on their wrists to signal pitchers what kind of pitch to throw. It was developed after the Astros sign-stealing scandal (the problem) where they were stealing pitching hand signs and then banging on trash cans to warn the batter what was coming. (Take a look at this scene from A League of Their Own with Tom Hanks and Gena Davis for a reminder of how baseball hand signs work. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)
What this Means for Baseball, from The Daily Skimm:
- Another reason this year is different (for MLB) from the others: sign-stealing. The league is allowing catchers and pitchers to signal each other using…wait for it…buttons instead of hand signals to avoid the other team figuring out what they’re trying to say. And to stop some teams (cough, Houston Astros) from setting up monitors to spy and sleuth them out.
I couldn’t explain it better than ESPN, so here’s how it works:
- The [Pitchcom] system, which passed safety tests conducted at the UMass Lowell Baseball Research Center, consists of a transmitter that is worn on a catcher’s wristband and two receivers that fit within the sweatband of a pitcher’s cap and the padding of a catcher’s helmet. The transmitter includes nine buttons to signal desired pitch and location…passed from the transmitter to both receivers using an encrypted communication channel and played with bone-conduction technology… (See a picture of what it looks like here.)
This is what I mean by how solving problems out of context can more problems.
Pitchcom solves the “problem” of sign-stealing by getting rid of hand-signing. However, it is void of the full context of a baseball game or the long history of baseball, presumably since the game was invented, of using hand signals to communicate with teammates.
Whatever happened to “keep your eye on the ball” as the key to playing baseball (as opposed to now looking at and relying on tech on the field)? And how could this “solution” out of full context of the bigger picture of the game beget more problems?
And now you’re off and running down the wrong path.
Soon experts will argue that the tech gives one team an advantage over another. Then all teams will be required to have it. Then fans will get a hacker version so they can see what’s really happening on the field. And then someone will hack the hacker version and suddenly Monique will have to kill Papshmear (a la the remote-controlled zombie in The Naked Gun).
Solving a problem before fully understanding it is diving into tactics before you set your strategy.
It’s how you’ll find yourself arguing why Pitchcom isn’t available in Polish (it’s available in English and Spanish or self-recorded). That misses the essence of the problem: ethics and honesty in baseball—that problem does not go away with a new app. While remote-controlled zombies are not the likely ultimate evolution of this new tech (although if it is you heard it here first), it will change the game. And not necessarily for the better.
What’s a time you got caught in this trap? Or one where you were able to divert the train?