Glenn Beck uses MLB’s video platfrom to spew his bile. So what?

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I’ve been trying to avoid this — and other outlets have been talking about it already, including my compadre Rick Chandler over at Off the Bench — but the PR guy from this group keeps emailing me about it so why the heck not.

The group in question is Americans United for Change* and the change for which they have united is to get Glenn Beck off whatever airwaves will still have him.

Major League Baseball has become one of their targets because the interactive arm of the league — MLB Advanced Media — provides the streaming video platform for Beck’s loopy webcasts.  The goal: to get the owners and GMs meeting in Milwaukee this week to dump Beck.  They’re running radio ads in Milwaukee this week and have a petition drive going, trying to get MLB to act.

I think Beck is one of the biggest clowns on the planet. That’s not even a partisan thing. If I was a hardcore conservative I’d find him awful because he does a terrible job of advocating legit conservative views.  That’s because he’s not terribly interested in them. He’s just an unhinged attention-seeking freakazoid who is laughable at best and downright toxic at worst, but does not seem to care as long as he can sell some books and snag a paycheck. He could be in favor of a cancer cure and he’d probably do a horribly counterproductive job of pushing his agenda.

But that’s America, right?  There are all kinds of people like Glenn Beck, even if they’re not as (decreasingly) popular. They send out their silly newsletters and show up on radio shows and reserve time on cable access television. And we don’t seek to have the postal service, Kinkos, WBUT radio and the Hooterville Municipal Cable Company boot them from their client lists.  They’re the medium, not the message, and as the saying goes, don’t kill the medium provider.  At least that’s how I think it goes.

I hate Glenn Beck but I love that Major League Baseball takes his money and uses it to make their stats page better. And to work on the research that one day may allow MLBAM to unlock the secret to letting people embed videos from last night’s game (one day soon, I know it!).  Their doing so doesn’t constitute an endorsement of Glenn Beck. And even if you can spin it that way, it’s not a really significant endorsement. Heck, the most famous baseball player in the world spoke at a Glenn Beck rally last year and that didn’t help Beck stay relevant. I’m not sure that some boring video platform agreement is going to do any better.

So good for Americans United for Change for doing something they believe to be important. I just have a hard time seeing it being all that important.

*Note: the name of any piece of legislation or any political action group is almost 100% guaranteed to be misleading in the extreme. If a bill is proposed called the “Everyone Gets Free Pizza and Hugs Act,” watch out because it likely hides horrors behind its euphemistic name. If a group speaks of “united” Americans, rest assured that it only represents a motivated but small number of folks who are absolutely not united with the folks who think about things differently than them.  Just sayin’!  

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.