MLB, Apple enter into an agreement allowing teams to use stat-loaded iPads in dugouts

Associated Press
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Apple and Major League Baseball have entered into a multi-year agreement in which every team will be given iPad Pro tablets loaded with analytics and other stuff to be used in-game, in dugouts, The Wall Street Journal reports. This corresponds with MLB’s lifting of a ban on using laptops, tablets and smartphones in dugouts.

In addition to any number of analytical tools, spray charts and the like, the iPads will have video so a hitter will be able to, for example, watch video of a pitcher he is about to face without having to go back into the clubhouse. This is convenient for teams and Rob Manfred touts it as a means of speeding up games (eh, sure, OK). It’s also quite convenient for Apple, which will no doubt benefit from lots of live TV footage of the sports’ biggest stars using iPads in the middle of games. In this, the Wall Street Journal notes, it’s sort of like the NFL’s adoption of Microsoft Surface tablets on sidelines. Except this time, when broadcasters make note of the devices, calling them “iPads” will actually be accurate.

Use of the iPads will be optional — from the players’ and coaches’ point of view it’s a tool, not merely a forced product placement — but given that clubs will be able to load these things up with their own proprietary analytics you can expect pretty wide adoption. People like to stereotype managers and coaches as old crusty types who, at best, use a binder, but not a single one of them doesn’t have a smart phone on them all dang day when they’re not in the dugout. Indeed, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen one of them texting somebody from the bat at the Winter Meetings. It’s like watching your uncle play Bejeweled Blitz.

Anyway, this is pretty cool. Both for baseball and for people like me. Because despite this innovation, and despite an extended quote from Rob Manfred in the article about the predominance of technology and analytics in the game and how they “affect the way we judge players, make decisions on the field and the way fans consume the game,” this will no doubt lead to some columnist or broadcaster to talk about how bad and wrong this development is, complete with the words “new-fangled” and references to how so-and-so old timer didn’t need an iPad to hit a breaking ball.

Yep, it’s gonna be glorious.

Source: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach $360M, 9-year deal

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Aaron Judge has agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday because the deal had not been announced.

Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. The contract trails only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 million pact with the Los Angeles Dodgers for biggest in baseball history.

Judge was offered a long-term deal by New York before last season that was worth $213.5 million over seven years from 2023-29. But he turned it down in the hours before opening day in April.

The 6-foot-7 Judge bet on himself — and won.

Judge set an American League record with 62 homers in 2022, powering the Yankees to the AL East title. He also tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and just missed a Triple Crown with a .311 batting average.

New York was swept by Houston in the AL Championship Series, but Judge became the first AL MVP for the Yankees since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Judge, 30, was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2016, homering in his first at-bat.

A year later, he was one of baseball’s breakout stars. He hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 2017, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. The four-time All-Star has 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven big league seasons.