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Angels, Anaheim agree to keep team in Angel Stadium through 2020

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The City of Anaheim approved a one-year extension to the Los Angeles Angels’ stadium lease, keeping the club in Angel Stadium in Anaheim through the 2020 season.

This gives the Angels and the city some breathing room as they try to come up with a long-term solution for what, at least from the Angels’ perspective is a stadium problem.

The upshot: the Angels have long wanted around $150-200 million in renovations and improvements to Angel Stadium, the fourth-oldest ballpark in the league. The City of Anaheim has no intention of paying for that. Preliminary talks for a new stadium with places like nearby Tustin, California went nowhere as taxpayers in California are generally adverse to any public funding of sports facilities. Which means that the Angels, realistically, have no other options barring moving completely out of Southern California, which they seem to have no desire to do whatsoever.

Last fall the club opted-out of their lease with Anaheim in order to avoid a provision that would’ve locked them in to the ballpark for the next decade. It was a procedural move, realistically, as there is nowhere else for them to play at the moment. They turned into year-to-year renters, practically speaking. This extension makes them two-year renters.

Two years in which Arte Moreno and the Angels can, once again, talk to Anaheim about how to improve Angel Stadium. Perhaps at some point soon the notion of Moreno either paying for such improvements himself or, alternatively, moving out of town, will crystalize in his mind as his only options.

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.