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Marty Brennaman announces that 2019 will be his last season

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Cincinnati Reds announcer Marty Brennaman announced a few moments ago that 2019 will be his last season in the broadcast booth.

Brennaman, 76, has broadcast Reds games since 1974 and stands as every bit an institution among Reds fans as any announcer ever has among his local fan base. In 2000 he won the Ford C. Frick Award award, presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He called Hank Aaron’s 714th home run, Tom Seaver’s no-hitter, Tom Browning’s perfect game and every other major moment that occurred in a game involving the Reds for the past 44 years. He also, of course, has called three World Series clinchers for the Reds.

Brennaman, also, has been no stranger to controversy, primarily due to his penchant for criticizing Reds players for whom he seems to not to care, with Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and Joey Votto being among the more notable examples. There are, of course, many Reds fans who share Marty’s views in such instances. It’s an open question as to whether Brennaman has merely shared or reflected that mindset on the one hand or if, on the other hand, he has encouraged it. However you want to view that, there is no denying the fact that Brennaman has never hesitated to speak his mind and that a great deal of the considerable love for him among Reds fans is due in no small part to that.

Brennaman will get and will deserve a farewell tour in 2019. And, in 2020, he will leave some very large shoes to fill.

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.