Yesterday Tony Clark was at Yankees camp and spoke to Yankees players and the press about the current state of negotiations between the players and the league over access to video during games.
Short version: things sound constructive, even if they’re not yet resolved.
The league, it seems, is proposing a total blackout of access to in-game video for players. The players still want some form of access to their own at bats or their own time on the mound for purposes of making in-game corrections, seeing what they did wrong or seeing what they did right earlier in a game. Zack Britton of the Yankees calls the league’s proposal “extreme”:
“Right now, MLB’s proposal would be like a blackout. There would be no access. That’s a pretty extreme stance because of one team, that everyone else is punished. So, hopefully, we can find some common ground, but definitely before Opening Day. Guys would like to understand what we’re going to be allowed to use and what we’re not going to be allowed to use before Opening Day.”
To be fair, it’s pretty safe to say it was more than just one team. The Red Sox are still in the league’s crosshairs and many reports have cited player suspicion of as many as 8-10 teams that were using electronics in some way, shape or form to steal signs, even if they have not been caught or identified. To be fair, however, Britton added that it’s not just the Astros who are at fault here. He notes that Major League Baseball is to blame too:
“The stance of the guys pretty much in here is more frustration with MLB and the commissioner’s office on the handling of that . . . The frustration lies with some of the issues with the teams filing complaints three or four years ago and nothing being done.”
As for a compromise position: Clark said the players are proposing some sort of monitored and edited video access for players during games. Something where they can see video of themselves, the catcher’s signals will be edited out somehow, and the player’s viewing of the video will be monitored by . . . someone.
That seems a little labor intensive. It’s also worth asking how critical in-game video viewing really is for players. I’m genuinely asking here, as I am not sure how much access players even had to in-game video until replay came online a few years back. Tony Gwynn famously traveled with a VCR and had to watch game video the next day, and he was considered bleeding edge when it came to that stuff in his day. I’d be pretty curious as to how necessary being able to see your at bat right after you had it really is.
Anyway, talks about that are ongoing, as are talks about discipline for players who engage in illegal sign-stealing going forward.