WASHINGTON – Consider Andrew Knizner as a PitchCom convert.
St. Louis Cardinals receiver hears chatter but never sees it PitchCom equipment Until just over a month into the 2022 MLB season. The Cardinals were the last team to implement anti-signal stealing technology, which allows receivers to communicate with pitchers and three other fielders at the push of a button.
“Before we used it, it was like, ‘Oh, never use it, call the game normal,'” Knizner told USA TODAY Sports. “Now I’m never going back. It’s a lot easier.
“It’s almost second nature.”
Most major leagues have embraced PitchCom during their inaugural season. Baseball fans were introduced this season to images of pitchers covering their ears with gloves to hear commands and other equipment-related accidents. Overall, PitchCom has received positive reviews, even from skeptics like Max Scherzer, who believe it should be “illegal.”
Vin Scully: The voice of a radio legend will never be forgotten
Holy Grail:Honus Wagner T-206 card sold for record $7.25 million
Maybe the Cardinals were late because of veteran receiver Adil Molina, the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer who commands bowlers like Bobby Fry in his kitchen.
“I think it might have something to do with it a little bit,” Knizner said. “Even me, I’m kind of like, ‘Ah, that’s fake, I don’t really care.’ But there’s so much snatch scandal and drama right now, everybody’s trying to get an edge — and they’ve always had —It kind of loses the game. It allows our pitchers to relax and (accept) pitches.”
Molina’s longtime battery partner, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, praised PitchCom. It makes sense, he said, but unfortunately it has to be used.
“I heard from a few people the other day that stealing signs was part of the game,” Wainwright said of Scherzer’s comments. “I couldn’t agree more.”
Scherzer prides himself on using a complex set of runner logos on second base — the original case created by PitchCom — and sees it as an advantage. But Wainwright thinks PitchCom has actually retained the competitive spirit.
“(Stealing the flag) could be part of the game. I hope it’s not part of the game. It doesn’t need to be part of the game. In my opinion, it robs the best part of the game,” Wainwright said. “The best part of the game is the one-on-one hitters and pitchers.”
One concern for Wainwright is that by playoff time, pitchers won’t be able to hear commands from the transmitters that pitchers often place in the lining of their caps — although some have devised their own methods.
“It would be interesting to watch it in action in a noisy atmosphere, because it’s hard to hear when it’s really loud,” Wainwright said.
PitchCom co-founder Craig Filicetti said the volume has been improved throughout the season by improving the software inside the device and how they designed the audio to better cancel out crowd noise. There is “more room to go,” Felicetti said.
“We think we’ll be ready for that,” he told USA TODAY Sports.
Filicetti and partner John Hankins designed and built each unit. They’re just two people who work with the MLB team and provide system support on PitchCom. long time.
The pair typically speak to two to three teams a day for anywhere from five minutes to an hour to help clubs build “tracks” — sequences of options that PitchCom will display — according to their wishes. Felicetti and Hankins also meet with league officials twice a week.
As the season progresses, Filicetti says user errors have decreased. Early on, the delay wasn’t usually blamed on the PitchCom itself, but players might have forgotten to turn on the receiver, the device wasn’t charging properly, or they just forgot to put the receiver in the cap (or somewhere else).
It’s not foolproof, but players have found benefits.
“The only downside to this thing is that you get some technical glitches every now and then,” says Knizner, who often doesn’t need to adjust his catch pose to call out, a welcome relief from his lower body. “But that’s the smallest.”
Knizner likes how specific he is in this position. In addition to the pitch type commands, PitchCom has nine boxes for pitch positions in the strike area.
“It’s efficient, fast, and more specific, and it looks the same to me,” Knizner said.
When it came to PitchCom, position was initially a concern for some major league receivers. But Hankins says players have the ability to designate positions — just another example of players becoming more comfortable with the technology.
For example, placing equipment behind a catcher’s shin guard is a club-level innovation. The New York Yankees use PitchCom to improve their running defense, According to sports. Cincinnati Reds outfielder Nick Senzel used one of the receivers, crediting him with his positioning and improved PitchCom defense.
“It’s all about PitchCom, man,” Senzel said in April.
Cleveland Guardians receiver Austin Hedges programmed the device to provide positive, but clearlyAffirmation for pitchers.
The flexibility of the system, and watching teams use PitchCom in their own creative ways, has been a more valuable part of PitchCom’s campaign for its founders.
“We love that teams take this approach and make it their own,” said Hankins, who said a softball prototype is in development. Other systems with less software enhancements can be used for traveling baseball and are less expensive, Filicetti said.
Silencing PitchCom skeptics from Scherzer to the Cardinals into believers is another cause for celebration.
“I don’t have to worry about whitening my nails anymore,” Knizner says, “so that’s a plus.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMBaca.