MLB restricted players’ in-game video access for the 2020 season, and Cubs shortstop Javier Báez wants it back.
“To be honest, it’s sucked,” Báez said Monday. “I make my adjustments during the game. I watch my swing, I watch where the ball was, where the contact was.
“I’m really mad that we don’t have it.”
MLB prohibited the use of team video rooms as part of its 2020 Operations Manual. Instead, players are provided with personalized tablets, but they can only be loaded with content before and after games. Now, players can't break down their swings and at-bats in-game as they have in the past to make adjustments.
While eliminating video rooms is a health and safety measure, commissioner Rob Manfred discussed the league’s plan to restrict in-game video access back in February, pre-pandemic, in wake of multiple cheating scandals that rocked baseball.
"No question we'll have a new policy before the 2020 season," Manfred told ESPN. "I don't deny video can help you perform if you have access to it during the game, but a golfer can't come off the sixth and take a look at his swing.”
Báez has struggled at the plate this season, hitting .205/.246/.365 with a 33.7 percent strikeout rate, which would be his highest since 2014. He went 3-for-5 on Monday.
“With all respect, we didn’t cheat,” said Báez of the Astros’ and Red Sox’ scandals. “We’re not cheating, and we gotta pay for others.”
Báez isn’t the only star player whose offensive numbers are down this year — Christian Yelich, Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, to name a few, are all hitting far below career averages. Teammates Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are also hitting near .200. Nationals shortstop Trea Turner recently discussed the challenge of not having in-game video.
The sample size is obviously small in this short season, and the overall circumstances are difficult. But not having the video matters to Báez: “The way that it is [right now] is not the way we play baseball,” he said.
The two-time All-Star starter and 2018 NL MVP runner-up added he'd have no issue if MLB brought back the video access and instituted officers to watch over players in-game.
“We need video back,” Báez said. “I’m one of the guys, I’m going to keep trying to bring it back because we need it and I make adjustments with it.”