Following in the footsteps of the NFL, which has supplied Microsoft Surface tablets to its teams on the sidelines, Major League Baseball has struck a deal with Apple to equip coaching staffs with iPad Pro tablets to help them make better use of data.
"We're not just replacing binders with tablets, we're actually helping them do things that weren't possible before," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing. "For instance, players who wanted to see a video of pitchers and hitters from earlier games had to run back to the locker room."
Beyond video, tablets will be installed with the app "MLB Dugout" containing information proprietary to each team (looking at you, St. Louis Cardinals), as opposed to information from a league-wide database. Spray charts, pitcher-hitter matchup data -- you name it, it will be at a manager's disposal.
That said, some managers won't be so quick to embrace the tablet. Here are the three managers who will be the least enthused by this latest victory for the analytics crowd:
Brad Ausmus -- Detroit Tigers
"Some organizations are a lot more numbers oriented and dictate a lot more down --- it trickles down a lot more to on-field personnel," Ausmus said in Feb. 2014. "I don't know that that will be the case in Detroit."
The three-time former Gold Glove catcher expanded:
"I've learned through my catching years and game preparation that there are some numbers that you heed," Ausmus says. "There are some numbers that can be very important and they're worth listening to. But there's also times where you have to understand that, regardless of what the numbers say, you're dealing with human beings. There is a faction in the baseball industry who have come to the conclusion that maybe the communication with players is as important as, and sometimes more important than, the actual chalkboard X's and O's."
Safe to say, Ausmus will spend more time watching the ball than the screen. Of course, as the Arizona Diamondbacks "Selfie Time" crowd taught us last year, sometimes focusing less on a device and more on the game can be a good thing. Speaking of the D-Backs...
Chip Hale -- Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks have faced criticism as an organization reluctant to accept advanced metrics, and slow to adopt their use. Hale has made it known that he's perturbed by people casting the club as anti-analytics, but an in-dugout stats-loaded iPad sounds more out-of-place in Arizona than an in-stadium swimming pool.
Wait, shoot. Let's just move along.
"It's not that we devalue [analytics]," said Tony La Russa, Arizona's Chief Baseball Officer, in Nov. 2014. "We value it when it's used appropriately. We do not value its intrusion into the game. You've got to allow your uniformed people to observe the dynamics of the competition."
"We're not going to be an organization that's going to [run on] 70 percent metrics," La Russa added. "That's not going to happen ... We'll use it. It stops before the first pitch is thrown."
Indeed, the D-Backs will not be exploring iPads loaded with extended batteries, if they don't just tell Hale to use the device to wipe dirt from his spikes.
Dusty Baker -- Washington Nationals
The 66-year-old Baker is a throwback but not a dinosaur.
"I believe in the new school big time," Baker said. "There've always been analytics in baseball. It just didn't always have a name."
Said Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President Bob Miller: "[Baker] believes in sabermetrics more than the sabermetrics people believe that these are humans playing the game and that some things can't be measured."
Overall, Baker is a guy who will go mainly by his instincts and experience, not what a newfangled app tells him. Let's dig a bit deeper:
"[Baseball]'s changed a lot, with the overall philosophy of how the game should be run, with the sabermetrics, the changing of the guard so to speak, and those that are in charge" Baker said. "There's less baseball people in charge and more businessmen in charge. But there's still a spot for guys that played the game. If you didn't play the game, you may know the game, but you don't see things in advance like we see things. The whole thing about being prepared is you can be prepared, but you also have to have forethought and anticipation and feelings on what you feel may happen."
Inevitably Baker will make a move, mostly likely a bullpen switch, that will fly in the face of sabermetrics.
When necessary, Baker can whip out the iPad, shut down the MLB Dugout app and play 'em some Springsteen:
I ain't lookin' for prayers or pity
I ain't comin' 'round searchin' for a crutch
I just want someone to talk to
And a little of that human touch
Just a little of that human touch