When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad at an Apple event in early 2010, he identified Major League Baseball as an "awesome" on-stage example of the power his tablet could bring to consumer technology.Even the late Apple chief couldn't have foreseen what MLB would do with his iPad in 2016, though.
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad at an Apple event in early 2010, he identified Major League Baseball as an "awesome" on-stage example of the power his tablet could bring to consumer technology.
Even the late Apple chief couldn't have foreseen what MLB would do with his iPad in 2016, though. On Wednesday, MLB announced its latest technology collaboration with Apple to integrate powerful new on-field capabilities through the approved use of iPad Pro and a newly developed advance scouting, analytics and video app called MLB Dugout during games.
The announcement brings iPad Pro into all 30 Major League dugouts and bullpens and marks the first on-field integration of next-generation technology, putting advance-scouting video and customizable reports at the fingertips of all managers, coaches and players.
"Our collaboration with Apple on the use of iPad Pro in dugouts and bullpens is part of our ongoing effort to introduce extraordinary technology into our game," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "We are pleased that Apple's groundbreaking products, which have already improved the access that fans have to our sport, will now inform the decisions that make our games interesting and exciting throughout the year."
Entering the 2016 season, each iPad Pro has been customized for each club and loaded with the MLB Dugout app, allowing every team's manager, coaches and players to utilize their own proprietary and strategic statistical reports, data visualizations and advance-scouting videos during every game from dugouts and bullpens, giving them easy access to valuable, actionable baseball insights.
Clubs also will have the ability to include any of their own reports with data generated from last year's first full season of the Statcast™ tracking technology, bringing new stats for pitch tracking, hitting, baserunning and fielding, right on iPad Pro.
"iPad is our vision for the future of personal computing, and we are so excited to be working with Major League Baseball to put this incredible technology into all of their dugouts and bullpens this season," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. "With iPad Pro and the new MLB Dugout app, managers, coaches and players will have unprecedented access to statistics, data and scouting videos right at the touch of their fingers, and when it matters most, during the game."
During the initial on-field integration, clubs will have secure access to preload all pertinent analytical reports and video onto iPad Pro from a private network infrastructure installed this offseason in the visiting and home clubhouses at each of the 30 MLB ballparks. Per MLB rules, when in use in the dugout and bullpen, the devices will not be connected to the Internet or stream live video.
"I'm going to use it," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I think it's going to be a welcome addition for me and some of the coaches. I'm not sure if everybody is going to want to utilize it, but I try to be tech savvy. I think I'll be fine and utilize it with the scouting report and advance report and some of the video of pitchers coming in. It's a great resource for us. I'm glad we've progressed to the point of that being available. ... I'm pretty excited about it."
As part of a pilot program late in the 2015 regular season and postseason, clubs were offered the opportunity to utilize iPad Air 2 and an early version of MLB Dugout. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny already had three iPads of his own, so he was quick to see the possibilities.
"We're very open to new technology," Matheny said. "We're just trying to figure out how this can help us, because we have so much stuff that we have made our routine. We're toying with it. I think that over time, it will be what information can help us with in-game decisions."
Manfred said the iPad Pros "will make that decision faster and better.
"Particularly when there are unexpected events in the game," he continued. "I think one of the Mets coaches said it best yesterday: 'We had a game plan going into the game, but when a relief pitcher goes into the game and you have a particular matchup, there is information that is very useful for managers and players to get at quickly.'"
In the past, binders full of written information had been a fact of dugout life.
"The visual, if you think about it, when you think about presenting the game of our field managers and their coaches walking into the dugout with big, thick notebooks filled with information -- they're now going to have an iPad Pro and we think it makes the game more consistent with how people live their lives and it's important for us," Manfred said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning."
The 2016 Opening Day version of MLB Dugout is based exclusively on club feedback from the pilot program and has been expanded and enhanced for iPad Pro with a valuable set of shared tools that offer customizable capabilities and content based on each club's specific needs. Dugout was developed by MLB in collaboration with Apple to leverage MLB's app development and video expertise and Apple's legendary consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform.
"We'll have them there and if they provide value, we'll use them," Matheny said. "We'll use as much as they'll allow us to have. I think that's a nice luxury that we'll have to figure out how it plays and how we actually put that into play."
MLB and Apple will continue to collaborate on regular updates of MLB Dugout and the overall iPad Pro experience, including adding new features such as support for Apple Pencil and video annotation functionality.
"The next big question for us," Manfred said, "is how we make sure that baseball is passed on to the next generation so it remains as popular as it is with people my age. Technology issues are a huge part of that. We're making very extensive efforts to use technology."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. MLB.com reporters Jenifer Langosch and Brian McTaggart contributed to this report.