Baseball We've already had this conversation.Not this exact conversation, maybe, but conversations with the same basic theme. When (and how) is it OK to incorporate modern technology into baseball? The answer wit
h this sport, eternally, seems to be the same: Probably at least 10 years ago. Today, let's talk about allowing pitchers and catchers to communicate pitch signals with words, instead of having to rely on caveman-era hand signals. Here's the idea: Let the catcher and pitcher — and maybe the manager and/or pitching coach, but more on that in a minute — wear earpieces and microphones and call pitches that way. In the NFL, coaches send quarterbacks their play-calls through a headset in the QB's helmet. Honestly, this is something baseball should have been implemented years ago.MORE: Opening Day schedule for all 30 teams The catalyst for this current conversation is the pace-of-play changes commissioner Rob Manfred announced recently. He held off on implementing a pitch clock, but he did introduce a rule limiting the number of non-pitching-change mound visits to six a game (with one extra visit per each extra inning). This new definition of mound visits includes catchers and infielders who stroll over to the mound; those visits were previously unlimited.Pitchers, largely, hated the idea. Catchers weren't fans, either. But here's the thing: Every pitch, especially in October, can potentially be the difference between a raucous celebration and a crushing defeat. And sometimes teams use another bit of oft-embraced technology — video — to steal signs. But even when that's not actually happening, pitchers and catchers have to assume it's happening, which is part of the reason why you see so many catchers make so many trips out to the mound, especially in the postseason.The current way to make sure a sign isn't stolen is for the catcher to jog out to the mound and, with his glove covering his mouth, talk to the pitcher. These mound visits happen over and over during the season, especially during the biggest moments in the postseason. These trips aren't the only reason postseason games last forever, of course, but they certainly are a contributing factor. Here's the thing: They shouldn't be necessary. If pitchers and catchers could communicate with each other with actual words, with headsets or earpieces, the trips to the mound wouldn't be necessary. Opposing teams can't steal signs if there aren't signs to steal. And if there are no signs to steal, there's no need to be worried about stolen signs and far fewer reasons for time-consuming mound visits. FOSTER: Why pace of play is just fineIf pitchers and catchers could communicate with each other with actual words, with headsets or earpieces, the trips to the mound wouldn't be necessary. Opposing teams can't steal signs if there aren't signs to steal, y'know? And if there are no signs to steal, there's no need to be worried about stolen signs and far fewer reasons for time-consuming mound visits. This isn't exactly a ground-breaking idea.The NFL has allowed coaches and quarterbacks to communicate electronically for years. Decades, actually. Know when the league approved the technology to allow coaches to call plays without hand signals? Back in 1994. 1994!!!And why did the NFL approve this radical technological idea in 1994? From NFL.com …The previous year, the league cut the play clock from 45 seconds to 40, but instead of speeding up the game, the change slowed it down. Teams had to call more timeouts because they were running out of time sending substitutions in with play calls for the quarterbacks. NFL officials hoped that the new communication system would help speed up the pace of the game.Huh. Pace of the game. Sounds familiar, right? And in 2008, the NFL approved electronic on-field communication between coaches and a designated defensive player, too. TRADE RUMORS: 10 potential teams for Rays ace Chris ArcherThis is 2018. At this point, we're not even talking about using modern technology in baseball. We're talking about the basic technology that the NFL started using almost a quarter of a century ago. Seriously. That's ancient technology, by technology standards. Best electronic idea I've heard for pitchers/catchers: Pitcher can have microphone implanted into the back of his glove, catcher has an earpiece.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 25, 2018Sure, there are logistics to consider. Should only pitchers and catchers communicate, or should the manager and/or pitching coach be looped in, too? Would they only be allowed to talk about pitches and locations, or other things, too (like, can the catcher tell the pitcher what base to throw to on a bunt)? If they're not supposed to talk about other stuff, does need to monitor the conversation? What safeguards can be taken to prevent other teams hacking the feed?All legitimate, but very solvable, dilemmas. Baseball probably should have done this years ago. But let's announce it soon and implement it next spring to get everyone used to it for the 2019 season. It's about time catches up with the NFL, circa 1994.