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Minutes before the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics trot onto the field during an overcast May afternoon, A’s bullpen coach Scott Emerson strides along the third-base line toward his seat along the left field wall. Emerson—everyone calls him Emo—is a former minor-league pitcher, and he still looks ready to take the mound in the eighth. The only sign that he’s a coach, not an aging star riding out a contract, is the space gray iPad Proin his right hand.

Major League Baseballrecently signed a multi-year deal with Appleto provide the 12.9-inch tablets to every team. They’re preloaded with MLB Dugout, an app that collects a team’s stats, scouting reports, and other info in one easily accessible place. (Sorry folks, the app is for ball clubs only.) After decades of binders stuffed with paper, the league is going digital. It’s the latest step in an ongoing effort to modernize the game—even if the players and teams don’t quite know what to make of it.

He won’t have to. Apple and Major League Baseball are moving slowly. The league doesn’t even require teams or coaches to even use an iPad, unlike the NFL’s in-your-face partnership with Microsoft that put Surface tablets on every sideline

To minimize the risk of leaks, the iPads can’t get live feeds of games or even access the Internet. Dugouts do not offer Wi-Fi or other connectivity; to update Dugout with the latest stats and info, someone must trot over to a league-sanctioned hotspot and download it. “You can’t take pictures,” Marinak says, “you can’t get on Twitter, you can’t, you know, go surf the net.” Still, upgrades are coming. They’re working on support for the Apple Pencil (so Emerson can keep score), developing the ability to keep different information on different iPads so everything isn’t everywhere, and exploring things like animated charts and annotation for video.


Oakland A’s players do calisthenics prior to the game.Andrew Burton for WIRED

The Moneyball era wasall about collecting data and using it to make decisions. Now everyone’s doing that, and then some. Teams generate and analyze astounding quantities of data during everygame. “It just gets sent to you in these enormous files that most of us here have no idea what to do with,” Forstsays. That’s the new trick: taking mountains of data and turning it into victories.

Right now, the iPad doesn’t do much more than make thatdata easier to read. But you can imagine the possibilities. Even Joe Maddon, the Cubs manager who immediately opposed the system, sees that. “Those things are wonderful to access information,” he said earlier this year. “But when you need it very quickly, I think you almost have to wait for artificial intelligence to take over where it actually moves at the speed of your thought.” That’s the idea. Like any good prospect, the iPad Pro is full of possibilities, with talent to spare. But you have to develop it.

Read more: http://www.wired.com/2016/05/apple-mlb-ipad-dugout/

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