The landline phones between the dugouts and bullpens stopped working during Game 4 of the American League Division Series between the Astros and Royals, the most recent reminder that the communication system is antiquated and in dire need of an update.
The Fox Sports announcers first reported that Minute Maid Park’s dugout phones in both dugouts weren’t working during the 6th inning of the game.
This isn’t the first time that an important playoff game has been affected by landline phones. In the 2011 World Series, then-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was unable to communicate with his bullpen, which resulted in the Cardinals twice bringing in the wrong pitcher and ultimately losing the game. During the 2011 incident, however, the phones were affected by crowd noise. This time, the phones simply didn’t work.
In 2015, it’s hard to understand why baseball teams continue to use an antiquated technology when more advanced means of communication are so readily available and so much more prevalent in society. Frankly, ballparks are among the only places that continue to use landlines, and certainly the only sport that does so. In 2013, ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported that the MLB planned to implement T-Mobile cellphones in dugouts, but the technology is still being tested.
The ALDS best-of-5 model is volatile to begin with, and teams shouldn’t have to worry about landline telephone malfunctions during late game situations. It’s time the MLB fixed this already.