BOSTON (CBS) — The MLB season starts in a few weeks, and J.D. Martinez wants to make one thing very clear: He does not want to lose his video.
The Red Sox’ designated hitter has not been shy with his opinions regarding MLB’s consideration for banning players from watching video of their at-bats during games. And in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, Martinez really let it rip.
“To take our game back 30 years, I think you’re not doing it justice. I think you’re just trying to do yourself a PR stunt … It’s a joke. It’s gotten so ridiculous,” Martinez told Verducci.
Martinez is the rare MLB star whose career nearly ended before it really began. He owned a .226 batting average and a .687 OPS through his first three big league seasons. But thanks in part due to his dedication to studying and reshaping his swing via video, he’s become a three-time All-Star.
“I’m sure there are some people who are anti-[in-game video]. Those are natural hitters. I’m not a natural hitter,” Martinez explained. “I had to teach myself how to hit. That makes me rely on it and there are similar players out there who feel the same way. Guys that rely on breaking their swing down and seeing what they’re doing wrong. Because it’s hard enough already.”
Aside from the potential to lose out on the obvious in-game benefits to studying and critiquing his own swing, Martinez said an in-game video ban will lead to many long hours for many people after every game.
“What happens after the game when [the media wants] to come in and say, ‘Hey, J.D., talk about that home run’? Do you think I’m going to go talk to you? No. I’m going to be in the [bleeping] video room watching my [bleeping] swing for the next hour trying to figure out my swing and ‘Hey, Tom, you want to wait for me?’ All the media guys. I’ll tell ‘em to go kick rocks right away. ‘Sorry, boys. I’ve got to do this [bleep]. This is more important than talking to you guys,'” Martinez told Verducci. “Then you’re going to have not just me — nine of us with the hitting coach. The hitting coach is going to have to stay two hours after the game to break down video with the hitters. This is stuff that everybody does during the game, like how they go over their swing.”
Despite Martinez’s vociferous protests, the league still may shut down players’ access to video during games, depending on what Rob Manfred and Co. decide with regard to their new policies.
Martinez did offer a solution, which would limit the people in charge of recording video to only begin their recording after the catcher gave signs to the pitcher. That would, of course, require some monitoring to ensure no shenanigans were afoot, but it is at least a viable solution to prevent sign-stealing via in-game video.
Earlier this spring, Martinez spoke with reporters and suggested the league could delay access by an inning or two if needed. During that conversation, Martinez stressed the importance of his video work during games.
“That’s who I am,” Martinez said in February. “I think to go out there and take all video out, you’re not allowed to look at at-bats, I think it’s a little ridiculous in my opinion. … For me, it’s what makes me me. I’m a very analytical guy, I like to study my swing … that’s the trend in the game. Everybody is like that.”
Whatever Manfred ends up deciding, Martinez has made his case quite clear.
“I think what people don’t get is there is a new generation that revolves around technology and analytics and seeing their swing,” Martinez told Verducci. “To me, studying my swing and making changes, that’s what makes me who I am. I got released doing it the other way.”