MLB is switching to T-Mobile

T-Mobile's dugout phone dock. Photo courtesy of Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is in full force right now and amidst the announcements of things like curved HDTVs and new handheld gaming devices, T-Mobile and Major League baseball have made a surprising announcement

T-Mobile has been announced as the new "Official Wireless Sponsor of MLB" and part of that agreement includes a rollout of 'bullpen cellphones'. That's right, gone are the days of the landline phone connecting the manager in the dugout with the coaches in the bullpen. Instead, and I swear this isn't a goof, T-Mobile will be providing custom Samsung Galaxy S3 phones just like the ones that you can buy in-stores right now.

Called the "On-Field Communication System", this new technology is being hailed by MLB for offering "greater mobility as wellas options for future innovation within the game." It also allows MLB to make a boatload of money by T-Mobile paying to slap their logo all over dugouts and bullpens all over the game. 

On a less cynical note, this will actually benefit fans becase the deal also has T-Mobile pledging to beef up wireless coverage in ballparks across the country, presumably bringing about an end to do the days of fans being unable to send a Twitpic of their totally killer seats out to all of their Twitter followers because of an overcrowded network at the stadium. T-Mobile will also be partnering with MLB to provide "promotional opportunities and unique offers for content" to subscribers.

It's unclear if this is what Tony La Russa was referring to when he said "I guarantee you it will never happen again," after a bullpen phone mixup in the 2011 World Series cost his Cardinals game 5 when the wrong releivers warmed up and entered the game. But with the average age of MLB managers being 53.7 years old, you've gotta wonder how much having the most sophisticated cellphones in the world will really help any potential communications problems that were caused by touch-tone phones. After all, Charlie Manuel is 69 years old. Is he really going to want to text his pitching coaches?