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Indians Pitcher First Athlete to Be Benched for Drone Injury

"Everybody in here probably at some point or another had a drone-related problem."

When the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves 4-3 in the sixth game of the 1948 World Series, they became the first team to win a World Series that was being broadcast on a nationwide television network. In nearly 70 years that have elapsed since this unique moment in TV history, the television viewership of the MLB's premier annual event has ballooned into roughly 15 million people annually and the Indians have yet to win another Series.

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Yet as the Indians prepared for Game 2 of the American League Championship this afternoon, the trajectory of technological progress crossed paths with the ill-fated franchise once again—this time in the form of a drone.

On Friday, Indians manager Terry Francona announced that pitcher Trevor Bauer would not be on the starting lineup for Game 2 as planned, after a "drone-related incident" that left the 25-year old pitcher with a lacerated pinkie.

"It's kind of self-explanatory," said Francona during Friday's press conference. "Probably everybody in here probably at some point or another had a drone-related problem."

For anyone at all familiar with Bauer's life off the field, the drone injury probably comes as less than a surprise. Bauer is a noted drone enthusiast who fell in love with unmanned aerial vehicles in 2013 after watching drone racing videos and being struck by their resemblance to the speeders used by Luke and Leia on Endor in Star Wars. Bauer's tendency to nerd out over these kinds of things was fostered during his time at UCLA, where he studied mechanical engineering while being scouted as a top MLB draft pick.

In 2014, he put his engineering knowledge to the test and attempted to build his own drone for the first time. By his own account, this initial build was a total failure, but in the last two years Bauer has become more drone savvy and has successfully managed to build nine drones on his own.

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As Bauer told the Wall Street Journal, he takes two of these drones with him to every away game. Initially he planned to use the drones to film the inside of every stadium he played in, but this plan was shut down by the MLB ban on in-stadium drone flights.

Footage taken by one of Bauer's drones.

Still, the drones accompany Bauer on his travels and have gotten him into some awkward situations, like when he got his drone stuck in a tree in Kansas City and had to call the Royals' club managers to help him get it down in the middle of the night. Such mishaps don't seem to stress Bauer out though—if he ever damages his drones, he can just 3D print new parts on the printer he occasionally brings to practices in Cleveland.

It's unclear if Bauer's injury will temper his drone piloting ambitions, but the safe bet would be probably not. Although Bauer will be benched for this game, Francona said that doctors expect his pinkie to be fully healed in time for him to open Game 3 on Monday.