While Baltimore Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos and his fellow MLB owners will formally vote on this proposal in November, it appears that Major League Baseball is poised to formally expand instant replay starting in 2014. Highlights of the new system are expected to be as follows (this directly from mlb.com):
• A review will be initiated when a manager informs the umpire that he wants to challenge a play. He will be allowed one challenge in the first six innings and two more from the seventh through the end of the game.
• If the manager wins his appeal, he retains the challenge. The challenge from the first six innings does not carry over.
• Not all plays are reviewable.
• If a manager disagrees with a reviewable call, his only recourse would be to use a challenge. Managers would not be able to argue a reviewable call in a bid to get it overturned without the use of replay. A manager could still argue in situations not open to review, such as when defending a player or questioning an improper substitution.
• All replays will be reviewed by umpires at MLB.com headquarters in New York, with technicians available to provide the necessary video.
• There is no provision to cover the possibility of an obviously blown call late in the game if the manager has used all his challenges.
My personal opinion on this is that it’s not only a good thing, but something that’s long overdue. While I’m somewhat of a baseball purist, I’ve long believed in instant replay. I suppose that the only thing I would question would be why the managers are only allowed to use one challenge in the first six innings; are calls at that juncture not just as important as the ones at the end? I do understand the reasoning behind that, however I’d be in favor of letting managers use their challenges at their discretion. One thing I do like (and the NFL might want to take note of this) is that if the umpire ends up reversing the call (and thus the coach is ruled to be correct), the coach doesn’t lose the challenge. So in essence each team has the right to “be wrong” three times a game.
I would still submit that college football does instant replay better than any other sport; they use the “eye in the sky” system. There’s a referee sitting up in the booth that literally reviews every play. If he sees something that needs to be reviewed or looked at further, he buzzes down to the head ref and asks them to review the play. That aside, people love to cite the amount of time that reviews in baseball might take. Speaking for myself, I would submit that it’s more important to get the call right than to worry about the amount of time things are taking. We’ve all seen calls that have been butchered over the years by well-meaning umpires that just couldn’t see the play or bad a poor snap-decision. I’m glad that MLB is now going to give them the opportunity to atone for an error they might have made. For those who still are hung up on how much longer the games might be, keep in mind that managers going out on the field and arguing with umpires takes time also. I would bet that some of these knock-down-drag-out discussions (culminating in a skipper being tossed) probably last between two and four minutes. Those arguments will no longer occur for the most part, given that all the manager will have to do is say he wants to challenge the play.
One more small point; NFL coaches have a coach or a staff member that sits up in the press box with the sole purpose of watching replays to see if the head coach should challenge a call. I wonder if MLB teams will start to do the same thing? I would think they’ll have to, because if they’re forced to rely on diamond vision for replays you might one day get a visiting manager arguing that the home team’s scoreboard didn’t give him a replay or something along those lines. Either that, or they’ll mandate TV’s in both dugouts. One way or the other, I see this as a good thing in MLB, and I don’t ever think they’ll be disappointed they chose to do it.