MLB finally on board with replay


Starting opening day of the 2014 season, Major League Baseball will institute an expanded instant replay system, and it is about time.

The vote to expand replay was unanimous by the 30 MLB teams, which suggests that everyone was on the same page in terms of knowing how important it can be to the game.

Baseball is the last of the four major U.S. sports, others being basketball, football and hockey, to have an instant replay system available, and it is quite possibly the sport that would need it the most.

There are so many plays that truly come down to inches or the blink of an eye that umpires simply would not see or just would need a better look at.

Last season, teams were able to vie for replay in order to determine whether a ball was a home run or not, but the expansion has broadened what can be reviewed.

Starting this season, managers will be able to review force plays, fair/foul plays (outfield only), trap plays (outfield only), batters hit by pitches, touching a base and passing runners, among other things.

In order for a review to be initiated, the manager must verbally indicate to the Crew Chief (the head umpire of the four-man crew calling the game) that he wants the play to be challenged. The manager must also tell the Crew Chief exactly what part of the play he wants to be reviewed.

The Crew Chief and at least one other umpire will then get on a headset connected to the Replay Command Center in New York and will have the information relayed to them to determine if the play can be overturned.

Managers will be able to challenge one play in the first six innings of a game, if he wins a challenge, he will receive another one to use in those first six innings.

From the seventh inning on, the Crew Chief can initiate a review if necessary, although he does not need to even if the manager asked for one. A manager cannot use more than two challenges a game.

Another feature to the addition of expanded replay is the fact that any replay may now be shown on the stadium’s video board. This would give the manager another look at the play and potentially aid in whether to actually challenge or not.

It will be curious to see how this affects the pace and time of games. It seems like in nearly all baseball games there are at least a couple of plays that could be reviewed, which could add another five to ten minutes to the average game.

It may not seem like much, but if, for example, both managers used both possible challenges, and a few plays after the seventh inning were also reviewed, we could see games be upwards of half-an-hour longer than they would normally, especially since kinks would have to be ironed out as the season goes along.

While the length of a game does not bother me, it seems to be a thread that people already think the game is way to long on average and does not need any potential added time. But, if that is the only real argument against having replay, than by all means, umpires should make sure important plays are called correctly.