LOS ANGELES, August 17, 2013 — Major League Baseball announced its plans to start using more instant replay in 2014.
Currently, only homeruns are reviewable. Under the new system, many more plays will be eligible to be reviewed, such as trapped balls and tags at the plate. Balls and strikes will still not be able to be reviewed.
Each manager will be able to use instant replay one time during the first six innings. If their challenge is upheld, they retain their ability to challenge plays in the first six innings. If their challenge is not upheld, they will have no more challenges until the seventh inning.
From the seventh inning until the end of the game, regardless of extra innings, each manager will have two more challenges. An unused challenge from the first six innings cannot be carried over into the seventh and beyond.
Calls that are challenged will then be reviewed by officials in New York with the results relayed back to the umpires on the field.
Managers will no longer be allowed to argue calls with the umpires that are reviewable by replay. They are still permitted to argue other non-reviewable plays for as long as the umpire is interested in listening. Then normal rules apply when an umpire throws a manager out of a game.
The exact list of reviewable plays has yet to be revealed or even completely determined. Atlanta Braves president John Shuerholz, who is on the committee with Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, said that roughly 89% of the plays you see will be reviewable. One play he said would not be reviewable would be when a batter is hit by a pitch.
For those who have been looking for baseball to use more replays, this is the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, that Holy Grail is still in the planning stages and has yet to be put up for a vote. The owners need to approve instant replay first, which seems to be a forgone conclusion. Next, the players and the umpires have to vote on it. If either group votes against it, then instant replay is dead.
Most likely the players will approve the expanded replay. The umpires, however, are another story. The umpires are a prideful bunch and do not take kindly to being called out on their calls. The question remains whether or not they would be open to the possibility of being overruled by someone in New York.
One detail that has not been addressed is the amount of time that will be added to the length of the game due to more reviews. The length of the games has been a hot topic in recent years. It would be nice to see baseball implement new rules regarding the speed of play along with the expanded replay.
For instance, batters should not be allowed to walk around after every pitch. Once they are in the box, they are in the box until the end of the at-bat.
Instant replay will not become any clearer until the offseason after the voting. Ideally, this is a step in the right direction. Purists will say replay takes something away from the game, but the bottom line is that the technology is in baseball’s hands and it was only a matter of time before this happened.
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