According to the news coming out on Twitter, it looks like replay has been expanded with quite a few interesting new things involved. Unlike before, where the managers couldn’t necessarily ask for a review, managers get up to 2 per game. They have 1, and if they get that one right, then they can get a second one. It doesn’t matter if they’re in the same inning, or even on the same play, but they get 2. They are somewhat limited in what they can review, but it’s almost everything in the game. Another interesting aspect is that the Umpires may review anything they want without the manager having to challenge in the 7th inning and later.
The one interesting aspect is that reviewed plays will be available on the video screens in the stadiums. This is a huge plus. It may create a moment where in some parks, fans will boo if the call doesn’t go the home team’s way, but I would hope that the fans would be able to stay somewhat impartial. I think it’s a huge deal for the league in order to be transparent about the call. The fans at home as well as the fans in the stadium will be able to see the call immediately and judge for themselves what the right call is. I think it’s the right thing to do.
They started testing this out during the Arizona Fall League games. They showed some of the games on MLB Network. I remember I got to watch one, and it was very interesting. I remember that the managers would go out there and they would tell the umpire what they wanted reviewed. The home plate umpire called over the umpire that was the one who made the call, talked about it, and then made the review. The review was actually made by someone else, who was in contact with the umpire via a headset.
I don’t know if it was faster than the traditional arguments that happen when managers disagree with calls, and I don’t know if it’s going to get rid of all of the arguments, but I think it will get rid of some of them, and if the reviews are quick, then it could speed up the game just a little bit. It’s not going to make a huge impact, but it could shave a couple of minutes here and there. I’m definitely interested in it and how it works. Do managers use one on just a bad safe/out call on first base with nobody else on? Do they try and save it for when they might need it later on a more impactful call? What if that impactful call doesn’t come later? Then was that a waste by not using the challenge earlier? The strategy behind it will be interesting to see, and also interesting to break down and analyze. The nerdy part of myself looks forward to that.
All of these things are great, but the main point is in getting the calls right. You can never know the impact that one wrong call may make on a game, and so I think that by instituting this instant replay is a big step towards making sure that the game is called as perfectly as possible. Hopefully we won’t have any (or at least many) gripes about the umpires in 2014.