Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Today, Major League Baseball owners approved the funding for expanded instant replay starting next season. While many details are yet to be completed, and the vote passed to make it official, this is indeed historic for the game itself.
My memory is filled with incidents of players and managers jawing with umpires on a bad call at first, a trapped ball in the outfield, or just flat out missed calls. Many of these types of call were always chalked up to “that’s just the game of baseball.” Well, no longer will that be the case.
Nothing is final yet, but it’s said each umpire will have up to two challenges, possibly less, according to Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer. There will apparently be no limit to the timing of the challenges. Also, if a challenge is successful, the umpire will not lose a challenge from whatever number he is allotted.
"Tag plays, out/safe at first, fair/foul past the bags, those are all going to be included, said Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer."
Balls, strikes, and foul tips will not be included. The manager will notify the umpire of his decision to challenge, and the crew chief will be in contact with another member of the umpiring crew, either current or retired, that will review the video. Also, if an manager is out of challenges, the umpiring crew may have the ability to review the play on their own.
I personally have felt indifferent on replay. But I feel like Major League Baseball is approaching it with the right frame of mind. The human element isn’t being removed. Just monitored. We’ve all watched our team lose games on bad calls. It’s always been part of the game. But now baseball is looking to clean up some of these mistakes and get some of these blown calls right. Commissioner Bud Selig has been anti-replay even after all other major sports have adopted some form of it. The ability to review home run and foul ball calls was a huge step for baseball. Selig’s main concern remains on the pace of the game, and how this may affect it.
"The length of some of the games all year but particularly in the playoffs and the World Series was — I didn’t like it. I was unhappy about it. … There are things we can do and there are things we will do — we’re going to have to do."
Final approval of the rules would happen on January 16th, so until then some of the final details will be unknown. But the question remains, is baseball losing touch with its heritage and roots? Or is this just the natural evolution of the game? Only time will tell.