It’s official, the MLB decided that replay on just about anything but the strike zone will be allowed for the 2014 season. The updated rules state that each manager will receive 3 challenges (one in the first 6 innings, and two that can be used from the 7th inning through the end of the game, challenges can not carry over) to use on any call with the exception of balls and strikes. If the manager is correct and the call is overturned, he will not be charged with a challenge and will be able to save it. Also, it is still unnecessary to challenge debatable home run calls, as they are still going to be automatically reviewed.
Technically, the rule is not 100% official yet, but based on Baseball commissioner Bud Selig calling it “a historic day”, anyone would have to believe that he is fairly confident that the 75% vote amongst the owners in November will go through in favor of the new rule.
Many people have responded to the rule change, stating that game duration will be dragged on far too long now. Well, according to Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz, the new format of replay will be nearly 3X as fast as replays with Home Runs under the current rule.
Schuerholz also made it a point that this new review system was clearly a work in progress. He very well understood that this was not going to be a fail proof rule by any stretch, and that the rule would definitely be looked at the conclusion of the 2014 season, to try and further improve the rule by the beginning of 2015.
The MLB took a very big step by placing in the new replay system. The expansion of MLB review has been an ongoing debate for some time now, and finally, baseball will be relying on technology to eliminate as many blown calls as possible.
However, the technicalities of this rule sure aren’t perfect.
For instance, why did the MLB adapt an NFL-style review system instead of perhaps something more like an NBA or NHL system, where the officials determine when reviews occur, not the coaches (or managers in this case). The problem with allowing the managers to chose when they want a play looked at, is that it could start to play in other parts of the game. You will certainly start to see managers review calls they know they aren’t going to win, but maybe they want to stall time for their bullpen pitcher who is warming up, or even a big decision coming up in the game.
Also, game time may be added when a challenge is made because it would have gone to waist anyway. An example would be a manager who knows he has a challenge left to use in the 6th inning, and if he doesn’t use it, it will go to waist. But if you use it and you’re wrong, there’s no penalty. So, if there’s anything close to a debatable ruling, and a manager has a challenge left in the 6th, be ready for the manager on the losing side of the call to ask for a review.
Overall, expanding MLB replay was a good decision. The MLB has just seen to many calls go the wrong way, and an available replay system would have corrected most of them. Hopefully, this becomes a trend, and the amount of blown calls in Major League Baseball drops drastically.