PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — Coming on Opening Day to a ballpark near you: a lot more instant replay.
Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday announced a sweeping expansion of MLB’s instant replay system. It has a manager’s challenge component and a host of plays that now will be reviewable, including safe/out, fair/foul and trap plays in the outfield.
“Our fans will love it,” Selig said at the conclusion of the quarterly owners meetings.
The system was approved by baseball’s owners by a 30-0 vote and also was OK’d by the unions for umpires and players.
The umpires will receive eight more jobs as two crews will be added so umpires can monitor games at MLB’s advanced media headquarters in Manhattan — what the league is calling “the Replay Command Center.” One umpire will be assigned to monitor two games at a time and will be the final decision-maker on a replay review.
The players are gaining — at least in theory — the ability to not have games decided by umpiring mistakes. Before the upcoming season, replays were limited to home-run calls and the reviews and decisions were made by umpires in the ballpark.
Managers will be gaining the ability to challenge incorrect calls at least once and a maximum of two times per game (a second challenge will be granted if the first one is successful in getting any part of a call overturned).
But managers also will be gaining a new headache: at what point in the game to use their first challenge. Second-guessing that strategy likely also will be part of the new system.
Managers who attempt to flaunt the system by stalling so they can get more time to decide whether to challenge a call will be “subject to discipline,” according to Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations. Torre designed the system along with former Braves general manager John Schuerholz and former manager Tony La Russa.
The final system was scaled back from previous incarnations, which had up to three managers’ challenges per game. Also, force plays at second base during a double play will not be reviewable; the union doesn’t want middle infielders to have to stay on second base longer than they do now (commonly known as “the neighborhood play”) because of fear of injury.
But almost everything else in a game except for balls and strikes is up for review. Home runs will be grandfathered in so that managers will not have to use a challenge to determine if a ball is a home run; umpires on the field will continue to determine whether to review a home run, although a manager can request it.