It was expected, and now it’s happened. Today MLB’s owners – and, thus, “MLB” – approved a plan to add instant replay to the mix starting as soon as next season.
Contrary to reports in August that first revealed details of the replay system, it appears that it could be relatively limited. In the new system, managers would be given just two challenges to use the entire game, regardless of inning. And, it appears that if a manager is wrong on his first challenge, he doesn’t get his second.
If true, the system is a significant departure from those August reports, which had managers getting three challenges, with no threat to lose them. You have to wonder if the revision is a concession both to umpires and to those who feared the unnecessary lengthening of games.
The review system’s details will trickle out in the coming days, and it will still have to be approved by the players and the umpires (approval is expected). Presumably, all non-ball/strike plays will be challengeable, and there will be a centralized hub for deciding the challenged play.
Today’s news is significant, since the costs of a replay system could be substantial, and the owners would, collectively, be footing the bill. Now that they’ve said yes, I have no doubt that some kind of replay will be in place next year.
That’s probably better than nothing, though I do remain concerned about manager’s using challenges as a kind of strategic distraction. I suppose the threat of losing your second challenge could be enough to deter that behavior. Still, I would have preferred a review system that leaves challenges out of it. Have a centralized hub monitoring all games, and if a call is questionable, they buzz the umps immediately, and review/fix the call.