We’re About to Get More Transparency on Replay Reviews This Year
You’ll be hard-pressed to find two baseball fans that agree on every change the league has made over the past few seasons. And there have been a LOT of changes. But I certainly feel like the MLB replay review has a strong base of support (…probably because it’s worked out in every fan’s favor at least a few times by now).
The only issue with MLB’s replay review process is and has always been transparency. Broadcasters will do their best to explain what they think is happening, and umps have been mic’d up and occasionally deliver something close to an explanation of the result. But it all just leaves so much to be desired. And that’s why today’s news is pretty cool.
Or, at least it would be if it were more widely implemented. Baby steps, I guess.
Today, MLB and Zoom announced a partnership to bring fans into MLB’s replay operations center during reviews, where we’ll presumably get to see what’s going on and hear from an expert during the process. In other words? No more New York Black Box.
Here’s the release via CBS Sports:
In the 2022 MLB season, there were more than 1,400 replay reviews. Historically, the league’s replay review was reliant on disparate technology and audio-only communication with umpires on the field, resulting in fans being disconnected from the decision-making process.
Beginning with the 2023 Season, the Crew Chief, the most senior member of the four-man umpire crew, will connect to the Zoom Replay Operations Center using Zoom’s Contact Center solution during any replay review. During national broadcasts on MLB Network and Apple TV+, fans will also see the Zoom Replay Operations Center in action live during replay reviews and hear from an expert rules analyst who will discuss replay reviews with the broadcast team. MLB’s goal with this new setup is to create a more transparent and engaging review process.
Zoom, the company, adds that fans will be provided with “live access to the decision as it’s made.”
The catch? This is obviously an advertisement, and that means that we are NOT getting this league-wide (yet). The only time we’ll get to see this in action is during the AppleTV+ games and games broadcast on MLB Network.
As far as I can tell, the Cubs* have just two games on AppleTV+ this year, Friday April 7 against the Rangers and Friday May 12 against the Twins. And there’s obviously no guarantee there’ll be a challenge in either game. Meanwhile, I’m having a hard time finding out which Cubs games will be broadcast on MLB Network this year, but you can safely assume it’ll be more than two.
In any case, I am excited to see this in action. More transparency is a good thing. Getting the call right is a good thing. Being more interesting is a good thing. Hopefully, it goes smoothly with AppleTV+ and MLB Network, and Zoom wants to continue the relationship across the board.
*Besides Marquee and AppleTV+, the Cubs will also have games on FOX, ESPN, Peacock, YouTube.