MLB Expanded Replay: Why Now?

On Thursday, MLB owners unanimously voted on funding that would expand instant replay in baseball. There are still plenty of details that need to be worked out before the final votes by the owners are cast, but pending player’s union approval, it looks like this is going to be a go. This is something that has been in the works since the summer.

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Touching on it briefly, it looks as if managers will be allowed two challenges a game. If they are unsuccessful with their first challenge they will lose the second one. It is still unclear what can be challenged, but it won’t just be homeruns anymore. The one thing that was mentioned was that balls and strikes will not be challengeable. It appears as though everything else will be. It is also unclear if umpires have the ability themselves to review a homerun or if that will be left up to the manager.

One thing about baseball that I have always loved and admired is the human element. Maybe I am in the minority. I understand how frustrating it can be when a call doesn’t go your way, but I also know the feeling when you get away with one. Implementing this replay system in a way is phasing this out. I am not saying that I don’t agree with it, I am just saying that one of the things that I along with many love about the game is being handed over to the replay booth.

A complaint for years has been how long games take to be played. With pitching changes, hitter’s pre-at bat rituals, time between pitches, etc… adding the possibility of four challenges isn’t going to speed things up any. I am not complaining about the duration of a game because I could spend all day everyday at a ballpark, I am just stating the facts.

It is still early in this process and I know that the people involved are going to put in a ton of time to iron out the details to be sure the right system is in place, but it leaves me with an on the fence feeling about how much it actually will change the game. The technology is there to make this work but where does it stop? Homeruns have been reviewable since the end of 2008. Soon it could be just plays at the plate. Or maybe fair or foul balls. Perhaps every out could be reviewed. Are the managers the only ones to call for a replay? Are players going to stall and “argue” to give the manager enough time for someone within the organization to review the play then relay the message to the dugout to have it reviewed? There are a million questions about this but the one I am stuck on is, Why now?