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MLB plans to expand replay in 2014
Get ready for something completely different as baseball prepares to expand instant replay: managers' challenges, NFL style.
Baseball owners are considering a proposal under which managers would initiate replay reviews.
MLB vice president Joe Torre gave the replay presentation to representatives from all 30 teams on Wednesday and it was discussed Thursday morning in Cooperstown, NY, where owners have been meeting for two days.
Under the proposed rules, managers will be allowed one challenge over the first six innings of a game and two from the seventh inning until the completion of the game. Calls that are challenged will be reviewed by a crew in MLB headquarters in New York City, which will make a final ruling.
A manager who sees a call he feels is incorrect can file a challenge with the crew chief or home plate umpire. Only reviewable plays can be challenged. Non-reviewable plays can still be argued by managers, who can request that the umpires discuss it to see if another member of the crew saw the play differently. Reviewable plays cannot be argued by the manager.
Challenges not used in the first six innings will not carry over, and a manager who wins a challenge will retain it.
Baseball has used replay on boundary home-run calls since 2008. The sport’s most recent labor agreement included a provision to expand replay to decisions on foul lines and traps, subject to an agreement with the umpires. But those changes have yet to be implemented.
The home run replay rules currently in use will be grandfathered in to the new system, Schuerholz said.
"I'm proud of them," Commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday of the replay committee. "It's worked out remarkably well. It's historic. There's no question about it."
Baseball wants to implement expanded replay for the 2014 season, sources said. However, the sport must go through a series of steps before actually introducing any new plan.
The proposal, which is subject to further discussion and change, is to be voted on by the owners in November. A 75 percent vote by the owners is needed for approval and the players' association and umpires would have to agree to any changes to the current system.
Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, a member of the replay committee, says the umpires are receptive to the change. Schuerholz says 89 percent of incorrect calls made in the past will be reviewable.
"We believe this will be very impactful and very, very meaningful and useful for all sides," Schuerholz said. "Managers will have a new tool that they'll have to learn how to use."
MLB expects to use the new system in the 2014 playoffs, and the system could be enhanced in the postseason. Training sessions for umpires will start in the Arizona Fall League this winter and continue into spring training.
"We know we have to prepare people for this," Schuerholz said. "Everyone is embracing it. We believe managers will in time."
Schuerholz said after the first year MLB will look at what worked and what didn't and make adjustments for 2015. "It's going to take some time," he said.
The addition of managers' challenges would introduce a fresh element of strategy. But some owners might object to any slowdown in play; commissioner Bud Selig has expressed repeated concerns about the pace of game.
Schuerholz said with a direct line of communication between the central office and the ballparks the expectation is that replays under the new system will take 1 minute, 15 seconds. Current replays average just over 3 minutes.
"We want to prevent stalling," Schuerholz said. "If it's a reviewable play, he (the manager) has to tell the umpires he's going to review it."
The owners are weighing even more extensive replay that would include calls on the bases. Certain calls might be “non-reviewable,” and umpires would continue to be the sole arbiters of balls and strikes, sources said.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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