SBD/July 21, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • MLB Replay System Deemed A Success At Season's Midway Point

    Average time of a review has gradually declined to less than two minutes

    The consensus on MLB instant replay midway through its first season "is that baseball got -- or at least is getting -- it right," according to Paul White of USA TODAY. The system itself "remains under constant review." But MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, "We had no right to expect it would be this good this fast. It could use some tweaking, but I couldn't be happier." White notes umpires' calls are "being challenged by managers slightly less than once every two games." Just more than half of the calls "are being reversed." The average time of review "has gradually declined to less than two minutes." Much of the "frustration expressed has been about feedback -- not knowing for sure the reasons for a ruling from the command center." It is "up to the team's coordinator to quickly select the angles to help determine whether a review is prudent." That is one reason "the rate of overturned calls has risen slightly through the season." Teams are "becoming more adept at making those decisions and not wasting their two challenges a game." There have been "more stands than confirmed (192 to 153), and the difficulty of those calls is indicated by the average 2:22 review time when stands is the ruling, compared with 1:22 for those confirmed and the 1:50 average overall." MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations Joe Torre said that the "pace of games, which was probably the most widely expressed concern when the system was announced, could be improved by streamlining the decision process for managers" (USA TODAY, 7/21). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Andy Lewis notes when a man­ager "challenges a call, the field umpire talks directly" to the Replay Operations Center (ROC) and the "clock starts ticking." MLB Senior VP/Baseball Operations Peter Woodfork said that the goal is "to not interrupt the flow of the game." So far, the "average review has taken 1 minute, 49 seconds." That "might sound fast," but Woodfork said that in the ROC, each second "feels like an eternity as an umpire studies the call frame-by-frame on HD screens." He added that the "old-fashioned eye test left a lot up to individual judgment about when a player had control of the ball" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/25 issue).

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