SBD/April 19, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB, Umps Discussing Plan For Crew Chiefs To Wear Microphones To Explain Replays

Umps could start wearing mics at the All-Star Game in Miami under one possible scenario
MLB and umpires are "expected to discuss a plan -- most prominently used in the NFL -- for crew chiefs to wear a microphone and explain replay rulings," according to Ben Walker of the AP. Under one possible scenario, they would "start at the All-Star Game on July 11 in Miami, tweak the process over the season's second half and then go forward with the experiment in the playoffs." The umpires are in the "middle of their five-year labor deal" and "any change would involve negotiations, plus a comfort level on both sides that the system would be efficient, accurate and easy." Marlins P Brad Ziegler said, "It probably would be nice to get a little more explanation. They're supposed to say the call stands or the call's confirmed. 'The call stands' means you can't tell. A lot of times we don't get that ... they just signal out or safe. That's all we get on the field" (AP, 4/18).

WHAT'S THE POINT? ESPN's Buster Olney yesterday said of the potential change, "When I saw this my immediate reaction: I hate it! Look, I love transparency. I love for umpires to be in a position where they're explaining what's going on but ... I can't stand the idea that this decision is being made back in New York at command central and there are still a handful of replay decisions when they come out you're like, 'What?!'" ESPN's Jayson Stark added, "What do they mean exactly by 'explain?' As you know, managers are so frustrated by these replay decisions because they don't understand what was just called or why it was just called. ... If 'explain' means they're really going to explain what the replay umpires in New York saw then sure, fine, I'm cool with it. I'd love to know but I doubt that. I think what we're really going to get is 'the call on the field is confirmed.' It seems to me it'd be just one more way to waste time in a sport that's trying to get rid of dead time." But Olney said he does "think it would be worthwhile if they were to go through the public address announcer" to tell "all the fans at the ballpark" what the replay decision was." Olney: "But I don't see any upside in having the umpires do that because it's just like them explaining something that they don't really know the reasons for" ("Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney," ESPN.com, 4/18).
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