After Further Review: First Challenges Made Under New MLB Replay System
The "first two video challenges in major league history" were made during yesterday's Blue Jays-Twins Spring Training game, as it was the "first to be played" under MLB's new replay system, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The system "came into play in the sixth inning," when Twins LF Chris Rahl "hit a sharp grounder" to Blue Jays SS Munenori Kawasaki. The throw to first "was high," and 1B Jared Goedert "lost contact with the base in order to catch the ball." Blue Jays manager John Gibbons "agreed with the call, but he immediately walked over and challenged" umpire Fieldin Culbreth’s decision, "just to test the new system." The video "wasn’t entirely conclusive, but with only two angles to work with from the Fox Sports North feed -- most stadiums will provide 10 or more during the regular season" -- replay umpire Brian O’Nora said that he "saw enough to uphold the call." The review "took 2 minutes, 34 seconds to confirm, longer than the 2 minutes that baseball officials hope it will take once everyone is more familiar with the system, but not so long that anyone minded." The crowd "got a little more impatient two innings later, when Gibbons requested a review" of Twins SS Doug Bernier’s infield single, a grounder to second that "turned into a close play at first." Gibbons "could not challenge the play because he had already used that option unsuccessfully, but from the seventh inning on, umpires can opt to order a review on their own." Several fans "briefly booed the delay, which lasted 2:03" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/4). Blue Jays P Kyle Drabek said, "It wasn't too long of a wait. I was about to tell [C A.J. Jimenez] to go behind the plate, so I could throw again, then the umps were ready." Culbreth said, "Once we have nine or 10 angles, and quality feeds, that time will really tighten up, everything will be so much quicker we can make that determination clearer" (TORONTO SUN, 3/4). Bernier said, "They got the calls right. That's what's important. I didn't think it slowed down the game" (AP, 3/3).
STILL UNDER REVIEW: In Phoenix, Nick Piecoro notes Angels manager Mike Scioscia "lost his challenge" in the second inning of yesterday's Angels-D-Backs game. The process "took about 2 1/2 minutes," and one factor "complicating things ... was that the technology in place at Salt River Fields is less advanced than what teams will have in major-league parks." Scioscia said, "I don't think it's going to take much time for the logistics to smooth out" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/4). Scioscia added, "I'm sure they're going to tighten that up at some point" (OCREGISTER.com, 3/3). SPORTSNET's Mike Wilner wrote, "It’s great to see Major League Baseball making strides into the 21st (some might say 20th) Century and using technology to try to get some more plays right." It will be "very interesting, once the games start to count, to see how managers use their challenges, what strategy they’ll involve" (SPORTSNET.ca, 3/3).