MLB Officially Unveils 900-Square-Foot Replay Operations Center
MLB and MLBAM yesterday unveiled its newly completed Replay Operations Center, a 900-square-foot command center located within MLBAM’s N.Y. HQs that will be the hub of the league’s expanded instant replay system. The location, constructed over the course of about six week this past winter, is directly wired to each of the 30 MLB ballparks, where at least 12 cameras have been installed at each site. The Replay Operations Center will feature two crews of umpires, totaling eight personnel in all, rotating in over the course of the season to work the site as if it was the league’s 31st ballpark. There, the umpires will work with MLBAM technicians and umpires on site at the other ballparks to review plays. MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations Joe Torre admitted he, like many others in the game, required some convincing to adjust to the new system, but now believes it will be a boon for the sport. “We want to make the game fairer and better through the replay system,” Torre said. “I guess I’m an old codger. If there was a bad call that cost me a game, that to me was part of the game. Now technology is part of the game.” MLB data showed 377 plays last year during the entire ’13 schedule that would have been overturned in the new replay system, roughly one every 6.4 games.
CHALLENGE-BASED SYSTEM: Unlike the other major sports’ use of instant replay, MLB’s newly expanded system will operate on a challenge-based system in which a manager will receive one challenge per game, with a second one awarded if a manager correctly overturns a call with his first. The league is aiming for replay decisions to require at most three minutes on average to make, with initial trials during Spring Training with lesser technological resources hovering in that range. MLB’s average length of game last year was a record 2:59, and Torre said other existing pace-of-game rules will need more stringent enforcing to enable the expanded replay system. “In order to make this thing work and not have it make the games longer is the fact we really have to start disciplining and paying attention to repeat violators,” he said.
NINE WORK STATIONS: The Replay Operations Center features nine work stations, each with four 46-inch screens and headsets allowing immediate communications with umpires at any ballpark. The room, formerly a MLBAM video edit station that has since been relocated two floors down within Manhattan’s Chelsea market, is lit low to allow for better viewing of the screens and features its own power supply, heating and ventilation. While constructing the facility in a short period of time was its own operational challenge, a bigger obstacle was outfitting each of the 30 ballparks with identical video equipment teams will use to aid managers on replay challenge decisions. “You had 30 different facility layouts and space issues in some of them. That was definitely a big hurdle,” said MLBAM Chief Technical Officer Joe Inzerillo. Specific financial costs on the project have not been disclosed. But more than $10M was spent to wire the ballparks and the overall expanded instant replay project has approached $30M according to industry estimates.