Baseball's New Replay System Will Include Manager Challenges

The expanded use of instant replay in MLB that was reported yesterday has officially been announced, and we now know exactly will trigger a review. It'll come down to manager challenges, and not everyone's happy about that.

"It's a historic day," said Bud Selig, announcing the proposal which will be voted on by the owners in November. Here are the details:

  • Managers will be allowed one challenge over the first six innings, and two more from the seventh until the end of the game.
  • If the on-field ruling is overturned, the manager will receive another challenge. If it's upheld, the challenge is gone.
  • The reviews will be conducted by a crew at MLB's central office in New York.
  • Managers may not challenge balls and strikes, or whether a batter was hit by a pitch. Reviews on home run balls will be automatic and not require a challenge.

There are already criticisms of the challenge system, and they fall into a few general camps: Managers would be punished for challenging a close call if it turns out the umps had it right; Managers could use frivolous challenges to delay the game to get a reliever warmed up; The challenges are pointlessly clustered toward the end of games, as if controversial calls are more important and more numerous the later they come; If a manager has already exhausted his challenges, bad calls will stand, defeating the whole purpose of replay.

These are are real issues (Craig Calcaterra and Jay Jaffe each go in-depth on some of the problems inherent in the system). While it's good that importance of "human element" is being lessened, and baseball is joining every other major sport in the 21st century, it's valid to wonder why, if this problem is pressing enough to warrant a seismic overhaul, MLB only decided to go halfway.