Another baseball tradition is about to largely disappear: a manager, with a crazed look in his eyes, charging the field and getting into a face-to-face shouting match with an umpire.
Instead, most calls on the field next season will be subject to video review by umpires in New York.
Major League Baseball took the first vote in a two-step process Thursday, unanimously approving funding for expanded instant replay in 2014. The owners plan to approve the new rules when they meet Jan. 16 in Paradise Valley, Ariz., after agreements with the unions for umpires and players.
“We made a gigantic move today,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “This is quite historic.”
Selig long opposed replay and watched from afar as it was first used by the NFL in 1986, the NHL in 1991, the NBA in 2002 and Wimbledon in 2006. Even the Little League World Series put replay in place for 2008. MLB allowed it starting August 2008, but in a limited manner: to determine whether potential home runs were fair or cleared fences.
Now, virtually every decision likely will be subject to review — except balls and strikes, checked swings and some foul tips.
“Tag plays, out/safe at first, fair/foul past the bags, those are all going to be included,” said Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer.
So no more blown calls — like Don Denkinger‘s at first base that turned Game 6 of the 1985 World Series or Jim Joyce‘s bad decision at first base that cost Detroit’s Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010.
“We want to get more plays right, the ones that matter,” Manfred said.
Manfred said when a manager wants to challenge a call, he will notify an umpire, triggering a review in New York by what are likely to be present or retired big league umps. A headset would be brought to the crew chief, who would be notified of the decision.
There will be a maximum of two challenges per manager in each game — “it could be less,” Manfred said — and if the challenge is upheld, it would not be counted against the manager’s limit. If a manager is out of challenges, umpires probably will be allowed to request a review on their own.
“Getting more plays right can only enhance the game,” St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said.
Manfred appeared to indicate that the video being reviewed in New York could be shown to fans in stadiums or possibly on television broadcasts.
“I think you can expect that there will be, as part of this package, expanded use of in-stadium video boards,” Manfred said.
Selig has emphasized that he doesn’t want replay to slow games, whose increased length in recent decades has been targeted for criticism.
“The current thinking is that if a manager comes out and argues, once he argues, he can’t challenge that play,” Manfred said. “One way to control the timing of challenges is to use the natural flow of the game — that is the next pitch cuts off your right to challenge.”
But MLB doesn’t want managers to tell players to stall to give team employees time to review video on their own and instruct the dugout whether to use a challenge. In tests last week at the Arizona Fall League, most reviews averaged 1 minute, 40 seconds. Former manager Tony La Russa, now an MLB special adviser, said managers will have to “rely on their integrity” and not cause delays.
“This is an historic opportunity,” La Russa said. “We’re going to monitor it. If somebody plays around with it, they’re going to get called on the carpet.”
Manfred said the initial rules likely won’t be the final ones.
“The system will see some continuing evolution until we get to a point of stability, similar to what you saw in the NFL,” he said.
In other news from the meeting:
- Ray Davis was unanimously approved to succeed Nolan Ryan as controlling owner of the Texas Rangers.
- MLB withdrew its proposal for a new bidding system with Japan, making it uncertain whether prized pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will be on the market this offseason.
- Selig said that while he is pleased that the Blue Jays and Mets will play spring training games in Montreal, there should not be expectations of a permanent return to that city.
- Following accusations of harassment in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room, Selig said he isn’t worried about a similar issue in MLB clubhouses.
- Home plate collisions are not yet a big topic from Selig’s point of view.
“They don’t seem to be overly concerned about it at this point, but we have had ongoing discussion,” Selig said.
- Selig is annoyed about the length of games. The average for nine-inning games was 2:59 this year — an increase of three minutes from 2012. And it was 3:17 in the postseason — up six minutes from 2012.
“The length of some of the games all year, but particularly in the playoffs and the World Series was — I didn’t like it,” Selig said. “I was unhappy about it. … There are things we can do and there are things we will do — we’re going to have to do.”
- While MLB wants the Tampa Bay Rays to get a new ballpark, negotiations by the club to get out of its lease at Tropicana Field are a team matter for now.