Expanded video replay gets first test at Arizona Fall League game

David Brown
November 6, 2013

Managers challenged four calls made by umpires Tuesday night, the first trial of expanded video replay procedures for Major League Baseball at the Arizona Fall League, and all of the calls were upheld after review.

Great success! Right?

Seemingly, though the environment at Scottsdale Stadium wasn't nearly as busy as an actual major league stadium come the 2014 regular season when the new system becomes operational, or even during spring training when MLB plans further testing and tweaking. Challenges made this week can be shouted from the dugouts with the small AFL crowds not drowning out the benches. MLB will have to come up with something like what the NFL uses when its coaches want video replay used.

Here's how it went on Day 1, writes Tom Singer of MLB.com:

This is a critical incubator for expanded replay, the final week of AFL play affording MLB officials an extended opportunity to test, tweak and ratify the methods by which the system will eventually be presented for approval to the clubs and unions representing the players and the umpires.

For instance, plays in Tuesday night's game at Salt River Fields between the Solar Sox and the Rafters could be challenged at any point prior to the next play. But in Wednesday night's second experimental game, there will be a 20-second limit on challenges.

Also, to maximize opportunities to test the system [the managers] were under no challenge limits Tuesday night. Plans during regular use call for one challenge in the first six innings, and two thereafter.

You can tell from the video, and from Singer's descriptions, that the process is capable of happening quickly. Almost so fast, you hardly realized there was a delay. If it can be that routine, hopefully MLB will tweak the challenge system (or replace it) so any questionable call can be reviewed. How many times do teams already question umpires calls in the course of a game? Usually, three or four times? Sometimes once? Sometimes not at all. If the system will be fast, then why limit it to three challenges when, on those rare nights, four or five calls get questioned?

Tony La Russa, working for MLB now, was on hand to supervise the first trial:

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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