MLB managers invoked for the first time Monday their new rights to challenge plays.
With baseball set to go live with its extended video replay system on opening day, teams and managers are getting to try it out during select spring games. A manager being able to challenge calls is the big change, and Monday brought us the first two challenges of the spring. The early returns: umpires 2, managers 0.
John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays was the first to challenge an umpire's call (remember that, maybe he'll be a trivia answer one day). Gibbons maintained that Chris Rahl of the Minnesota Twins was out at the first base, not safe like first base umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled in the sixth inning of Monday's game. After a review — the whole thing took about three minutes, if you'd like to watch in real time — Culbreth's call was upheld.
During the regular season, there will be a central replay command center in New York City. During spring training, the replays are reviewed on site at the stadium by another umpire. The regular-season reviews are supposed to be handled quicker, and maybe the better technology at MLB's review center will help that, as will more practice doing this.
Not long after the challenge in the Twins-Blue Jays game was resolved, a second challenge happened during the Los Angeles Angels-Arizona Diamondbacks game. Luis Jimenez of the Angels was called out trying to steal second base and manager Mike Scioscia challenged.
Once again, the umpires reigned supreme, as the call was upheld by the replay umpire. The call, conference and review were wrapped up in two minutes and 40 seconds.
While it's nice to see some early glimpses of the new replay system in action, we're still pretty sure people will be mightily confused the first time we see actual challenges in a real game. And they'll definitely want reviews finished quicker. The last thing impatient fans want to see is players standing around on the field.
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