Major League Baseball will roll out instant-replay testing in the Arizona Fall League next week, the first step toward the planned implementation of a widely expanded replay program for the 2014 season, sources told Yahoo Sports.
The league informed clubs it will start the testing at Salt River Fields, the Scottsdale-based home of one of the six fall league teams. In recent months, MLB has installed the necessary equipment to study both technological and pace-of-play concerns, either of which could force the league to reassess its plan.
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Currently, MLB plans to institute replay on a far wider scale than the current system, which covers only home runs. The initial plan includes manager challenges reviewed by a central replay office in New York, and the league plans on thorough testing in the fall league, perhaps even reviewing plays that are fairly obvious just to establish baselines for how long a particular play takes in practice to review.
Theoretically, MLB believes the system will bring enough relief as far as getting calls correct to offset the potential disruption in game time and pace. Much of the concern from officials heading the committee that drew up the replay plan, including Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz and former managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, stemmed from how the interruptions would affect the game's flow.
The testing is likely to determine the method by which managers challenge, whether it's a challenge flag, like the NFL, or simply stepping out of the dugout to inform the umpires that they want to ask for replay. The plan includes one manager challenge in the first six innings and two over the final three innings, though depending on what testing shows, that, too could be amended. Fall league managers may be given a different number of challenges each game to give MLB a greater sense of what the proper amount would be.
Umpires again found themselves front and center in the World Series – and their work was laudable. After Dana DeMuth blew a call early in Game 1, the rest of the crew huddled together and decided to overturn it, the correct choice. Game 3 ended on a controversial obstruction call at third base made by Jim Joyce, the umpire whose missed call that lost Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010 was the flashpoint to the replay revolution. This time, Joyce got the call right.