SURPRISE, Ariz. – Now that instant replay is a reality, the Texas Rangers are busy finalizing their procedures for challenging a questionable call.
General manager Jon Daniels, assistant GM Thad Levine, manager Ron Washington and bench coach Tim Bogar attended a two-hour session on instant replay with MLB officials on Tuesday.
“Overall, I think it’s a very common sense approach to it,” Daniels said. “They kind of laid out their objectives, which is to improve the accuracy of the calls, and specifically, the most impactful calls. It will not negatively impact the flow of the game.”
Daniels, Washington and the rest of the contingent got a better sense of what can and can’t be called and how the process will work. MLB is currently installing video equipment in the home and visiting clubhouse of every park. There will be a person with each organization – in the Rangers’ case that’s advance scout Joey Prebynski – that will watch the video and help Washington determine whether he should challenge. There’s a direct phone line between the video room and the dugout so that communication can happen as quickly as possible.
The Rangers will use spring training to get a better sense of how it works. MLB is providing a mobile truck and for the televised games, teams can ask for reviews and the crew inside the truck will rule on it. The first trial run is March 4 in Tempe.
A few tidbits:
* Each manager gets one challenge, and if he uses that challenge in the first six innings and wins it he receives another (with a maximum of two). After the sixth inning, it’s up to the umpires if they want to review a play, though if a manager hasn’t used his challenge in the first six innings, he must do so in the final three before the umpires will then use their discretion. Once the manager has challenged – win or lose – those final innings become up to the umpires as to whether a review happens.
My theory on why that’s the case is that they don’t want the managers to feel like they are in a “use it or lose it” situation in the first six innings with the challenge. If there’s no play they feel they need to challenge, why slow the game down? If the first one doesn’t pop up until the eighth, that’s fine. Use the challenge and get the replay then.
* Two umpiring crews rotate into a central replay office in New York and those umpires, who are watching the games on TV monitors, will have access to all the angles and can make a call. The video person watching for each club will also have the same angles as they try to determine whether a challenge should be made in the first place.
* Fair or foul calls can be reviewed if they took place in the OF. If they happened down the lines in the infield, they won’t be reviewed because there are no cameras looking straight down the line.
* Catching collisions and home runs can’t be challenged, but the manager can ask for the crew to get together and determine if they want to review it.
* Fans will get to see the replay on the big screen, something MLB decided to do to be as transparent as possible.
“In the past, everyone at home, everyone in the suites and in the tunnel or clubhouse could see the replay except the 40,000 in the stadium that paid to be there,” Daniels said. “Now they’ve fixed that. We can show it to our fans in the stadium."