CLEARWATER, Fla. -- One of the chief architects of baseball's expanded replay system expressed confidence Wednesday that the time of reviews will be cut considerably once those reviews begin coming from MLB's replay center in New York.
However, that replay center is not yet ready, Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz said, and spring training reviews will continue to be handled by staff in video trucks on site for the foreseeable future. Still, on Day 3 of baseball's experimental use of replay in spring training parks, Schuerholz said he thinks the reviews have "gone very well so far" and have "calmed everybody's fears" of long delays and "unnatural breaks in the action."
Four calls were reviewed over the first two days of replay use this spring. And according to MLB, total time between the call and the next pitch averaged just under three minutes. It took an average of nearly 38 seconds after calls for managers to initiate their challenges. And the reviews themselves averaged 1 minute, 27 seconds.
Schuerholz, who chaired MLB's replay committee, said baseball expects that total review time can be between 60 and 90 seconds once the season begins. Once reviews are handled by the replay center in the offices of Major League Baseball Advanced Media (BAM), he said, there will be "direct connectivity" between umpires on the field and replay officials in New York so that calls can be reviewed more quickly and decisions can be relayed "instantaneously."
In spring training, Schuerholz said, "we're not using that direct connectivity to BAM or using their feeds ... so that's why it's going to go not quite as smoothly."
Asked why reviews were not being handled out of New York during the spring, Schuerholz said: "I don't think anybody is ready yet. We're going to need every day to get this thing aligned perfectly. And I think the better focus is to see that, for the regular season, all of the systems are go, everything has been tested, and the efficiency of the system is certain. How well it functions, how perfectly it functions, how efficiently it functions, that's what it's all about."
Schuerholz said he wasn't able to specify how far along MLB was in getting the New York replay center ready, but he expressed doubts that any reviews would be handled out of the center during spring training.
"I'm not an electrician," he said. "I'm not an electronics expert. I'm not an IT systems guy. But when you have a system that's brand new and it's going to be rolled out, I'm sure you want to test it, and be sure it's tested again, and be sure that it works well, and that it's responsive, and that everything is plugged in.
"If all that is done, and they get to the point where they feel comfortable that they may want to utilize it, I don't even know if that could be possible, to have that direct [communication]. All the major league ballparks will be wired to have that direct connectivity to BAM, but not these spring training facilities."
The biggest advantage of having calls reviewed in a temporary replay booth on site is that it gives umpires working spring training games an opportunity to get familiar with how the system works. And since those umpires will serve as replay umpires at least twice during the season, it's important they get that experience, he said.
"It's good. It's vital," Schuerholz said. "Knowledge and intelligence are the best enemy against fright."
Replay was available for testing in three more games Wednesday. And it will be used in at least one exhibition game per day for the rest of the spring.
Eventually, the Braves president said replay is going to change the sport dramatically. And that, he believes, is a good thing.
"Since lights were put in our stadiums, this is probably the most historic development in our game," Schuerholz said. "Think about it. Since the advent of night baseball -- since somebody turned on the first light, and there wasn't a headlight of a car pulled up to a fence, but a light in the stadium -- this is the biggest development in our game, historically.
"Managers now have a tool that they have never had in the history of the game. After lights were installed, baseball organizations had a tool to present their organizations at night, after people had gone home from work. Now, games have a chance to be more perfectly defined, and to have the outcome defined, by how well guys play the game, not whether a call is misjudged or not."