MLB Finally Gets Instant Replay for the 2014 Season

(Photo courtesy of www.willistnews.com)
(Photo courtesy of http://www.willistnews.com)

Seven years in the making, MLB officials have finally approved instant replay for the upcoming 2014 season.  About two weeks ago, MLB officials and commissioner Bud Selig made it official that there would be an expansion on replays in order to correct any mistaken or blown calls.  MLB officials have allowed the managers of each teams three challenges for every game.

Instant replay is a recording.  Once a play has been finished (and the ball is dead), and the ruling on the field is called, officials and umpires/referees can review the play in the booth, and either agree on it or disagree.  If officials all disagree on the ruling, they have the power to overrule the call on the initial play.  Instant replay has been waiting for approval for nearly a decade in Major League Baseball, and has been an ongoing issue, mainly because it’s one of the few sports that doesn’t have instant replay.  The NBA and the NFL have instant replays.  It has been highly successful in the past years, but has also been unsuccessful.

Instant replay has been unsuccessful in the past because while the rulings on the field were made, teams have challenged the play, which has led to blown, mistaken, and wrong calls.  One of the most famous blown calls in the MLB happened in 2010, when Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga nearly threw a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians, but was an out shy of perfection.  A blown call by first base umpire Jim Joyce screwed up Galarraga’s perfect game and was to blame for the result of the game.  The final batter Jason Donald, grounded out to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, in which Galarraga had to cover first base to get the out.  When it seemed the Galarraga beat Donald to first, first base umpire Jim Joyce thought otherwise and called Donald safe.  It was clearly shown on replays that Galarraga beat Donald to the bag, even in slow motion.  Galarraga caught the ball and stepped on first before Donald could even step on the base.  Jim Joyce got an earful from many of the hometown fans in Detroit and many of the other umpires during that game.  Galarraga came an out shy of being only the 21st pitcher in MLB history to pitch a perfect game.

The type of plays that can be reviewed in the booth are home runs, ground rule doubles, fan interferences, stadium boundary calls, force plays, batter hit by pitch, touching a base, tag plays, and many other plays.

In an interview, Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz commented, “This is an historic moment for baseball.  For the first time in America, managers will have that power to overrule calls.  At the same time, the umpires have been very receptive to this.  It’s a vulnerable tool for them in helping to reduce incorrect calls that impact games.”

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